As years-long, bra-wearing members of society, you would think most of us would have our bra buying skills down pat. But yet many of us still struggle with buying the correct size and fit. Sometimes they're too big and our girls don't get the support they need.
Sometimes they're too small and our cups runneth over. And any woman worth her weight in lingerie knows that the quickest way to ruin a bangin' outfit or worse, an entire day, is wearing the wrong bra. In fact, more and more women are starting to accept the bra-free movement if they can get away with it.
So, how do you pick the right bra? Well, for starters, you should always get yourself measured. Your breasts aren't one size fits all, and neither are bras.
Due to weight loss/gain and hormonal changes, our bust sizes can fluctuate rapidly over the years.
And to make things even more confusing, sizing can differ from company to company. In fact, a 32B from La Senza could mean something completely different at Calvin Klein Underwear. Why are these companies doing this to us?!
So if you're uncomfortable with a salesperson touching your chest, bring some measuring tape of your own or measure yourself in the comfort of your own home before heading out shopping.
But regardless of whether you're shopping in-store or online, here are some key points that you need to know.
1. MEASURE YOUR BAND SIZE
Band size is the numbers that are found in bra sizes. But sometimes there are so many different numbers, what do they all mean?
Well, some brands go by inches and start at 30, whereas others go by centimetres and start at 70 instead. It’s important for you to clarify what measurements the brand you’re buying from goes by in order to minimise confusion.
The only way to find out is to grab a measuring tape and measure the circumference of the area where the base of the bra is supposed to be. Round up fractions, and if your measurement is an odd number, try both the smaller and bigger sizes to see which fits better.
ALSO READ: Op-Ed: Why I gave up wearing a bra
2. FIND THE RIGHT CUP
Measure your bust (the circumference around the nipple area), and then subtract the number from the band size. The difference corresponds to the cup.
If your bust size is less than 1 inch bigger than your band size, you're a cup size AA.
- 1-inch difference = A
- 2-inch difference = B
- 3-inch difference = C
- 4-inch difference = D
- 5-inch difference = DD
- 6-inch difference = DDD or F
- 7-inch difference = DDDD or G
- 8-inch difference= H
- 9-inch difference = I
- 10-inch difference = J
- 11-inch difference = K
- 12-inch difference = L
- 13-inch difference = M
- 14-inch difference = N
- 15-inch difference = O
3. MAKE SURE IT FITS
Your bra should fit all-around your chest area. This means the cups have to settle nicely on your breasts, the elastic around your chest shouldn't be too tight (or too loose) and the wire shouldn't dig into your flesh, especially around the armpit area.
If you need to, adjust the straps for a proper fit. But if adjusting the straps make the back of the band go up too high, then that’s when you need a smaller cup.PHOTO: Unsplash
4. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CUTTING
Depending on the size of your breasts and the support you need, bras with underwire will help to give your breast more lift. If you want more volume, opt for a push-up bra with additional padding.
If you're wearing fitted clothes, a thinly padded bra would be the best option. In fact, brands like Sloggi and Uniqlo have now created t-shirt bras that give you volume and support without the discomfort of a wire.
If comfort is more of your thing, triangle bras are a great way to get minimal support without compromising on comfort.
But bear in mind that they do tend to keep to your breast’s natural shape, as opposed to that round, full shape that we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Both shapes are fine, it just depends on what your preference and comfort level is.
Go for a sports bra if you're doing sports, which gives you ample support sans the wire. If you’re bigger chested, make sure you move around a bit when trying on your sports bra, to ensure you get the most support if you’re doing high-intensity activities.
5. CHANGE IT WHENEVER NEEDED
Like your dress size, your bra size will change as your body changes. Just because you were a 34B last year, it doesn't mean you'll remain the same size all your life.
If you find the bra getting too tight or too loose (and it's not due to wear and tear), you might need to start measuring yourself again to find one that fits nicely. Try to avoid getting a bra during your period as hormonal changes will cause your size to swell.
This article was first published in CLEO Singapore.