Bra Sizing, And Why We Can’t Always Get What We Want

Image by Beija London

It’s time for some bra talk, my dears (and perhaps a little moan as well.) Recently I put up a grumpy old lady rant about lingerie sizing, sparked from an observation of how lingerie brands who target a specific group (eg small back size, full bust) receive so many attacks for not catering to every individual’s own needs, rather than deserved praise for expanding the overall options available. I know this topic has been addressed before, but I did want to post something for the people who don’t currently understand how the lingerie industry works, and why, being a 32GG, you can’t just buy a good fitting bra at any old brand.

Miss Deadly Red wears a black Playful Promises bra
Miss Deadly Red wears a bra by Playful Promises

First off, lets talk about about what the industry calls “core sizing” which is back sizes 32-38 and cup sizes A-D. Straight away you may be realising that this is not that broad a spectrum of sizes, especially by modern standards where for instance, wearers might have had breast augmentation, so you can expect a bigger difference between back and cup size. I personally do not fit into core sizing! However, it does cover 16 different sizes, all of which have a minimum order per style and per colour with manufacturers. All these individual sizes have to be transported, stored, given retail space if it’s a high street store. All this adds to the costs and detracts from overall profitability if a certain size isn’t popular. So once you start adding in sizes that fall outside this core range, you risk investing in something that will leave you with unsold stock and less profit to invest in your next collection.

Lara Intimates Ava bra
The Ava bra by Lara Intimates, worn by The Wicked Jade

Next, it’s not as simple as just scaling up the design from a 34B to a 42KK. A bra supporting fuller, heavier breasts does need different design and engineering to be comfortable and fit well. A great instance of this is a British lingerie brand I love called Beija. Each design has three sizing groups (with indivdual sizes catered to within it) all with variations to make that style better suited to it’s wearer. Their X bra is for petite busts, is wireless and light. Their Y bra is made for B-D cups and features a more typical wired fit. Their Z bra is for DD-G cups, and seems to use more technical fabrics for support, sometimes thicker strapping, which believe me, you notice when it isn’t there! I recently had my first bra headache and let me tell you- spaghetti straps and E cups are not good friends! There can also be cost implications to less common sizes, possibly needing the manufacturer to create bespoke underwires because standard ones aren’t available in that size. Knowing what I know about underwires, this is no mean undertaking. I could write a whole blog post on it, but I imagine it’s very dull fare to anyone who doesn’t have to know this stuff!

Beija London black stripes bra
The stripes bra, by Beija London

So now we understand why some brands will not be able to afford or justify expanding their size range (not to mention that some are clothing retailers who do not specialise in lingerie) let’s look at how a brand chooses the size ranges it does cater to. When a brand starts up they will ask themselves who their target customer is, and this will include a body profile. They may be quite an athletic brand dealing mainly in core size sports bras, they may choose to specialise in the fuller figured woman, maybe women with small ribs and full cups. Whatever the body type of the woman they wish to sell to, they will have to pick a limited range of sizes for the reasons given above. The chances are that they will have done market research with women who match their profile and their size range will be based around that information. Unfortunately this may mean that you fall either side of that sizing, and will not be able to purchase from them. It’s important to know that this is not the brand choosing to exclude you for any reason- they just had to draw the line somewhere, and demand means that right now, they can’t justify expanding it any further.

Gabi Fresh x Playful Promises bra
The Gabi Fresh collaboration with Playful Promises

The good news is that the internet means you’re never far away from finding a new brand that is absolutely perfect for your needs. The best advice I can give is follow lingerie bloggers who match your body type (and ones who don’t- you find amazing styling ideas with these people!) A few of my favourites are-

Fuller Figure Fuller Bust

Comic Girls Need Bras

The Lingerie Raven

Big Cup Lil Cup

The Wicked Jade

These women all have vastly different styles, from luxury fetish to cutesy-everyday, and there are hundreds more, all sharing their finds! Maybe you’d even like to share your own thoughts.

But I guess the real question we’re all asking is how can we encourage brands to stray into our sizes, especially when we’re *just* on the cusp of fitting their gorgeous designs!

