I recently found the most amazing bra! What’s so special about it? It fits me perfectly; It’s so dang comfy I forget I’m wearing it. A bra is something we often take for granted – this tiny (or sometimes not so tiny) piece of fabric is something that is with us everyday from our teenage years on. They come in all sizes and styles with a variety of cup shapes, band and strap widths, and purposes. With all this variety it can seem like an impossible task to find the right one, but while it may take some time I promise: you are worth it. A well fitting bra should almost feel like it’s not there, so if yours is pinching, pulling or poking its time to look for a new one.
In addition to being uncomfortable, an improperly fitting bra can have an effect on your appearance. Nothing you put on top of a poorly fit bra will look as good as it would with a proper fit and style for your breasts. Think of bras (along with panties and Shapewear) as the foundation for your outfit. Would you buy a house with a failing foundation? No! It would be uneven or sloped, cause cracks in the walls and make it difficult to open doors and windows. The same can happen with out the proper foundation for your outfit. Are your buttons popping open on shirts? Do darts on blouses not line up correctly with your breasts? These are signs your foundation isn’t in great shape. Luckily, it’s a pretty easy fix. Read on to see how you can get the best fit for your bra.
How to measure your bra size
When it comes to bra sizing many factors can impact your size. Pregnancy, hormones, weight, exercise, stress, and illness can all impact the way your bras fit. Get measured and get measured regularly, or at least once per year. Many department and specialty stores offer bra fittings so take advantage of an expert’s opinion – it’s almost always free! But remember when getting fitted, the size you are given is simply a starting point for finding the right bra size. What may feel good in one style may be completely wrong in another so don’t get frustrated; just keep trying until you find the right one. You’ll know it when you find it, because it will be so comfortable it’ll almost feel as if you’re not wearing one. Plus, your boobs will look amazing! Check out the Infographic to the right from HerRoom.com
on how to measure your own bra size.
Bra fit myths
Myth #1: I’ve been a 34B my entire life!
Sorry to burst your bubble, ladies, but it’s not likely. You may have been wearing a 34B your whole life, but that doesn’t mean you should have been. Even if your body hasn’t changed much over the years (good for you!) your breasts likely have. Get fitted – you may be surprised!
Myth #2: Holiday eating or stress won’t impact my bra size.
Many people indulge in high calorie treats during the holiday season but remember all those calories add up. Tack on some extra stress from finding perfect gifts, traveling, and dealing with in-laws and your weight can easily jump. A fitting is recommended any time your weight fluctuates 10-15 pounds. 5-10 pounds if you are a petite person.
Myth #3: It’s better to wait until I’ve lost these last 10 lbs. to buy a new bra.
Let’s get real for a moment. As adult women, it seems we are always trying to lose those “last 10 pounds.” Are your bras uncomfortable right now? Then get a new one right now. Unless you are on a serious weight loss plan, if your bra is uncomfortable get fitted for a new one. Plus, it could change your whole appearance!
Myth #4: Bras last forever.
Bras should be replaced often. Wearing them, washing them, sweating all affect how your bras stretch, but one thing is for sure they will stretch. Generally, a quality 3 bra wardrobe should be replaced once per year, provided you wear all three equally. Cycle wearing your bras and always give your bra a day of rest between wearings. Hand wash or wash them in a lingerie bag and allow to air dry to extend your bra’s life. Never put your bra in the dryer.
Myth #5: Once you’ve been fit, you know what size to buy.
Would you buy a new pair of jeans without trying them on? Of course not! Style, brand and design all affect how a bra fits, therefore, you may need to try different styles and sizes to get the perfect fit. Don’t settle! Seek out the best bra for you. At the end of the day, you
are the best bra fit expert because you are the one who will be wearing it everyday. Start with your best fitting bra, stand in front of a mirror and make a list of things you don’t like. The cross reference them with this bra fitting solutions guide
The anatomy of a bra
Before we can get into correct fit, let’s take a look at the parts of a bra so you’re better able to articulate what is and isn’t working.
