For most women, finding a good brassiere that is the right size and quality can be a struggle, and this gets even more difficult for those with big busts.
Constance Tipis, a psychologist by profession, ventured into bra business as a passion and also from her own struggles.
“My business partners and I would not find bras since we were a little bustier. It was difficult to get the correct size and when we found one, we had to buy it for Sh9,000,” says Constance.
Just like many Kenyan women with big busts, she had to send a friend who travels often to buy her bras from abroad. This is what inspired her and the partner to start Double Dee’s two years ago.
Double Dee’s manufactures and sells women undergarments. In addition to designing their own bras, they also sell other brands from the UK and the US.
“We realised that there was potential in the bra business. Bigger cup size bras were either too expensive or hard to find in Kenya. And sometimes when you find them, you have to buy from second-hand markets. The used ones might not be of good quality and there are health concerns,” she says.
Most of the bras at their Riverside Drive store have a specially designed inbuilt cup size, ensuring that breasts do not spill out of the cup when bending.
For gutters and stockings, they have tights that do not come in one standard size.
Constance explains that stockings sold in most shops are of a particular size while most African women are curvy with different thigh shapes and sizes.
“What we strive for is changing women’s perception about getting good quality underwear and bras. But convincing a woman to buy a bra for Sh4,000 especially in Kenya is not easy, but we are slowly managing to convince them,” she says.
A brassiere at Double Dee’s costs between Sh4,500 and Sh5,500 but the price can go up depending on its specifications.
Most women with big breasts tend to adopt uncomfortable postures so as to hide them.
But Constance says stooping is mostly caused by wearing a wrong bra and that there are other complications that arise including backaches and shoulder aches. “Most women do not know their bra sizes. For example, when you ask a Kenyan women what their bra size is, she will just give you a number, like 30. If you ask 30 what? She has no idea,” she says.
The number usually stands for the bra band size but you also need to know your cup size which comes in letters such C or GG.
There are three tests that help you determine whether your bra fits perfectly: band test, cup test, and strap test.
Your band should fit snugly against your back and rest parallel to the ground. Your breast tissue should fit inside the cups of your bra without leaving any extra space or spillage. Finally, your straps should not be too tight or slip off your shoulders when adjusted.
“The best way to know your size is to go for a fitting done by a bra fit professional. But when doing it at home, take two measurements, one while wearing a non-padded bra. Take the rib cage measurement and another from the fullest part of your bosom. The rib cage measurement represents the band size for women with large busts. For non-busty women, add four or five depending on whether the figure is even or odd to get your band size measurement. The difference between the two measurements will help you determine your cup size. For example, if the difference is one inch, then your cup size is A and if your difference is 4, then your cup size is D,'' she says.
She adds that matching your bra with your knicker is entirely a personal preference, ''but it is a good habit because it makes you look well put together.''
Double Dee’s lingerie is currently working on a new sleep wear collection that is to be released before the year ends.