Dublin: 8 °C Monday 27 March, 2023
# bra fitting
A bra fitter in a Dublin department store shared some of her horror stories from work with us
Try not to do any of these things next time you go for a bra fitting.

shutterstock_1290483340 Shutterstock / Chaay_Tee Shutterstock / Chaay_Tee / Chaay_Tee

THIS MORNING, THERE was some light debate at HQ about how often you should go for a bra fitting. The experts say every six months, but most of us have gotten by just fine with visits that are far less frequent than once or twice a year. 

And then there are plenty of people who have never even bothered getting a bra fitting, who have just been winging it from day one. For those people, and even people who have had bra fittings in the past, there’s understandably a lot of apprehension about going into a shop and getting your chest measured. Do you have to take your top off? Do you have to take your bra off? What if you’re self conscious?

There are so many questions for someone who has never done it before. Luckily, a very close friend of mine spent a significant amount of time working in a Dublin department store fitting bras for all types of women, and her horror stories can put your worries at ease and stop you from making the same mistakes that other people have made while embarking on the journey to find out what size bra they’re supposed to be wearing.

What you’ll realise upon reading each anecdote is that communication is essential. Keep that in mind. If you think you misheard an instruction or you’re confused about what’s going on, ask again. It’ll save everyone from a potentially awkward situation in the long run. 


Every single time a person went into the fitting room, I’d tell them, “Take off your top and leave your bra on.” I would put so much emphasis on the “leave on” part, but people always took their bras off anyway, and I’d walk into the fitting room and be like “Oh no.” I’d have to ask them to put their bra back on, and in some cases they’d be embarrassed and apologise, but in other cases, they’d flat out refuse. Some people would say, “My bra is filthy, I’m too embarrassed, can I leave it off?” Others would have arrived into town without a bra either because they cba with bras or because they knew they had the fitting and thought it required a bare chest. In these cases, I’d just measure them over their t-shirt. 

So, the first lesson here is to wear a bra. If you’re not going to wear a bra, tell the bra fitter in advance, instead of whipping out your boobs and standing there in the fitting room waiting for them to join you.

The second lesson is that if you’re going into any situation like this, whether it’s a waxing appointment, a tattoo appointment, a doctor’s appointment that requires a physical checkup, etc. – just have a wash beforehand. Tattoo artists say this all the time: if you’re going to have somebody up in your personal space and touching your body, make sure you’re clean. This goes for your body, and your bra. Prepare for a bra fitting in advance. According to the bra fitter we spoke to, this is something a lot of people did not do. 

The busiest time for bra fittings is summer, because mothers have way more free time with their kids off school, but that meant they were running around town, carrying all of their shopping and sweating (like, proper sweat rolling off them). The measuring tape would be sticking to them and your hands would be sliding around on them. It was not unusual for this to happen, and I wasn’t judging any individuals for this because it happened so often, but you can understand why it just made the job a bit unpleasant sometimes.

So there’s another tip: if you’re going shopping in town the same day as your bra fitting, get the bra fitting first. Obviously, there’s going to be an understandable amount of sweat on every adult in the summer, but if you can reduce that amount for the sake of these poor retail workers, you should at least try.

We had to use the same measuring tapes all day, every day. They were never washed and they were always sticking to people’s sweaty backs, and one day I saw one of the girls I work with putting it into her mouth without thinking. When I said it to her she was so horrified. This is more the shop’s fault than anyone else’s, but it’s still disgusting. They never gave us enough hand sanitiser, either.

shutterstock_1032889786 Shutterstock / korkai Shutterstock / korkai / korkai

It’s not just the physical sensation of touching a stranger’s sweat that made the job tough for these employees either, as the smell that accompanied the sweat was also pretty bad. Again, it’s natural for adults to sweat, and it’s normal too. There are several conditions that worsen body odour for some individuals, but then, as we all know, there are some people out there who just don’t put a lot of thought into their personal hygiene. 

You’d have to breathe through your mouth while you were fitting them, and then the smell would linger in the fitting room and the next person trying something on would be complaining about the smell and asking why we didn’t have Febreeze. We weren’t allowed to spray anything in the fitting rooms in case anyone had asthma though.

While we’re on the topic of people having no regard for personal hygiene… 

People constantly took knickers into the fitting room to try on. We’d tell them that you can’t try on underwear (other than bras), but sometimes you’d be out grabbing a bra for someone and people would get by with a pair of knickers and then they’d come out when they were done and hand you the knickers to hang back up for them. For very obvious reasons, I thought this was disgusting. Another time, I was hanging up a bodysuit someone had tried on and it wasn’t until it was hung up that I noticed there was discharge on the crotch part. 

Okay, vom.

shutterstock_500532676 Shutterstock / Irina Borsuchenko Shutterstock / Irina Borsuchenko / Irina Borsuchenko

Let’s talk about something less disgusting for a minute to cleanse our brains of that image. 

Most women that you fit arrive wearing the wrong sized bra. Most of the time, their bra is way too big, but sometimes people would be wearing one that was way too small and you’d fit them and tell them they were a few sizes bigger than they thought and they would go mad at you and refuse to try it on and tell you that you were wrong.

And once again: communication is very important. If the sales assistant/bra fitter tells you what to do, listen to them. It’s their job – and they want to avoid awkward and disgusting interactions as much, if not more, than you do. 

If you’re getting shapewear – go for your own dress size. People would always go for smaller sizes, thinking it would suck them in more, but it doesn’t work like that. Everyone who got the wrong size would get stuck in them (it’s hard enough to get your own size off) and we’d have to go into the fitting room and pull people out of them, and if you’re a bit sweaty, this is much more difficult because the shapewear sticks to your sweat. 

And finally:

You would not believe how many weirdos come into the lingerie section, saying that they’re looking for a bra for their girlfriend/wife, and asking would you have a rough idea of what bra size she is, before presenting you with a nude photo of their partner on their phone. I think in most situations these were just perverts trying to get a reaction, because I’d like to think that most men aren’t stupid enough to go around showing their girlfriend’s nudes to retail assistants. So, we’d usually point these men out to security. 

Well, okay. Bra fitters are not paid enough to deal with what they have to deal with in work. While this was a roundup of horror stories, our bra fitter reminded us that it is really important to get a bra fitting, and she encourages everyone to do it every six months. In most department stores, you can just walk in and get one for free. There’s no appointment needed.

Take all of the lessons you learned from reading this into account next time you go for a fitting, in order to make sure both you and your bra fitter have as comfortable an experience as possible. 

Got a particularly shitty job you want to share horror stories from? Email or to send us the goods. 

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