This next guest post is brought to you from the amazing Susannah Perez, a blogger and an experienced bra fitter who is somewhat obsessed with getting women in the correct bra size. You can follow her on Twitter here.
It’s a common misconception between women that bras are always uncomfortable, no matter what size you wear. Well, I’m part of the mission that’s working to dispel that belief. Your bra should be comfortable and if it isn’t then you’re most likely wearing the wrong size.
I can hear you crying out ‘But I’ve been the same size for years, I’ve always been a 36D!’
No you haven’t. You’ve been buying a 36D since you were 16, but that definitely does not mean that your size has stayed the same.
Your body changes shape frequently throughout your life and your breasts will naturally change along with it. Every woman’s weight fluctuates – we step up the exercise regime some months, we have lazy months, we change jobs and eating habits regularly. We go through massive changes to our bodies as well, such as carrying a child and feeding them.
Why would your breasts stay the same size and shape for years on end when your weight doesn’t?
Listen to what your body says to you. There are numerous glaring signs that you are wearing a bra that no longer fits you – signs many women often ignore, which can cause numerous medical problems for you in later life. Here are some of the warning signs you should look out for:
1. You wear the bra on the tightest hook, and can pull the back band away from your body by more than an inch. When you buy a bra, you should look for a snugness that means when you fasten it on the last (loosest) hook, you should just be able to fit four fingers under the back band. The hooks are there to accommodate for the expected stretching of the fabric as you wear the bra, so you can gradually notch it up to maintain the snugness.
- The back band of your bra rides up and does not sit in line with the front of your bra. If your back band likes to reside between your shoulder blades instead of in a parallel line with the rest of your bra, you need to go down a back size or two (or more – I’ve been known to take women from a supposed 36 back to a 28).
- The straps are as tight as you can make them; they dig into your shoulders and you still have a lack of support and lift. This is yet another sign your back band is too large. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s the back band that gives you most of the support and oomph you need – not the straps. So if your straps are so tight they’re causing you pain, try reducing your back size and looking for a design with wider straps.
4. You get back, shoulder or neck pain. If you experience any of these it’s exceptionally important to change your size, as without action it can turn into chronic pain. It is likely that you do not have enough support from the back band of your bra, and are putting far too much stress on your shoulders as the bra straps will be holding most of the weight of your boobs. Go down a back size or two, and look for a full, supportive style.
5. You get pinching or digging in from the wire poking into your under arm. This is generally a sign of needing a bigger cup, not a bigger back band. It is likely the pain is due to the cup being too small, so the wire is digging into breast tissue (which actually extends midway under you arm).
- Your boobs either do not stay in the cup, or you bulge out of the top of the bra. Simply go for a larger cup size, though you may need a bra with more coverage and support as well. Opt for a full cup or balconette style over plunge or push up bras.
7. Your boobs manage to peek out the bottom of your bra. This means two things: that the cup is too small which is forcing the bra to sit away from your body and also that the back band is far too large which is allowing the cup to move. Try going down at least two back sizes and up a cup size or two, after cross grading (eg. originally a 34D, -2 back sizes = 30E, +1 cup size = 30F).
- The wire does not sit flush against your breastplate. Even if your boobs are not sneaking out the bottom of the cup this still means the back band is not tight enough and the cup is not large enough. Try going down a back size and up a cup size.
9. When you raise your arms, your bra lifts away from your body. Your bra should stay in the same place no matter what you’re doing, and if it doesn’t it’s likely you’ll experiencing rubbing as the bra doesn’t move with you, it moves against you. Go down a back size or two.
10. Your boobs do not fill the cup properly. Only go down a cup size if you feel that there is empty space all the way around your boob (on top, under the arm and at the side). If you just have a small gap at the top, try a different cut of bra – for example avoid full cups and go for a balconette or plunge style that does not sit as high on your breast.
If you have any of these problems, I beg you, please use this advice to find a bra that fits! Get a measurement as a base, but try that size, two below and one above back band wise, and one below and one or two above cup size wise.
Don’t settle for anything that’s not perfect and make sure you have a good few star jumps around the fitting room to make sure the bra’s not moving and gives you the support you need.
Be aware that many high street fitters are trained to sell you a bra rather than give you a proper fitting session. As a rule, if they start adding anything more than one inch to your base measurement to make the number even, forget it. If they bring you a bra and don’t try to adjust the straps, pull the back band to check tightness, or get you to reach upwards, and just simply look, they’re not a properly trained fitter.
Additionally, if you’re large-cupped, small-backed or both, watch out for fitters cross-grading your size to simply try and get you into one of their bras. If you’re having issues with your 32DD bras, and have actually measured up as a 28G, trying their 32DD bras as they don’t go down to a 28G isn’t going to make a difference.
Finding the right bra can be a frustrating time and money consuming exercise, but once you find that bra your clothes will fit better, your posture will improve, your breasts will look and feel supported and you will feel confident enough to fill your underwear drawer with sexy bras.
Do you have any ill-fitting bra anecdotes, or terrible/hilarious fitting stories to share with the class?
Check out this awesome post from Boosaurus on the same matter.