Did you know that around 80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size? What is it with this innocuous piece of clothing? We are all pretty good at choosing other items of clothing that fit us well, so why do we struggle with bras?
Lingerie experts think it is because we are dealing with two measurements: the cup size and the band size.
Bra size is made up of these two measurements. The cup size is taken by measuring the fullest part of your chest. The band size is taken by measuring around your torso, where your bra strap would normally sit.
How to calculate your bra size
You calculate your bra size by doing the following:
Take the torso number and if it is an odd number such as 31, round it up to the even one. This makes it 32. Now take the cup size. Say this size was 36. To calculate your actual bra size you need to look at the chart below. As the cup size of 36 has a 4” difference from the torso of 32 you are a D cup. So your bra size is 32D.
Most women pick the wrong bra because the chest size is too big and the cup size is too small. Lingerie experts advise that once you know your actual bra size you should always try a bra on, adjust the straps and never choose a bra where you have hook the band on its tightest setting. This is because bras naturally loosen up after countless times in the wash, and the three settings on the band are to account for this.
Here are our tips to make sure you are wearing the right bra:
Is your bra comfortable?
Does your bra feel comfortable during the day? Do you have to keep adjusting it in order for it to be comfortable? You should not be able to feel a well-fitting bra once you have put it on, so if you are constantly fiddling and adjusting it, it’s a sign it is not the right size.
Does your bra move?
Your bra should remain in place all day long. The band at the back should feel firm and sit in place. If it moves it could mean that the back size of the bra is too big and could rub. To check if you have the correct back size, pull the band at the band away from the body, in a good fitting bra there’ll be an inch of give. If there’s more than an inch the bra is too big, less than an inch the bra is too small.
Does the under-wire sit flat to your body?
The under-wire of your bra should sit along the natural crease of your breast, just behind the breast tissue. You can check this by pressing gently on the wire. If you feel soft breast tissue then the cup is too small and you’ll feel the wire digging in all day. If you can feel the bone this means the bra is the correct size.
You should also be able to lift your arms up and the under-wire remain where it is without rising up. It should remain lying flat against your body.
Do your bra straps leave a mark?
Bra straps are only meant to do 10 per cent of the work in supporting the breasts. If you have indentations where the straps lie, they are doing too much work. You should be able to pull your straps an inch so if you cannot, adjust them until your breasts are supported in a more natural position. This is usually half way between the shoulder and the elbow. Remember, the straps and the band work together to provide support.
Does the strap of your bra sit around the middle of your back?
Talking of the back, it should sit in the middle and in line with the front to provide maximum support. If the back is tending to ride up higher it is a sign that the bust is not being properly supported and your chest will slope downwards. If it does ride up it could be that the band is too big and you need a smaller size.
Is the cup too big/small?
Experts suggest women bring a tee-shirt along to bra fittings, as this is an ideal way to see if a bra looks great in the harshest of clothing. A cup should be able to hold all of the breast tissue comfortably, without any spilling over, either from the top or the sides. It should also not too big so that there is no wrinkling or gaping.
Are your breasts uneven?
Many women have asymmetrical breasts, with typically one breast one size bigger. Disguising them is a lot easier than you think. Always buy a bra that caters for the larger sized breast, and then simply pad out the cup for the smaller breast. Or you can buy a bra that comes with added padding and then remove the padding for the larger breast.
Finally, lingerie experts have a few great tips for wearing bras:
- Always buy nude coloured bras to wear under white clothing
- Push-up bras add glamour and volume
- Always take off your bra at night, to allow the lymph nodes to function properly