11:10 27 January 2010
New research has revealed that the nation's bra fitting services are failing to meet required standards.
In its 'Bra fitting? No it isn't' report, consumer watchdog Which? found that less than one in three high street and specialist stores made the grade.
Furthermore, none were deemed good enough to recommend to others.
Which? sent out 11 big chested researchers, aged 25 to 75 with a DD cup size or larger across 70 stores, with the assignment of buying an ordinary, well-fitting bra.
However, only 29% of the bras sold to the mystery shoppers were rated as a good fit by experts, who said none of the services tested were good enough to recommend.
Some women were sold varying sizes by different shops, and in one case this varied by seven sizes from a 34FF to 40D.
Another shopper was sold the same bra in two different House of Frasier branches, but in two different sizes (34C and 34F), and the panel judged that neither of them were the correct fit.
In one case, despite the difference in age or requirements, the researchers saw a woman aged 30 and another 75-year-old both sold the same Wonderbra-style plunge bra by La Senza staff. Again, neither were reported to be a good fit for their wearers.
A quarter of the fittings were rated as appalling, with the Which? experts suggesting the volunteers could have been better "picking something off a market stall".
Department store John Lewis and Bravissimo, the large-bust specialist, received the best overall scores but were still not good enough to recommend, according to Which?.
The watchdog also visited high street favourites Marks & Spencer and Debenhams.
Panel members consultant bra technologist Gillian Spencer, lecturer and technical designer Laura Savery and principal lecturer in contour design at De Montford University David Morris assessed the fit of bras sold to the researchers.
As well as looking odd, poorly fitted bras can also cause or exacerbate neck, shoulder and back ache and result in poor posture.
The Which? criteria for proper fitting underwear indicated the need for correctly-fitting wire and cups, a firm but comfortable underband, as well as correctly adjusted straps (to lift the weight of the breasts off the ribcage and shoulders on to the lower back).
Which? spokesman Jenny Driscoll said "Whatever their bra size, women want to look good and feel good.
"Heading to the high street for a fitting might seem like a simple solution, but the results we found were shocking one bra was so poorly fitted there was room for a pair of socks in the cups.
"If stores are going to offer this service to customers they need to up their game - do it properly or don't do it at all."
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