In the name of women who don't fit traditional yet frustratingly restrictive bra sizes, Jockey has boldly created a more inclusive "volumetric" system — a noble effort that doesn't seem likely to lift off since it still forces women into one of 10 "new" normal shapes... in the middle of the mall. Forgoing the oft-rapped-about sizes featuring numbers and letters, the underwear giant has introduced 55 new fits with two numbers per tag — 1-30, 7-36, 9-42, for example — and at first the Volumetric Fit System sounds simpler than the already confusing and inconsistent 34-D situation, except it isn't. Just like OG boob-fitting measurements, one of Jockey's numbers stands for the inches around the rib cage — that's the second, thirty-something figure — but it's that first, other number that makes all the difference. While standard cup letters represent the bust-to-ribcage difference, Jockey has thrown those out for numbers that represent the different "shapes" breast most often come in. And that's where things get confusing and uncomfortable.
Because of Jockey's esoteric system, it's impossible to know that second number without trying on corresponding cups. To get your new and improved bra-size, Jockey outlines a "simple" two step process in this press release:
Choose a Cup: Select a cup that looks closest to your size and place over the breast. Make sure there is full coverage with no gapping or spillage. Document your new cup size (1-10)
Measure Under the Bust: Take a direct measurement of your body's under-bust measurement using the color-coded, double-sided measuring band (reverse side is legible in your mirror). Choose from seven different band sizes (30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40 or42). Document your band size.
For most people, that second part already corresponds to your current bra size, but that first part! Imagine heading into your local Macy's to place one of 10 cup shapes over your boobs, in hopes of finding the perfect fit — in public. (Warby Parker's breakthrough at-home try-on business model this is not.) And, then, of course, there is a good chance that none of the 10 sizes perfectly encapsulate your boob shape, because even the 800 women Jockey scanned to get "data points" for its new system might not look just like you.
Most women don't wear the right bra size — 8 out of 10, according to bra maker Wacoal — in part because A, B, C, and D only give vague measurements of the snowflakes of body parts. But everyday underwear discomfort also stems from a measurement process that's uncomfortable and constantly in flux. After you've had the Victoria Secret sales lady feel you up once, you never want to do it again. And if you did do it again, another fitter would probably tell you you've been wearing the wrong bra size all along. Having already gone through the demoralizing fitting process, do you really want to head to the department store and put cups up to your boobs just because Jockey's marketing team plants a story on the front page of The New York Times? The many thousands of women using the more intimate online bra-fitting tools probably don't.
Then there's another problem: scalability. Many people have loyalties to a particular bra company — once you've found something that works, it's worth sticking with. Of course Jockey has created this whole system to pry women from other companies. But if we're going to get a whole new measurement system, all companies will have to adopt it, which will only happen if Jockey's sizes get so popular that other bra-sellers feel the need to jump in. Would Jockey give up that unlikely competitive advantage?
None of which is to say that Jockey isn't on to something: There is clearly a market for the right bra for you. But, this should be getting simpler — and more hands-off.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.