Over 90% of North American women wear
a bra everyday
To have your bra benefit you, your bra has to fit.
The Right Bra
A bra can help you look and feel great! Sometimes, just wearing the right bra can change how a woman feels about herself; more confident, beautiful and comfortable. However, finding a bra that fits right is not only important for a great look and feel but also to maintain good breast health.
The main reason why tight bras can be a concern for breast health is because they may restrict the lymph flow in your breasts. There are many lymph pathways and lymph nodes surrounding the breast tissue (toward the armpits, under the breasts, and in between the breasts). If a bra is too tight and cuts into your skin (and consequently cuts into the tissue), some of the lymph fluid might be unable to do what it is supposed to do, namely washing waste and toxin away from the breast tissue. In fact, sometimes when you find a lump in your breast, it may be filled with lymph fluid that was not able to move away from the breast tissue. Recently, more scientific research has been done on this subject, and definitely the current health recommendation is to make women aware that they should not wear tight bras that cause red lines around the breasts.
Dr. Bodai recommends also giving your breast tissue free time from bras for about 812 hours within a 24 hour day (tip: you might not want to sleep in your bra). If you suffer from fibrocystic breast disease, not wearing a bra can give you great relief from breast pain. If you have breast pain, try to reduce the time you are wearing a bra. Other than breast health concerns, poorly-fitted bras can also cause back pain, muscle tension, headaches, and can sometimes be responsible for poor posture.
Finding the right bra size should be simple, but its not. In fact, many women do not know their correct bra size. Women should be fitted by a lingerie consultant once a year (beginning in her teens) and after every noticeable growth spurt, to ensure that she is wearing the right size bra. (You can measure on your own but it is much more difficult.) Just go to a department store and ask to be measured by a lingerie consultant. It is free and the consultant will be able to help you find a bra that fits.
Ten Steps to Finding a Great Bra
Step 1 Band Size
Use a measuring tape to measure around your bare rib cage, just beneath your breasts. The measuring tape should be at the same point on your back as your lower bra band. Make sure that the measuring tape is not slack or twisted. Next, add five inches to the measurement (to the nearest inch) around your rib cage. This number indicates the band size most appropriate for your figure.
Step 2 Bust Measurement
Measure the widest part of your bare bust (if you are modest, wear your best-fitting unpadded bra), sliding the tape around your back. Hold the tape as level as possible to ensure accuracy. Dont pull the measuring tape too tight, but dont let it become slack either. Tip: the tape should go over your nipple areas (to ensure you are measuring the widest part of your bust) and circle the body in a straight line.
Step 3 Cup Size
The number that is the difference between the band size (Step 1) and the bust measurement (Step 2) will become your cup size. The chart below changes your number into the appropriate letter to get your cup size:
- If the difference is less than one inch, you wear an AA cup.
- If the difference is one inch, you wear an A cup.
- If the difference is two inches, you wear a B cup.
- If the difference is three inches, you wear a C cup.
- If the difference is four inches, you wear a D cup
- If the difference is five inches, you wear a DD or E cup.
Step 4 Bra Size
Now you have your ideal bra size, it is time to go shopping and find bras in your size that you like. Bras and bodies both vary, so use the measurements you got as a starting point, and try on the bras. Every brand of
bra fits differently and sometimes you have to take a size bigger or smaller. Here is a tip: make a note what bra size fits you best for whuch brand. This will help to find great bras even faster!
Step 5 Trying on a Bra
Place your hands through the straps and bend over to allow your breasts to fall into the cups (try it you will look better in the bra). The cups should contain your breasts (unless youre trying on a demi-bra or an enhancing bra) and should center your nipple in the fullest part.
Step 6 Hooks
Close the bra using the middle hook. Look for a band that fits snugly but doesnt cut into your rib cage. If its too tight, try adjusting the hook closure before proceeding to a larger size.
Step 7 Straps
Adjust the straps so the band fits comfortably under the breasts and around the rib cage. If the bra seems to slip forward, if you find yourself pulling up on the straps, or if it feels as if your breasts are falling out of the bottom of the cups, the band size is too big.
Step 8 Bridge
Check the fabric (bridge) between your breasts. This should lie flat on the breastbone. If it sticks up or stabs your breastbone uncomfortably, try a larger cup size. If it puckers, try a smaller size.
Step 9 Look in the Mirror
Move up a cup size if your breasts bulge from the bra. Move down a size if you notice wrinkles in the cup material.
Step 10 Get fitted each year
Yes, our bodies do change, so it is important to re-measure every year.
Different Bras for Different Reasons
Bras come in a variety of colors, styles, fits and fabrics. Different styles of bras are designed for specific body types, fashions and activities. No one bra can do it all! Decide what the bra is for is it to make you look pretty, to feel comfortable, for athletics or for coverage?
- Get a bra that will fit with your outfit. While a sports bra is good for working out, its not the best option under a pretty dress.
- The color of your bra is also important (A black bra under a white shirt may not be the look you want to acheive).
- Experiment to find the brand and style that suits you best. Remember that all bras are not made equally.
- The thicker the shoulder straps, the more support the bra provides; this is important for women wearing D cups and larger.
- Write down the name of your favorite brands and sizes! This will come in handy the next time you shop.
- If you are looking for a certain bra for a special outfit, wear the outfit or bring it to the store; this way you make sure the bra will look and fit right.
- Wash bras by hand, or in the delicate cycle of a washing machine in a mesh bag.
- Avoid shrinkage and prolong life by hanging bras to air-dry.
- For a strapless dress there are bras without straps available. Also, there are stick-on bras that are great to wear under formal dresses or wedding dresses.
- Resist the temptation to buy a bra that doesnt fit (regardless of the price). You wont be comfortable and you wont look and feel your best.
- Dont forget to get re-measured every year.
Special Note on Exercise Bras
Womens breasts bounce up and down about 2.5 inches while walking. The bouncing increases as we exercise (run) and is a contributor to droopiness of the breasts. According to a recent study, wearing a sports bra may reduce bouncing by 74%.
Therefore, when trying on an exercise bra, it is a good idea to move around (even jump up and down) to ensure you are getting enough support to help keep your breasts in place. If one bra is not enough to control bouncing, it is okay to wear two.