My favorite bra died, and that's sad.
It carried me through hot dates when I was single, and supported my lactating ta-ta's through a portion of my pregnancy. We were like besties, that bra and I. As I mourned its loss, I realized that it wasn't that deep for me to be mourning the loss of a bra anyway. For starters, my chi-chi's had outgrown it. I also realized that while I was grieving over my deceased bra in my commando steez, I wasn't having any back aches and my attitude was much more pleasant without it. Had I been so attached to my bra that I did not realize that my bad bra was actually oppressing my tits?
The answer is yes. In fact, more than 80 percent of women are wearing their bras incorrectly. I also found out that a woman changes bra sizes more than six times in her life due to lifestyle, changes in weight, and pregnancy. Knowing this made me realize that I should have buried that contraption a long time ago. The death of my bra was a sign that it was time to step up my game and dress my fun bags in a bra that fits.
I spoke to several bra specialists and they said that there are several ways to tell if you're wearing a bad bra. For example:
- Can you see your boobs falling out of the side of your bra?
- Are your boobs pushed together and looking sexy, yet you aren't wearing a push-up bra?
- Are those straps digging into your shoulders?
- Does the material from your bra stick out so far that it looks like you're wearing cannons under your shirt?
- Are you constantly adjusting it?
- Is your bra so uncomfortable that it feels like you're wearing patriarchal oppression strapped to your chest?
Fortunately, the bra fitting specialists I spoke with told me exactly how a bra should be worn. Whether you're a career woman on the go, in the military on deployment, or on bed rest, these instructions will show you how you're supposed to be fitted for a bra, and it will save you a lot of future bra and back aches.
1. FIRST, GO TO A PROFESSIONAL BRA FITTER
You may think that you know what you're doing when you select a bra, but again, the statistics say otherwise. To make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck, it's best that you see a professional bra fitter to get fitted for the correct size. Not just any bra fitter, you need an OG.
Elyssa Alfieri is a bra specialist at Zoe & Company Professional Bra Fitters store in Concord, N.H. She recommended that you see an expert bra fitter at a store that carries a wide variety of sizes and styles.
We always recommend seeing an expert Professional Bra Fitter in person in a store that carries a wide variety of sizes and styles. Simply put, using a measuring tape is just a small part of finding the right size and fit, and if you aren't in the right size bra already, your measurements may be very misleading! Professional bra fitters have the expertise to take into account the many factors which measuring won't help with—breast tissue density, for example. Or how to accommodate two different sized breasts, which is very common.
2. THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT (WITHOUT A PROFESSIONAL BRA FITTER)
Let's say you're in a position where you can't get to a professional bra fitter. For example, maybe you're deployed to an area that has no malls. Or perhaps you're taking care of a sick or elderly family member who needs a new bra, but can't get out of the house to get fitted. According to Chez Johnson of byChez Designer Lingerie Boutique, there is a way you can do a proper bra fitting at home. First you need to wear a comfortable bra that provides full coverage.
Next, you measure your band size.
Place the tape measure directly under the bust and across your ribcage. All band sizes come in even numbers, so if you're measurements show an odd number, round up to the nearest even number (e.g., from 35 1/2 to 36). You can double-check this by measuring the bottom of your band. Again, if you get an odd number, round up to the nearest even number.
Next, measure the bust by bringing the tape measure underneath the arms, across the middle of the chest.
When you're done, write down those numbers!
If this seems like too much work, keep in mind that some businesses, like Zoe & Company, have the ability to send a bra fitter to your home. Elyssia says,
Depending on the circumstances...we recommend calling around to different stores in your area that offer professional bra fitting to see if they will come to you. We are willing to travel to customers in extenuating circumstances, and likely there are stores in other areas willing to do so.
Elyssia also says that some stores will keep your size on file for you, which will make it much easier to buy and stock up on bras without having to second guess your size if you forget.
3. HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR CUP SIZE
Determining your cup size can be tricky, especially if you get it wrong. Every store has a different way of calculating your cup size, so if you buy your bras online, be sure to check their cup calculator before you purchase your items. You can also use a general cup calculator using your bust and band size measurements on calculator.net.
If you don't have access to the website, you can use a little math to figure out your cup size. Chez says,
Take your band measurement and subtract that from your cup measurement. Each inch represents a cup size. So let's say your band measurement is 34 inches, and your cup measurement is 36 inches, a di erence of two inches. This means your cup size is a B, making you a 34B.
4. MAKE SURE THE BRA FITS
Even though you've take your measurements, and used math to determine your cup size, you still need to make sure it fits. Here are a few things you can do to make sure that your bra is going to give you the coverage that you need, according to realsimple.com
Bend forward at the waist, then slip on the bra and hook it. This ensures your breasts are completely in the cups.
- Adjust the band. The back of the bra should be level with the front.
- Make sure the bra is not too loose. You should be able to slide only one finger underneath the band.
- Fix falling straps. First, tighten the band, then shorten the straps.
- Put on a close-fitting shirt over the bra. If the cups pucker or your breasts bulge, you're not wearing the correct size.
- Look at yourself sideways in a mirror. Your breasts should sit midway between your shoulders and elbows. If not, you need a more supportive and better-fitting bra.
- If you need to go down a cup size for fit, go up one band size, and vice versa. For example, if a 34C is too big for you, move to a 36B.
- Choose a bra that fits perfectly when secured on the outermost hook. As the bra loosens over time, make the band taut by moving toward the tightest hook.
There's a lot of ground to cover when it comes to selecting the correct bra size. Check back for part two of this series, where we get into how your band is supposed to sit on your back, and the best sports bras for small, and heavy chested women.