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Breasts. They’re as unique as fingerprints and come in an infinite range of shapes, sizes, textures, and skin tones. This makes the market for bras and lingerie extremely lucrative, yet still incredibly difficult to navigate.
Anyone with boobs can attest, bras are not one-size-fits-all. Finding the perfect one is not impossible, but when you’re in that fitting room, it certainly does feel like it. From inconsistent sizing, to uncomfortable wiring, settling on your go-to style takes time and patience.
To help streamline that process, I spoke with several bra experts (yes, those exist) to gain more insight into the intimates market and answer some of the most daunting questions (read: What types of bras are best for which shape?).
Sarah Sullivan, Vice President and Creative Director at LIVELY, explains that knowing your breast shape is key (athletic, bell-shaped, relaxed, round, east-west, etc.). She says that most boobs “fall into a combination of shape categories: Either wide-set or close-set, and either full or shallow,” she explained.
After breast shape, Sullivan says you must know your band size. “The most important thing to pay attention to when trying on bras is the band. Eighty percent of the support you get from a bra comes from the band,” Sullivan said.
“If the band is too loose, you will see all sorts of fit issues, including: Gaping in the cups, the band riding up your back, and straps slipping off your shoulders,” she continued. “Your band should be firm without causing discomfort, and have just about 1-3 inches of stretch if you were to pull it off of your body. Always start with the right band size and go up or down in the cup size until everything fits perfectly.”
But how can you be sure that it does, in fact, fit perfectly? Alice Kim, founder of PerfectDD — a brand that makes tops for people with a large busts and small to mid frames — explains what to look for when you’re examining the fit.
Band: “Your band should lie parallel to the floor, not lift up (which indicates the band is too big). If the band feels too tight, constricting, and uncomfortable, it may be too small.”
Hook: “A new bra should be worn comfortably on the loosest hook. The band will stretch over time, which is when you move to an inner hook. If you have to wear it on the tightest hook right away, your band is too large.”
Straps: “Straps should lay snug against your shoulders and stay in place throughout the day. If they slide down even after you tighten them, it may be time for a new bra. Straps that dig into your shoulders indicate that your band is too large — the straps are doing more support than they are supposed to.”
Cups: “Cups should lay flush against your breast, providing lift and shape. Cups that gape indicate that your cup is too large. Cups that wrinkle is also a sign that the cup is too big or may not be the right shape for your breasts. Cups that cut into your skin with spillage on top or the sides mean the cup is too small.”
With that in mind, take a look through the different types of bras to find what works best for your breasts.