Every woman wears bras, and like me most find them to be the bane of their existence. I can’t tell you how excited I am at the end of the day to get mine off and slingshot it across the room (which, it turns out is a bad way to store them). If you have boobs, you are going to need a bra. We will go over everything you could possibly need to know about fitting and caring for your bras.
Many women wear the wrong bra size because they never took the time to measure themselves or to go into a shop and get measured. Measuring for your bra size is quick and painless, all you need is a cloth tape measure and 2 minutes.
Step 1. Measure around your underbust, this number will be your band size. If it is an odd number, you will want to try both band sizes around it. For example, if you measured at a 37″ underbust, you will want to try a 36 and a 38 and decide which one feels better.
Step 2. While wearing a bra, measure around the widest part of your chest.
Step 3. Calculate your bra size. The difference between your measurements will be your cup size.
A difference of:
1/2-1″ will be an A Cup
2″ will be a B Cup
3″ will be a C Cup
4″ will be a D Cup
5″ will be a DD Cup
So, if you measured a 36 underbust and a 42 bust, you will wear a 36D bra.
Trying on Bras the Right Way
When you try on a bra, there are a bunch of tips and tricks that when used together will ensure you have chosen the most perfect fitting bra possible.
Tip 1. The Bend and Scoop. Once you have your bra on bend over at the waist and scoop your breasts up into the cup so when you stand up, they will fall naturally into place into the cups.
Tip 2. Hook Your Bra at its Widest Point. When your bra fits perfectly with the band at it’s widest point, you can add tons of shelf life to it. Doing this allows for your bra to stretch out and as it stretches and starts to feel loose you simply hook it on the next set of hooks in, making it tight again.
Tip 3. Set the Shoulder Straps. Your shoulder straps should not cut into your shoulders, this can cause lasting damage on the nerves and muscles that they cut into. Nor should your straps be so loose they slip around or slide off your shoulder. This offers no support.
Tip 4. The Back of Your Bra. Your bottom seam of your bra should be a straight line from your underbust, around to your back and should fall flush against your skin. If your bra makes a weird arch, you need to let the straps out. If your skin bulges around the bra, the band size is too small.
Tip 5. The Cups. Your bra cups should fall flush with your skin, there shouldn’t be a noticeable delineation. If you notice a muffin top above the line of your bra cup, you need to move up a cup size. If the fabric is loose or wrinkled, the cup size is too big, go down a size.
There can be long term side effects from wearing a bra that is not the proper size, including back issues, shoulder problems and damage to the breast tissue. Always make sure your bra fits properly.
Not many people have heard of Sister Sizes, and a lot of people look at you like you are crazy when you mention them, but Sister Sizes are an incredibly important part of buying bras. If you are unable to find your size bra or you find one that doesn’t quite fit right, you will want to try some Sister Sizes.
Sister Sizes are changing to a smaller band size/larger cup size or vice versa to find the perfect bra. If you go down a band size, you go up a cup size or if you go down a cup size, you go up a band size. For instance I measure at a 42DD but I found that size doesn’t fit me correctly, the cups are too small. So I tried on a Sister Size of 40DDD and I have never been happier with a bra. Somebody created this handy little chart to help women everywhere find their sister sizes and thus, the perfect fitting bra!
Sleeping in Bras
I have always heard arguments both for and against sleeping in a bra. Personally I am against it because I read an article once that said wearing bras 24/7 causes the elastins in the tissue of your breasts to break down and that contributes to sagging because they no longer have to do the work of snapping your skin back into place. As soon as I read that article I stopped wearing a bra unless I was leaving my house, and honestly I feel like it has made a difference.
If you do choose to sleep in a bra, do not sleep in an underwire bra, the wires can irritate your skin and the breast tissue, it can also cause cysts in some extreme cases. Choose a bra that is a soft fabric that breaths to prevent bacterial growth and to allow the skin to breath. The bra shouldn’t be too tight but it should also stay in place. It is recommended that a sports bra be worn to bed as to avoid these issues and many more.
Wearing a bra to bed is a personal choice. Women with larger breasts may want to wear one to keep the girls in place. If having your breasts unsupported causes pain, then definitely wear one to bed. Keep separate bras for sleeping in and rotate through them to allow them to air out between uses. Also clean them regularly to rinse out the sweat and bacteria that will collect there at night.
