“I often walk into a store looking for a bra and easily become overwhelmed. How do I find the right size and style for me?”
-In need of support
Finding the right bra size can be a tricky task especially since every store tends to have their own standard of sizing. Plus there are so many styles of bras now that if you don’t have your correct measurements you may be in the store for hours trying to figure out what fits your figure.
The best thing to do is to get your measurements before you start bra shopping. This way you can compare your measurements to a size chart, which will save time when shopping because you won’t need to pull the same style bra in a bunch of different sizes. Bra sizes are made up of two parts, the band size (the number) and the cup size (the letter). What many don’t realize is that the actual size of the cup depends on the size of the band. So the cup size for a 32D and a 36D are not the same. So for someone with a smaller frame but an average size bust they may end up wearing a larger cup size with a smaller band number. The band size itself is also not necessarily an indication of your overall frame, you may be curvier or smaller in other places. So its always best to measure just to ensure your able to find the right size to fit your frame.
How to measure:
Find your band size: wrap a tape measure underneath your bust with your arms down and record the measure in inches. If the number is odd you may need to try a band size that is higher or lower to determine what fits best. If its an even number then this is probably your most accurate band size but you may need to go up or down a size depending on your body type. A band size that is too tight will squeeze your body and look unflattering while a band size that is too large will not provide the right amount of support needed.
Find your cup size: use your older bras as a guide to determine your cup size. Since the band and cup sizes are in proportion first look at your newly measured band size and compare it to your old band size. If the measurement has gone down, you will probably need a smaller brand size but a larger cup size and vise versa. Most companies use cup sizes that range from a AA all the way up to a LL. Most stores such as Victoria’s Secret sell a range of cup sizes from a AA-DDD since these are the average cup sizes. However, larger sizes can usually be ordered online, in specialty shops or can be custom made depending on your size. You want to make sure the cup size fits correctly to ensure the bra will fit right. A bra with a cup size that is too large for your figure will not provide any support and will probably wrinkle under your shirt. A bra with a cup size that is too small will feel tight and uncomfortable. Since every body is different, try a variety of styles with minimal or a large amount of padding to help properly fill out the most flattering style for your figure. Usually a little padding on the lower portion of the cup is the most comfortable and provides some lift and support that looks flattering and natural.
Try on the bra: once you have your measurements, its time to go to the store and try on a few styles. I would recommend first trying on a basic style bra with little to no padding to get a feel for what size you are at that particular store.
Adjust the band: Make sure you are fully adjusted into the under wires of the bra and have the hook and eye securely fastened (there are three so see which one works best for you). The hook should be tight enough that there is no gaping but not so tight that it pinches the skin. You should be able to slide a few fingers comfortably underneath the band. If you choose to go down a band size then make sure you go up a cup size since the two are in proportion and vise versa.
Lengthen the shoulder straps: Also be sure to lengthen the shoulder straps (most of the bras on the rack have the shoulder straps on the tightest setting possible). The shoulder straps should be tight enough to provide support and stay up on the shoulder but not so tight that they dig into the shoulder.
Check the bra cups: make sure there is no gaping or space in the cups or else the bra is too big. If there is any spillage then the bra is too small. Also make sure the under wire encases everything and does not dig into the chest. If there is removable padding see what looks most natural and either keep it in or take it out. The good thing about it being removable is that it allows you to still use the bra in the future even if your body changes.
Try it with a shirt on: Make sure there is no wrinkling and that the bra looks natural under your clothing. Too much padding may look unnatural while too little may cause you bra to wrinkle under your shirt. Experiment with different styles to see what works best for you.
Bra Styles & How-To Wear Them
T-shirt bra: this type of bra is pretty self-explanatory. It looks best with knitwear because of the simple fabric and flat seams. Try one in a fun print or color (I love one in lace) to wear under darker shirts and one in nude for your lighter colors.
Low back/Adhesive bra: good for low, cutout or backless style garments, having at least one backless bra is probably a good idea for every wardrobe. Options for this style include convertible bras that sit low on the back or bras with adhesive sides that stick to the body. Since this style is hardly sexy but a necessity for many wardrobes, I would recommend purchasing one at an online discount store such as amazon.com (just search backless or adhesive bras in the search box on the site) rather than a pricey lingerie shop.
Convertible bra: this type of bra has removable straps which allow the bra to be converted a variety of different ways so it can be worn with strapless, off the shoulder, one strap and racer back style tops and dresses. Bring or wear one of these tops when trying on this bra to ensure it looks good. You can also find great deals now on this style bra, I was able to find a double pack of them at Forever 21 for just eight dollars.
Push up bra: this style bra has padding at the bottom and/or sides of the insides of the cups to provide some lift. The padding can be made of soft foam or the bra can have removable inserts which can be made of gel. These bras are good for low cut tops and are now available at a variety of different stores in different colors and patterns. For a good quality push up bra that will last for years, I recommend trying Victoria’s Secret or Aerie.
Soft cup bra: these bras have no under wires underneath which gives more coverage and is more comfortable. This is a good option for a woman with a larger chest that wants full coverage with minimal padding.
Demi cup bra: these bras scoop low across the cup and the cup size is about half the size of a regular bra. This type of bra is ideal for low cut v-neck tops because the cups may peek out of a low cut shirt and they give a subtle boost in cleavage. Also for smaller girls this bra is idea since the cups are not quite so large which eliminates some of the gaping that may occur with a t-shirt bra.
Racerback bra: This bra has the front of a t-shirt bra but the straps in the back connect together in the middle of the back of the bra. These bras are ideal for any racer back style tops or tops since the bra straps won’t show. This style of bra also is very supportive since the straps are very supportive and don’t loose elasticity as quickly as bra’s with regular straps.
Bralette: this type of bra has no under wire or padding which makes it very comfortable. It has elastic around the bottom which allows it to fit comfortably to the body. They also are fairly inexpensive since they are not as complicated to manufacture as a regular bra. It is ideal for girls with a smaller chest since it does not provide as much support as an under wire bra would. This type of bra looks cute peeking out of a shirt or for putting on under a t-shirt to sleep in. This bra comes in a variety of cute colors and styles and can be purchased at a variety of different stores.
Sports bra: This type of bra is made of stretchy spandex material with adjustable or racer back style straps. The material for this bra is tightly stretched across the chest, allowing it provide maximum support while exercising. These bras now come in a variety of cute patterns and bright colors from Nike or inexpensive yet still supportive styles can now be purchased from places such as Forever 21.
The best bras aren’t necessarily the most expensive. Some basic t-shirt bras that I have picked up at Aerie have lasted for years. For something sexier and high quality, I’ll go to Victoria’s Secret. Feel free to experiment with fun styles and prints to make bra shopping more enjoyable. Find out which bra styles are best for your wardrobe and which ones you will probably wear the most and least often. For the ones that will probably see the laundry at least a couple of times a week it might be worth the investment for a good high quality bra. For something you may only use once every few weeks for a complicated top or backless dress look for a deal online or hit up a less expensive store.
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