Bra Fitting Guide
When buying lingerie we all know that it’s important to have a comfortable fit - but did you know that around 80% of women are in the wrong sized bra? This can be a result of many different factors but one of the main reasons is that women simply don’t get their bra size checked often enough. Our breasts are constantly changing in size and shape and it’s important to have a size check at least every 6 months. This is particularly relevant if you’ve put on or lost weight, have been or are pregnant, have had diet or medication changes, have taken up a new sport, have been ill, are on/off contraception, getting older - the list is endless and you’d be surprised what things do actually affect breast size and shape…..
Many of you may be embarrassed to go for a professional fitting (which isn’t scary or embarrassing at all by the way!) so we’ve tried to help as much as possible below with some hints and tips on how to choose the correct bra size. It’s important to appreciate that not all manufacturers have the same ‘size’ and fit and as such try not use the bra sizing charts as the only method of selecting the right bra for you - plus don’t get stuck in a rut with the same size & style. Also some styles suit some people better than others - your best friend may think that balcony bras are fantastic whereas you can’t stand them - that’s because our boobs are all different and we should all take the time to find out what bra style and size is best. You’ll be surprised what a difference a correctly fitted bra can make. Go on make the change and feel like a new woman today!
To start with lets have a look at the common problems we come across during bra fitting:
Good indications that your bra size is wrong include:
- Boobs spilling out of the cups
- ‘Leakage’ of your boobs under the bra
- Indent marks left by straps
- Middle band rising up at the back
- Marks left by digging in under-wires
- Baggy cups
- 4-boob syndrome - cups dig in across the bust with a new ‘pair’ being formed over!
- Loose middle band
- Misshapen under-wires
- Shoulder, back or neck tension
- Sagging breasts
- Uncomfortable bulges
If any of these points ring true - then focus on these troubleshooting tips below:
Straps & Bands
The first rule of thumb is that straps & bands don’t need to dig in - you’re putting yourself through unnecessary discomfort! They should be firm and fit close to the body but comfortable and with no cutting in - this applies to both shoulder straps and the strap around the middle of your body. Strictly no flesh should be poking up around each side of the strap and the middle band strap needs to be horizontal and not rising up. Ideally the middle band should allow you to insert two fingers underneath around the back and one at the front middle.
Many of us are under the wrong impression that the shoulder straps are taking the strain - this isn’t the case. A bra gets its strength from the middle band, any under- wiring if applicable, and partly from the straps. If the straps are digging in then this is probably as a result of the bra being the wrong back size - try a smaller back size, as indent marks left by straps are often a sign that the middle band isn’t supporting you enough. Support from below also helps minimise any stress on your shoulders and back. If the back is rising up - again try a smaller back size.
Also don’t assume that just because your cup size is increasing that your back size is too - this quite often isn’t the case. Remember that most bras have adjustable shoulder straps so make sure you adjust them so they are not too loose. You don’t want them dropping off your shoulders for instance.
With bra cups it’s important that they are a neat fit - breasts should be nicely enclosed and under control. Baggy cups - either at the sides or at the middle close to the nipple - generally means that the cup or back size you have chosen is too large. Try a smaller cup size if the cups are baggy around the edge and try a smaller back size if the fabric round the nipple area is creased or baggy. Obviously on the other end of the scale if your boobs are spilling out - either at the top or sides - then go for a larger cup size but watch the back size at the same time - you may find that you go down a back size but up a cup size. Extra bits of boob poking out isn’t a good thing - don’t assume that this is making your boobs look bigger - it just isn’t the case and in many instances it just makes you look bulky and unattractive. It’s important to ensure that the cup fabric is smooth against your skin - no ridges, excess material or bulges. This also applies to Balcony Bras, Half Cup or Push Up styles.
It doesn’t have to be a case of ‘ouch’ or I can’t wait to get home to release myself from these wires! Under wires shouldn’t dig in, rub or stick out - they should snugly follow the line of the breastbone and lie flat against your rib cage - if they don’t this could be telling you to go up a cup size as your boobs are pushing the under wires out. They also need to fit snugly under the arm and not dig in there - if it does dig in around the armpit region then again try a bigger cup size. Also any bits of boob hanging out uncomfortably underneath the under wire (‘breast leakage’) means that you need to look at a smaller back size and possibly a larger cup size. Under wires are there to support the underneath and side of the breast without digging in or gaping.
Trying Bras On
The best way to try on a bra is to fasten at the front around the middle band - try the loosest hooks first - and then swivel the bra around so the cups are at the front. Next lift and drop your boobs into the cups - don’t worry about getting your hands in there to find the best boob position and to ensure they are properly seated in the cups. Lastly pull up the straps and adjust the middle band position if necessary. You may need to also adjust the strap length or hook position at first to get the most comfortable fit. Next, review for any uncomfortable bits, bulges etc and if your happy try moving around in the bra. After all your not going to be stood still much in it are you! Try putting a close fitting top on too, which will indicate any problem areas in the silhouette. Tip: If you find you have to use the tightest hook position try going down a back size as most bras have a habit of growing in the wash and you need to ensure you have a spare hook position just in case.
We’re not saying that big boobs are any more special then little ones - it’s just that they sometimes can take a bit more dealing with. Luckily bra manufacturers these days are wise to the fact that the average breast size for women is on the up and many are now giving more variety in size & design ranges - which is good news for big breasted ladies as it means that there is far more choice in shapes and styles. Two important factors to consider for large boobs are that they move around more and as gravity takes hold they have a tendency to sag so it’s important to have a good supporting bra particularly in the middle band area and sometimes manufacturers make the band wider to accommodate these issues. Larger bras also may have more hooks than smaller bras and this is simply to help support and comfort the breast area. In some cases the under wire is eliminated completely as the support comes entirely from the middle band fabric.
Comfortable bras mean comfortable ladies!