5 Things Every Woman Should Know Before Purchasing Her Next Bra: Tips From Our Founder and CEO Dionne Kimble-Walker
Posted on December 10 2018
December 10, 2018
How Can I Tell If My Bra Fits?
5 Things Every Woman Should Know Before Purchasing Her Next Bra
Your bra has a way of speaking to you. Sometimes it even screams! After a long busy day at work, bending and reaching, ask yourself: Did I notice my bra today? Was it annoying or uncomfortable? Did I spend the day adjusting and re-adjusting?
...finding a bra that fits great off the rack is not an easy feat...
Often, we try our best to forget about the uncomfortable nature of the bra – we’re busy, our minds are focused elsewhere, and all that adjusting has become so second-nature, we don’t even register it on the conscious level anymore. At the moment before you take your bra off for the day, take note of the following: How is the closure at your back? Was anything scratchy or rubbing? How about the underwire: is it digging into your sides or middle? What about the straps? Everyone hates a strap that is constantly slipping. Is your bra slightly uncomfortable or do you feel choked by it? Any of these could mean that the bra is ill-fitting. A bra should be as comfortable at the end of the day as it was at the beginning.
I’m not gonna lie: finding a bra that fits great off the rack is not an easy feat. Energy up and game face on is required as you go store to store, hunt bra sales, try on so many you lose count, sometimes even giving up and going home empty-handed. And when you do buy a new bra, often you don’t realize you’ve failed yet again until after purchase and you’ve worn it a few hours and the underwire pain hits, or you go to reach and your boob pops out. Once again you find yourself pulling, tugging and adjusting all day, anticipating your arrival home so you can snatch it off at the door.
We've all been there.
So I put together a few tips to help you find a decent off-the-rack bra fit BEFORE you head off on the next hunt!
5 Checkpoints To Achieve A Great Bra Fit
1. DECIDE HOW YOU PLAN TO USE THE BRA?
First thing you want to be totally aware of in your search is how you plan to use the bra. Is it for a specific outfit or will this be your everyday go-to? All bras are not created equal. If you are looking for an everyday bra, go for a full coverage cup. Every woman should have at least three or four of these in her wardrobe. It will give you the support you need when performing regular daily activities. Stay away from push-ups and demi cups as they frustrate a lot of women when leaning and reaching. These bra types are for a special outfit and nights out, when you want to accentuate your décolletage; they aren’t bras for working in.
2. TEST THE CUP FIT.
Take a good look at your cups. Make sure there is no spillage at the top, bottom or sides – and there shouldn’t be lots of empty space either! Checking in a mirror, turn to the sides and look for puffing or wrinkling in the cups. Next lean forward and reach toward the floor. Do this a few times. If gravity forces you out of the cup, you know it’s not a good everyday bra.
Puffing at the top or sides likely means your cup size is too small. You’ll want to try a larger cup letter. For example, from A to B or from B to C.
If you are puffing under the wire – it’s possible your cup may be a bit small, but a more likely culprit is that your band is too large. Try going down in your band number. Now when you do this, there’s something to know: to maintain the same cup size when you go down in band, you have to go UP in cup (I know, it’s kinda confusing and counterintuitive!). For example, if you want to go down from a 36 band and C cup to a 34 band while keeping the same cup size, you’ll want to go from 36C to 34D.
3. ASSESS YOUR GORE.
The gore, also known as the bridge, is that tiny part at the center of the bra that bridges the cups. It is a small, but mighty component! You want to ensure this piece is lying flat against your chest bone – no ifs, ands, or buts. If it’s away from your chest, it could mean a couple of things, your cup is too small or your band too tight. If you can fit your finger between the bridge and your chest, your cup is likely too small. Try going up in cup size. Remember, your cups are pockets for each breast. Make sure your breasts aren’t fighting each other for space!
Most often I’ve found the cup to be the culprit in this situation. When your cup is too small, you cause your straps to take on too much of the job. This will inevitably lead to chaffing, bruising, indentations, sometimes headaches, and nerve pain. Your shoulder straps are only responsible for 10% of your bra support. Don’t make them work any harder than that!
Occasionally, I find that the band is too tight. Most women tend to err on the side of a too-loose band, so I don’t see this as the problem very often. More on the band and its fit below!
4. MIND YOUR STRAPS.
Your shoulder straps should be snug, but not tight. Did you know that only 10% of the weight is carried by the straps? Many women think the straps are supposed to handle much more of the load than they actually do. If, when sitting and your shoulders are fully relaxed, your bra straps are still tight and digging in – try loosening them a bit for comfort’s sake. If you feel unsupported, try going up a cup size.
