A question of thoracic shaping
This will be of interest to women who have always had problems finding well fitting bras. Well, not all women since bra fitting is a common problem but women who have a particular thoracic structure. If you have a problem of your bra cups being too far apart (the bust points splaying apart), bra straps digging into the front crease of your chest and arm, and not having enough bra in the front of the cups (and excess room at the sides of cups), this topic is for you. You may also have a related problem of having shirts riding up into your neck and having to pull them down constantly. If you have the kind of problems I’m describing, I’d like to know about it. Not that it’d be any kind of scientific study, I’m just curious to know how many women have this problem. I don’t believe the problem is very rare, rather I think the problem hasn’t been well defined or described before which would explain why I couldn’t find out anything about it.
To start, let’s return to the entry Archaic anthropometry. There I’d made specific mention that I’d be using the thoracic cross section as the topic for a future post -this being it. My illustrations aren’t precise because the left cross section below represents that of a male. Men have their center of gravity in the chest. An accurate cross section of a female would be an oval rather than a square. Still, my argument is that there are men and women who do not have square or oval shaped chests. Rather, their chests are shaped like eggs in that their chests are deeper rather than wider. On the left below is Wampen’s man’s illustration and on the right is my rendition of an egg shaped chest cross section. Also, the egg shape is a bit of an exaggeration but hopefully you’ll get the point.
Now let’s give these cross sections a sex change operation (below):
[I know these sketches look like the silhouette of a cat's head, bear with me.] Now, since the oval shaped women’s chest is the most common -it must be, women’s bras are made to fit it- on the left below is a sketch of the oval chest in a bra (green ink indicates the body). On the right below is the egg shaped chest with the bra designed for the oval shaped chest. If you notice in the right sketch, the sides of the bra do not touch the sides of the figure as they do in the sketch on the left.
Believe it or not, this is a problem. Maybe you wonder what the big deal is? Fabric is soft and pliable; it’ll bend to fit the egg shaped chest, right? Well, yes it will fit but not nearly as well as one would think. In the sketch below, I’ve folded the bra around the sides of the figure on the right. See what happens?
The silhouette of the bust points do not match from the left sketch to the right sketch. On the right, the bust points have been shifted further apart. To bring this point to bear, in the sketch below I’ve drawn in the shape of the egg body with the oval bra superimposed.
As you can see above, there is breast tissue hanging out the front of the bra. In fact, it’s for this reason that push up bras tend to fit egg shaped chests better than regular bras do. The problem with push up bras though is that there’s usually not enough fabric in the fronts of the cups to support the breasts. That is if you’re larger busted but I think smaller breasted women with egg shaped chests would report similar results.
Another side effect of having to wear bras designed for oval bodies on an egg shaped chest is that your breasts look smaller (when you’re dressed). Since the bust points splay apart, you don’t stick out as far in front so you may look like a B cup when you’re a D. If you’re large busted you may appreciate this natural form of breast reduction but it causes fitting problems. Another thing is that since your bust points are splaying apart wider than they should, your chest will look wider than it would if you had a well made bra so it’s quite likely you may have never noticed that you’re deeper rather than wider. Also, having your bust points splay apart makes it difficult to fit tailored suits. The busts of tailored clothes are usually in the wrong place. Still worse, even though you may only look like a B cup, you still have to cut for your real cup size. It’s not as though you can wear clothes sized for a B cup. Of course the obvious solution to all of this is a radically redesigned bra. I didn’t know all of this when I was fiddling with bra-making. In retrospect I realize that this was the problem I was trying to correct.
From here down I’ve taken a few photos of a bra in the different positions in the event my cruddy sketches were unclear. Below is a photo of a bird’s eye view of a bra in the position the cups would lie on an oval shaped chest. Please note two things. One is the relative position of the bust points and the other is the position of the bra straps coming up over the shoulders.
Below is a photo of the bra in the simulated position on an egg shaped chest. Again, note the splayed bust points and the shift of the strap positions. Very often the position of the straps (if you wear the larger cup sizes) cuts into the crease of where your arms meet the chest wall. It’s like you’re always trying to pull the strap away from that crease; it’s not comfortable at all.
Below is a frontal view of the bra were it on an oval shaped body:
And below this is a repeat but on the body of an egg shaped chest.
In the interests of making my case, I found a breast augmentation website that also describes these different chest shapes. However, they get one thing very wrong (in the photos). They’ve taken pictures of the women lying down. On an egg shaped chest, your breasts will lie further off to either side when you’re lying down due to the slope in addition to gravity. In real life, standing upright, your bust points are not splaying any farther apart than the breasts on an oval shaped chest. Both sets of breasts -regardless of chest shaping- still tend to point forward rather than outward.
I should also be responsible to mention that some people who have an egg shaped chest (AKA pigeon chested) may have a rare medical condition known as Marfan’s syndrome.
Anyway, my question is this: does this post describe problems you’ve experienced or problems that affect people you know? I’m wondering if bras designed for an egg shaped chest would solve a lot of undiagnosed frustrations with bra fitting. I’m wondering how common or rare this is. It’s not something that’s ever been measured in the population so who knows the size of the market? I’d also think that custom clothiers could make some money if they could identify this problem. Since I’ve dealt with this for years, I know all kinds of pattern fixes for it too but don’t know if anybody’d be interested in it.
Oh, and I deliberately did not describe this as “pigeon chested” because I don’t think it’s the same thing. I mean, someone who is pigeon chested would definitely have these problems but I’m wondering how many people have something more subtle. Pigeon chestedness is pretty obvious so I don’t mean anything so extreme as that. I think there’s a normal variation in chest shaping that is not necessarily indicative of a medical problem. People have differently shaped bodies due to the shape of our skeletons; oval vs. egg shape is one of the reasons.
Related: The only bra I’ve found that fits this unique chest shape is the Wacoal #65547. I certainly do my part to keep this style in production.