High Street Bra Fitting Challenge 2012

It’s fairly well documented on this blog that I’m pretty obsessed with lingerie (duh!). But it’s not all about pretty bows and eyelash lace – it’s so much more than that. I’m 100% in the ‘the perfect bra can change your life’ camp, and I’ll unashamedly and unapologetically chat all day long (or for two whole years to the interweb to anyone willing to read) about it.

One of the founding posts which helped chisel and shape this blog into what it is today was my High Street Fitting Challenge. Written on the 18th October, 2010, it’s to this day one of my most popular and talked about blog posts. And here’s why I think that is.

Most women in the UK – and across the World for that matter – hear about how important it is to go get fitted into your bras. We hear, probably every time we enter Marks & Spencer for our weekly dose of Percy Pigs, that ‘80% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra’. But what about those of us who are ‘getting fitted’ but still not completely happy with how their lingerie fits and feels?

Going from a 34D to a 28FF in Bravissimo’s Covent Garden store in 2009, I noticed an instant change in the lift, support and shape my bra was giving me. Despite the ‘increased’ cup size, my boobs looked smaller and more in proportion, with no gaping, double-boob, soreness or sag (I’d previously been rocking all the aforementioned all at once). Not only was I assisted into the ‘right’ bra, it was explained to me in a fair amount of depth just WHY it fitted me. The results, however, spoke for themselves.

So, has anything changed in the past two years for women who get ‘fitted’ on the UK High Street? I took my blogger’s eye view to all of the top players, this time two years older and wiser, and with the expectations of thousands of blog readers sitting on my shoulders. *waves*

Victoria’s Secret, New Bond St., London

Size measured as: 36B or 32DDD (depending on where in the store you happen to be at the time).


I won’t go into too much detail about this one, as I reviewed their fitting service in quite some depth in August this year, and you can go read about how much of a nightmare it was in that post if you’re interested. What I will say about it briefly is that I was fitted twice (once on the shop floor, fully clothed, and once in the fitting room) and both were very, very, different.

Like, 36B and 32DDD different. Really.

The worst part of that is that whilst on the shop floor getting ‘fitted’, it was never suggested to me that I might get a more accurate result with one of their specialists and after actually trying the lingerie on, so as my friend (a 30GG also measured as a 36B on the shop floor) said, if you were very inexperienced, you could easily assume that 36B was your size, without fail, yet even with one fitting we demonstrated how inaccurate that method really is. Oh dear!

Marks & Spencer, Oxford St., London

Size measured as: 34D


I’ve never really been in love with Marks and Spencer’s lingerie department, and even the much-hyped Rosie Huntington Whitely collection failed to raise even the slightest interest from me (sorry, Rosie!). It is, however, their fitting service that I’ve been so disappointed with for as long as I can remember.

This occasion was no different. Despite there being two staff members apparently quite happy to twiddle their thumbs on a very quiet day, I was turned away from a fitting as there were ‘no appointments left today’. This is not the first time this has happened in M&S, and it’s pretty frustrating to say the least.

For the purposes of this blog post, I made my way down to the Bournemouth M&S to actually experience one of their fittings, and I can’t help but feel like I’d rather they’d turned me away. 34D? No thanks.

British Home Stores, Oxford St., London

Size measured as: 34DD


I have to admit, I’ve never ventured into BHS for a bra fitting before. I have to say I wasn’t really missing much as they seem to be very much on par with the fitting service of most high street stores – probably not a far cry from what a lot of women are used to.

I was fitted into a 34D Wonderbra after their various ‘t-shirt’ bras in a 34DD (the size their tape measure dictated that I was) left my boobs looking a bit like droopy spaniel’s ears. Could do (much!) better.

Debenhams, Oxford St., London

Size measured as: 32E


Debenhams had an interesting day when I did this ‘undercover mission’. It was the same day of their press event, where I was fitted into my current preferred size of 30F (or FF depending on the bra in question). It was when I went to their store just moments after into a 32E that I started feeling a little deflated. Now, 32E isn’t a mile away from the destination, but it’s not exactly parked on the driveway. I didn’t feel the support or shape that I feel like I need, and get from a 30 (or even 28!) band.

That said, I have definitely noticed an increase in size choice and availability on the shop floor since this time two years ago, and I picked myself up the gorgeous Freya Tabitha in the sale, in my size, for a bargain price. Result!

If only their in store fitting service matched up with what you receive at their press events from their fitting specialists. The world of UK boobies would be a much happier place!

John Lewis, Oxford St., London

Size measured as: 32F


John Lewis have always had a better reputation as far as department stores go. They weren’t a part of my initial trial but I have tried them since and found them… good. I’ve visited in the past with a 30HH friend and was a little worried when they suggested she downsize a cup size and up a band size to make them look less ‘pronounced’.

When I was fitted there only a few days ago they fitted me as a 32F which is in my eyes not at all bad. The trainers were helpful and friendly and well informed about good fitting practice, but I was left feeling like I’d prefer the band that fraction more snug to really get the support. Do you ever get the feeling that a bra fits amicably when you’re in the changing room but as soon as you get home, wash and wear it a few times you’d be down to the smallest hook in the blink of an eye? Yeah; I call it my ’32F effect’.

