How To Choose The Right Bra For Your Size & Shape With 11 Expert Tips
Design: Brit Phillips
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Lingerie shopping is probably one of my favorite past times. It could be because I love me a good supportive bra, or it could be because nowhere else can you find lace in such high supply, but unfortunately, most women don’t feel the same way. Choosing the right bra for your shape and size isn’t always that easy, and it’s a sad truth, but most women get frustrated with the experience pretty quickly. Sometimes you leave the store with nothing at all, and sometimes you leave the store with a bra that’s entirely wrong for you, which is arguably even worse.

To avoid all that discomfort and frustration, I got in touch with Cora Harrington, Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Not only was she extremely insightful when it came to the most common mistakes that women make while choosing the right bra for them, but she was even able to offer a few recommendations for all different shapes and sizes. “The biggest mistake or issue I see is people not being willing to spend the time to try different brands and styles and shapes,” says Harrington.

Keep in mind, Harrington said, that something can work for 500 other people and still not be right for you, and that's OK. "It's not a flaw with your body or the bra she said. "Just be patient and give yourself time to try what's available. There are more sizes and styles and brands than literally ever before...there's never been a better time to find that perfect bra.”

1Don’t Be Afraid To Float Around With Sizes

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According to Harrington, it’s totally okay to have more than one “right” measurement, depending on the bra. “It's perfectly normal to wear multiple sizes,” Harrington says, “especially as you change brands or styles or even times of the month. The size you wear in a strapless bra may not the size you wear in a plunge, or the size you wear in Panache may not be the size you wear in Wacoal. Don't get hung up on being one specific size. Instead, pay attention to how the bra feels on your body.”

2Get Most Of Your Support From The Band

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Playtex Secrets Perfectly Smooth Wire Free Bra (36B-44DD), $11-$47, Amazon

“Your band should be level and parallel to the floor,” says Harrington. “It shouldn’t be hitching upon side or in the shape of an arch or lifting up in the back. If it is, it means it's not giving you the support you need (remember: most of the support in a bra comes from the band).” The thicker the band, the more support you’ll get, and the Playtex Perfectly Smooth wire free bra has an extra wide double-lined band that’s designed to sit where it should, so you get the most support around the torso without any poking or prodding.

3Keep An Eye On That Middle Bit Of Fabric

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If a bra style isn’t working for you, here’s a telltale sign: “The gore (that center piece between the two cups) should lay flat against your sternum. This is called ‘tacking’ and it helps to anchor the bra,” says Harrington. “If the gore is floating off the body or moving around, you're going to get a lot of shifting and wiggling in the cups. The major exception to this guideline? Wirefree bras. Bras without wires won't have a gore that tacks.”

4If The Underwires Fit Wrong, You’ve Likely Got The Wrong Size or Style

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According to Harrington, another huge indication that you’re wearing the wrong size or style is that the underwires aren’t where they should be. “The underwires should fully enclose the breast tissue," she said. "You don't want the wire resting on top of the breasts or digging into the sides of the breast. If you notice the wires aren't fully enclosing the breast, you're likely not in your best-fitting size.”

5Try Something Other Than A Contour Cup

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Simone Perele Women's Amour Demi-Cup Bra (30D-38E), $43-$89, Amazon

“In America, the contour cup is all the rage (it's that smooth, nipple-less half dome we're all familiar with), but T-shirt bras or molded cups may not actually be the best bra type for your shape or size,” says Harrington. “Softer or more pendulous breasts may have trouble filling up the cup, while larger cup sizes, especially those beyond a G or so, may find that molded cups don't give as much support as they'd like.” Instead, she suggests trying out a different style altogether, like the Simone Perele Amour demi-cup bra. Rather than contour cups, it has supportive lace, seams, and underwire to give you a natural shape that adjusts more easily to your cup size.

6Don’t Default To A T-Shirt Bra If You’re Looking For Support

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Amoena Karla Underwire Cut and Sewn Bra (32B-42B),$59, Amazon

Even though people tend to default to t-shirt bras, they may not be the best option for people looking for a lot of support. “The most supportive bras are seamed or cut-and-sewn bras,” says Harrington. “Because they're often made from mesh or lace, many bra-wearers look they look too risqué, but they're the best option for shaping and supporting the breast.” With its tulle pockets and multiple different stitching, the Amoena  Karla Underwire Cut and Sewn Bra offers tons of support, but it’s a gorgeous combination of nude-colored subtlety and elegant detailing.

7If Your Chest Is Smaller, Don't Rule Out Petite Bra Sizes

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The Little Bra Company Lucia Bra (28A-38A), $19-$60, Amazon

“If you're smaller-busted, I love The Little Bra Company,”says Harrington, and she’s specifically a fan of their Lucia bra styles. “The Little Bra Company is cut for a more petite frame and offers both small band and small cup sizes,” and with tighter bands, shallow cups, and a close-set build, this one offers the support and shape that petite women might not be able to get with bras made for larger cups.

8For Core Sizes, Check Out This Tried And True Favorite

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Natori Feathers Contour-Plunge Bra (38A-38DD), $19-$100, Amazon

“Core sizes cover 32-36 bands, B-DD cups. It's what many people think of as a ‘typical’ bra range,” says Harrington. “Core sizes have more options than any other size range, but even here, there are some standouts. The Natori Feathers is a tried and true core size favorite.” This contour plunge bra, in particular, has comfortable and adjustable thin straps, underwire, and padding, but the reviews are raving because it’s just so comfortable and body-hugging.

9For Full Busts, Incorporate New Technology Into Your Bras

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Chantelle Rive Gauche Full Coverage Unlined Bra (32C-44H), $37-$115, Amazon

“Full bust sizes are where many of the bra industry's expansions and innovations have been happening,” says Harrington, and among her top-listed names and styles to know, she recommended Chantelle Rive Gauche. This bra has all sorts of support for bigger busts — innovative features like side panels, power mesh U-back, and full-coverage cups — but people cannot get over the support, the fit, the comfort, and the quality.

10If Your Band Size Is Over 38, Look For Powernet Backs & Stretch Elastic

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Goddess Plus-Size Kayla Soft Cup Bra (36DDD-56G), $8-$47, Amazon

“Lastly, if you wear a 38 band or higher, I hear amazing things about the Goddess Keira and Goddess Kayla styles,” says Harrington. The Goddess plus-size Kayla soft cup bra has a powernet back, stretch elastic all over, and side bones, so you get the most support possible without all that extra padding. Instead, it’s got soft cups and shaping stitching to give you natural curves without the discomfort.

11Experiment And Have Fun With It

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Finally, as a last bit of advice, Harrington says, “Be okay with experimenting and try to have fun with it, if you can. Bras are often treated with this mix of fear and dread." Because people wear bras for decades, Harrington explains, that adds up to a lot of misery. Whether you're experimenting with a bright color, wild print, different shape, or material, have fun with it. After all, says Harrington, "Bras can be just as much an expression of your fashion sense and personal identity as what you are on the outside."

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