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How to choose the right bra size

Are you giving your breasts the right support? Here’s our top guide, giving you the lowdown of what to look for when buying a bra.

I worked for a high-street lingerie brand whilst in university and I’ve probably carried out hundreds of bra fits (I did work there for 6 years!). From my experience, many people are unknowingly wearing the wrong bra size. Trust me when I say I’ve seen it all. Many people who I fitted had bras on that a) did nothing to support their breasts and b) looked so uncomfortable that I often wondered how they managed to wear it all day!

Why is it important to get the correct fit?

Where do I start! Choosing a bra that fits is important for many reasons. For a start, you wear it for long hours during the day. An ill-fitting bra can be uncomfortable. You don’t want to feel restricted by your bra. It should work with your body whether you are sitting, standing or running for the bus.

Alongside feeling uncomfortable, the wrong size bra can be unhealthy! No matter your cup size, your breasts need support. A lack of support can cause muscle tension, backache and poor posture. Ill-fitting cups and wires can also dig into breast tissue which can be really painful. A correct fitting bra will support you in all the right places and make you feel body confident!

Choosing a bra that fits

Putting my soapbox to one side, I thought to move on and share top tips on what to look for when shopping for a new bra:

So many shapes and styles

Many of us get caught in the trap of buying the same bra style based on “what we’ve always worn”. I recommend trying out different styles to see what works best for your body shape.

Generally, the most common styles are plunge, balconette and full coverage. These can be underwired or non-underwired depending on the brand. Plunge bras do not offer as much support as both balconette and full coverage. If you have a D+ cup size or a fuller cup, a plunge bra might not do the job. Balconette bras and full coverage generally have a wider support band underneath the cups and wider straps. Combined, this gives you more support and therefore puts less strain on your back.

Comfortable cups

When choosing a bra, it’s important to assess how the cups fit. Try standing up straight and adjusting the straps so they fit on your shoulders.  After these adjustments, the bra should sit comfortably on your breastbone, with the cup resting on your breast tissue. If you have too much room, you’re going to need a smaller cup size or different style. Alternatively, if the bra cuts in or sits too low on the breast you’re going to need to go up a cup size or try a more supportive style.

Style and size come into factor when assessing the fit of the bra cup. From my experience, this is where most people struggle. Styles can have completely different fits and if you don’t know your size you can end up going in circles. Consult an expert bra fitter if you are completely lost.

To underwire or not to underwire

Underwire is not to everyone’s preference. These bras are generally more supportive but it’s important to get the fit right. To check the fit, feel the wire to ensure it sits next to the breast tissue, towards your underarm. Also, double check that the underwire on the front of your bra sits comfortably on your breastbone. It there’s a gap between your underwire and your breastbone, it’s generally an indicator that you’re wearing the wrong cup size.

Non-wired bras are increasingly popular because they are comfortable and have become a fashionable favourite. Non-wired bras are less supportive but can work for any cup size.  Pay attention to the bandwidth and strap width if you have a larger cup size. The wider the strap, the more support you’ll get from the bra.

Fabrics can make a difference

Like with any item of clothing, the bra fabric can make a difference to the overall fit and comfort. Bras made of lace, silk and satin will have less stretch than cotton bras. They can, therefore, come up a bit smaller when you try them on. You might need to adjust your bra size to get the correct fit. For everyday wear, these bras can also be less comfortable. Cotton bras (especially organic!) will be more comfortable for long wear.

Back to basics

It’s important to choose a bra that sits comfortably on your back. To check the fit, pull on the back of your bra, it should leave space for the width of 2 fingers. If you have more room, it’s too big and if there is no room it’s too small! Your back size can affect your cup size so it’s important to try and get the right fit.

When you buy a new bra, always aim to get the right fit using the loosest hook on the back of your bra. That way when it starts to give with wear you can tighten it to the second loosest hook. This is a useful tip to prolong the wear of your bras!

I hope this helps you out! Trust me when I say the right fit can make a real difference. Look after your body by getting a bra that fits, and feel body confident every day.

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