As you may have spotted I am anti adding inches to your underbust to determine your bra size, something that my fellow blogger Beckie Williams from Busts4Justice also believes in, proven when she challenged Playtex and their online fitting tool.
She did not let the issue drop when they tried to placate her with a response that did not get to the heart of the matter and persisted until she got a result.
She then called for women to attend a Playtex Focus Group in London and of course I was more than happy to jump at the chance!
So last week fellow bloggers Cheryl Warner from Invest In Your Chest, Kitty from Undercover Lingerista and myself attended the Focus Group, joined by another lovely lady who in fact revealed herself to be a reader and fan of my blog! Blown away and ego boosted didn’t quite cover that one! The lovely Karleen Smith made us feel more than welcome and was great fun to chat with afterwards what with her being a fellow busty lady and also an avid runner – check out Cheryl’s hilarious blog post and watch this space for her imminent sports bra reviews, including a fabulous bra recommended by Karleen.
I have been to Focus Groups with Evans and Bravissimo before and so had a vague idea of what to expect. However, Playtex are a brand I only knew about due to this online debate and as I had used their online calculator and found that my 35inch underbust and 48inch overbust could not even be comprehended it was one that I had some less than happy feelings about!
Nonetheless being confronted with a room full of yummy cakes, fruit, sandwiches and crisps soon made me feel at ease and although I was initially shocked when a middle-aged gentleman appeared and declared himself to be the leader of the group I soon felt comfortable with the way he asked poignant questions, listened and gauged reactions. It also helped make us all expand on our answers as a man can be as knowledgeable as he likes but he can never truly understand the potential struggles, high and lows of bra shopping.
We were asked to talk about clothes shopping as well as bra shopping. Did we find it easy or hard to find clothes and bras? Did we stick to the high street or speciality shops? Did we purchase online or instore? Were we loyal to a brand or prepared to try new things? If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that yes, I struggle just like a lot of larger breasted ladies. But I also have to take into account that I am bigger all over and so when it comes to clothes there is only so far I can upsize before I run out of sizes and have to veer away from the high street to find garments that will accommodate my lumps and bumps. I am loyal and supportive of any brands I find as I don’t have multiple options due to my tricky size. And therefore I do buy a lot online as I get to know my size in various stores and why try something new when the old thing works so well? Having said that I am swayed by online reviews and brands tried by my fellow bloggers, as demonstrated by my recent foray into Poland and excellent results with BiuBiu and Ewa Michalak.
We touched on how some of us have tried to/succeeded in fitting our own mothers, turning the experience of being fitted by them in our teens on its head! I am happy to report that my Mum is in her correct size, the same can’t be said for my sister whose husband buys her bras based on advice from *insert notoriously bad fitting large high street chain* and when I told my sister than she was the size she though she was, more likely a few backs down and cups up. She then got out her tape measure with the words ‘but I measure that size under my bust’ and sure enough even over her jumper she measured 2 inches less than her band size. One day I will convert her and her hubby who then proceeded to laugh off my suggestions of getting my sister into a smaller bra. People don’t seem to understand that a C and a DD can be the same volume and that DD isn’t necessarily all that big. But that is a whole other post that has partially been covered and is waiting to be written…
We all mentioned how we fluctuated size wise depending on the brand and even depending on bras within the same brand, therefore making an online fitting tool a potentially disastrous idea. We collectively seemed to agree to the idea that an online fitting tool was not necessarily the best way to go about fitting oneself and that a guideline would be better, particularly highlighted that when we were presented with some screen shots of the tools and methods other companies used to bra fit we all preferred the ones with images of the ‘do’s and don’t’s’ of a correctly fitted bra, ones that didn’t try to find your size and sell you one of their products, but just advised you as to whether you may need to try a new size and perhaps suggested going instore to a place that could fit you. We were of course all completely anti any measuring guide that suggested adding inches and regaled tales of awful changing room experiences where we had been put into completely ridiculous sizes in order for the assistant to make a sale or because they had been misinformed about how to measure and thought that the three hooks were there for if when weight gain and loss happened.
It was then that the Playtex ladies burst into the room – we had no idea that they had been watching and listening via Skype! They seemed pleased with what had been said and seemed very keen to take on board our ideas and suggestions and agreed that an online tool for fitting was not ideal, but also, as demonstrated by the other lady in out fitting group, that some women do not want to be fitted instore and so there needs to be a happy medium of advising women but not making it impossible to work out their size online. I call that a success and my opinion of Playtex has done a huge U-turn due to their willingness to change, listen to customers and provide cake.
We were then shown a GENIUS little design on their bras, circled in blue in these photos…

It is a cushion on the top of the underwire that will help prevent bras rubbing under arms – simple yet effective, how has no one ever though of this?!
We also admired the gorgeous cobweb like bra on the mannequin, part of the new Mary Portas range:

Posing with my fellow bloggers Cheryl and Kitty.

I have had to protect the identity of Kitty Lingerista as she wishes to remain anonymous. I tried to do so as subtly as possible.

Playtex is a fabulous example of an established company who are still willing to re address their methods. I think that more companies need to follow suit and realise that not everything is set in stone and there is still room for improvement. I look forward to seeing how Playtex go about re vamping their fitting guide and hope that the War On Plus Four continues to win battles.


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