Your Bra Probably Doesn’t Fit

Does your bra ride up in the back? Do the straps fall off your shoulders? Does the underwire dig into your ribs? Do you have to fasten it on the tightest hook? Do you not feel, um, properly supported?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, your bra does not fit properly. Really, even if you answered “no” to all the above questions, your bra probably does not fit properly.

But — it’s not your fault! According to a survey done by Women’s Wear Daily, 64% of women are in the wrong-sized bra. That’s basically 2 out of every 3 women! And — who can blame us? Between pregnancy/pregnancies, nursing, weaning, new exercise routines, and (grumble) aging — our bra size can change over time. So, unless you’re getting fitted regularly (and, who has time for that?), you’re probably not wearing the right size. So don’t feel bad! Here are some tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your bra.

Get Fitted… at a Department Store

Department stores have the largest range of sizes and styles, so there’s truly something for everyone. Band sizes like 30 or 32, cup sizes up to F or J — most department stores will carry (or at least be able to order) your exact size.

Don’t be shy — get measured by a specialist! The process generally goes like this: the specialist will take a measuring tape and measure the circumference just underneath your bust line. That number is your band size (note: many bra brands have even band numbers: 34, 36, etc. If you measure at an odd number, like 33 inches, round it up to the nearest even number: 34).

Next, she’ll measure you around your bust, which will be a larger number than your band size. Subtract the difference between the two measurements to find your cup size. For example: if there’s a 1-inch difference, you’re an A cup; a 2-inch difference, you’re a B cup; and so on. (Note: if there’s less than a 1-inch difference between your band and bust measurements, you’re an AA).

Finally: don’t get hung up on numbers. The most common mistake women make while buying a bra is they either buy a bra with a band size that is too big, or a cup size that is too small. Once you start wearing the appropriately sized bra, you will feel so much better — we promise!

Buy Lots of Bras!

Now that you know your (correct) size, stock up! Don’t view any single bra as “the bra you can wear with anything, all the time.” Different styles are better suited for certain situations and outfits than others. As such, experts recommend that every woman’s bra wardrobe contains at least:

  • A t-shirt bra (for, um, t-shirts, tanks, and casual tops)
  • A balconette or plunge bra (for lower-cut shirts and dresses)
  • A contour bra (for sweaters and less-structured blouses)
  • A sports bra (for, you know, working out)

So check your closet — then go shopping!

The same applies if you’re nursing — you need several nursing bras, preferably wire free. There are nursing bras with an underwire, which are better suited for under things like blouses and dresses — but it’s advised to postpone any underwire wearing until well after your milk supply has been established.

Don’t Believe UrBRAn Legend

“If I’m a 34C, then I can wear a 36B, right?” Wrong. This equation, known as your “sister cup size,” sometimes applies if you’re shopping between brands and your size isn’t fitting correctly. Also, if your weight tends to fluctuate, sometimes going up or down a cup/band size works. But the best way to determine your bra size is to get fitted professionally — then ask the specialist for recommendations based on your size.

“An expensive bra lasts longer than a cheap one.” Well, this is kind of true. A higher-quality bra will have higher-quality materials — but no bra lasts forever. A “good” bra will last you 8-12 months, depending on how well you take care of it. Rotating bras, letting them “rest” and washing them every 2-3 wears will help your bras last as long as possible.

“If 36C is the ‘average’ size, then I must be really big/small.” You know what? There is no ‘average’ bra size. Because sizing can vary so much by store/brand, there is no true “average” bra size. Plus, while consumer reports can certainly track the sizes of bras being sold, most women aren’t buying the correct size, remember?

So whatever size you measure, remember: you are beautiful, and wearing the correct size bra is only going to make you feel more comfortable and confident. 

Now that you have the perfect bra, take care of it! Read up on proper bra care in The Busy Mom’s Guide to Bra Care.

Photo Credits: cogxio Lab, sabine, fitzger07, Vicky19840324.

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Sarah is a yoga practicing, mostly vegan, coffee chugging, Jack White-loving, stay-at-home-mom to three kids 4 and under in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she does freelance work for Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent and Indy's Child, and blogs about her adventures with three kids in the Queen City.

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    And DON’T forget to ‘scoop and swoop’ then adjust your bra size accordingly! Another mistake people make is not putting their boobs into their bra correctly which can also make them look a bizzare shape.
    Check out this link to see the difference between just putting on a bra and ‘scooping and swooping’ them in:
    there is also a link on there to a video showing the ‘scoop and swoop’ method.


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