by Bryn Jiminez
DETERMINING YOUR SIZE
As with most clothing, you may need to adjust your bra size slightly depending on factors like brand, design, and fabrication materials. However, as with most clothing, it’s still a good idea to have a starting size to work from.
The most straightforward way to determine your starting size is to measure yourself.
Step 1: Bend at the hips, keeping your back flat so that your torso is as parallel to the floor as possible. This allows gravity to keep all your breast tissue forward, where it belongs.
Step 2: Wrap your measuring tape around your rib cage in a straight line consistent with the root of your breasts and take a snug measurement (bra bands stretch; tape measures don’t – and, again, this is where 80-90% of your support should come from). This measurement is your band size.
Step 3: While you are still bent forward, comfortably measure your bust.
Step 4: Subtract your rib cage measurement from your bust measurement. The difference between these two numbers corresponds to your cup size.
If the difference between your bust and under-bust measurements is larger than 4″ (D cup), your size will vary based on the origin of your bra.
Once you have a bra size to work from, your options are to go to a store near you that carries your size or to shop online. If you are a DD+ cup, though, there may not be a store near you that carries your size.
Both in-store and online bra shopping have their pros and cons.
Shopping In-Store: The biggest pro to shopping in-store is being able to try before you buy. However, the bigger your boobs, the less likely the store will stock a wide variety of options in your size. Stores may also have knowledgeable shop assistants who can help you find the best fit, but not all shop assistants are created equal. Some don’t really have the knowledge and expertise they should, while others may try to sell you on the best thing they have in stock, even if it’s not truly a proper fit. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself in the fitting room and don’t settle!
Shopping Online: Online shops tend to have great selections and will have discounts and deals more frequently than brick-and-mortar stores (which is great because bras are EXPENSIVE!). But shipping charges and delays can increase the cost and draw out the process of finding what you need. If you can, order multiple sizes in a few different bras with the intention of returning most of them. Many online shops will offer free shipping on orders above a certain dollar amount, but charge for return shipping. Spending more upfront will ultimately save you time and money over constantly exchanging smaller orders.
Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, the way you put on your bra will ultimately affect how you perceive the fit. For the best idea of how a bra fits you:
Step 1: bend forward so your breast tissue fills the cup.
Step 2: stand upright and fasten the back snugly.
Step 3: reach into each bra cup and scoop the breast tissue from the root and around the side so all of your breast tissue fills the cup.
Step 4: adjust the straps to a comfortable length.
Step 5: check for signs of a proper fit (and readjust the band/straps as needed).
MORE TIPS AND TRICKS:
I have just a few more tips I want to share:
Get A Second Bra That Fits: It’s important not to wear the same bra two days in a row. The bra elastic will need time to recover between wears if you want proper support.
Invest in Proper Bra Care: Especially if you wear an extended size, your new bras will not be cheap. Make sure they last by washing them properly with the right kind of detergent, letting them air dry, and storing them safely.
Get Refitted Annually: Our bodies are constantly changing, so it’s important to check your bra fit at regular intervals. Also, if you’ve been wearing a small cup and big band, it’s likely that some of your displaced breast tissue will begin to migrate back to where it belongs once you start wearing a bigger cup and smaller band, so you may need to check your size again soon.
Watch for Sales: Especially in the DD+ world, bras rarely go on sale, but it is possible to find more affordable bras from time to time. Many shops, both in-store and online offer deals and rewards as well.
Bras Can Be Altered: Just like with any garment, minor alterations can be the difference between a good fit and a great fit. Taking up to 1″ off each side of the band, shortening the straps, and even lowering the cups a bit can be done affordably and may be totally worth the extra time and money. In fact, the bra store near me offers free minor alterations on bras purchased there at full price.
Donate Bras That No Longer Fit: While consignment stores don’t tend to take undergarments, there are charities that do. Many of them will donate gently-used bras to breast cancer survivors or women in under-served communities.
Having bras that fit properly is important for all women who wear them. For singers it is even more so. Now go forth, get some bras that fit, and spread the word!