YOUR BEST BRA FIT: FOR BETTER STYLE AT ANY SIZE
By Ali Cudby
Ali Cudby is the author of the new book Tyranny of the Tatas and owner of Fab Foundations, an intimate apparel consulting company. Ali can be found on Twitter @alicudby, and you can be a fan of the Ali Cudby, author page on Facebook. Email Ali at email@example.com.
Every season you hear about the newest fashions – what’s in and what’s out in the panorama of colors, accessories and silhouettes. There are articles highlighting the best styles for women ranging from plus-size to petite, and preppy to punk. At the end of the day, there is one thing that every woman should wear to look her best, regardless of size, shape or personal style – and that’s your own best bra fit.
According to the award-winning blogger Treacle, known as “The Lingerie Addict” (www.thelingerieaddict.com), “Every woman needs, no deserves, a properly fitting bra. Not only does it make a profound difference in the way you look & feel”¦your clothes simply won’t work their best without one — no matter how much you may have spent on them.”
Maybe you’re thinking you already know your bra size, and maybe you’re right, but you’re in the minority. Most studies show that 70-85% of women are wearing the wrong bra, with 16-24 year-olds being the most likely to wear the wrong size – a whopping 86% of them. And even if you’re one of the fortunate few buying the right size, you may not be wearing your bra correctly, so you still may have room to look even better in your clothes by making some small adjustments in how you’re wearing your bra.
A properly fitted bra can help a woman look better in her clothes and appear 10 or even 20 pounds lighter. In fact, according to Eveden, a leading bra manufacturer, research “reveals a shocking 53% of women suffer physically, experiencing problems like sagging and stretch marks, from wearing ill fitting bras over the course of their life.”
Many women end up in the wrong bras because they have a fundamental misconception about bra size. The thinking is that a 36DD is someone who is huge-busted – Pamela Anderson time. In fact, that’s currently America’s average bra size. And if you’re thin but busty, you could have average size breasts and wear a 32F. So be open minded about sizes that go beyond a DD — they’re more common than you’d think.
One more thing for the busty ones among us: when shopping in size D-cup and above, quality really matters. The companies that cater to these sizes use stronger materials, like metal fasteners and strap rings instead of plastic. Layla L’Obatti, of boutique brand Between The Sheets Lingerie (www.btslingerie.com) explains that lower quality bras, “won’t last as long, lose their shape, and the fibers break down faster.” There is real engineering in a full-bust brassiere, which should be taken into account when looking at bras, and also when considering the price tag.
There are countless methodologies for bra measurement, and at the end of the day, it’s the fit, the fit, the fit that matters. There are no standards for size in the bra industry, so even if you know your size in one bra, it may be totally different in another brand. Crazy, right? But that’s just the way it is, and the way around that challenge is to focus on fit, not size.
While a trained professional can be a great partner in your quest for the perfect bra, having just a few tips under your belt (or shirt) will get you into the right size and have you looking your best.
Tip #1: Band Aid
When you’re trying on bras, always start with the band on its loosest hook, so as the bra stretches (and they all do), you’ll have room to adjust for a firmer fit.
The band of your bra should be snug to your ribcage. You want it to do the work of carrying and lifting your boobs, because when the band is too loose, the weight rests on your shoulders. If you’re full-busted, that can lead to back pain, divots in your shoulders, or worse. Even if you’re very small, you want the band to do the work in order to have the best possible lift. It should be snug enough that you can only pull the bra away from your back around an inch. Your bra will begin to relax after the first wearing, so if the band isn’t tight enough in the beginning, it will never do its job. One great way to tell if your band is too big is if it rides up in the back. The band should be parallel to the floor, even when you move. So dance around, swing your arms like you’re doing your best Michael Phelps imitation, and look again. If the band rides up — even a little – go down a size or move onto the next bra, no matter how cute it is.
Tip #2: Bridge the Gap
The bridge is the piece of the bra between your boobs, connecting the cups. It should sit flat against your ribcage. There should be no gapping, even when you raise your arms over your head. No matter what your size, you can find a bra that fits like this; so if the bridge isn’t sitting flat against your body, you’re not wearing the right bra.
Having a gap between the bra and the body is a pretty common problem. Since many women wear their band size too big, the cup ends up being too small, as band size and cup size are interrelated. The easiest way to mind the gap is to try going down a band size and up a cup size.
Tip #3: The Winner’s Cup
Bra cups should fully surround your breast tissue. Here’s a good trick for figuring out if you are wearing the right size cup: when you press the area directly behind the cup/underwire (on the armpit side) you should feel ribs, not breast flesh. If the skin there is still fleshy, you don’t have all of the boob in the cup.
There are two common bra fails that indicate a cup that’s too small: First, the dreaded quad-boob. This condition exists if your breast starts popping out over the top of the cup. Quad-boob looks unsightly under all your clothes and makes t-shirts virtually unwearable. Second is the equally challenging, though less obvious, underspill. Underspill happens when your boob starts to fall out from the bottom of your cup. If you are prone to underspill you will be especially vulnerable when raising your arms over your head.
The goal for your best bra fit is to ensure that your entire boob stays in the cup.
Even though you now know what to look for in when fitting your band, bridge and cup, getting an excellent fit is still a complicated process. If you’re a size that’s difficult (or impossible) to find in local stores, it’s even more complex. It’s easy to see why so many women get it wrong – but it’s worth the time and effort to get your fit right in order to prevent sagging, stretch marks or worse later in life.