In 2019, a New York Times article debunked the over-quoted statistic that 80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size. The research was first circulated in 1988 by plastic surgeon Dr. Pechter but based on anecdotal evidence taken from sources like Good Housekeeping and Ladies’ Home Journal that only spoke to women with cup sizes AA to DDD.
The figure was then co-opted by bra retailers like Victoria Secret who notoriously sell women bras that don’t fit based on what they have in stock. The lingerie giant has such limited sizing in both band and cup size that the likelihood of fitting the majority of women was slim to none from the start.
But more importantly, even if the 80 per cent was an accurate stat, it isn’t actually useful, for a number of reasons.
The first being that it makes women feel like they’ve somehow failed before they even start shopping. Secondly, there is very little standardization in sizing across retailers so finding your size in one place doesn’t necessarily matter for the next one. Even the size standard doesn’t take into account breast shape and bra style–it’s less about size and more about fit.
There are online stores like Third Love that have quizzes to help people find their size. It asks about breast shape, how your current bra fits (like are the straps too tight, are the cups gaping?), and what style of bra you like to wear and then matches you with their inventory.
There are also diagrams online that show how to take your own measurements and then a converter that matches the measurements to a bra size. However these tools don’t show how a bra should fit, where it should sit on the body and how tight it should be in various places so speaking to a professional fitter and lingerie expert is still an asset.
Where to get a properly-fitted bra in Vancouver
These five Vancouver lingerie stores stock a large range of sizes, years of experience and specialize in helping find bras that fit properly. Plus they carry practical and sexy styles of a bit of everything.
Change Lingerie is a European chain with a location on West Broadway. Change sets itself apart from other conglomerates with a focus on fit. There are resources on their website that demonstrate how a bra should fit and feel in different places but the business recommends an in-person fitting. The stores offer personal shopping and carry 88 sizes from A to M cups.
Address: 2358 Cambie St, Vancouver
Diva Lingerie recommends that women get fitted once a year to make sure they are still wearing a well-fitted bra. The body changes with puberty, pregnancy, weight loss and gain, aging, and medication so regular fittings are key. Store manager Monica Egea has a certification in post-surgery fittings and 15 years' experience, too. They carry sizes 32A to 46I, 40L and 44J and styles that cover all needs.
Address: 2596 Granville St, Vancouver
La Jolie Madame Lingerie
Perhaps one of the most stylish entrants on this list, La Jolie Madame Lingerie imports a curated selection of European bras. The staff is well-versed in bra fitting and garment sizing and many of the designs are unique to their store.
Address: 849 Hornby St, Vancouver
Monaliza’s Lingerie in Kerrisdale stocks a variety of bras on the sexier side with lots of beautiful boudoir-esque options. There are practical full-coverage bras and shapewear available too but it’s worth the trip for the delicate illusion lace detailing on the cups, straps, and bands. The bras run on the pricier side of this list but there are multiple brands and a range of sizes to choose from (AA-K and XS-5X).
Address: 2283 W 41st Ave, Vancouver
Many lingerie stores in Vancouver have been around for 15+ years, something about the garments inspires heritage businesses. Diane’s Lingerie has been around for 34 years and focuses on providing the best experience for women. Located in South Granville, they offer fittings in a comfortable and welcoming environment.
Address: 2950 Granville St, Vancouver
Also located in Kerrisdale, Curran’s has a large selection of unintimidating full-coverage bras. For people who find overly sexy or revealing bras uncomfortable this is the best place to find something that fits well with no fuss. The store has been in the neighbourhood since 1964 and has a fitting guide of do’s and don’ts prominently displayed on its website so it’s a great place to find a bra that fits.
Address: 2247 W 41st Ave, Vancouver