  1. People need to stop with the accusatory, angry comments when they can’t buy from a certain retailer. Remember they can’t possibly please everyone and if they included your size someone else would still be feeling hard done by.
  2. Instead you need to make sure that you encourage them in their good work- tag friends who are the right size for the brand and who you think would appreciate them. If they are making sales they have more profit to expand.
  3. When you find retailers who sell your size BUY IT FULL PRICE! I cannot stress enough what a difference it makes to meetings when you show that certain sizes only sell at a discount. This implies it’s not really worth continuing with.
  4. You can absolutely comment to express your wishes, but just think about how you would receive the following comments after you’d worked hard and invested huge amounts of money to release a collection.

“Only up to a FF? That’s supposed to be big? What about H cup and over? Nothing for me, as usual with most companies” (actual comment taken from a specialist brand’s post)

“Love this! @Mybigbustedfriend” this would look stunning on you. Can’t wait till they start selling K cups, I’d wear this style all the time”

Playful Promises lingerie
Playful Promises

Speaking as a designer, we all do our best to meet the varied and high expectations of our customers, don’t forget, at the end of the day, we really want to make a sale to you! So let us know what you want without making us feel defensive about our limited resources, or the things we haven’t been able to do yet. Support the brands who are trying to meet your needs, and offer your feedback about what you wish you could buy from them!

Finally, a list of designers that I think deserve recognition for trying to cater to a broad range of sizes! (please note that I have not personally bought from all these brands or been paid for promotion)

Helen Kukovski– Stocks sizes 28AA- 44K but will also custom make you a bra at no extra charge!

Curvy Kate– Awesome lingerie brand specialising in D-K cups with a great range of styles.

Playful Promises– On trend, and a brand whose inclusivity is renowned! Sizes 30A to 44H

Lara Intimates– A sustainable brand, that uses deadstock fabrics with a zero waste policy! Size 26A to 36I

 

 

 

What can I do?

Buy your size bra full price

Competition Time!

Competition winner Amethyst Skye in a green corset

Spring is here! And we’re having a little competition to celebrate reaching 40,000 followers on Instagram! If you’d like to win a £200 Orchid Corsetry gift voucher then now is your chance to get snap happy! A few simple steps for your chance to enter before 30/4/19-

  1. Take a picture in your favourite Orchid corset, lingerie or accessory. It can be a selfie, taken by a friend or even a professional photographer if you like!
  2. If possible share the picture on social media (though we do accept email entries too) tagging us @OrchidCorsetry on Instagram and Orchid Corsetry on Facebook and use the hashtag #OrchidSelfie
  3. Tell us how you feel when you’re wearing the garment! Do you feel powerful? graceful? confident? sensuous?

Competition winner Amethyst Skye in her teal overbust corset

Some top tips for entries that make an impact!

  1. Be creative! Choose a beautiful or unexpected location for your shot- sometimes a dramatic backdrop is right around the corner!
  2. Get friends involved! Either helping to take a great photo or even posing with you! Couple shots are very welcome!
  3. Lighting is key- make sure we can see what you’re wearing!
  4. Remember we want to see ALL our clients! It would be lovely to see some of our male and trans clients strutting their stuff this year!
  5. Be aware that we may share entries on social media so feel free to disguise your identity if that’s what you’d prefer to do.
  6. Multiple entries welcome! The more the better!

The images in this post are from last year’s competition winner Amethyst Skye, with most photos taken by Diana Suder.

Remember- the deadline is the 30th April so don’t delay- shot today!

Competition winner wearing corset in a library

2017 Winter Gift Guide

Well The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

Whatever you’re celebrating this Winter, everyone loves to open a touch of luxury! Our gift guide this year showcases some of our new styles, including a growing range of ready to wear corsetry and some very decadent fetish inspired lingerie. Arranged for every budget, we hope you unwrap some of our handmade treasures this year.

But My Dear, You Look So Delightful…

Budget £10-£50

 

Gift Vouchers

Did you know that our gift vouchers start as low as £10? Choosing a size dependent gift for someone can be difficult, so if you’re stumped or have missed our shipping deadlines then you can purchase the value of your choosing and receive a code that can be used online within 24 hours.

