Wearing a bra makes your fashions look better. Even more importantly, not wearing one is bad bad bad for boobs! Sadly, many people wear bras that are not the right size or they’re the wrong shape. A badly fitting bra can be as distracting and uncomfortable as your in-laws having a loud fight in front of everyone at Thanksgiving! So….do your bras fit? Maybe not. If you find a bra that is a good fit, you won’t have to wish you could just take it off. Here’s how to properly fit a bra.
Bra sizes are made up of back size (32, 34, 36, etc.) and cup size (A, B, C, AA, BB, CC, DD, EE etc.). If you’re between sizes if you go up a cup size go down in band size. If you go up in band size come down in cup size. European sizing may have different letters for cup size.
Many bras place the straps close to your armpits but if you’re slope-shouldered, look for a bra where the straps are placed closer to the middle.
The Band Test:
To determine whether or not a bra will fit and support you, with the bra hooked on the middle setting: ask someone to put two fingers between your back and the back of your bra, then to turn their hand 90 degrees.
Their fingers should now be very firmly wedged and they shouldn’t be able to pull the bra further away from your back.
A new bra should be able to pass this test with the clasp on the middle hook. This allows you to tighten the bra as it stretches with wear and washing.
An older bra that can’t pass this test on any hook won’t support you –ditch it.
The style of bra you choose is determined by what you’ll be wearing over it:
Here are some of the most popular types of styles:
Demi: ‘barely there’ coverage offering less coverage than a full cup and more than a balconette.
Balconette: little to no coverage, but balconettes create dramatic uplift and cleavage
Bralette: an unlined, soft cup bra, which resembles a crop top but without much support
Contour: these have shaped cups, which are always padded or lined. They often have an underwire
Convertible: basically describes any bra with straps that detach and can be worn in a variety of ways including – criss-cross, halter, strapless or one shouldered.
Full Cup: these bras completely cover most of the breast, offering both more coverage and more support than a demi cup bra
Minimizer: A minimizer bra reduces the appearance of the bust by up to one cup size
Foam Lined: these have a thinner lining than a padded bra which doesn’t add size but provides additional shaping as well as more modesty
Molded: these bras have machine molded cups that mirror the natural shape of a woman. They are generally unlined, either soft cup or underwire
Padded: these have some type of padding lining the cups that is thicker at the base of the cups to create the appearance of increased cleavage
Plunge: these create the appearance of increased cleavage thanks to a deep front, angled cups, and thin center gore;
Push-Up: these create the appearance of increased cleavage using angled cups that are usually with underwires and may have different types of padding including graduated and cookies (inserts) and demi cups
Racerback: for a no-show fit under tank tops these may be unlined, padded, or lined, but never have underwires.
Sports Bra: designed to offer the appropriate amount of support during moderate to intense physical activity
T-Shirt Bra: seamless, contoured, and generally made of microfiber to create an ultra-smooth look under knits, sweaters, or clingy tops;
Underwire: a bra with a thin, flexible wire, which offers added support to the cups of bras, bustiers, and shapewear.
Try Them On!
No matter which style you choose, you must try them on as no two styles will ever fit the same way, even within the same company’s line. I have a drawer’s worth of bras I donated because I thought they would be the right size…and they weren’t.
Resist any bra that looks pinches in the store no matter how adorable. Like shoes, if the bra bothers you in the store, just wait until you have to be tortured by it all day or evening long!
Dressing Room Check List:
If you are spilling out of the bra, it’s the wrong cup size, or perhaps the wrong shape.
Gaps or puckering of the cups may mean that the cups are too large. Consider though that breast tissue is soft and you may need to push yours up towards the middle of the bra to fill in the cups properly. The center of the bra should lie flat against the breastbone without gapping or smooshing your breasts inward. If it does, the bra is too small.
The straps should be adjusted to support comfortably without pressure or cutting. If the straps fall off your shoulders or feel itchy or are digging into your skin, ditch that style or try another size.
The Bottom Line:
Don’t buy a bra just because it’s pretty, or on sale. Do learn about your own body’s shape and what works best. Get fitted by a professional. Have at least one bra for each type of clothing you like to wear. A bra wardrobe lets you get dressed without a hassle.