Bravissimo – bras ‘n’ stuff for big-breasted women

This swimsuit goes up to a GG cup.

When I first started writing the Dear Annie column, in 1995, a DD cup was considered large. Back then, in mainstream shops, bras went up to a D cup if you were lucky. Anything beyond that was classed as special and you had to go to special shops. (Or a wonderful woman in Wiltshire called Margaret Ann.)

This was, I often lamented, because most women were wearing the wrong size bra. I had many aunts who swore they were a B-cup, and, because they were Italian aunts, they’d lift up their sweaters, or hastily unbutton their blouses, to show me their ample bosoms, nestled in between layers of vests and petticoats and, sometimes, corsetry devices.

And I could tell immediately that they were wearing the wrong size bra. That they weren’t B-cups at all. Because the middle of the bra didn’t press against the sternum, as it should. But, rather, was held aloft of it by a good few inches of very-much-not-B-cup bosoms.

Everyone I met professed to be a 36B.

Because I’ve been properly measured since I was in my early 20s, when I first sprouted breasts, I knew my proper size. And because I was a D-cup from about the age of 26 I was considered a freak.

Of course, things have improved oodles since then. And I like to think Dear Annie was partly responsible for this.

I’ve known about Bravissimo since it launched in 1995, so I often take it for granted everyone does. But every few weeks I find myself recommending it to someone and then I realise that, actually, loads of people still don’t know. So I thought it was worth writing about. I never got on with Rigby and Peller. I’ve always been treated rather shabbily when I went in there and so I stopped going. Plus the assistants (always middle-aged and always hurrying me so) never brought out anything but the most Hattie-Jacques style bras.  Things have probably changed but I don’t go there to find out anymore.

I used to go to Selfridges to be measured by the wonderful Dianne (I don’t know if she’s still there, she worked part time), who introduced me to a particularly fantastic every day big-bra by Fantasie. And M&S and Agent Provacateur also make bras in bigger sizes these days.

I have a friend who has all her bras hand made by Cadolle in Paris. Or another who buys from Mimi Holliday.

And all of those have some great bras. But the thing I love about Bravissimo is that it devotes itself, entirely to big breasts: bras, swimsuits  (great swimsuits with proper bra cups), nightwear, maternity. If you’re an F cup, you’re considered average, not huge and certainly not a problem. And if you’re a D-cup, well that’s the smallest cup size they do! So you’re like a size zero..All the assistants who fit you are large-breasted and really cool and funny and never make you feel self-conscious. It also sells clothes – cut for the larger bust – and whilst much of it isn’t my cup of tea, you can find the odd good thing there –  a great print wrap dress, or a super-fitting top, say.

If you can’t get to one of the stores, then you can ring up and speak to a really knowledgeable person on the phone but it’s really worth going into a store to be fitted if you can, at least once a year. And, it’s just introduced its first L-cup bra.

Post-script: one of my on-line friends has pointed out that Bravissimo is very good if you are small backed but big-boobed (and you might not think you are, again what I said about so many women wearing the wrong size bra). I know loads of women who thought they were a 32B (that fabled B-again) to be told they are actually a 30E or something. Honestly this  may be the quickest, cheapest way of getting a boob job – just get properly measured.

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