Friday, July 16, 2010

The Importance of a Well Fitting Bra

Does your bra ride up your back? Do you overflow your cup? Did you know that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra? Not only can the right bra eliminate sagging, it can make you appear slimmer and makes your clothes fit & look better too.

You may not even realize you’re wearing the wrong size, but when it comes to others, somehow it’s easier to spot. Tell tale signs generally include breasts spilling over the cup material, which leads to a 'rippled' look. Likewise, when the wrong band size is chosen, bras can ride up the back and cause the look of 'back fat'. Some non-supportive bras will cause the look of saggy breasts and  yet sometimes straps dig into the shoulders so much that they cause deep red marks, which look extremely painful.

For women with large cup sizes, this is more of a challenge, often times really large bras can sometimes look more like a 'grandma bra, so prettier bras are preferred but don't support as well as a result. Sometimes, it's just a matter of having someone properly fit you for a bra, so you can determine which works. There really isn't a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to bras. Many brands, as with jeans and dresses, run the gamut on sizes. It's best to try on a variety of different brands and styles in various sizes until you find what works best for your body shape. When you do, buy as many as you can afford in the particular style. Too many women get caught up in having a variety of bras in many colors and cuts, but remember that while variety is fun and flirty, the most important factor of a bra is how it performs, not the particular shade of pink it is. A bra isn't sexy if it doesn't fit you and accentuate what you were born with.

The Fit of a Bra is Determined by 4 Factors:

1. Band size
2. Cup size
3. Strap adjustment
4. How it appears under clothing

If the bra you select looks good under a white fitted tee, it's safe to say that it will look good under anything you wear (with the obvious exception of a strapless dress, evening gown or halter top)-there are other bra options for those, today we're covering the basic, everday bra. Wearing the wrong size can actually affect your shape, posture and overall health. Did you know that the digging in of under wire can actually cause permanent scarring of the breast tissue?

Here's a video that demonstrates what to look for in a well-fitting bra:

How to Measure Yourself

There are a few different ways that you can measure yourself. The preferred option is to get fitted and measured professionally in a bra shop. If you want your measure yourself at home, the best way is to measure your band size first, just under your breasts around your chest with a soft tape measure. For our example, we'll use an average size. If the number you got was 31”, add 5” (add 4” for even numbers and 5” for odd numbers such as this). You know from this math that the actual band size you’ll be shopping for is in fact 36” (31+5).

For the cup size, you’ll want to again, wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your breast, pulling it firmly, but not too tight or loose. For example, is this cup size read 34”, to determine what the actual letter is, you would add one cup size for each additional inch. You can see how this works below:

AA= Less than 1", A=1", B=2", C=3', D=4", DD=5", etc.

In this example, because the difference is 2 inches (34-36), it would be a “B”, the size overall would be 36B.

Bra Fitting

When trying bras on, be sure to use the loosest (furthest) hooks as you can tighten as the bra loosens and stretches over time which it naturally will, but if you begin on the tightest hook, you won’t be able to do so, which limits its lifespan.

Your nipple point should be halfway between your shoulder and your elbow when looking at yourself in a mirror (from a side view). It is okay if they are higher, but if they are lower, it is a clear sign that you are wearing the wrong bra that does not provide the correct amount of support.

Under wire must sit flat and not dig into your skin in any way. The center point of your bra must lay flush against your chest, without gaping. Likewise the band shouldn’t be so easy to pull it back, that may indicate it’s too loose. Breasts should fill the cup with no excess material. Skin should not be spilling above the cup of the bra either. Straps should not dig in or leave red marks-an easy way to avoid this is by making sure 2 fingers fit underneath the strap between it and your skin, buying a bra with wider straps if you have a large breast size. If you have visible back fat, it may just mean that you actually need to go up a cup size and in fact down a band size, because the band has slid too far up your back as it was too large to begin with.

Weight gain, weight loss, age and post-pregnancy may alter your bra size over time as well as any breast surgeries.

Test Your Bra

Pull your elbows back and you should not have any spillage over the cup. Raising your arms in the air wire should sit firmly against the skin and should encase the breast. How does the bra feel?

Caring for Your Bras

Once you find a bra that fits perfectly and is really comfortable, you should invest in buying as many as you can afford. You should have at least 5 quality bras. What you'll probably realize quickly is that you truly get what you pay for when it comes to a good bra. Over time, wash and wear will cause the elasticity to break down, but if you are alternating through several bras, they’ll last much longer.

Always be sure to either hand wash bras, or wash them on the gentle or hand wash cycle inside a delicate garment bag to prevent friction against other clothing that could lead them to wear out quicker. Air drying will help preserve your bras longer as heat fades, wears down and eventually destroys the very fibers of the material causing them to stretch and even get holes.

If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant (or know someone that is) or are currently nursing right now, I found a wonderful video that explains exactly when to buy nursing bras and how to get measured for them, so you won't feel left out here. Linda explains everything really well.

While I love lace and feminine details, my favorite bras are always those that are seamless both inside and out, which allows any top or dress to lay flush. Those which add a little 'umph' never hurt either, no matter what your age is. Although I have certain bras I reserve for my hubby which are deemed 'cleavage' bras, I wouldn't even dream of wearing them in public. While I think it's great to accentuate what you have, less is always more, especially when it comes to how much one can see of your chest. :)

How about you? Are you due for some bra shopping? Do you have several that you just love and hope never become discontinued? Are you still struggling to find the correct fit? If so, I hope today's post will be just what you need to help you find a bra with the perfect fit!


  1. Karla, Isn't it funny how we both did posts on bra's this week! Very important topic! ( :
    Our business is different because either V is away on a job site or he is in his office that isn't in the house. So that isn't an issue like you and your hubby.
    We "break ground" tomorrow so , I am excited.
    Have a pretty night!

  2. SUCH great advice! Need to take this whole post with me the next time I go bra shopping! :)

  3. I saw a segment on one of the morning news shows about how to measure for the proper bra. I was so surprised that I'd been wearing the wrong size for years.

  4. I am very much due to buy new bras. After breastfeeding two children, I am now a very much deflated 38 D. I need something with a lot of support. My old D bras don't fit right anymore. They almost seem too big but C cups are too small. Very frustrating! Plus, loosing weight has also affected how they fit. I never used to have a problem with how bras fit till I had kids. But they are totally worth it!!

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  6. Picking the perfect bra needs time and careful decisions, since your breasts will suffer if you picked the wrong one. It is also recommended to buy enough bras to cycle around to keep the integrity of the materials. Personally, I use Marie Jo bras for the combination of both comfort and sexiness.

    Breasts are one of our assets, we should keep it in shape, no matter what our cup sizes are. That's why I wear Marie Jo Avero bras, for personal preference and its longevity.

  7. You have shared a fantastic blog post!!! Crystal Bra Straps

  8. What a great post! I'm sharing this on my page.

  9. I really enjoyed most of this post, but the section about calculating your bra size seems a little confusing. Most of the +4/5 methods I've seen suggest subtracting the band size from the bust size. 34-36=-2 and because -2 is less than 1, the recommended size would be a 36AA.

    However, I'm not sure this method works for everyone. I have a ribcage measurement of 28" and bust measurement of 31". The +4/5 method suggested a 32 band size, but they always rode up and because of that I couldn't fill the cups and was always having to adjust it. Personally I prefer the method used by A Sophisticated Pair where the ribcage measurement equals the band size and the bust minus the band is used to determine the cup size. According to that method, I should try a size 28C. Sizes around there fit me SO much better than sizes suggested by the +4 method. They don't ride up, I don't have to adjust myself during the day, and I can actually fill the cups.


Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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