In the fitting room women often tell us that they’ve always felt uncomfortable in bras and just resigned themselves to the idea that “that’s just the way it is”. Not so! A properly fitted bra should leave you feeling supported and comfortable without necessarily being conscious of wearing a bra…yes, even in a bra with underwire. Here are a few things you should know before your next bra-shopping trip:
Bra speak doesn’t have to leave you confused
1. Understand the language
In a bra size of 36D, for example, the number “36” represents the band size and is based on the measurement around your ribcage under your bust- directly where your breasts meet your ribcage. The letter “D” represents the volume of the cup or the amount of breast tissue the cup can hold. Many women do not realise that the number and the letter go hand in hand, so that a 32D for example represents a COMPLETELY different breast volume than a 36D.
2. Keep them in the cups
Breasts should be encased in the cups and not spilling out the side, top or bottom of the cup. In older women spillage on the bottom of the cup is quite common, and can lead to skin irritation such as rashes or darkening of the skin under the breast caused by chafing. If the entire breast is lifted and contained in a well-fitting bra, irritation caused by constant skin against skin contact will be avoided.
3. Go easy on the straps
The support in a well-fitted bra should come from the band, not the straps. Take a second to read that again because it is important. If you find that your breasts look “saggy” even with a bra on, and your breasts are completely encased in the cups, try going down a band size (for example from 36 to 34) and up a cup size (for example from D to DD) INSTEAD of tightening the shoulder straps as far as they will go. At Underpinnings we’ve seen many women with deep shoulder grooves caused by carrying the weight of their breasts on their shoulders instead of distributed around their ribcage as it would be in a well-fitted bra.
4. Look for the lift
In a well-fitted bra your breasts should sit about mid-way between your shoulder and your elbow, with the apex (or nipple for ease of identification) in line with your bicep. If, with a bra on, your breasts are tending more towards your elbows than your biceps it’s time to ditch that bra – it’s not doing you any favours!
5. Underwire is not your enemy
Across all ages women complain about underwired bras and in most instances the cause of the discomfort is the same – the bra does not fit well. In a well-fitting underwired bra the underwire would rest on your ribcage, not on breast tissue. Additionally, the underwire should not press into your skin or cause pain at any point. These are undergarments, not torture devices! As a woman ages, or in women with larger breasts, underwired bras tend to provide more lift, support and shaping than a soft bra can.
6. Have fun!
When trying on the bra in the store take a moment to be sure it is comfortable. Raise your arms – the band should stay in place and not shift position. Make sure there are no uncomfortable points because over the course of a long day that discomfort can be exaggerated. Put on your top and ensure you are happy with the profile the bra is giving you under clothing. Shopping for undergarments can and should be a pleasurable experience, and you should walk away with something that feels and looks good.