As any personal stylist worth their salt will tell you, 75% of women wear the wrong sized bra. That’s a lot of ill-fitted breasts. When you take into consideration the time and money spent perfecting our outer wear, you really must wonder why we neglect to use supportive underwear – especially when you look at the benefits of a well-fitted bra.
A well-constructed bra has health benefits associated with posture and protection of breast tissue. Not only does a bra add to the appearance of the breast, it also restricts movement to ensure your assets get the protection they require. Here is the clincher, wearing the right sized bra can actually make you look thinner. When you are supported, your posture is corrected and clothes fit and fall as they should.
An ill-fitting bra however, damages more than just your appearance. It has the potential to harm your breast tissue and your health more than not wearing one at all. While all cases won’t be this dramatic, you need to know that your fit is really important!
Not another scare tactic but just the facts, wearing the wrong sized bra can lead to prematurely sagging boobs. If that’s not enough to have you running to your nearest lingerie store, it can also lead to pinched nerves in the back, shoulder and neck, and has even been linked to skin rashes and heartburn.
If the bra fits…
Wear it, if not, take a virtual trip back to the 70’s and start burning! If you don’t know how to tell if you are wearing the right bra for you, take a look at these sure fire signs that something is not right…
Mind the gap
A quick and easy way to see if your breasts are in the right sized cups is to take a look at the centre panel of the bra, between the cups. If it is flush against your skin then you are on the right track. If there is a gap, then you need to mind it! This is an indication that you need the next cup up.
Another gap to be aware of if there is one between the top of the cup and the breast. If there is some vacant space there and the cups are wrinkled or misshapen, this is a sign to go down a cup and keep everything snug.
Beware the bulge
Personal stylists will always try to minimise and disguise unwanted bulges and your breast area should not miss out. Everything should be well-contained in a well-fitted bra. This means no bulging overspill at the top or side armpit boobage – it’s just not right! Take it up a size and let your breast fill freely.
Back fat…it’s enough to make anyone cringe and therefore needs to be well avoided. There is a common misconception that back fat is caused by the bra band being too tight, but it’s actually the opposite. Bands that are too loose ride up and bring with it, fat. Use this as extra motivation to make sure your band is fitted correctly.
Don’t just ‘strap it on’…
Loose straps are another sign of lack of support. Surprisingly however, this is due to the bra band being too big. Experts say that the bra band should be providing 90% of the support, with the straps providing the final 10%. Therefore straps shouldn’t be relied upon too heavily and if they are required to be super tight for breast support, it’s time to look at the band.
Indents caused by straps are not an indication that the breasts are too heavy, it’s a sure fire sign that support isn’t being provided. Once again it’s time to look at the band and try a smaller size to take up the slack off the straps.
A lot of women find underwire uncomfortable but this doesn’t always have to be the case. Going up a size will ensure that the wire doesn’t dig into the skin.
To find the right bra and avoid the dreaded jiggly boob, read on…
When it comes to bra sizing, we need to be interested in two measurements – the chest/band size and the cup/breast size. Bras come in a combination of numbers (chest size) and letters (cup size). For the best fit, women have to get both measurements right. Cups that are too small will push the breast to bulge out around the bra. Cups too big won’t look or sit right under clothes. Band sizes too small will just be uncomfortable and too loose will leave a feeling of no support (refer to the above for more information on whether you are wearing the right bra).
While we recommend making a visit to the expert at your local specialty lingerie store, it is possible to take your own measurements at home. These days it has been made even easier with the application of online bra size calculators such as the one offered by Berlei. Take a deep breath out and measure around the back and under the breasts and take note of this measurement. Then, this time, measure around the back and at the fullest part of the breasts. Enter these measurements in the calculator for your result.
But what about mothers or older women experiencing breast sagging, who might have trouble finding the “fullest part” of the bust to measure? Ideally, the ‘peak’ of your breast (let’s call it your nipple) should align halfway between your elbow and your shoulder, but for many of us the only way to get them there without surgery is with a well-fitted bra.
For the measurement of saggy breasts, start by wearing your best fitted, non-padded bra on the loosest hook. For the band measure, we recommend asking someone to assist. Pull up on the straps to allow the assistant access to the accurate measurement of this area. For the cup, lean forward on a 90 degree angle and let the assistant measure around your back and to the fullest part of your breasts. For more support, look for bras that have 3 or more band hooks, a 3-section cup (ones with an additional seam up the middle of the bra to the horizontal seam) and built-in support panels in the cup.
Just like clothes, bras sizes will alter depending on brands and style. Take a few different options into the fitting room with you to see what style makes you feel supported, covered and comfortable. Make adjustments to the straps and band to ensure a snug fit. You should be able to fit one finger under the straps to ensure they aren’t too tight and two fingers in your band to guarantee the right fit. The material finishes including underwire or wireless, lace or frills comes down to personal preference and what outfit you intend to wear them with – the key is personal comfort.
With bras, it pays to spend a little more. A well-constructed bra will reduce tension in the upper body and support your breast to the position of their former glory. That’s not to say that your budget shops won’t provide you with a good quality supportive bra. The most important thing will be to get the right fit, and if it wears out – toss it!
Our tips for healthy, happy breasts – and a great looking outfit
- Make sure your bra fits: no bulge at top or sides, no back fat, armpit boobage, indents or loose straps and always make sure the centre panel at the front rests on your skin.
- Own at least 7 bras and rotate them regularly – natural oils and sweat break down a bras elasticity and therefore they need literally need to be rested and rotated.
- Always try a new bra on using the loosest hook – the rest of the hooks are designed to be used as the elasticity loosens.
- Have an annual bra reassessment – remeasure and ditch the oldest bras and any that look worn or don’t have the same level of support that they once did.
- Have a variety of bras to compliment your wardrobe – different bras work with different items.
- As any stylist will tell you – the key to a great outfit starts with the right underwear!