Bravissimo Pepperberry, Margaret St., London

Size measured as: 30F/FF/28G


Bravissimo have long been a favourite of mine and I find them extremely consistent when they fit me. Whether I’m in Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Manchester or Solihull I always get similar results which reveals (if anything) a strong and well carried out training scheme and high levels of awareness. Whenever I go to Bravissimo (I try to go whenever I’m in a town which has one) I try to let them ‘do their thing’ with me and act like I’ve never been before – just out of curiosity. I find that instead of just a quick job (there are no tape measures, calculators or any other quick fix methods in sight) each fitter takes the time to educate the customer about what a good fit should look like so that they can better judge for themselves when a bra fits perfectly. They sell a lot of bras online and via mail order so it makes sense for them to ensure that their customers can fit themselves from home with what they’ve learned from their in-store fitting.

Or course it’s still important to go for your 6 monthly fitting, but what about all the purchases in-between? Bravissimo make it very clear that a label isn’t a given when it comes to bras – brands and styles can vary massively and this should always be taken into consideration when trying on a bra.

Bravissimo also have fantastic aftercare and an over-the-telephone fitting service which I think can really help someone who is not completely sure if a bra they’ve bought fits 100%.

Boux Avenue, Westfield

Size measured as: 32E


Again, I’ll spare you the details on this one as again it’s been pretty well documented on here recently that upon visiting Boux Avenue once, and for a second time, I left feeling rather underwhelmed by their fitting service. A place to find affordable, fashion-focussed underthings, yes, to get fitted, perhaps not.


So, have things changed on the UK High Street over the past two years? Well, in a word, no. They haven’t. Awareness is at an all time high that people should get fitted, but where they get fitted and the size they should be still remains a mystery to all…

Online calculator and a cup of tea, anyone?

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8 Replies to “High Street Bra Fitting Challenge 2012”

  1. Thanks for the great (and not so great) high street reviews. It is important for women to know how horrible most stores are for bra fittings, especially VS that thinks everyone is a 36B. Thanks again 🙂

  2. Hey Cheryl,
    getting fitted into the right bra size changed my life too.
    I always had the felling that my boobs where somehow “wrong” and not good looking because I just couldn’t fit into “regular” bra sizes (those that are offered everywhere). And they really do not look good in a 36B (my measured size).
    After getting fitted (online) and buying some bras from Bravissimo I really changed my mind about this. In fact they are quite good looking in the right bra (30FF). And I look better too.

    Even if there obviously are still a lot of shops where you can’t walk in and buy your bras in the UK, I envy you for being able to walk into a Bravissimo store and trying on all of their lingerie 🙂
    I always have to order online because there are no shops here that sell my brasize – and your reviews are a great help for me since you seem to be very similar to me in size and shape 😉

    Thank you for your interesting blog! 🙂

  3. Have completely given up on M&S/BHS, as I have not once been fitted with a bra there that fit me 100%. Best fitting I ever had was in a designer outlet store. The fitter didn’t measure me at all, but looked at how my own bra fit me and then estimated the size instead. Once we were both happy with the fit, she spent a few minutes explaining exactly why this was a perfect fit and what I should be looking for in different bra styles.

    After that I pretty much stopped listening to the fitters alltogether. They mostly measure, then persist in telling me I’m a size 36, because that’s what the tape says (am right in the middle, so don’t even know why they always size up). Even though I always tell them 36 size bands are too loose for me (even more so after the first few wears and washes), that’s what they insist on bringing me.

    I’d love to be able to send friends to a good service, though, because a lot of them are clearly wearing the wrong size bra, but locally we’ve only got M&S, BHS and Debenhams. But your post has inspired me to do a little research myself soon, then at least I’ll know who’s the least worst out of them.

  4. I had the most stressful experience trying to be fitted in my local John Lewis this week, and whilst this post goes a few months back, I need to vent about it!

    I’m pregnant and I don’t live near a Bravissimo (my usual fitter of choice) so thought I’d give it a go because my breasts have definitely got larger and weren’t comfortable in my usual 32FF. I took my top off and the first thing she said was “well that bra’s FAR too big in the cup.” I don’t know how she decided this as there was no gaping, and the wire was fitting where it’s supposed to. She then measured me with her tape and told me I was a 38-40 in the back because that’s what I measure. “No wonder you’re uncomfortable” she said, smugly.

    We then went through a rigmarole where she tried every bra she had in a D+ cup (all FIVE of them, including 3 horrible pointy non-wired ones), all of which were tiny in the cup, gave me no support in the band, and with wires/cup seam digging into my breast tissue. I was made to feel fussy and stupid in refusing them all. I found the whole thing incredibly stressful, a bit upsetting (you feel quite vulnerable standing there with not much on, especially when your hormones are going insane anyway) and I just made a dash for it afterwards, red-cheeked and with her disapproving eyes following me.

    I’m going to make the 80 mile trip to London to get fitted properly at a Bravissimo, and will never set foot in that JL lingerie department again. Ugh.

  5. Thanks for this post I always thought that I was a 34D but from reading sites like yours I realised this must be wrong and so went for a fitting at M&S where they fitted me as 34E however from reading your site and from trying bras on a t TKmax i feel I am more of a 32F or 32ff depending on the time of month. Although looking at the fitting guide you put up i would be more of a 30 (I measure 29inches round) which seems a bit weird considering that a 32 already feels quite tight. Is it just your personal preference to have very tight bras or is it actually healthier?

  6. Hi im a 34j to 36j ish depending on the make, I cant stand bras with the itchy lace etc which makes it impossible to find bras, nobody stock my size which means im left buying on line so I cant try a few sizes to get my exact size

  7. Good way to prove to them the back is to big (if they force you into one to big in back and to small in cups) is to swizzle it round (back to front) so the cups don’t affect perception of the band. Then stick your thumbs in it and go “look how loose it is! Really?!”.

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