A bra that fits well can change everything. It benefits your shoulders and back, makes you look better in your clothes and prevent gravity from doing its worst. The challenge is – how to find a bra that fits perfectly?
Are You Wearing the Wrong Size Bra?
Professional bra fitters report that a large proportion of women are wearing a back size that is too big and a cup size that is too small when they arrive for their first fitting.
I used to be one of those customers. I wore bras sized 36C for years. Then I had a professional bra fitting and discovered that my bra size was actually 32F. That is 2 sizes smaller in the back and 3 cup sizes bigger. Since losing weight, this has changed once again, and I am now a 32E.
A good general rule is for women to be fitted for a bra once every six months or at least once per year, more often if they lose or gain weight or are pregnant.
Bra Fitting Is More Art Than Science
Fitting a bra is much more an art than a science, so it is best done without a tape measure. This is because breasts and bodies come in all different shapes and sizes (and so do bras).
The style of the cup (balconette, plunge, full cup etc) also affects fit in a way that cannot be measured. You need a cup shape that suits the shape of your breasts. For example if you lose weight, you may also lose volume in the top of your breasts, making a full cup impractical as there will be gaps. In this case a balconette cup style can help provide lift from the bottom to fill out the top a bit. Or if someone is feeling the effects of gravity due to their age, a plunge bra may not suit the shape of their breasts. There really is no substitute for trying on some bras and getting a professional fitting, so my best advice is to do that.
However it does help to know the principles of a good fitting bra, and if you can’t get to a lingerie shop, these hints and tips will definitely help.
If you are fitting yourself at home, here are some top tips for what to look out for.
How to Find a Bra That Fits Perfectly
- Use a full length mirror
- If possible, ask a friend to help you
- When trying on a bra, start on the loosest hook as your bra will stretch over time, allowing you to tighten the back band as it stretches (meaning your bras last longer).
- The back band should be sitting firmly and horizontally across your back.
- The straps should sit firmly on your shoulders without leaving any angry looking marks. Adjust them if necessary. You should be able to place 2 fingers underneath the strap without the straps falling off.
- Once the back and straps look good, you should check your breasts are well positioned in the cup. Lean forward and make sure all the breast tissue from under your arms is supported by the cup. If necessary move your breasts within the cups to get them in a comfortable and fitted position.
- The wires should feel firm but not dig into the breast tissue.
- Your breasts should not be spilling out at the top or under the arms.
Fitting the Back of the Bra
Does the bra sit in a straight line on your body from front to back?
If it does, you can start looking at the cup size.
If it does not, here are some hints to help you troubleshoot.
If the back is riding up and the front is drooping, reduce the back size by one size e.g. from 36 to 34. Try the size down and repeat the steps to here until you get a good fit.
Moving down 2 back sizes is very common if you have not been professionally fitted the past.
You may need to tweak the back size once you find the best cup size, but the back fitting properly is a good starting point.
Fitting the Cup Size
Do your breasts come over the top and sides of the cup?
Does the centre of the bra stick out from your chest rather than sitting flat between your breasts?
Are the wires at the side soft and squidgy and able to be pressed in when you touch them?
If the answer to any of these three questions is yes then your cup size is too small.
If the problem is not significant then increase the cup size by one e.g. from C to D. If the problem is very pronounced then increase the cup size by two e.g. from C to DD/E (DD and E cups are very similar.)
Finally, if you already worked out that the back size needed to be smaller, you may now need to further increase the cup size.
Cup sizes are automatically smaller on smaller backed bras, so for every size you drop in the back, you now need to further increase the cup by that many sizes too.
You’re currently wearing a 34C.
You believe the back size needs to reduce by 2 sizes. Move to a 30C.
You believe the cup is one size too small. Move to a 30D
Because you adjusted the back size by 2 sizes, you should readjust the cup size by 2 sizes and try a 30E (or possibly 30F as DD and E are often very similar).
Bra Sizes Are Not For Life
Our bodies are forever changing; through pregnancy, illness, weight gain or weight loss as well as normal monthly hormonal changes. Ours bras also change over time too; through wearing and washing.
Finding a bra that fits you perfectly is important for your health. It can reduce back and neck pain as well as improve your posture. Most important of all, a bra that fits perfectly will help you will look and feel more comfortable and confident. We can all use a little more of that!