The Ultimate Bra Buying Guide: 10 Tips for Choosing the Best Bra For Your Size & Shape
According to popular research, about 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. Many may think it’s not a big deal, but did you know that an ill-fitting bra can cause constant breast, shoulder, and neck pain? In doing so, your bra fails at its primary purpose: to support you.
If you’re sick of bad bras, here are ten tips for choosing the best bra for your size and shape!
1. Use Equation for Band & Cup Size
What does your bra size mean? In the bra world, we represent band sizes with a number (30, 32, 34, 36, 38), and use letters (A, B, C, D) to represent cup sizes. To choose a well-fitting bra, you must calculate your bra size by using your band and cup measurements. The band size is the measurement of your underbust or rib cage, while the cup size is relative to the volume of the bust.
The easiest way to find your perfect bra size is to take our bra size quiz. Just answer a couple of questions and it’ll provide you with the best bra size and style for you.
If you have a soft measuring tape at home and would like to try measuring yourself, here’s how! To measure your band size, take a soft tape measure and measure your ribcage, right under where your bra band typically sits. If your measurement is even, add 2 inches; if your measurement is odd, add 3 inches. This is your band size - we add 2 or 3 inches because bands measure smaller when laid flat versus when a person is wearing it, so we add a couple inches to provide a more accurate band size.
To find your cup size, measure the fullest part of your bust. Then, subtract your band size from this measurement. This is your cup size. For each inch of difference, you go up a cup size. So 0 inches is an AA cup, 1 inch is an A cup, 2 inches is a B cup, and so forth. Reference our bra size chart for more information.
2. Round Up If Breasts Are Different Sizes
If you find your breasts in different sizes, we suggest you round up and buy a bra that fits the bigger breast, as your larger breast likely needs more support. You can also look for bras with removable inserts - such as our 24/7® Classic Uplift Plunge Bra - so you can balance out your shape.
3. Know Your Size & Sister Size
When it comes to bra shopping, there isn't a one-size-fits-all. The key question is - how to find the bra size that fits you perfectly and works well with your unique breast shape.
You may come across a bra with a band size that fits well, but the cup seems a bit too tight. Or the cups fit perfectly, but the band feels a bit too snug. Sounds familiar? In such cases, you need to know your sister sizes.
Bra sizes are all about ratios. The volume of the cups are dependent on the band size. So, if you have one 34C bra and a 36C bra, the volume of the cups for both will be different. As your band size increases, so does the cup’s volume, even if the cup size is the same, and vice versa.
Sister sizes is your group of alternative bra sizes that have the same cup volume. If you feel that the volume of the cups perfectly fits you, but the band is a little too tight or loose, you can try on your sister sizes for the perfect fit!
You can find your sister sizes easily! As you go up a band size, you need to go down a cup size. As you go down a band size, you need to go up a cup size.
For example, if you wear a size 34C and the band feels a bit tight but the cup size is perfect, you can try your sister sizes with a larger band - 36B and 38A.
If you’re finding that the band size fits perfectly but the cups are a little too small or large, then your sister sizes won’t help you out here. Instead, you would want to keep the same band size but go up or down a cup size.
With sister sizing, you can more easily find the perfect bra size that will provide comfortable support.
4. Focus On the Gore
Finding the best bra for your size and shape requires you to be familiar with the anatomy of the bra! When you go bra shopping, your primary concern is the band and cup size.
However, the framework, such as the center gore, is vital in determining how separated or close your breasts will be. If you’re unfamiliar, gore refers to the triangular area at the front of the bra, which sits between the breasts.
So, you may ask - how should the gore lay on my body? How should a bra fit if it’s the right size and construction for me?
When you’re wearing the perfect bra for your size and shape, the center gore will lie flat on your chest, allowing you to move freely. The gore won't press on your sternum if your bra is the wrong shape or size. If your gore is too loose or is pressing into you uncomfortably, you might want to try a different size or bra.
