Full-coverage, demi, sports, balconette, deep plunge, push-up, bralette … Love them or hate them, bras are a wardrobe staple. Bras are foundational pieces in many senses, yet so many women despise them. We’re doing ourselves a disservice when we spend a lot on fabulous clothes and then pair them with a less than fabulously fitting bra. I’m here to give you a little something to think about and help the humble bra earn a little more respect.
A long time ago, in what feels like another life, I worked as a fitter in a bra store. It was actually a pretty rewarding, fun job and I learned a lot!
- Bras are sized by a number and a letter, the number is your band size and the letter your cup.
- The cup will be proportional to the band, so a 32D and a 44D may have the “same” cup size but because the band is larger in the 44 the cup will be larger as well. I’ve heard so many times ‘How are we the same cup?’ It’s about proportions.
- Your size can fluctuate with weight changes; if you’re borderline size you may need to wear a different bra at different times of the month.
- You need a bra wardrobe. Yes, more than one or two.
- You’re probably wearing the wrong size. I know, you’ve heard this a lot, but it’s so true. People usually just guess at a size and go with it. Go get fitted.
- Band: snug enough to provide support; not too tight, nor too loose
- Straps: sit atop your shoulder; don’t dig in.
- Bridge (the connection between the cups): sits flat against your body (this is the one that usually gets people)
- Hook/Closure: aligned with the bridge. The back closure should be in direct line with the bridge to ensure a proper fit
You really need to try on your bras and, as uncomfortable as it may be, allow a trained professional to take a peek and help with the adjustments/fit. Trust me they’ve seen it all!
Lessons from the Fitting Room
Here are some basics that I learned and loved to share.
- A proper bra fitting really needs to be done by another person. You can try to do it on your own, but when you raise your arms your rib cage expands and it can throw off your measurement.
- You need to be measured wearing a regular bra, no padding or push up (lined is okay)
- Bras are adjustable, utilize the adjustable shoulders, the multiple options for hooks, adjust the bra to fit your body. You may need to bend over and lift the breast tissue to have it sit properly in the cup
- Ladies with larger breasts may benefit from a push up bra.
- I know, you’re like “what?” but hear me out, sometimes the larger breasts need a little lift to fit in the cup properly.
- Sister Sizes. Yes, that is bold for a reason. A sister size is one size up or down in the band, but remember proportions, so you have to adjust the cup as well.
- If you go up in the band, go down in the cup. If you go down in the band, go up in the cup. ex: you measure at 38C, but the bra isn’t quite working for you, a sister size 40B or 36D may be a better option.
- A white bra is like a color, imagine it as purple. It will glow under a white shirt. If you’re looking for something that won’t show under light/white shirts, find a shade that is close to your skin tone.
- DO NOT wear the same bra day after day. The oils in your skin breakdown the elasticity. Have a couple that you wear in a rotation.
- Bras all say “hand wash”, but this is real life. Who has time for that? If you do machine wash use a mesh lingerie bag and always lay flat to dry. Don’t put them in the dryer.
Troubleshooting: Solutions to Common Problems
- Shoulder straps are digging in
- Your band is too big, the majority of the support should come from your band
- Band is riding up in the back
- The band is too big, consider sizing down
- Cups are digging in/you’re overflowing the cup
- you need a larger cup, consider sister size
- Gap at the top of cups
- adjust the shoulder straps, physically move the breast tissue up…if the problem continues consider a smaller cup OR a different style of bra. (maybe full coverage isn’t for you).
Many of the major brands have expanded and are now much more inclusive in both size and color offerings, a needed and welcome change, but remember before you drop money on a new bra wardrobe, get a fitting!