If there's anything that can instantly ruin my morning coffee buzz, it's underwire or boning digging into my armpit — and there's nothing quite as aggravating as having to discreetly replace a constantly slipping bra strap. These are more than just little annoyances: If you feel like there's a little stabby demon living in your armpit, it's one of the signs that you're not wearing the right bra. There's no better feeling than taking your bra off at the end of the day and that will always be true. However, finding a bra that fits you correctly can greatly increase how good you feel when you are wearing it.
Even those of us who are going in-store to get fitted or are measuring ourselves at home on a regular basis and know our size could still be wearing the wrong bra for our boobs. Most of us don't even realize it, but there's a lot more to a good fit than just knowing your cup size.
You may be lucky enough to land in a fitting room with an employee who knows their stuff when it comes to lingerie; but if you're not, the style names and differences between them can be incredibly confusing. Just trying to hold up your boobs can be more than a little overwhelming.
Working at a plus size store that's putting a new focus on its lingerie line and making sure that its customers with larger busts are getting into good bras, I've fit more than my fair share of people. Many of the customers who walk out with a new bra have hugged me, some have cried, two proposed marriage, one kissed me, and my favorite refers to me as "The Boob Whisperer." For many of us, supportive undergarments are a necessity that we just have to live with. As a lover of all things lacy and lovely, I am always a little sad when people are just sort of tolerating their bras. Whether plain and practical or frilly and fun, a bra should be something that makes you feel good in your body and excited to wear it.
Since I can't be in a change room with all of you, here are some of the things you can be aware of next time you head out shopping for bras to ensure you're getting the best bra for your bosom:
1. Understand How Sizing Works And Be Confident In Your Knowledge
If you ever watched Oprah as a teenager, you probably know that most women are wearing a bra size that's too small. It might be weird, then, that someone in a store tells you that you're a 36 DD when you feel like you must be bigger. Here's the thing: Most stores want the sale, so they'll tell you that you're whatever size they go up to. This is doing you a major disservice.To figure out your bra size, remove your top and keep your bra on. Have someone measure you around the smallest part of your lower bust, where the band sits and round up or down to the nearest even number. Then, measure the fullest part of your bust. Go through an letter for each inch of difference and you've found your cup size. For example, my band size is 38" and my full bust measurement is 44". This makes me a 38 DD or 38 E, depending on the sizing chart. Got it?
If someone's trying to tell you that you're smaller just because it's the only size that they have, you need to split.
2. Know About "Sister Sizes"
If a bra isn't available in your size or isn't sitting just right, you can try a "sister size." Cup sizes do make up a certain amount of the length of the bra band, so if you're a 34 B you might be able to get away with a 32 C or a 36 A. By going up in the cup and down in the band, or vice versa, you may be able to get a comparable fit.
3. Know What You're Looking For In A "Good" Fit
The middle of the bra, where the underwire meets, should be flush against your sternum. You want to make sure to adjust the shoulder straps so that you can snugly fit two fingers between your shoulder and the strap. The back band should be parallel to the ground and graze the bottom of your shoulder blades, while also being able to fit two fingers underneath. You want to avoid a band that only really fits on the tightest clasp, as well — when it starts to stretch out, it's gonna be way too loose. Finally, make sure those tatas are secure! They shouldn't be spilling over or under the cups and there should be no gaping at the top of the bra.
4. Cup Size And Boob Shape Are Different
Just because you're a 32 C, it doesn't mean that every bra that comes in a 32 C is going to be right for your 32 C chest. Even though your measurements put you at that size, the fit is just as important.
My boobs are pretty big, but are fuller at the bottom than at the top. Those huge-cupped t-shirt bras always have a little extra room in the top and gape. Understand your breast shape and shop for bra styles accordingly. For babes who are a bit fuller on the bottom, a demi-cup or a balconette bra is going to be your best friend. For babes with full breasts, a larger cup with more coverage is going to give you more support.
5. Utilize Modifiers
There are so many different ways that people's boobs are, but only a finite number of bra styles. Even knowing a some bra fit secrets can't make up for that! Utilize tools like cookies, band extenders, and racerback clasps to customize your bra and make it fit better for you.
6. Work Around Different Sized Breasts
If you have two breasts that are disparate in size and are causing you fit problems, look to a soft cup bra with an elastic on the top cup. This is going to give you some room for it to stretch to accommodate the larger breast while still coddling that smaller breast and preventing gaping.
7. Try It Out Like You're Going To Use It
You can't figure out how something is going to fit you day-to-day when you're just standing there straight. I often find that bras get uncomfortable when I'm sitting down. You should stand, jump, and bend over to see how the bra is going to do in real life situations. I mean, you don't want to flash your boobs to the whole neighborhood every time you bend over to pick something up, right?
8. Know What You Want And Don't Be Afraid To Break "The Rules"
One of the things that frustrates me most about seeing fittings happen with other people is when they foist their ideas about what a bra "should be." I see smaller women convinced they need a cleavage booster and bigger breasted women herded into bras that are boring because they're "more supportive."
Not every person who puts on a bra is trying to hoist them high and make them look as huge and perky as possible. I love a good bralette even though it makes my boobs sag. I'm also OK with an industrial strength "hold 'em up" that takes pressure off of my back and keeps me comfy during the day.
Know what you want out of a bra and don't let someone talk you out of what's going to make you happy.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy