Bra Basics: Are You Wearing the Right Bra? (Part 2 of 2)

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It’s October. There’s a definite nip in the air. To nip that autumn nip-in-the-air in the bud, it’s time to pull out seasonal sweaters and warm winter woolens to keep you cozy.

Looking your best in sweaters and snug woven tops calls for the right undergarments, specifically the right bra–a derivation of the French brassiere. But according to Frederika Zappe, national fit specialist for Eveden, a whopping “85% of women do not wear the correct size” bra. That means that “the girls” aren’t getting the attention they need. And therefore you may not be getting the attention you deserve.

Find a bra that fits and flatters

There are several ways to insure that you have a bra that both fits and flatters.

  • The best way to find the right size bra is to be outfitted by a professionally trained fitter. They can troubleshot on the spot, finding the best size, shape and style bra without you having to ever leave the fitting room.
  • A second way is to use a bra calculator that uses a predetermined algorithm to predict your bra size. However, they are not always accurate and they lack the human element, which can help you decide bust shape, age, health issues or personal comfort.
  • My recommendation for determining your correct bra size is self-measurement. For this, you’ll need a soft tape measure, a non-padded bra and a pen and paper.

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Finding your bra band size

The band of your bra provides the garment’s greatest support, so it needs to be firm. And because cup size is relative to band size, it’s important to get the band size correct.

  • Take measurement while standing straight and tall with the tape parallel to the floor.
  • Loop tape measure around your torso from just under your bust to your back just below the shoulder blades

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  • Record the measurement, rounding up to the nearest whole number.
  • If the measurement is an odd number such as 29 inches, add 1 to 3 inches Your band measurement would be 30 or 32 inches. If the measurement is an even number such as 30, add 0 or 2 inches. Your band number would then be 30 or 32.
  • Note that every manufacturer sizes bras differently, so you may end up adding up to 4 or 5 inches to your under-bust measurement. Start with the original number and go from there.

Find your bust measurement/cup size

Your bust size is determined by your band size, so as your band size changes, so does your cup size. Here’s how to determine your cup size.

  • With your tape measure parallel to the floor, measure around the fullest part of your chest at nipple level.

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  • Record the number in inches, rounding to the nearest whole number.
  • Now do some simple math. Subtract your band size from your bust measurement. For example, if your band size is 36 inches and your bust measurement is 30 inches, that’s a difference of 6 inches. According to the chart below, you would require a DDD or F cup.
    • 0 = AA
    • 1 = A
    • 2 = B
    • 3 = C
    • 4 = D
    • 5 = DD or E
    • 6 = DDD or F
    • 7 = DDD or G
    • 8 = H

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How to determine whether your bra fits

  • The center gore, or the fabric between the cups, should lie flat against your chest. If there’s a gap, your bra cups are too small or your band is too big.
  • The underwire should surround all of your breast tissue. If it digs into your skin, you need a bra one size larger.
  • The bra band should fit parallel to the floor on the loosest hook so you can tighten it as the aging fabric stretches.

Bra fits and misses

Even with the correct-size bra, there can arise complications. Here’s how to fix the most common annoyances for a tug-, pull- and fidget-free day.

  • Slipping shoulder straps
    Straps can stretch over time, so try tightening them. If that doesn’t work, explore a different bra style. Women with sloping shoulders will want a bra with a U-shaped ballet back with straps that fit closer together. Racer-back bras are another option.
  • Creasing cups
    The fabric in your bra is breaking down from either normal wear or dryer use. Time for a new bra.
  • Front or side breast spillage
    Find a bra one cup size larger or one with wider cups.
  • Gaping cups
    Tighten the band, which will cinch the underwire firmly under the breast tissue, bringing the cup closer to your body.
  • Riding bra band
    Because over 80% of a bra’s support comes from its band, according to Victoria’s Secret executive vice president Monica Mitro, it’s important to replace your bra when the elastic wears out.

Foundation facts

  • How many bras should I own?
    The magic number is five: three for everyday wear, including a demi, a plunge and a great T-shirt bra; a gorgeous set for especial occasions; and a comfy bralette for lazing around. It’s important to rotate your bras. Never wear one for days in a row because body oils will break down the fibers causing it to age, according to Allison Beale, marketing director of Journelle.

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  • How should I care for my bras?
    Hand wash them. If you must use the washing machine, hook the back of the bra, remove any removable pads and place your bra in a mesh bag. Wash on the cold delicate cycle with other light clothing, And always air dry, as dryers will ruin elastic and cups.

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  • When should you replace your bras?
    For those that get daily wear, replace them every nine months or when the band seems stretched out.

So now that you know how to choose a bra that fits and flatters, you have the best “foundation” for the best possible wardrobe that also fits and flatters. Shine on!

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