Having a hard time finding the perfect bra? Imagine a bra that fits like a dream, looks great under clothes, and is cute to boot. "Impossible!" you say? Not if you're armed with accurate measurements and the know-how to choose the bra that's right for you.
According to most studies, more than 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra! With statistics like that, it's likely that you're one of them.
Sure, finding that perfect lingerie or sports bra can be a challenge, but Sierra Trading Post is here to help. We've compiled a list of our top quality vendors that elaborates on their product lines, including individual sizing and fit guides to help you find a brassiere you revere.
A well-fitting lingerie bra should not only be comfortable but should make you look and feel your best. The ideal bra can lift, separate, accentuate, support, minimize, or maximize your assets.
Your bra should feel comfortably snug, not binding or loose. The front center of the bra should rest on or close to the chest bone and the straps should be adjusted to support and align your breasts evenly. For optimal comfort and support, the back wings (strips of fabric which extend from the outer base of the cups and secure in the back) of your bra should rest comfortably at or below your shoulder blades.
Comfort straps are wider-than-average straps and are usually padded or lined to distribute the weight of the breast evenly and increase comfort.
Fit Tip: If you're a fuller-busted woman, comfort straps are essential if you've experienced shoulder or neck pain from straps digging into your shoulders.
A contour bra has shaped cups that are always padded or lined and feature an underwire. Because they offer a significant amount of coverage and control, contour bras are a perfect choice for women seeking a sculpted silhouette under their clothes. Contour bras don't increase bust size; they create a rounder, symmetrical look.
A bra designed with modifiable and sometimes detachable straps is a convertible bra. These are meant to be worn under halter, racerback, cross-back, one-shoulder, or low-back clothing.
A demi cup bra offers minimal coverage for petite and average women. Demi bras cover the nipple and approximately ½ of the breast.
A full cup bra completely covers most of the breast, offering more coverage and more support than a demi cup bra.
A minimizer bra does just that; it minimizes the bust by up to one cup size.
The cups on this bra are machine molded. They mirror the woman's shape for a natural look under clothing. Molded bras are generally unlined and may either have soft cups or underwire.
Padded bras have a padded lining in the cups. Graduated padding is thicker at the base of the cups and creates a natural looking silhouette and the appearance of increased cleavage.
Push up-bras create the appearance of increased cleavage using angled cups (which generally have underwires) and a variety of padding types.
Seamless bras are a great choice for pairing with knitwear or jersey material because they are essentially invisible under clothing. These may also be called `T-shirt' bras. A bra is considered seamless if it is constructed without seamed cups. There may be seams in other parts of the bra and still be considered seamless.
This is a thin, flexible wire which offers added support to the cups of some undergarments. Generally, there are two types of underwire: mesh and seamless. Mesh underwire is found in most underwire bras. Seamless underwire is virtually invisible under clothing.
Extend the measuring tape around your back and across the fullest part of your bust. Make sure the measuring tape around your back remains parallel to the floor. Measure the total number of inches and record it.
Extend the measuring tape around your back and under your arms, making sure that the tape remains parallel to the floor. With your arms down, place the tape just above your bust where your breast tissue starts. Measure the total number of inches and record it. This measurement is your band size.
Subtract the second measurement from the first measurement. The difference is your cup size. For example, if your first measurement was 39" and your second measurement was 35", you would use this equation: 39"- 35" = 4". According to the chart below, you would be a D cup. If you didn't end up with a whole number, round up to the nearest whole inch.
|1-inch difference||A Cup|
|2-inch difference||B Cup|
|3-inch difference||C Cup|
|4-inch difference||D Cup|
|5-inch difference||E Cup (DD)|
|6-inch difference||F Cup (DDD)|
|7-inch difference||G Cup (DDDD)|
|8-inch difference||H Cup|
|9-inch difference||I Cup|
|10-inch difference||J Cup|
If the number for your band measurement (the second measurement) is an uneven number, round up to the next even number. Bra band sizes only come in even numbers. Since your band measurement was 35", you must round up to 36". This would make your true size a 36D.
This chart may also be used to figure out your sports bra size when a brand, like Moving Comfort, calls out for a specific cup size.
Sports bras are specifically designed to offer the appropriate amount of support during moderate to intense physical activity. For the most comfort and motion control during exercise, a proper fit is vital.
A good sports bra provides superior support, comfort, breathability, and moisture control. Keep in mind that a good sports bra should fit more snugly than a regular bra, but should not be restrict movement or breathing.
The perfect sports bra should:
For your chest measurement, measure just under your arms and across your shoulder blades, holding the tape firm and level. To get the most accurate bust size measurement, measure at the fullest point of your bust.
Most sports bras do not have numerical cup and band sizes like the lingerie bras. Instead, most sports bras are sized from extra-small to extra-large. Use this chart to see where your numerical bust sizes falls within their range of sizes. If the bra you are looking to purchase is either an encapsulated or compression bra, consider ordering one size smaller than the chart dictates below.
