How to Pick the Right Bra for You

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How to Pick the Right Bra for You

Picking the right bra for you does not depend only on choosing a bra that is the right size. Of course, sizing is crucial, but different styles of bras offer different kinds of support and coverage. For example, consider two women with the same bra size. One may find her perfect fit in a size 38C full cup bra, while the other may look and feel better in a 38C balconette bra. If the two were to trade bras, neither would be comfortable and the bras may not fit either woman, despite them having the same bra size.

Learn how a bra’s construction affects its fit and what bra styles are available before starting your search for the perfect bra. Different styles suit specific body and breast types. Consider which style will suit you best to get an indication of what you should be looking for. Finally, ease of care and fabric type should be considered while shopping for the perfect bra. Bras are available from lingerie, clothing, and department stores, and from online sources, such as eBay.

How a Bra’s Construction Affects its Fit

A lot of thought goes into the design of most bras. A good bra lifts, shapes, and supports, making the wearer look slimmer in the process. To choose the right bra, consider how the bra’s features affect its fit.

The Bra’s Band

A bra’s band is designed to bear the weight of the breasts and it provides the framework for the bra’s support. If the bra’s band is too big it will not offer the support needed, but if it is too tight it is uncomfortable and causes underwires to dig into the breasts or ribcage. A band that completely encircles the ribcage offers the most support and stability. Curvier women who find that bra bands roll up under the arms should consider bras with vertical boning in the band’s side seams. Alternatively, buy a bra with a band made of heavy gauge fabric.

The Bra’s Straps

Bra straps act as stabilisers for the bra and should not carry more than 10 percent of the breasts’ weight. Straps should sit flat against your skin without digging into or falling off your shoulders. Although straps are available in a range of designs, the way that they attach to the bra places them in one of two categories.

Camisole Bra Strap

A camisole strap style refers to the traditional way that straps are sewn onto bra bands at a right angle to the band. This style is effective for all bra sizes, but works particularly well for larger bras because it allows the bra to have as many hook closings are required to keep it comfortable, it allows greater choice in the fabric the straps are made of, and it can be altered easily. However, bras with narrow backs and camisole straps tend to ride up at the back.

Leotard Bra Strap

The leotard strap style refers to bras that feature a rounded strap attachment at the back, giving the bra the same look as a leotard. As this design includes more elastic it is more flexible and allows the wearer greater freedom of movement. However, if the “U” is too wide, straps tend to slide off the shoulders and this design limits the number of hooks that can be added to the band.

Front Bra Strap Design

In addition to the placement of the straps on the back of the bra, consider the way the strap attaches to the front of the bra. Straps that attach to the bra at the point of each breast offer the best support. Straps that attach closer to the arm, like those featured in the construction of balconette bras, create more cleavage by directing the breast tissue towards the middle of the chest. Bras with wide set front straps are less likely to fall off your shoulders.

The Bra’s Support Panels

Support panels are generally found in larger sizes to provide extra lift for bigger breasts. A support panel is an extra piece of fabric sewn into or around the bra cup. The placement of the panel determines the desired effect. Panels along bras’ outer edges are designed to move breast tissue away from the underarms and closer to the middle of the chest; panels situated along the bottom of cups provide additional lift; and panels that encircle cups are designed to improve breast definition by pushing breast tissue forward. Choose the right type of support for your breasts by identifying areas that need it.

The Bra’s Centre Panel

A bra’s centre panel should fit against the skin, between the breasts comfortably. As breasts get larger, the space between them gets smaller. If you have large breasts, avoid a centre panel that is too long. Similarly, if you have smaller or average size breasts, avoid bras with centre panels that are too short.

The Bra’s Back

A bra’s back can be seen as the bra’s backbone and should be chosen with care, taking into account the closure and fabric types. Single hook fasteners are not the right option for all women, especially those who need more support. These bras must be worn tighter to provide the support needed and this often creates unsightly bulges on the back. Consider a wide back with at least a two-hook closure for adequate support. The wider cut will spread the support load, giving you a smoother look. In addition, sturdy high-quality fabric lasts longer than flimsy fabric. Although choosing quality fabrics may add to the cost of the bra, it is better to settle for one bra that fits well and makes you look and feel great, than two bras that do not quite fit and wear out quickly. If the fabric used stretches easily when pulled, avoid it.

