That is a truism whether you sew or not. There’s a great quote from the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”. Stanley Tucci advises Anne Hathaway, “Always keep the girls pointing forward.” That sounds simple enough, but the reality is that many, maybe even most of us don’t adhere to that. And it’s not our fault. We haven’t been measured properly.
I’ll use myself as an example. Last year, I went to a chain lingerie store, I’ll call it Valerie’s, to buy some bras. The sales clerks in the store all dutifully carry their measuring tapes. I had not been measured for a while, so I asked for a fitting measurement. She whipped the tape measure around me and declared “36 D”.
Now, I am busty, but I have always been somewhere in the 34C-D range. I was a little startled that I had (in my mind) gained that much weight and size since 2006. But I figured she knew what she was doing, so I bought several bras. After wearing them for a time, I noticed that my clothing didn’t fit as well as I thought it should. At that same time, I was making a lot of knit tops and dresses to showcase Gorgeous Fabrics (and me, of course). Since knits are much more forgiving, I ignored the problem. Then I made a fitted jacket, and noticed the problem right away. I even received an email from a friend about it. This friend is someone whose judgment and advice on fit are always spot on. She is truly an expert. She had seen a picture of me in the jacket, and she commented that the girls seemed to be headed south of the equator (the equator being the bust point on the pattern). In making the jacket, I had used all of my standard alterations. They had worked just fine on the prior garments I had made. I started wracking my brain. Is it advanced age and gravity? Did I gain a whole lot of weight all of a sudden? What had changed?
I took a full set of measurements. Waist, and hip were the same. Bust was slightly larger. Maybe I should be glad that, if I am gaining weight, I’m only gaining there? Then came the most telling measurement: the shoulder to bust point. On most days in the past, that measurement for me is about 11 inches. This time? 12 inches. A full inch below where I was expecting it. If your bust point, or the fullest part of your bust, is above or below the bust point of the pattern, you’ll get all sorts of distortion. That was happening here, and Els spotted it right away. I began to suspect the new bras I had purchased. Sure enough, when I put on one of my old bras (I like French manufacturers. This was a Lise Charmel), sproing! Right back where they belonged, 11 inches (actually 11 1/8 inches, but the bra was old, ya know?).
To test my theory, I went to another lingerie store – Lady Grace. This one is known in the Boston area as being THE PLACE to get fitted for a bra. They have the reputation for taking 10 years and 10 lbs. off any figure, and the women who work there are no-nonsense about the types of bras that work for various figures. I asked the manager to fit me. She quickly but carefully measured me and pronounced, “You’re a snug 34C.” I told her about my last measurement. She cast a gimlet eye in my direction and said, “Honey, if you wear a 36D, your bra band and boobs will be sitting at your waist. That’s just too big.” She then proceeded to pick out several bras for different needs (“This maker is good for when you want them to look really perky. This one is great for under tee shirts. You don’t want padding, honey, trust me. You don’t need it and it will just make you look fat.”)
One hour, four bras and matching panties later, I really did look younger and thinner. The moral of the story is, get yourself to a good bra fitter, and get properly fitted. You’ll stand straighter, look younger, and your clothes will fit better.