Accessories

Speaking of size dependent dilemmas- our chokers (£20) and masks are one size fits all! With colour selections to personalise your order, a seductive treat to open is just a click away.

Our corset storage bags are just £20 and are the perfect gift for a corset addict! They allow you to organise your collection and hang them up in the wardrobe away from tangled laces and other nightmares. Colour code the bag to the corset with our custom colour options!

We have two lingerie harness styles to choose from as well! The Morgan harness is our newest addition, with a refined bondage look, featuring a triple drop of ascending size ovals. For a more delicate style, try our En Régate harness. These pieces start at £35.

Since We’ve No Place To Go…

Budget £50- £100

Accessories

Looking for something seductive and decadent? A French lace mask and choker set (£57) could be your answer. Match your colours and metalwork for a luxurious package, sent in one of our branded gift boxes.

New for Winter this year- the Isolde neck corset (£80) is the ultimate in fetish indulgence. Made in couture silk mesh with silk satin accents and double O ring detail. The swooping shape and elegant design will make this a treasured gift for years to come.

Lingerie

All our lingerie separates come in under £100! Why not try our new Adara suspender belt style with a pair of silk stockings? or our Acquiesce harness bra, which can be styled over clothing or worn alone for a sensuous encounter.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Budget £100-£200+

Lingerie

We have released three exciting new lingerie sets for Winter, starting from £155 for a bra and panties. Look at the Caron, Adara and Inira styles for boudoir inspiration. Caron and Inira can be mixed and matched for a personal set!

Corsetry

We offer standard size corsetry with custom colour options from £200. Choose from our Perle mesh underbust in ivory or black or our brand new Adara waspie. All have multiple fabric and trim options to personalise your order, and our sizing chart makes it easy to get the right fit for first time wearers! Why not add a matching corset storage bag to complete the gift?

Bespoke corsetry is not out of the question for gifts, but it can be tricky to plan if we don’t have an existing pattern for your recipient! But fear not, our gift vouchers can be used towards a bespoke order and will give your loved one a wealth of choice across our site.

If you’re still not sure you can always contact us to ask for some recommendations for your budget and preferences, we’re happy to help you find the right gift! Have a magical holiday, friends.

Heartland- A Love Letter To Wales

Adara suspender belt back

Coming Home

Heartland is born from a challenging year of personal change and upheaval. A significant part of all this is the move back to my home, my heart, Wales. I was born here, I’ve never strayed far from the border, and every time I am lost in her landscape, I am filled with energy and contentment. Wales is a country that breathes poetry, that nourishes the soul, that overwhelms the senses, whatever season you greet her in.

When trying to express a direction for the new collection, it was this love that I came back to, I wanted the theme to reflect the passion, the boldness the inspiration that I find here. The Heartland collection uses traditional Welsh names to identify the styles, each with a delicious meaning that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as the designs themselves.

Inira- Meaning “Honour”

Shop the Inira frame bra
Shop the Inira thong

A striking lingerie set, encompassing a harness bra that frames and flares around the body with detailed thong in lustred satin. Large oval rings clutch at clusters of straps, making the bra ideal for layering over clothing for a distinctive fetish fashion appeal.

Options- available in scarlet or black, with you choice of silver or gold metalwork.

Adara- Meaning “Bird Catcher”

Shop the Adara quarter cup bra
Shop the Adara Panties
Shop the Adara garter belt
Shop the Adara waspie

The standout look from Heartland, featuring a sensuous collection of quarter cup harness bra, alluring panties and our first garter belt which overlaps and entwines in the most seductive fashion. Crossing straps and cut-away areas highlight the body in elaborate lace flourishes. This collection also includes a made-to-order waspie with many custom options, allowing you to collate a matching set that you can truly treasure.

Options- Lingerie available in Black or ivory, with your choice of silver or gold metalwork. Corset has extensive custom options.

Caron- Meaning “Loving”

Shop the Caron bralette 
Shop the Caron cage panties

A full bralette set with cage back panties. The triple strap waist belt on the panties frames the waist and echoes the bold styling on the strappy bralette. Made in a lustrous satin with strap and mesh features.