How to Pick the Right Bra Style

Consider which bra style is most suited to your needs and breast type. The table below lists bra styles, includes a short description of each, and indicates the breast and clothing type best suited to different bras.

Bra Style or Type


Clothing and Breast Type Recommendations

Full Cup

Full cups for added support and shaping

Wear with higher cut tops

Best choice for full breasts


Cups are cut lower at the front

Wear with low cut tops

Traditionally better suited to smaller breasts, but have been adapted to work well in larger sizes


Redistributes breast tissue to make the bust seem smaller

Allows women with fuller breasts to wear buttoned blouses as the buttons are less likely to gape


Usually features removable straps to allow the bra to be adapted to halter neck, racer back, single strap, or strapless bra

Versatile and can be adapted to suit most clothing cuts

Suitability for various breast types depends on the bra’s design

Plunge or Push Up

Low cut centre

Pushes breast tissue to the middle of the chest to improve cleavage

Wear with low cut tops and dresses

Best for women with smaller to average sized breasts


Usually comes with removable straps to allow the wearer to wear the bra with or without straps

Wear with strapless tops and dresses or items with spaghetti straps

Suits any breast type, provided the bra fits well and provides adequate support

T-Shirt or Seam Free

Designed without visible seams or detail on the cups

Often have moulded cups

Wear with T-shirts, tight, or snug fitting clothing

Suitable for all breast types


Most common bra type

Features flexible wire lining the sides and bottoms of cups for added shaping and support

Comes in a variety of styles to suit a range of clothing options

Suitable for all breast types depending on cut

Non Wired

Structured cups provide shaping and support

Comes in a variety of styles and can be worn with a range of items

Suitable for all breast types depending on cut


Provides full coverage to immobilise breasts during physical activities

Wear when exercising to avoid damage to soft tissue of breast

Suitable for all breast types

A bra should be comfortable and cut low enough not to peek out when low cut clothing is worn. It should offer adequate support and control. Always check what the bra looks like under clothing to make sure it yields the desired effect.

Ease of Care and Fabric Type

Some bras require more care than others. Delicate fabrics, such as silk, are less durable than synthetics, but breathe better and are more luxurious. The bra’s back and band fabric should not stretch easily as flimsy fabrics wear out faster. If you do not have the time or energy to take care of delicate fabrics, check bras’ care labels before you buy and opt for items that are machine washable. Non-wired bras are usually more suitable for machine washing than underwired bras. Look for sellers who accept returns when shopping for bras.

Buying a Bra on eBay

Finding the perfect bra on eBay is easy. Simply search by typing a keyword or phrase (for example "34C black multiway bra") in the search box located on every page. Choose the most appropriate category and the desired features and characteristics to narrow your search results. If you would like to have more control over the results displayed, use the advanced search feature.

Before You Buy on eBay

Before you buy on eBay, take a moment to learn about the item and the seller. Check the item listing page and the seller’s feedback.

Check the Item Listing Page

The item listing page contains information such as the item description, bidding and buying options, the seller’s feedback and contact details, postage and packaging fees, the terms of the seller’s return policy (if any), and the seller’s accepted payment methods. To contact the seller with any questions about the listing, click on the "Ask a question" link.

Check the Seller’s Feedback

eBay’s seller feedback feature allows you to see what other buyers have to say about a seller’s products and customer service. Detailed seller ratings give additional information about aspects such as the seller’s communication, the reasonableness of the postage and packaging fees, how long it took for the seller to dispatch the item, and the accuracy of the item description in the listing. Click on the number next to the seller’s username to access this information.


Although choosing the right size is crucial when shopping for bras, the styles and construction of different bra types influence how they fit. This includes aspects such as the placement of support panels, the placement and type of straps featured, the type of band and its breadth, the type of back, and the number of fasteners included. In general, a bra with a broader band that completely encircles the ribcage, with more than two hooks offers the greatest amount of support.

Similarly, fuller cups offer the best shaping and support for larger breasts. The cut of the cup determines whether the bra can be worn with lower or higher cut clothing, and influences the amount of support and shaping provided. Some bras shape the breast tissue to enhance the cleavage, while others minimise the bust. The choice of style and cut should be informed by the wearer’s breast type and the purpose of the bra. The type of fabric chosen should conform to your expectations of durability and ease of care. eBay sellers stock a range of bras guaranteed to suit every body and breast type.

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