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Finding the Correct Size

Posted on April 18, 2010 by under Shopping, Tips.    

Let’s revisit Oprah’s eight important questions:

1. Do your bra straps dig into or slip off your shoulders?
2. Does your underwire poke into your breast tissue?
3. Does your bra ride up in the back?
4. Do your breasts sag under your clothing?
5. Do you feel like taking off your bra before the day is over?
6. Do the buttons on your blouse gap at the bustline?
7. Do your breasts spill out of your bra’s cups?
8. Have you recently gained or lost more than 10 lbs?

Remember, if you answered “yes” to any of these then it’s time to reconsider your bra size. You can get fitted at a lingerie store like Victoria’s Secret or go to a bra fitting event at a department store (which is what I did). However, you don’t really need an expert to figure out your correct bra size. All you need is a soft tape measure.

There are two main measurements that you need. You need your band measurement, as well as your cup size. To get your correct bra size, follow these steps:

Step 1: Get your band measurement by running a tape measure all the way around your body, just under your breasts. Ensure that the tape measure is horizontal and fairly snug. Ideally, your arms should be down on your sides so it is sometimes helpful to have someone there to assist with getting this measurement. If the measurement is an odd number, round up to the next even number. If your measurement is already an even number, you might still need to go up to the next even number (depending on how snug the measurement is).

You can double check this measurement by wrapping the tape measure snugly around your back, under your arms, and across the top of your chest. Sometimes your ribcage expands and contracts as you breathe so getting this second measurement helps to get a more accurate band measurement. This is the reason that the bra fitting expert at Dillard’s took three measurements when she fitted me yesterday.

Step 2: To determine your cup size, you must first wrap a measuring tape around your back and across the fullest part of your bust and take a gentle measurement. Subtract your band measurement from this measurement. If the difference is 1 inch then your cup size is A, 2 inches is B, 3 inches is C, 4 inches is D, 5 inches is DD, 6 inches is DDD and so on.

This should give you a starting point for trying on bras. Do not buy a bra without trying it on first. Sizing sometimes varies by manufacturer and style, so getting your correct bra measurement is not a guarantee that the bra will fit perfectly in that size. Also, it is not uncommon for women to wear different bra sizes in different bras.

      Some fitting tips:

  • The proper band size is the smallest that you can comfortably wear, but you should be able to fit two fingers underneath it.
  • A bra will stretch over time so you want to make sure that your band is on the loosest setting when you first purchase it. This way, you can move down one or two settings as the band’s elastic begins to wear off.
  • If the band is roomy enough for you to be able to comfortably fasten it on the tightest or smallest setting, then it is recommended that you try a smaller band size.
  • If the band is painfully tight, then you’ll need to go up a size. I know that’s pretty obvious, but I thought I would throw that in there. =P
  • The correct cup size is the largest one that you can completely fill without excess space in the cups or without the fabric wrinkling. Your breasts should fill the cups, but not bulge out anywhere.
  • If the bra has underwire, make sure the underwire encloses your whole breast and lies flat against your rib cage.
  • If they are too small, or even if they seem to fit ok, try on a bigger cup size as well to double check. It’s a lot easier to tell if they are too big than too small.
  • If the cups are too big, then go down a size. Again, pretty obvious, but I’m mentioning it anyway.

A bra that fits properly will feel comfortable. The perfect bra will feel like you’re not even wearing one at all.

Bras typically have a useful life of six months. As I mentioned earlier, the band will stretch over time. The bra will lose a little elasticity each time it is washed. You might have to adjust the straps or fasten the band at a tighter setting to compensate for any loss of elasticity. You might also consider shopping for a new bra every six months. If you buy the proper size, you might be able to hold off buying a new bra for a year with proper care and some minor adjustments to the straps and band.

      How to care for your bras:

  • Don’t wear the same bra everyday. Most bras are made with a lot of Lycra, which tends to stretch throughout the day due to body heat. It could take 24 hours for it to return to its natural shape so try not to wear the same bra two days in a row.
  • Don’t put bras in the dryer. Always handwash and linedry your bras. This will help extend their useful life.
  • If you must save time, use the delicate cycle of the washing machine. Hook the back clasps together and put the bra in a lingerie bag. This will help prevent the bra from getting twisted and damaged during the wash cycle. Set the rinse for cool or cold.
  • Store bras properly. Bras should be folded neatly in their own drawer so that the delicate material doesn’t get snagged or ruined by other clothes or undergarments.

I hope that you’ve found this post helpful and informative. When I learn new things, I always try to share them so that everyone can benefit. If you have helpful tips to share, please be sure to post them in the comments.

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