5. Get Support From the Band
Most women assume that the bra straps or cups provide the most support. On the contrary, the bra band plays the most important role when it comes to support, and should therefore fit snugly without causing discomfort.
You can try fitting a finger underneath the band to find a size that provides maximum support. You need to buy a smaller size if you can fit two or more fingers underneath the band. But if you can't fit any fingers, you must go up a size to a larger bra size.
Along the same lines, purchasing a bra with a broader band is wise if you have a heavy bust, as it can provide more support, reducing weight from your shoulders and back.
6. Band Should Be Snug, Not Loose
Determining the right band fit will help you choose a flexible, yet supportive, bra.
While a looser band may seem like the most flexible and comfortable, this will ultimately fail to relieve stress from your shoulders and back, causing more discomfort. In contrast, a snugly fit bra band can provide much needed support to your breasts, reducing your shoulder, neck, and back pain.
Besides this, a snugly fit band ensures proper weight distribution and enhanced shape while minimizing movement. Look for a bra band that isn't too tight around your bust, as it can constrict movement.
7. See How the Underwire Fits
”Underwire” is often a dreaded word that makes many women cringe. Underwire can become very uncomfortable if it’s in the wrong size – leading to poking, rubbing, chafing, and more. However, when sized right, it’ll provide optimal support & feel like a bra must-have.
Those with heavier busts tend to lean toward styles with underwire due to its ability to reduce excessive movement But your bra preferences shouldn't come with inconvenience or pain.
A well-fitting underwire bra evenly distributes breast weight, providing much-needed support, lift, and comfort. To ensure your bra’s underwire fits correctly, you should make sure that it relieves the stress on your shoulders, chest, and back; otherwise, it won't be comfortable. Finding bra sizes that fit you is completely different from finding an underwire that fits you; while your cup size might be perfect, the underwire might be the wrong shape for your body, so make sure to try on multiple styles to compare.
8. If Bra Straps Are Digging In, Cups Are Too Small
An essential tip for choosing the best bra for your size and shape is to look for bra straps that do not dig into your shoulder. If you've been wearing the wrong size, you might be familiar with skin indentations that come with extremely tight bra straps.
This happens when the cups are too small. bra straps tend to bear more weight if the cups are too small to accommodate the breast tissue.
The increased pressure on the straps causes them to dig in. To avoid breast spillage, compression, and digging straps, you can size up the cups for a perfect fit!
9. If Bra Straps Are Slipping, Cups Are Too Big
Have you ever experienced a bra with straps constantly slipping off your shoulders no matter how much you tighten them? One of the few indications of an oversized bra are loose straps.
When the cups are too roomy, they do not provide a firm grip on your breasts, resulting in insufficient weight distribution.
If the straps do not bear adequate weight, the cups tend to gap and won’t lay flat. Therefore, you should properly measure your bust to choose a bra that conveniently hugs your breasts.
It's best to experiment with different bra styles to find the one that works well for your breast shape and size. Also, your bra size tends to change over time, so make sure to either measure yourself or get a professional bra fitting once a year for your perfect fit!
10. Different Bra Styles & Materials Serve Different Purposes
Nothing beats the confidence that comes with a well-fitted bra. But besides the band fit and cup sizes, you need to consider the different styles and materials too.
You should experiment with different bra styles and materials to accommodate personal preferences. For instance, if you want to enhance your cleavage, you can choose a push-up bra. On the contrary, a minimizer bra would give you a more streamlined silhouette. A sports bra can be your best buddy if you're looking for active pursuits! A demi bra offers a natural lift, while a strapless bra is what you need with your favorite strapless or off-shoulder outfit. Having a few different silhouettes on hand will help you look and feel your best in every outfit.
The primary focus should be understanding your preferences and comfort. With these tips, you can make your bra shopping experience less stressful and more pleasant. Remember, you can always mix and match these bra-buying tips and tricks to find what works best for you.