I was reminded by a friend yesterday that I know way too much about bras and bra fitting. Being busty means you learn a lot about such things. Sometimes you learn the hard way. Please don't learn the hard way. I'm going to share what I've learned and hopefully you benefit from it as well. I'll also do some reviews occasionally of my favorite bras. Most of my info is going to be geared toward you extra busty ladies, but that doesn't mean my advice only applies to them. A good bra is a good bra, no matter your size and shape.
Why a good fitting bra mattersIt boils down to two things: how you look and how you feel. How you look is subjective - everyone has a different taste or style they are after. Sometimes you want to contain or minimize, sometimes you want major sexy cleavage. Whatever look you're feeling, make sure it fits correctly. More on fit in a minute. When I talk about how a bra makes you feel, I mean is it physically supporting you the way that it should. A good fitting bra won't hurt. A bad fitting bra probably will. I also notice a huge difference in my posture when I'm wearing a bra that fits. My back hurts less and I can sit up straighter. A good fitting bra is going to make you feel confident, and that matters too.
Finding a good fitKnowing how to measure yourself is the first step, but it's not the only thing you need to look at. It doesn't matter a whole lot if you measure with a bra on or off, or even if it fits. Unless you're wearing something that's massively compressive - that would skew things. You'll get a more accurate measurement if you have someone else help you. But most salespeople in stores don't know how to do it properly, especially that one big chain store everyone goes to.
Measure around where your band will sit. Then measure around your breasts at the widest point. Subtract your band size from your bust size. Don't add anything to either measurement!!! Each inch difference is one cup size. Yes, seriously, one cup per inch. You're bigger than you thought, aren't you? Yeahhh. That happens a lot. It's ok, deep breath, we're gonna get through this.
Armed with the knowledge of your size, you now have to try on. Find a few styles you like - again, doesn't matter if it's full coverage, demi, push-up, whatever. My suggestion is go to a store with a large variety of brands and sizes and try stuff on until you find something you like.
You want to be able to wear the bra on the middle set of hooks. If you're on the tightest set of hooks, go down a band size. If you're on the largest, go up a band size. It's not worth buying that size if you can't leave room for weight gain or loss. When you look in the mirror, is the band riding up in back? If it is, it's too big. All of the support you get from a bra comes from the band - not the straps or the cups. The gore of the bra - the part where the underwires meet in the front- should lay flat against your sternum. It should be just loose enough to stick one or two fingers between you and the bra, but not any looser. If it's not laying flat, you need bigger band size or the cup style isn't compatible with your breasts. Move on.
Did you know that cup size is not a measure of volume? They aren't consistent either. Your cup size doesn't mean a damn thing without the band size. They're a team, just like your boobs. On top of that, there are just a ton of different cup styles. Maybe we'll go into more detail on those in a later post. You want a cup that holds you in and doesn't cut you off. The underwire should encompass all your breast tissue and not cut into it near your armpits or cleavage. If it does either of those things, move along. The fabric part of the cup can cut into you too, giving you what I refer to as quadra boob. As much as your partner may be thrilled that you suddenly appear to have four breasts, this isn't a good look. I went through most of my 20s rocking this look, thinking it made me look like I had overflowing cleavage ala busty tavern wench. In reality I just looked horrible. If you want cleavage, get a bra that pushes up and lifts. You'll be able to spot the difference.
Straps are the thing I have the hardest time with. My torso is kind of short between my band and shoulders. I find that I need straps that are fully adjustable. So many bras only let you adjust the straps a couple of inches. Figure out what you need and look for that.
Raise your arms and see if the bra slides around. If it does, it's too big. Jump up and down. Are you jiggling like jello in those cups? It's either a bad cup style for you or it's too big. Straps falling off your shoulders and you can't adjust them any tighter? Consider a Y/racerback bra, a convertible bra, or a bra with a J hook. Bras with J hooks are my absolute all time favorite and they are so hard to find.
Ok, that ended up being a lot longer than what I thought it would be. And I still have more to say. I think this may have to be a recurring topic. I love talking about bras so seriously, send me questions! If you're local to Des Moines, let me know if you want help getting fitted! ( I mean that in a very helpful, non-creepy way.)