Let’s Talk Bras! An Interview with Ali Cudby of Fab Foundations
Today I’m really excited to be interviewing Ali Cudby of Fab Foundations. Ali is the author of Busted!: The FabFoundations Guide To Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic. I got an advance press review copy of the book last year, and I’ve already recommended it privately to several of my readers.
One of the things I like most about Busted! is how approachable and down-to-earth it is. I’m a big fan of talking about lingerie in a way everyone can understand, and I’m an even bigger fan of empowering women to recognize good lingerie and good fit for themselves. In our interview today, Ali talks about why bras are so important, her most poignant bra memory, and how to discover your size if you don’t live near a fitter.
1) Thanks so much for making the time for my readers! I’ve read your book, Busted!: The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter, and Feel Fantastic a few times now and it’s in regular rotation in my library. What made you want to write a book about lingerie? Do you come from a retail or design background?
I come from the background of being a frustrated consumer. After a lifetime of ill-fitting bras that were uncomfortable and unflattering, I (accidentally, but happily) stumbled into the world beyond DD bras around eight years ago. It was a transformational moment for me. Finding bras that fit changed how I felt in my body, every single day — and it was so thrilling that I began learning more about the industry, blogging, and ultimately creating a methodology for fit that became the basis of Busted!
2) One of the things The Lingerie Addict tries to do is emphasize how important lingerie is to a woman’s wardrobe. Just how important do you think bras and bra fitting should be to women?
Women tell me that they don’t care much about their bras because bras “don’t show.” I couldn’t disagree more! Wearing a bra that fits is going to improve how your clothes look on your body. Proper fit will even improve your posture and help reduce sagging later in life. Plus, a properly fitted bra will be more comfortable, which enables you to focus on other things, without distraction. I know I feel much better in my skin whenever I’m wearing a bra that makes the girls stand up and proud. Women who have gotten fitted after years of wearing uncomfortable, ill-fitting bras say the same thing. So I think bras and fit is hugely important to women, whether they’re an AA-cup or an N-cup.
3) So true! Getting personal here for a moment, what’s your most poignant bra memory?
I hated going bra shopping as a teenager. My Mom would take me — and my Mom was (and is) tiny and small busted, whereas I’ve always been curvy. As a teen, I didn’t want to be curvy, and my self-esteem was not-so-hot to begin with. Then we’d get to the lingerie department and the stores only stocked up to a DD, which didn’t begin to fit. I joked that I had a six-pack — the two boobs in the cups, the two spilling over the top and the two sliding beneath the underwire. I tried to make light of the situation, but I wasn’t laughing on the inside. I can remember this one time, trying bra after bra, and nothing worked. Not even the ugly grandma bras that could have doubled as flak jackets. There was just nothing that fit, and I felt like the bigger message was that there was something fundamentally wrong with me.
I tried to stop the tears, but once they started I couldn’t stop them. I was crying in the fitting room, which only made me feel worse about myself and about the entire situation. My Mom and the saleswoman were giving me these pitying looks, which was like gas on the fire — I can still remember that awful feeling. Nobody — teen or grown woman — should have to go through that. Of course, the product selection is much better now, and women have options that didn’t exist when I was a teen… but too many women are still made to feel like there’s something wrong with them and their bodies when they shop for bras. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women should demand products that fit, and if they can’t find them locally, learn to shop online. Being empowered to have beautiful bras that fit can be life changing.
3) 100% agree. There are quite a few books on bras and bra fit out there, so I have to ask, what makes Busted! different from the other guides on bras and lingerie?
I think I’ve read all the books out there, and there’s excellent information in all of them. What makes Busted! unique is that it’s the only book that focuses exclusively on bras that fit, with in-depth steps for understanding what fit looks like on a body, different body types, shopping, etc. Some of those components are in other books, but Busted! is the only book I know that is focused on the fit message at this level of depth. I’m also gratified to hear from readers that they like the tone of Busted! — I tried to write it in the same way I would use to explain the information to a friend, and it’s great to know it’s resonating with folks.
4) Speaking of fit, what are the most common bra issues you see? Any quick fixes?
The most common issue I see is that women wear bras that are too large in the band and too small in the cup. Understanding that the band should carry 80-90% of the job of supporting your breasts is the best way to address that problem. If your band is too big then you’ll end up with the straps working too hard to support your breasts. When your straps are doing too much of the work it can be uncomfortable at best and a health issue at worst. If you discover that your band is too big, then adjust — but make sure you are also adjusting your cup size. Band and cup are interrelated, not independent. So as you decrease your band size, you have to increase cup size simultaneously in order to get the same fit. For example, if you were wearing a 34B and realize the band is too big, then when you go to the 32-band, you’ll need to increase to a C-cup to get the same volume in the cup.
The next most common issue stems from women getting caught up in the size on the tag. We have a tendency to see ourselves a particular way — a clothing size, a shoe size… and a bra size. When we learn what fit looks like, it means change. Sometimes that’s not easy for women to accept, especially if the change means a larger cup size — women sometimes freak out when they realize they’re actually a bigger cup size than they ever expected. My advice is always to let go of the numbers and letters — focus on fit. You’ll look better and you’ll feel better!
5) If a woman doesn’t live near a bra fitter, what’s the best way to discover her size?
Too often, women are left to their own devices when shopping, and fitters can be inconsistent — not all of them are well trained. I think the best thing a woman can do for herself is know that there’s a bra out there that will fit properly. Don’t let anyone make you feel like there’s something wrong with your body! There is great product on the market, it just may not be in stores near you. Start with what you’re already wearing and think about how it fits you — or doesn’t. If your bra doesn’t fit, begin adjusting by looking at the band — that’s the most important piece to get right. Once you have a band that fits properly, make sure the cups are creating a smooth line without bulges (a sign your cup is too small) or gaps and wrinkles (a sign they’re too big). Third, the bridge (the bit between the cups) should be sitting up against your sternum and finally, make sure the straps are only doing 10-20% of the job of supporting your bust. Those are the fundamentals, and if your bra isn’t doing that — and you don’t have a fitter nearby — just go to the store with the best size selection near you and play with different band/cup combinations until you feel more comfortable.
6) There’s been a lot of attention on bras, bra fit, and bra sizes in the media lately. What do you think of campaigns like The War on Plus Four and The Bra Band Project?
Anything that sheds more light on the topic of fit is great! I love these campaigns that are positive and affirming of women. War on Plus Four addresses a worn out sizing methodology that hasn’t really worked in a long time. The Bra Band Project is all about empowerment. What’s not to like!?
7) What’s next for you, Ali? Any special projects or sequels to Busted! in the works?
Right now, I’m working on some exciting projects that are aimed at bringing the fit message to women in new ways — I’m almost ready to make the big announcement, but not quite — so I’ll keep you posted. I’ve gotten a couple of requests for follow-up books that I’m looking into, plus I continue to work with manufacturers and retailers on a variety of marketing projects. Things are busy!
Thanks so much for your time, Ali! It’s been a real pleasure talking with you.