5. IS YOUR BAND TOO LOOSE?
We’ve been mentioning the band all throughout, haven’t we? That’s because your band has a really important job. It is responsible for 80% of your support. The band is the part of the bra that’s supposed to do the heavy lifting. It should be snug, not tight, level all around and when purchased, on the loosest hook. Don’t sacrifice this! If you’re in the store and your band size isn’t available, but they suggest a larger band for you, do yourself a favor… leave. Why? Because you always want your bra to hook on the loosest hook and feel nice and snug when it’s new. As the elastics wear – and they will, it’s a perfectly normal occurrence in the lifespan of a bra and in fact is the reason those extra set of hooks exist – you’ll need the middle and tightest hooks to allow you to extend the life and wear of the bra. If you’re not on the loosest hook at the start of wearing a new bra, you’re cheating yourself. If you’re starting on the tightest hook, you’ll have no place to go in a few months when the elastics start to relax. If you can pull an inch or more away from your back on the loosest hook, go down a band size. Lift your arms, does the band move? It shouldn’t. Nor should your boob peek out of the bottom.
I find that many women with smaller breasts tend to go too loose with their band. Unfortunately, this means you’re not getting the support you need. Breast tissue, regardless of how large or small, will sag prematurely if not supported.
so, to recap
- Decide on the bra’s purpose
- Ensure you are all in the cups
- Gore – flat on the chest
- Straps – engaged but not tight
- Band – snug and comfy on the loosest hook.
- Reach up, reach for the floor, and sit all while checking in the mirror to ensure you’re not puffing out anywhere!
- Remember the support break down: 80-10-10: 80% from the band; 10% from the straps; and 10% from the cups.
- Don’t let them talk you into buying a band that is snug on the middle or tightest hook – always go for the loosest hook.
Feel free to copy/paste the short tips in the recap into a quick text to yourself so you have it with you the next time you go bra hunting – and be sure to take the time to check everything on the list when you’re in the dressing room. This will ensure you’re getting as good a fit as is possible before you leave the store.
If the above sounds exhausting – I understand! It can be, and trust me, I’ve been right there with you, frustrated at the latest bra search that was a bust.
Many women don’t realize just how ingenious the bra is – it’s really the most technical garment we wear!
Think about this: most of us wear our bras for 12-16 hours a day – longer than you wear your shoes! Because of the need for a close fit, and all of the many requirements we insist a bra meet: no puffing, no wrinkling, no poking, supportive and comfortable, the right shape, the right color, be feminine, point us in the right direction, and by all means last forever – do you wonder why is it that the lingerie industry isn’t more focused on making custom bras the standard? Instead, the market is flooded with so many options, opinions, and just plain confusion, and we, as consumers, are left to fend for ourselves.
I’ve not met a woman yet who wasn’t frustrated at the prospect of buying a bra. Even now, I cringe when my mom calls me when she dares to brave bra shopping. Our conversation is literally one expletive after another. It’s because every lingerie company has its own sizing so you can’t even trust that the cup and band size you found worked with one company’s bra will be the size that works at another company. Relieve yourself of this frustration now, and go out knowing the sizes don’t translate. It’s just like with other clothing, in Ann Taylor you may be a 6, but in Zara you’re an 8. It works the same with bras.
The problem with off-the-rack bras is that they are not custom-fitted for your body (or really, ANY body – they are an “averaged” set of measurements). It’s a very low possibility you'll get the best fit with a bra bought from a store (no matter how high-end the store might be). Bras really are that one article of clothing that is best-suited for custom. Every woman’s body is uniquely beautiful. No one else is exactly like you, so it’s no surprise that for the perfect fit, you need a bra made just for you.
Also, there are so many other variables to consider when purchasing a bra, our breast type, the many bra types and styles, and while lingerie store folks try and help, many of them just don’t have the knowledge to really guide us in the right direction. Which means it’s up to us – and sadly, a lot of women don’t have the knowledge nor the patience to find the right bra either!
Custom bras can really help to solve this problem. With custom clothing, everything is made for you in your size and desired colors and styles. Gone are the frustrations from searching. As the customer, you don’t spend your time searching. Instead, you are in a creative space, picking out colors and accessories to match. To me, that’s how shopping should be - fun and creative.
Imagine how amazing it would be if you never had to search for a bra again, and every bra in your drawer was custom made just for you and your body? Wouldn’t it change your perspective about bra shopping altogether and all that time and money lost to failed attempts could be put to better use, right?
I created Braazi for this very reason. I grew tired of searching through all the cute bras only to find none in my size. If you’re fed up with searching for the perfect bra, you may want to check out Braazi.com where we put an end to the endless search and empower you, the customer, to design your own lingerie and swimwear. You’ll be amazed at the difference in fit and comfort.
Until next time, stay inspired,
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