I believe it was Aaron Levenstein who said "Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital".
This great, and vaguely bra related, quote notwithstanding, I have found all the information provided as part of the wire size survey entirely fascinating. But then, I'm a bit geeky like that.
As promised, I'll be sharing my findings in this post, and I hope you find it interesting too. I'll be talking about wire size and wire length which can be a bit confusing. These statistics shouldn't be extrapolated to apply to all women, they are only based on the results you provided me, but they do give a very interesting glimpse into the wire requirements of women who sew their own bras out there.
Firstly let's start off with what turned out to be the most popular wire size amongst the submissions.
What's really interesting is, that although the most common wire size reported was a size 42, only 8% of respondents wore the wire length that ready-to-wear would most likely use with a 42 wire, which is a long or and extra long. All other 42 wire wearing respondents wore shorter or vertical wires.
So I took a closer look at the submissions and added a column to my ever expanding spreadsheet identifying the wire sizes ready to wear generally uses, and compared this to the wires you all told me you were using - both in terms of size and length. Here's what I found:
Of the people surveyed 24% wore the wire size that RTW would use in their bra size. However, only a quarter of these wore the same wire length. Which means that ultimately only 6% wear the wire size and length that RTW would put in a bra of their size.
So what's the variance on wire length? Do people need longer or shorter wires? And if so, how much shorter or longer?? I looked at all the wire sizes reported and compared how many people wore the RTW equivalent for their size. Then I compared how many people were picking longer or shorter wires.
Personally, I think the shorter wire length statistic should be taken with a grain of salt (as all statistics should!). From my own experience and your comments on the survey , I know a lot of women say that their wires poke them and they opt for a shorter wire. However, I've often seen that the wire poking is not necessarily caused by the length of the wire. This can often be attributed to a big of bagging at the top band/underarm which can be easily remedied by taking a pinch out of the side seam, causing the wire to splay a little further and lie against skin properly. So, before you move to shorter wires, ask yourself if your top band is a little baggy.
However, looking at these figures, if you're still trying to establish which wire length is going to be right for you, invest in a pair of wires that is both shorter and longer than the size you have and hopefully you'll find your ideal length. If you're not sure what wire size to start with, then remove one from an older bra that fits fairly well and take a look at the colour of the tips to give you a clue [EDIT: the colours below reflect wires available at Bra Makers Supply - double check your wires from a RTW bra which could have different tips against the downloadable wire charts at www.bramakerssupply.com]:
Armed with this knowledge you can then order a size up/down to see which is the best fit for you, before proceeding to investigate which length works best for you.
But what about Vertical wires, also known as Bliss wires? Ready to wear rarely, if ever, use these to my knowledge, yet a startling 17% of women have found their way to Verticals, myself included. The size range for verticals went from 28J to 44C, with most having a smaller ribcage measurement in proportion to cup size. Looking at the numbers, I would suggest that many other women out there would benefit from a vertical wire, were it not for the fact that a lot of ladies in this group choose a Regular wire. The vertical is more aligned in length to the long, so perhaps there's an opportunity for a wire manufacture to make a shorter vertical wire.
And then come a whole host of other questions - such as is there a different result depending on which part of the world you are in? Does climate, genetics and diet play a part?? I'm sure it does, but I certainly don't have sufficient information to draw any real conclusions. But I did plot the results according to geography (your IP address tells me which part of the world you are in, but not where you live!).
Please don't be offended if your part of the world isn't represented, some placed I just didn't have enough information.
I could go on and on, and according to Mr. Weaver I have gone on and on, but there's a time and place for everything.
All that really remains to be said is Thank You! Thank you to all of you who took the time to provide your details which has proven to be really helpful for my testing phase.