When it comes to bras, 9 out of every 10 women aren’t wearing the correct size, either cramming themselves into bras that are too small or wearing bras that are too loose and don’t offer any support. A badly fitting bra isn’t just unflattering—it can also cause neck pain, back pain and headaches.
So what’s the upside to finding your right size? It will give you a smoother line, help you look slimmer, improve you posture and ease the pressure off your back and neck. Here’s how to find out if you’re wearing the correct bra size.
1. Get measured.
The best way to determine your bra size is to be professionally measured at a specialty bra boutique. Although there’s lots of advice online about how to measure yourself, this can be hard to do accurately. Plus, a professional will not only take into account your measurements, but also the volume of your breasts and your overall body shape.
2. Check the band.
The band should be snug against your body. “Most women buy bras with bands that are way too big for their body,” says Jennifer Klein, owner of Secrets From Your Sister, a Toronto lingerie boutique. The band is what supports the weight of your breasts—not the shoulder straps. If you find your straps are leaving indents in your shoulders, or if the band is riding up your back, your bra is probably too small. When buying a new bra, always make sure the band is snug when it’s on the loosest hook. Since bras can stretch over time, you need to be able to tighten them later on.
3. Check the cup.
If you’re holding on to bras that give you the dreaded uni-boob, cause your breasts to spill out the top or sides, or ride up in the back, do yourself a favour and ditch them. A well-fitting bra should stay in place when you move and should rest snugly against your ribcage. The wire should go all around the bosom and rest flat against your torso. Try the bra on underneath a thin t-shirt in order to see how the cup will look with your clothes.
Klein makes her clients move around when they’re trying on bras, to see how they will fit and feel in everyday life. Shrug your shoulders. Move your arms back and forth across your body. Sit down, slouch, take deep breaths. Pay attention to how the bra feels on your body. If the back rides up when you move, or if the wire digs into your breast tissue, the bra is probably too tight.
5. Don’t be afraid to splurge.
If you’re going to splurge on one piece of clothing, your bra should be it. “Bras are the basis of your entire outfit,” says Klein. “They’re support garments designed to help your posture. Women should never take that for granted.” Buying from a specialty boutique instead of a department store will cost you more money, but you’ll also be getting a bra with a better design and quality material—so it will be a better investment in the long run.
6. Know what you want.
Never rely solely on measurements. You size may vary depending on the style of the bra or the manufacturer. Also, because your breast size can change over the years—depending on whether you’ve gained or lost weight, started working out, or had a baby—it’s always best to rely on how comfortable a bra feels when you put it on. Don’t be afraid to try on different styles and sizes until you find the one that works best for your body.