It’s an unfortunate truth, but a truth nonetheless: tons of women are making huge mistakes while fitting their bras. That means that they’re wandering aimlessly through the potential hell that can be the lingerie racks, picking the wrong bra sizes and styles every time. According to a recent survey from Rigby & Peller, the majority of American women are wearing the same one or two bras every single day, which, to me, shows that women have trouble finding comfortable options that we actually like, so we’re only sticking with what we know.
Now, I could be in the minority here, but somehow, I doubt it; it’s time to get all this bra-fitting business straight once and for all. I was lucky enough to speak with Kim "Kimmay" Caldwell, bra fitter and lingerie expert of Hurray Kimmay. She’s fit thousands of women over the past few years, helping them to find their ideal size and style. “A bra that fits well should feel supportive, comfortable, and often like a nice hug,” Caldwell says. “If it's poking, digging, roaming around all day, or feels awful — chances are it does not fit well.” If you’re part of the latter category, check out these top mistakes women make while choosing their bras.
1. You’re Not Getting The Right Measurement For Your Band, Which Affects The Entire Fit
According to Caldwell, a bra band that fits poorly is one of the two most common mistakes she sees while fitting women. “To get a bra band that fits well, know your measurements and use that as a bra size starting point,” she says. “If you measure your underbust, keeping the measuring tape snug and parallel with the floor, you can add zero to three inches for most modern brands, or up to five inches for classic brands. No matter the size, the band should fit snug just under your bust to your back, and stay parallel with the floor.”
2. Your Cups Aren’t The Right Size
A poorly-fitting cup is the other most common issue that women have, Caldwell says, so basically, getting this one down is half of your biggest challenge. “For cup, make sure your entire bust can fit inside the underwire and/or cup. If the band is firmly holding the bra in place, the underwires should tack in between your bust in the front, and sit on your body — not your breast — on the side.”
3. Your Shoulders Are In Pain Because You Need A Wider Band
“Believe it or not, a well-fitting bra band can solve a lot of discomfort issues! If you lose the support in the band, you'll put all the weight of your bust onto your shoulders,” Caldwell says. Not only does this Miss Mary of Sweden bra have a generously wide band to relieve stress on your shoulders, but the straps are cushioned and wide, and reviewers are saying things like, "This bra has the support of an underwire, without the wire" and that this bra won't roll up on the sides.
4. ...Or Your Straps Aren’t Adequately Cushioned
Straps aren’t always made out of the best material — some are scratchy and dig in, no matter how well your bra fits. Another option, according to Caldwell, is to “add your own bra strap shoulder cushions.” These ones are really cool because they’re made of ultra-soft and hypoallergenic silicon that you can wash and reuse. They come in two subtle colors, and they’re thin enough that they don’t bulge under clothes.
5. Your Breasts Are Bubbling Because There’s Not Enough Coverage
According to Caldwell, “A full coverage bra is a great option for a woman who has a very full breast in the middle,” because it can help to stop the breast from bubbling over the cup. “Minimizer bras, which typically cover the whole bra, are a perfect example of this.” The lace and smooth underwire bra has a beautiful lace design alongside full coverage, a minimizing material, thick straps, and underwire for tons of support.
6. When Underwire Hurts, But You Need The Support, Adjust To The Tightest Hooks
“If the band is loose and riding up,” Caldwell says, “the straps will fall down, and the cups will fall forward, causing the underwires to dig into the front of your body.” When underwire is particularly painful, it means it’s time to tighten your bra, so that you’re using the innermost hooks. If you’ve adjusted it as far as it’ll go, look for a smaller band size the next time you go bra shopping.
7. Still Uncomfortable? Go Wide, Soft, And Wireless
“If you need additional help for comfort,” Caldwell says, “try a bra without an underwire, with wide, soft straps (some are even cushioned).” This wire-free bra fits all of the aforementioned criteria — it’s entirely wireless, has thick straps, and a wide band for added support. It’s also got a sleek, deep V-neck design.
8. To Fix Strap-Slippage, Convert Your Bra Into A Racerback
When it comes to customizing your bras, Caldwell knows of some really great, simple options. “Back strap converters are great for turning a regular bra into a racerback bra. In addition, this is a wonderful option for a woman who may have sloping or narrow shoulders, or scoliosis.” These RAZOR bra strap clips are made of fabric and they’re totally adjustable, so you stay comfortable no matter what issue you’re trying to fix. This set also comes in three standard colors to match most of your bras.
9. If Your Weight Often Fluctuates, Invest In Some Great Bra Extenders
“Bra extenders are great for a woman whose bust size stayed the same but their band size has grown. Although, usually, if one grows, so does the other — so I always suggest getting fit first, and only using these in a pinch,” says Caldwell. These ones come in three colors to fit any 3/4 inch bra, and reviews say that they’re really durable, really comfortable, and a total life-saver when it comes to temporary tweaks.
10. When In Doubt, Go Get A Professional Fitting
“I have literally fit thousands of women since 2005,” Caldwell says, and with every fitting, she runs into the same mistakes over and over again. A Google search can gives you tons of insights, but at the end of the day, if you’re still running into issues finding a bra that fits, head over to a professional bra fitter like Caldwell — after all, that’s what she’s here for.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Amazon (6); Giphy
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