Options- available in black or ivory with your choice of silver or gold metalwork.

Morgan- Meaning “Seashore”

Shop the Morgan harness

The ideal style-up for an outfit. The ascending sized ovals create an arresting effect peeping out from under clothing, and team up well with a corset ensemble. A fetish inspired look that can be built upon or played down depending on your style.

Options- available in black or ivory, with your choice of silver or gold metalwork.

Focus On A Bespoke Corset Commission

Bespoke corset with matching silk lingerie

A journey into waist training

Ever wondered what it’s like to order a bespoke corset? To work with a craftsman to create something uniquely yours, never to be repeated? Here’s a very special commission I worked on recently. Made for a male client who had never even tried a corset on before he contacted me last Autumn.

My client was looking to begin waist training, and wanted corsets that were lightweight to fit discreetly under clothing. Initially he was interested in an overbust style but after looking at his requirements I recommended an underbust. This would fit better with his lifestyle and would prove easier to camouflage as underwear. He decided on a waist training starter kit, including an Edwardian underbust and ribbon corset with suspenders and a camisole. These pieces would be made in a way that kept bulk at a minimum whilst remaining sturdy and suitable for regular wear. The concession to this being the choice of using silk ribbons for the ribbon corset! Silk ribbons are not as durable as the grosgrain ribbons I would usually use for these pieces. However they are incomparably luxurious and feel wonderful against the skin. There is a very special lustre to the colours in these ribbons!

We discussed how he would like the corsets to look, and he knew he wanted them to have refined feminine styling. He chose a palette of pale pinks, golds and peach but gave me control over the final choices on fabrics. This was a wonderful opportunity for me, as I love creating soft, feminine looks. Being able to create something precious for this first time corset wearer was a real privilege. We agreed my choices would be a surprise, and I began selecting glowing silks that belonged in a wealthy 19th century ladies trousseau!

Silk, lace and lingerie

My client was able to visit the studio for a personal fitting where I took his measurements. We talked a little more about the style for the corsets, but mostly about his travels through Europe! Fittings aren’t essential for most underbust corsets as I can work from measurements sent in using our instructions at home. However it’s a great chance to efficiently make most of the decisions needed for a bespoke corset order. For some people these meetings can be a little nerve wracking. Particularly where they are unfamiliar with corsets and are expecting someone far scarier than me to be behind the door! But tea and biscuits usually prove that we’re all good friends nice and quickly.

Another result of the fitting was my client choosing a set of our lingerie to be made to match his Edwardian corset. He chose our En Regate set- an underwired bra, delicately strapped panties and a lingerie harness. These would work really well with the colour schemes I had devised and made the set even more complete!

Edwardian bespoke corset in progress

I settled on a rich coral peach silk with a smooth finish for the underbust. It was a great weight of silk to use for the matching lingerie and had a lovely gleam to it. During our meeting we had also talked about gentle colour contrasts, so I decided swirls of symmetrial ivory lace applique would be used to highlight the centre front and hips with graceful motifs. The lingerie looked romantic next to it in the peach silk with ivory strapping. The silk ribbons were very hard to choose- so many exquisite shades, each suggesting a different direction. But in the end I opted for a combination of creamy ivory and tarnished gold, set against silk panels in a dusky rose shot gold dupion.

Unwrapping a treasure

From the fitting to completion of the corsets was around 5 weeks- a little slow thanks to the Christmas rush! but as my client preferred to collect the corsets rather than have them posted it was a while till I was able to present them! I am always excited but nervous to hand over any order- will it meet the vision the client had when they came to me? But especially so when I’ve been given free reign over design on a bespoke corset. I pray that I haven’t misjudged their brief, and that they receive something they wouldn’t have thought to ask for, but have a connection to all the same. Judging by the message I received when he got them home I hit the mark!

“Hi Bethan, WOW, beautifully exquisite creations!

You truly are talented at your profession, thank you for all that you have done for me. I am amazed at how they feel when worn.”

How would you feel if you had opened the box to find these corsets?

Waist training kit with matching custom lingerie
The completed waist training kit with matching lingerie.