Yesterday I had the pleasure of going on a little adventure up to Sheffield for the day for an exciting, information and fun filled day over at Panache HQ.
What is Panache?
Panache Lingerie was launched in 1982 and in 1989 Panache started their own in-house designs. In 1998 Panache made it's first move to department stores in the UK and in 2003 they launched their first D+ sized swimwear range. In 2005, Masquerade was launched and in 2008, the Cleo range. In 2011, Panache launched Panache sport and in 2012, Panache saw the launch of the Sculptresse range and Cleo swimwear range. Also in 2012, Panache won Best Sports Bra of the Year. Panache Lingerie specialises in D+ sizes, with lingerie made from quality fabrics, expert designs and fits, all for a comfortable, right fitting and supporting bra. Panache know how important it is to have a bra which is the right size and fit, not just for comfort, but also to support and look after one of the most important parts of the female body - our breasts.
"Panache bras are fabulous. Their Superbras are the 'Ronseal' of the bra World. I swear they change women's lives! I can't recommend them enough!"
Quoted from a user on Mumsnet, September 2012.
My first bra fitting experience
The first time I was properly fitted for a bra I was around 14 years old (late bloomer!) and my mum took me to Marks and Spencers for it. Off I popped along, nervous as anything, and stood in the dressing room with a woman I had never met who didn't have much to say other than "Get undressed then". So stripping down my top half, you can imagine my nerves of being bare chested in front of a complete stranger. It has put me off of getting measured ever since.
My misconceptions of what a bra should be
Since then I've kind of just guessed my bra size, gravitating towards a 38D/DD for a good decade or so now. In my late teens I decided that the only bras I should be wearing, were Ann Summers bras. I wanted to look and feel sexy, sultry and gorgeous, so I was determined to fit into Ann Summers, buying any bra in my size that they had to offer. But every single one has always been a tight fit, left my boobs spilling out and giving me those dreaded 'kebabs' around the back. But I didn't care - I was wearing Ann Summers, and that's what mattered to me. As I've gotten older I have moved towards bras which weren't quite what I wanted them to be aesthetically, be ones which fitted better. Still sticking to a size 38D/DD. These still never fitted properly, meaning I'd constantly throughout the day be adjusting my bra and boobs to try and squeeze them in!
The importance of a proper fitting bra
For yesterday's visit to Panache HQ, we spent the day on a 'Learn the Fit' course. The course was all about learning how to fit bras correctly, how to find the right sized bra and what bras are best suited for what bust shape and size. Of course, a lot of this is down to personal preference - You have to be comfortable in the bra you are wearing. But here are some of the main points learnt from yesterday.
- Up to a massive 80% of women in the UK are wearing the wrong bra size.
- The average bra size in the UK at the moment is a D/DD/E.
- Wearing the wrong bra size can cause many problems including neck, shoulder and back ache, skin irritation caused by straps digging in, irreversible damage to ligaments which can cause breast pain and sagging, and wires in ill-fitting bras can stick into breast tissue causing unnecessary pressure and discomfort.
- Wearing the right sized bra will be comfortable, supportive, lift the bust revealing the waist to give a slimmer appearance, fill you with confidence and create a better posture and a smooth silhouette under clothing.
Getting hands on
As well as learning about the history of Panache and all the different brands and styles and shapes created by Panache, we got some hands on practice during the day of learning how to fit bras. I was pretty nervous about this - I wasn't overly confident with the idea of fitting a bra on a complete stranger. But our four models for the bra fitting lesson were lovely and relaxed, and helped us work out what the right size for them would be. We also had on hand our wonderful course leader for the day, Karen Forbes, who has her own independent bra shop 'The Little Big Bra Shop' in Market Harborough. Sharing a wealth of information with us, I learnt how to correctly fit two bras to two different girls.
Getting myself measured and fitted
After explaining to Karen my one bra measuring back in my early teens and how it had put me off ever since, she kindly offered to give me a measuring and fitting session. Karen put me at ease - which is something I had always worried wouldn't happen if I had popped along anywhere to get measured. After a quick chat about what size bras I had been wearing, what shape, style and finishes I like with bras and what size I thought I'd be once fitted, we got to the measuring. After wearing a 38D/DD for over a decade I was pretty sure that I needed to go up a few back sizes, maybe to a 42D/DD. How wrong I was! After my fitting, of being measured and trying on several different Panache bras, Karen and I decided I was in fact a 38FF/G! A massive difference to the size of bras I have been wearing.
(I didn't have to get bare chested like I had as a teen and neither will you if you go to the right establishments to get fitted)
Once our 'Learn the Fit' course was over, we got to go on a tour of the Panache factory floor, learning what the wonderful machinists do and how they make the bras, step by step. As a lot of my family have been machinists in the past and my Uncle used to run a clothes factory in London back in the 90's, the factory floor tour really brought back some memories. And it was exciting to see exactly where these beautiful bras are made!
The wonderful creative and talented Panache design team
We also got to meet the wonderful design team at Panache who talked us through the S/S13 lines for all the different brands under Panache. I loved seeing the mood boards, client stories and learning how they put together a whole line of lingerie from just a few initial ideas. The creative team were wonderfully welcome and I have to admit - I left a little bit envious of their careers and talent.
Overall the day itself was so, so informative. I am so genuinely happy to finally have plucked up the courage to get fitted and measured properly. I learnt so much about lingerie and really understand now just how important a properly fitted bra is, not just for comfort, but for our bodies too. I fell even more in love with the designs of Panache Lingerie, a brand whose bras I already own and wear. And after a sneaky look at the A/W13 range due to come out later this year, I am beyond excited for what's to come from Panache and already know exactly which items I'll be adding to my collection!