How To Buy a Bra That Fits

Woman shopping for a new bra

Uncomfortable bras can ruin your whole day. They pinch, they squeeze, they ride up, and they don't look good. But unless you're planning to go braless, you're going to need to learn how to buy a bra that fits. Here are some tips to bra buying so that you, too, can feel better in your lingerie!

  1. Get ready. Measuring is easier if you are braless and have someone help you, but if you are modest, wear your best-fitting unpadded bra. You can measure on your own but it is much more difficult. Always use a soft measuring tape.
  2. Measure your "band size." Using this soft measuring tape, measure around the rib cage, right under the bust. The measuring tape should be at the same point on your back as your lower bra band. Make sure that the measuring tape is not slack or twisted. Next, add five inches to the measurement (to the nearest inch) around your rib cage. This is your band size. For example, a 31-inch measurement becomes a 36-inch band size. If you get an even number, you are more likely to fit the higher size band, but you may wish to try the lower size band also.
  3. Measure your "cup size." Now, use the soft tape measure to measure around your bust at the fullest point. Don't pull the measuring tape too tight, but don't let it become slack either. The difference between this bust measurement and the band size is the cup size.
  4. Adjust your cup size from numbers to letters. The difference between your band size and your bust measurement determines your cup size.
    • If the difference is less than one inch, you wear an AA cup.
    • If the difference is one inch, you wear an A cup.
    • If the difference is two inches, you wear a B cup.
    • If the difference is three inches, you wear a C cup.
    • If the difference is four inches, you wear a D cup
    • If the difference is five inches, you wear a DD or E cup.
  5. Check this size with actual bras. Now you have your ideal bra size - but we all know that we do not live in an ideal world, even where bras are concerned. Bras and bodies both vary, even within a given size. Use the measurements you got as a starting point, and adjust up or down as needed.
  6. Think about underwire. Some women hate underwire and some love it. Generally, underwire bras provide better support, but this depends on the brand and style of the bra.
  7. Consider padding. There are various levels of padding, from bras with almost none to bras that are almost all padding. Try a few different styles, including lightly padded, which is a popular choice, and see which style looks best under your clothing, as well as which feels most comfortable.
  8. Think about the outer clothing. Get a bra that will work with your outer clothing. For the gym, a sports bra may be best, but it might not look quite right under a sexy shirt for clubbing. Color is important also, as you don't want to commit the dreaded error of wearing a black bra under a white shirt!
  9. Remember your favorite brands and sizes. If a bra works well for you, write down the name brand and size! It may come in handy next time.
  10. Get fitted each year. Yes, our bodies do change, so it is important to remeasure every year.

With so many styles and makers of bras now, you're definitely going to find one that you like, even if the search is frustrating. Don't settle for a bra that doesn't fit, because you won't look or feel your best. Another way to guarantee good fit is to go to a lingerie store and get professionally fitted. Once you begin wearing bras that fit, you might even want to branch out (see "How To Wear a Bustier" if that's the case.) No matter what, enjoy your new life of comfort.


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