Styles of Bras
Bras come in so many different styles, you could wear a different style nearly every day of the month and never have to wear a style twice. The style you wear is mostly going to be a comfort choice but will also need to include your wardrobe choice for the day. You wouldn’t want to wear a full cup bra with a cleavage revealing tank top and have your bra showing, as my favorite joke by Jeff Foxworthy goes, “If she wears a dress that is strapless with a bra that isn’t she might be a redneck.” That saying goes through my head every time I try to make the wrong bra work with certain outfits and I change my clothes faster than you can repeat that joke.
Because there are so many types of bras, I am going to cover the broader categories of them and you can click here for a more detailed article about bra styles.
Strapless bras are exactly what they sound like. When you buy a strapless bra you have to pick one that is snug but not too tight, but not loose enough that it slides down. My favorite strapless bras have a thin strip of latex that goes around the bands to keep slipping to a minimum, this feature is usually standard for larger cup sizes but is harder to find on smaller sizes. Following the bra fitting tips above is paramount when shopping for a strapless bra. Because the band is doing all of the supporting, they tend to stretch out faster so be sure to size it on the outer most set of hooks so you can wear it longer.
Underwire Bras are exactly what they sound like, they have wires that cup each breast, keeping them comfortably in place. Underwire Bras need to be taken care of carefully, if they aren’t the wires can bend or even worse, break. Finding an underwire bra that fits you is easy considering the majority of bras today have underwire, its finding the style that is more difficult. Some of the more popular styles are; a molded cup, which is a firm cup, a push up bra, which has extra padding above the wire to lift everything, and a t-shirt bra, which is a bra that is seamless to be worn under thin tops. There are so many more styles that come with underwire to choose from, you could shop all day and never see every style.
Racerback Bras have straps that start in the middle of your back instead of coming straight down from your shoulders. This is a great choice to wear with your tops that have a narrow back. Some places sell these little plastic devices that will turn any bra into a racerback if you are short on shopping time. You just slide each of your bra straps into the hooks and position the piece about midway between your shoulders and the bra. Racerback bras lift and push your breasts together and can usually make you look a full cup size larger if fitted correctly.
Sports Bras are bras that are made out of a material that will hold your breasts in place during exercise and wick away sweat and allow for your skin to breath. There are different levels of sports bras that are reinforced differently based on how much moving around you are doing.
Low Impact Sports Bras are good for walking, wearing to bed, things like that. They offer an average amount of support but anything more than walking will result in a lot of movement from your breasts which causes discomfort in most women. Mid Impact Sports Bras are good for a daily exercise routine, they provide enough support to be comfortable during a light jog and still supportive enough to keep everything from bouncing around wildly. High Impact Bras are for the more strenuous exercise routines, these should be used if you are planning to run at top speed or for an extended period of time or any activity that requires lots of movement and has a lot of impact on your body.
Always keep what you are wearing, and what you will be doing in mind when shopping for bras so there won’t be any surprises when it comes time to wear your new bra with your favorite top. If you are shopping for a bra to wear with a specific top or dress, you should bring the top or dress with you to try on with the bras so you can be sure it doesn’t show. Sometimes a cut or color we think is going to be unseen isn’t.
Take Care of Your Bras
Once you have found the perfect bra, you need to take care of it so it lasts. Ladies, bras require a lot more care than you really think. If you take care of your bras properly, they will last longer and stay comfortable longer.
- Rotate your Bra Daily. Never wear your bra 2 days in a row. They need to time for the elasticity to resume its shape. They also need time to air out and dry fully after each use.
- Do not fold your bras. Store your bras stacked together so they maintain their shape and integrity.
- Your bras should only be hand washed in cool water with a mild soap.
- If you need to machine wash them, make sure the cycle is set to gentle/delicate. Only cold water and use a mild detergent. To prevent damage to them, always separate your bras with a lingerie bag. Be sure to clasp them so the hooks don’t catch on the fabric.
- Never dry your bra, hang dry only.
- Don’t wear your bra when it is damp or your skin is damp. The warm damp environment that results is a perfect recipe for bacteria growth.
- Your bras should be replaced after 1 year of wear.
Bras are always going to be in your life. So wearing the right size is going to be most important when shopping for them. Once you have found some bras that you love, take care of them so they last longer and stay comfortable. Keep these things in mind for the best bra shopping trip! Happy Shopping!