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The Importance of a Proper Fitting Bra and How to Get One

With inconsistent sizing, varied quality of materials, and about a million different shapes, finding a proper-fitting bra can feel like a monumental task. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 80% of bra-wearers wear an ill-fitting bra, causing a multitude of physical and psychological issues.

Wearing an ill-fitting bra has been linked to back and neck issues, bad posture, chafing, and even being more prone to seeking out a breast reduction. To add fuel to the fire, breasts change shape and size throughout life and depending on the menstrual cycle, meaning that a bra that fits you one day may not be the best choice down the line. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to getting a proper fitting bra and feeling great wearing it.

Let’s dive into tips for living your best bra-wearing life!

Tip #1 – Understand that Support Comes from the Band

Did you know that roughly 80% of your bras support structure comes from the band? In fact, you should be able to move the straps with relative ease without compromising the support at all. To make sure you have the right band size, run two fingers under each side of your bra. If you can’t do this, then your bra is too tight, and if the bra comes away from your body with ease, it could be too loose.

Your bra band should never ride up your back, and no tissue should ever fall out of the bottom of the cups. Additionally, the middle part of the bra, called the “gore”, should be flat against your sternum.

To make sure your bra isn’t too loose, lift your hands above your head — if it fits right then it should stay firmly in place without being uncomfortable.

As someone who always assumed that the support came from the straps — I have to admit that this was pretty mind blowing for me!

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Tip #2 – Realize that You Don’t Just Have One Bra Size

A fact that is the bane of our collective clothes-wearing existence, but no two companies use the same size chart or pattern block for their items, including bras. This means that though they could be similar, there is a solid chance that bras from different companies won’t fit the same.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to know your ideal bra size, and one or two others that fit as well. For example, because your bra’s cup size equals your breast volume and the band is your torso measurement, the sizes 36C, 38B, and 40A technically all have the same cup size, albeit with different band sizes. These bra sizes are called “sister sizes”.

To be honest, though measurements work for the most part, the best thing you can do is try on a few sizes and differentiate exactly what size fits you best (or get a fitting done by a professional), which leads me to…

Tip #3 – Remember the Bra Size Equation

In order to get the best fitting bra possible, it’s best to measure yourself. Your bra size combines both your breast volume as measured by the cups in letters (AA-M), as well as band size (numbers 28-44).

First, using a measuring tape, measure the width around your back and under your bust — this will give you your band size. Then, measure around your back and around the fullest part of your bust — this will give you your cup measurement. From there, subtract the difference.

For example, if your under-bust measures 33 inches (83 centimeters) and your full bust measures 36 inches (91 centimeters), then you’ll be a 36C, as 36 minus 33 equals three, and the third letter of the alphabet is C.

Of course, if you’re purchasing your bra from a European company, then you’ll be dealing with the centimeter measurement above. In fact, Australia, the UK, the US, Europe (standard), France, and Italy all have their own unique bra measurement styles.

To help you out, check out this article for the exact measurements you’ll need depending on the bra company and country you’re purchasing from.

Tip #4 – Have Bras for Different Occasions

Maybe this goes without saying, but a single bra was not made for every clothing style and occasion. For this reason, types of bras include t-shirt, strapless, balconette, bralette, sport, racerback, and full-coverage.

It’s always good to have a few different kinds of bras on hand, and to make sure to rotate through them regularly. Wearing your favorite bra too many days in a row can stretch it out and wear it down a lot faster than switching it out.

Tip #5 – Fasten Your Bra on the Outermost Clasp

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the correct way to choose a new bra is to fit it to the loosest clasp. This is done so that overtime as your bra stretches out from wear, you can move the clasp inwards and still have a great fitting bra.

If you grew up thinking that you should fit it to the innermost clasp, then you’re not alone! I definitely thought that doing so would provide me more flexibility before I learned the proper way.

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Tip #6 – If your Straps Leave Dents or Slip, Size Down the Band

There is nothing worse than a bra strap digging into your shoulders, am I right? If you find that some of your bras make your shoulders ache, or that the straps tend to slip down and you’re constantly yanking them back up, then the problem could be in the band size.

Typically, when a bra band is too big, you’ll get all kinds of issues with the straps, due to the support moving from the band to the strap.

Tip #7 – Identify Your Breast Shape

If you find that your bra is still not doing you any favors even after you’ve correctly fitted it, then it could be because it’s the wrong shape for you. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and what works best for one person won’t work best for the next.

This is a great guide to finding the proper kind of bra for your breast shape.

Tip #8 – Care for Your Bras Properly

Like other items of clothing, bras typically need a special level of care to maintain their shape, functionality, and comfort. As a general rule of thumb, either hand wash your bras or put them on a gentle cycle in the machine. To dry, skip the harsh effects of the dryer, and instead leave them to dry naturally on a flat surface.

Thanks for reading our guide to getting the perfectly-fitting bra. Purchasing the right bra is something that affects so many of us, and living in discomfort from an item of clothing has both short and long term effects. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments!