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These expert bra fitters share their top tips for finding the perfect fit...
Are you wearing a 36C or 34B? Chances are, you’re wrong, according to the Daily Mail, who revealed that these are the two sizes women most often think they fall into. And with recent research from Triumph showing that 76% of people are wearing the wrong sized bra, it’s vital to make sure yours fits perfectly – not just for support for your bust, but for all-round health. Constant headaches, a stiff neck and upper back pain could all be caused by bras that are too tight, too loose or simply the wrong shape for you. Get it right today, and you could be surprised at just how much better you’ll feel.
I worked as a bra fitter for five years so it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about how to measure bra size. During that time I fitted women of all different sizes and learnt that for every shape, there IS a bra. No matter how much you may have struggled to find the right bra size, a little time and a great fitter can work wonders. It may be that you suit a balcony or a plunge shape, or that you need padded rather than non-padded. All it takes is a little time in the fitting room to create a smoother, slimmer silhouette.
It’s important to remember that no two women are the same, and your bra size is never set in stone, so make sure you’re having regular fittings – twice a year is best. A measurement and a professional fitting are two very different things. One of the most common misconceptions I came across was that it’s fine to get measured, buy a bra in that size and leave the shop as quickly as possible. Realistically, the only way to ensure that your bra is giving you the correct support is by putting some time aside for a fitting with a professional whose trained eye will know exactly what style suits you best.
Taking your top off in front of a complete stranger may seem like a daunting process, but let me assure you: there is absolutely no reason for it to be scary. Lingerie retailers and department stores across the country have fabulous trained bra fitters who will spend time understanding your needs and making you feel comfortable. Put your trust in them, and I promise the result will be a fabulous silhouette that you’ll be happy to show off.
Click through now for tips from me, plus more lingerie advice on finding your perfect bra, thanks to Chantelle and Rigby & Peller…
If you go shopping with a rough idea of your size, you'll know where to start before you head into the changing rooms. It's always worth checking with an assistant anyway, but knowing your basics can speed up the process slightly.
- Measure the underband (where the wire of your bra usually sits) straight around, as tight as possible. If the measurement is an even number, add four (i.e. 32 + 4 + 36) and if it's odd, add 5 (i.e. 33 + 5 = 38). This gives you your back size.
- To get your cup size, start by measuring around the fullest part of your bust. Take your back measurement and count upwards from there. So if your back came out at a 36 and the fullest part of your bust measures 36 also, your cup size is an A. 37 = B, 38 = C, 39 = D, 40 = DD and so on.
Many of us have been brought up believing that wired bras are uncomfortable or padded bras will make you look a size bigger, but these bra misconceptions are often simply not true. The best advice I can give is to go to a bra fitting with an open mind, and try things you stayed away from in the past. Here are the common misconceptions you should stray away from:
- Moulded bras make you look bigger than non-padded ones. This simply isn't true. They will, however, give you a more rounded shape. Try one, you could be surprised!
- The back should be loose. Sadly ladies, it should be as tight - although not so much that it hurts. However, bear in mind that when you first try a bra it's at its tightest, and the underband will give over time with washing and wearing. This is vital to give you the correct support. Don't be tempted to go up a back size for comfort - if your bras all fasten on the tightest hook and/or ride up your back, you certainly need to try a size smaller.
- Strapless bras don't work on fuller-busted ladies. Many brands now do a fabulous selection of comfortable and supportive strapless bras that will give you confidence whatever you're wearing. Wonderbra is a great example, and their Ultimate Strapless Bra is fabulous.
- Only non-wired bras are comfortable. For women that have spent their lives wearing non-wired, it's understandable to be wary of uncomfortable metal wires. However, brands are now working specifically on making their wired bras as comfortable as possible, and they'll stay in place all day.
- All bras fit the same. Sadly not! They vary hugely depending on brand, style and material, so you should always try them on before buying. Your size can be different depending on the brand, so don't worry about having a drawer full of different sizes, as long as they all fit correctly.
1. Avoid white bras - nude is best
Chantelle lingerie expert Sandra Dyke reveals: 'Do not wear a white bra under a white shirt! This is an absolute no because it is a block of white against your skintone which will highlight the bra. A nude bra is a fail safe choice. Pale pink can also work too.'
2. Choose a satin or microfibre fabric
'If your shirt is fitted or the fabric is rather tight or fine, you should opt for an 'invisible' bra made of a satin or microfibre knit. Invisible bras will often feature laser cut finishes or enclosed finished seams to ensure that the bra remains invisible - even under the finest fabrics. If your shirt is less fitted or the fabric is quite thick, the fabric of the bra you choose to wear can come down to personal preference.'
3. Look at your shirt neckline before you choose your bra shape
'We look at necklines to determine what bra shape you should be wearing, so think about the neckline of your shirt and how you are going to be wearing it i.e. buttoned to the top or some buttons undone.'
There is no such thing as a definitive bra size
Bra fit depends on style, shape and fabric. Bear this in mind when measuring yourself. Also remember that your bra size will fluctuate throughout your life, especially when pregnant or during the menopause. Rigby & Peller recommend a new fitting every six months.
Your bra needs to be able to support you throughout the day. Lift your arms above your head, checking that the bra stays in the same place. A well-fitting bra will smooth, support and lift no matter how much you wriggle!
This is the most important part. Check that the back of the bra hugs the narrowest part of your back, and is sitting at the same level as the front. The underwire should curve snugly around the breasts but never dig in. Make sure you can run your finger comfortably along the inside of the band, if not then the bra is too tight.