1. Bra Cup: A cup size letter, such as a C cup is not equal in volume across all band sizes, the cup size is a measurement of how far your breasts project from your chest wall.
2. Multi Part Cup: Also called cut & sew cups or seamed cups. The seam direction can affect how the bra fits and shapes your breasts.
3. Underwire: A bra with underwires gives the best shape and definition to a bustline. So, it’s worth the effort to try and find an underwire bra that fits you properly.
4. Band: A bra’s band is designed and engineered to carry the weight and thrust of your breasts. This is why its so important that you find your correct band size – too tight and your underwires can dig into your ribcage; too loose and your breasts won’t have proper support.
5. Center Panel: A well-supporting bra will have a center panel at or above the apex, or horizontal nipple line. The wider the center panel, the better the bra will fit a woman with wide-set and splayed breasts. The center panel on many bra styles actually decreases in width as the cup sizes increase. This makes sense when you remember that as breasts get larger, they also get closer together.
6. Bra Wings: The sides and back of your bra can play a major role in giving you support and can be instrumental in creating or preventing flesh bulges. Do you want to know if your bra is made with quality fabric that will last a long time? Do the stretch test. Simply stretch the wings of your bra. An inferior fabric that is overly stretchy fatigues quickly. Look for a fabric that recovers better, it will be more supportive and last longer.
7. Bra Hooks: For optimal wear, your bra’s back closure hooks should fit snug on the first (closest to the end) set of loops. As your bra gets worn and natural stretch takes place over time, you will then be able to tighten your bra by hooking on the other sets of loops.
8. Straps: Bra straps come in a number of variations. They can be made up of all elastic, or have a rigid front half with an elastic back half. Bra straps can also be wide, narrow, padded, removable, conjoined, and usually length adjustable. Whatever the style, bra straps are meant to act as stabilizers for the bra. At most, they should carry no more than 10% of the breast’s weight. Whatever the style, bra straps should lie flat against your chest (unless you have implants) and not fall off your shoulders.
Trying on bras; a fit checklist
Sometimes an ill fit is obvious. Other times there are less blatant signs that it’s not the perfect fit for you. First start with the Stoop, Swoop & Scoop to ensure you are really “in” your bra:
- Stoop, or bend forward at the waist
- Swoop, use your hand to gently bring all your breast tissue forward into the cup
- Scoop your breast tissue up and into the underwire
A perfect bra should have ALL of the following:
- Smooth fitting cups, no bulging or gaps
- Center panel should lay flat against the chest
- Bra band should be parallel to the floor, or slightly lower in the back
- Straps stay put and don’t dig in to shoulders
- Cup fabric is stable, giving support and shape
- Under wires encircle your whole breast, no poking or protruding
- Good breast lift, the apex (or nipple line) should fall evenly between your shoulders and elbows
- Breasts point forward, not to the side or down
- A finger can be run under the band
- It’s comfortable to sit down in
If your bra doesn’t meet these requirements try these tips and tests for getting the right bra fit
. If it still doesn’t pass these tests read this for solutions
. Don’t forget about sister sizes! Depending on the issue you are having, changing your cup or band size can help. We all have “sister sizes” and “size neighborhoods” that surround our bra size an can help when you find a bra that is not true to size. Read more on sister sizes here
Wearing a proper fitting bra can uplift your breasts to create a more youthful and slimming appearance, as well as affect how your breasts look without a bra! If you still find yourself in an ill fitting bra, seek out the help of a professional. HerRoom.com’s Bra Fitting Guide provides an extensive library of information on determining your breast shape and bra size as well as fit information for people with unique breast challenges. Most of the information I provided here is an adaptation and summarization of their fit guide. There is still so much more information on their site!
If you’re in the Austin area and would like some help getting the right bra for you, I have an incredible bra specialist who is teaching me more and more everyday about fit, form and quality of bras. You can visit her website here or just go to HaveAPerkyDay.com! Your boobs will thank you for wearing a proper fitting bra!