Tips for finding your perfect bra size. For a lot of women, shopping for bras falls somewhere on the emotional scale between flat-out disappointing and totally traumatic and the same can be said for wearing them.
Most women are wearing uncomfortable bras that dig into their skin, slip off their shoulders and creating awkward spillage situations. But if you don’t know how to figure out your bra size, how can you find the best bra to give your maximum support. Below are some tips to help you find your perfect bra size and advice on how to take care of your bra.
Tips for finding your perfect bra size
Most of the support comes from the band
While cups hold the breasts in place, the band is responsible for about 90 percent of the actual support. So, while it may seem like the straps are there to hold up your bust, they are really there to help keep your cup flush against your body and to shape the breast. If your cup and band both fit well, you should be able to slip off your straps and take a few steps while your bra stays in place.
Know your size and ‘sister size’
Like any other notoriously difficult-to-shop-for fashion item, such as jeans, there’s a wide variation for how bras of the same size will fit from brand to brand. Or even one style to another. That’s the reason why experts say women should know their true size and their ‘sister’ size. If a bra doesn’t fit in your regular size, it might fit in your sister size.
The rule of thumb is: if you go up in the band, you should go down in the cup and vice versa. An example being a 32C could possibly fit a 30D or 34B.
Knowing your sister size is useful in accommodating for size differences between brands. It’s also good if your ‘real’ size is hard to shop for.
How to figure out your band and cup size
There’s an equation for figuring out the size of your band and cup. Your bra size is a ratio combining the measurements of your cup and band size. It’s a very good idea for any woman to go and get a professional bra fitting. You might be surprised what a bra expert will tell you, such as you’ve been wearing the wrong bra size your entire adult life.
You can also measure at home with some tape. You’ll need two measurements for this: around the back and under the bust for the band size and around the back over the nipples for your cup size. You then subtract the difference. So, if your bust measures 35 inches and your under-bust (rib cage) measures 32 inches, you’ll be a 32C because 35 minus 32 equals 3 and that corresponds to the letter C on the alphabet.
Round up if your breasts are two different sizes
It’s perfectly normal to have one breast bigger than the other. If the difference is making bra shopping even more complicated than it already is, fit to the larger breast. If you want, you can even out the appearance by adding a bra cutlet to the smaller breast or get a bra with removable pads and taking them out on the bigger side.
How to tell the cups are too small
If the straps are digging into your shoulders, chances are the cups may be too small. If you’re finding that your breasts are spilling out around the edges of the cup, it might be putting a lot of extra weight on the strap – you may find yourself pulling the straps taut to hold them in check. Your shoulders would probably benefit from larger cups.
…or the band is too big
Your straps could also be digging into your shoulders if your band is too loose. Take a look behind you in the mirror. If your straps are pulled so tight that they are pulling the band up, it’s probably too big or is too stretched out.
What happens if your straps are slipping?
This could be one of the few signs that your cups are too big. Another sign is that the centre panel on the front of your bra between the cups is floating away from your body. It should lay flat against the middle of your chest. And obviously, if your cups are gapping because your breasts are not filling them all the way, you may want to go down a size.
The band should be snug, not suffocating or loose
Your band is too small if the underwire is digging into your breast tissue. But, when it comes to comfort, looser is not better. Most people think that loose means more comfort (think sweatpants) but that doesn’t work for bras. A loose band that rides up between your shoulder blades will not give you the support you need and make you uncomfortable in the long run.
Bras don’t last forever
Not even your favorite one. Depending on your size, how well you take care of your bras and how many you have in rotation, a good basic bra has the life span of about a year.
How to take care of your bra
- Wash them gently (after typically three to four wears).
- Never clean your bras in hot water. The heat will break down the elastic and shorten the bra’s life span.
- Do not use bleach on your bras. It will damage the fabrics and underwire of the bra.
- Do not put your bras in the dryer. Or iron them.
- Never hang your bras to dry as it will stretch the elastic.
- Rotate your bras. That is, don’t wear the same one multiple times in a row.
Tips for finding your perfect bra size