Every woman loves the day that our favourite lingerie stores put up the sale marketing in the windows. Bring on the Semi-Annual-every-bra-under-$20-clearance-extravaganza, and we’ll be there ready to line our drawers with bras of all colours and cuts. On more that one occasion after a bra-binge, we find ourselves feeling that a number of the bras we’ve purchased don’t work with any of our shirts, they cut high on our chest, or the straps are just plain awkward. How does a girl figure out the intricacies of her intimates when reportedly 85% of women are wearing the wrong bra size?
There are four major factors that come into play when finding the right fit. It’s important to note that bra-experts suggest trying on all your bras twice a year to check for fit. Weight changes, age, lifestyle¦all of these things can contribute to a fluctuation in size and/or shape of your breasts. If you’re unsure about fit, or things feel different, head in for a bra-fitting (which more often than not is a complimentary service).
First, your band should fit comfortably snug around your rib cage on the last hook. As the bra stretches out from wear, you can move the clasp inwards. The band shouldn’t move up or down, or have too much ‘bulge’ anywhere around your ribcage. If that’s the case, your band size should increase. It’s a good idea to give your bra a day off after wearing to save the elastic.
We’ve all feared the double-boob, and for that, the next step in becoming your own bra-expert is ensuring your cups are correct. No gaping, no digging underwire, and no ‘wardrobe malfunctions’. If you were to raise your arms, your ta-ta’s should stay in their places. If there is too much space, go down a cup size. Don’t invert the cups to store your bras: this can shorten the lifespan of your bra as the fabric and shape is manipulated.
No well-endowed (or not) woman should have to deal with painful red indentations from straps. As much as we might feel that tightening up around the shoulders is the only way to stay alert, the support should really come from your band (which is why that first step is so important).
Lastly, be open to different styles. There are so many fun and functional bra shapes to choose from, that it’s going to take some trial and error before you figure out which ones are your favourites. The most common names you’re going to run into include :
Plunge bras dip low to give you lift without showing when you wear your v-necks, and other plunging necklines. Plunge bras can increase the appearance of cleavage without having too much push-up. Nothing ruins the perfect plunging neckline of that dress like your bra peeking out to say hello to everyone. (Push Em Up Plunge at gillyhicks.com, Crepe Aveline Dress at jcrew.com)
Best for swooping necklines, as balconets tend to have a very wide, rectangular look with the strap placement. Balconets might not suit a larger bust, as the shape naturally gives a bit of push up, or a ‘shelf’. (Lace Balconet Bra at hm.com, Slub scoopneck shirt at aeropostale.com)
Every girl’s must-have in the summer. With layering tanks often designed in a racerback shape, make sure you have the right bra so that you’re not all straps, no suave. (Anna floral racerback at gillyhicks.com, knotted racerback tank at oldnavy.gap.com)
As the same implies, a demi bra provides ‘half’ coverage, making it suited for a smaller chest. Great for camis and low cut tops, this bra covers between half and three quarters of the breast. If you have too much spillage in a demi, it’s time to go up a size. (Scoopneck demi bra at victoriassecret.com, Fletcher Maxi dress at nastygal.com)
Full coverage, generally seamless for invisible coverage under all your tees, knits and woven tops. (Truly Madly Deeply Oversized Tee at urbanoutfitters.com, Favourite TShirt Bra at gap.com
Because variety is the spice of life. And when you realize you wore the wrong bra for that shirt, swap your straps to better accommodate tricky necklines or asymmetrical strap scenarios. (Floral One Shoulder Romper at forever21.com, Multi-Way Push-Up Bra at victoriassecret.com).