Bras that are mostly cotton get heavy with perspiration, so look for fabrics with moisture-wicking properties. Today there are many different high tech, moisture-wicking fabrics to choose from. Look for blends of spandex, polyester, nylon, and Lycrar. These fabrics also retain their shape well.
This is a back silhouette in which the straps of the bra curve between the shoulder blades.
There are three types of sports bras: compression bras, encapsulated compression bras, and adjustable encapsulated compression bras.
The compression bra is the most common sports bra and is designed to minimize movement by pulling the breasts in to form what looks like a single unit (rather than two separate breasts). The compression bra is best suited for women who wear an A or B cup.
Encapsulated bras are best suited for women with larger busts. Encapsulated bras resemble lingerie bras but they offer more support by compressing each breast individually rather than compressing them as a single unit. Encapsulated bras add structure and provide a more natural shape than compression bras. For better support, look for an encapsulated bra with underwire.
Adjustable encapsulated bras provide maximum support for women with very full busts. This bra type features encapsulation cups that support each breast, a wide adjustable band, and wide or rigid adjustable straps to create a custom fit and full support.
The racer back provides the most support for women with larger busts or those who participate in high impact activities. If you like a traditionally styled bra, look for a scoop back or criss-crossed straps.
Some sports bras offer hook closures in the front or the back while some are pulled over your head. Women with fuller busts may prefer the comfort and support of a bra with hook closures in the back. Because back closures usually come with hook and eyes in three different sizes, they allow for a more customized fit. The type of closure you choose is up to you.
Zippers or clasps should always have padding between you and the garment to avoid unnecessary irritation.
A good sports bra should stay in place, the straps shouldn't dig into your shoulders, and the band around the lower chest shouldn't shift or bind. The proportions and contours of the bra should be designed for freedom of movement.
Fit Tip: Inner seams should be flat and soft against your skin.
Adjustable lined straps provide added support for women with fuller busts and offer women of all sizes the ability to customize the fit of their sports bra based on their own individual body type.
Fit Tip: Women with smaller breasts are better off wearing a compression-style bra that flattens the bust and prevents jiggle. Women with larger breasts should go for bras with separate molded cups that encapsulate each breast as opposed to the flattened uni-boob shape of no-cup styles.
The higher the impact level of activity, the higher level of support you'll need.
Women who wear a sports bra multiple times per week usually need to replace their bras within six to 12 months due to loss of elasticity. Because of their high elasticity content, sports bras should be hand washed and hung dry.
Sports bras should be replaced if:
Now that you've found your true size, here are a few other tips to ensure that you get the proper fit.
Ladies, admit it. You're probably in cup denial. Most women don't like to accept their true size, big or small. But remember, your bra size is just like your shoe size; if the shoe fits, wear it! No one else needs to know the size! You'll feel more comfortable and attractive in the correct cup size, whether it's an A or E.
While you may have a favorite bra, you shouldn't wear it both when you go out and when you work out. One bra style will not work for all fashions and functions. You will need lingerie bras as well as sports bras if you're active.
Measure your bra size every year or more frequently if you have major body changes like weight loss or weight gain, or pregnancy. Replace your bras every six months as most bras are worn out from laundering and wear by then. Check your bras for signs of wear and tear (loose strap, lost elasticity, tears, etc.), which signal that a bra is ready to be tossed.
Finding the right size isn't as simple for the well-endowed woman. When trying on bras, big-busted women should lift their arms up after securing the bra band to make sure they are not dropping out of the bottom of the cup. If you have spillage, then your cup size is too small!
Your underwire should surround and support your breasts, not poke and jab them! If the wire pulls away from the body in the center, then the cup size is too small.
Women with smaller figures should look for bras with defined cups. Although petite women may not need heavy-duty support, a structured cup helps accentuate the body's silhouette under clothing.
So you've finally found that fabulous-fitting, flattering bra. Now how do you keep it that way? Although your favorite bra won't last forever, here are a few tips that will greatly prolong the life of your bras.
Remember harsh detergents won't just damage your bras, they can also irritate your skin.
Always wash your bras in cool water. Hot water will often shrink the material, causing the underwire to pop out.
Fill the sink with cool water and mild detergent and agitate for a few minutes. Rinse the garment in cold water, being careful not to wring or twist it. Hang it to dry.
Use a product and wash cycle designed for delicate fabrics. Attach hooks and eyes to prevent tangling and snagging. For even better protection, place your garments in a zippered lingerie bag and wash them in the delicate cycle.
Try not to wear the same bra two days in a row. The "rest" will allow it to retain its elasticity and regain its shape
Underwire bras can be safely folded in the middle to store. Molded bras can be folded with one cup tucked inside the other.