Are you sitting comfortably? If not, is it because you are part of the estimated 80% of women who are suffering from that scourge of modern times, the ill-fitting bra? You are? Well, have I got potentially good news for you.
But get comfy first. Hitch your straps up, run a finger beneath your underwire and hoick the girls into better position.
Right – the good news! US underwear supremos Jockey International claim they are on the verge of revolutionising the bra industry by introducing an entirely new way of measuring for fittings. After eight years investigating the sizes and shapes of real ladies' baps, they have created a sizing system that takes account not just of ribcage size (that's the 32/34/36 etc inches bit) and cup size (that's your actual boobular containment area) but of breast shape too.
To that end, brave researchers scanned the entireties of around 800 women's torsos, collecting measurements from all points, and then followed the women around, watching how they dressed, chose bras, finding out their complaints about the products and the process of acquiring them.
At the end of this meticulous mammarian survey, Jockey determined that 10 cup sizes were needed to account for most variations in size and shape. To fit customers properly, it has made the term literal and requires women to manoeuvre their boobs into a range of plastic cups to see what works best. That, plus your ribcage size, will give you a new measurement of anywhere between 1 and 30 and 10 and you'vegottobekiddingme.
The new Jockey bras have a number of business challenges before them. For a start, people don't like change, especially when they have to pay for it at $60 (£39) a pop (most competitors' products sell for less and come in a broader range of colour options than Jockey's black, white and beige) and shell out another $19.95 (£13) for a set of plastic pots to plonk their chest lumps in, even if the bra comes with a money-back guarantee should you calibrate your breastage incorrectly.
It seems unlikely that this outsourcing to the individual of the bespoke bra-fitting service and charging them for the privilege will revolutionise the marketplace or lead to the full-spectrum dominance of Playtex in the 1980s, say, or the Wonderbra in the 90s, or M&S throughout recorded history, but time will tell. If none of it appeals, you could always go for Poundworld's new £1 bra, currently being touted as the cheapest in the world, a bargain if substantial area coverage and plain white cotton are your thing. Or you could forget all this and take your lead instead from the old lady in Victoria Wood as Seen on TV circa 1986 – "We didn't have bras in my day. We stayed in and polished the lino."
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