For many people, bra shopping is an arduous task. Finding one that fits well is tricky not only because sizing varies by brand, but also because of how sizes are related to one another and the style of bra you’re after.
In fact, one study conducted by bra manufacturer Triumph and published in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy found that 80 percent of women were wearing the wrong size bra. Of those women, 70 percent of them wore bras that were too small, while 10 percent wore bras that were too large.
But before you resign yourself to a life of discomfort or give up on bras completely, Kate Low of homegrown lingerie label, Perk by Kate, breaks down everything you need to know about finding the right size bra and why it’s important they’re a good fit.
One of the biggest problems is that different brands have different sizing standards. Even different styles from the same brand can fit differently. Bras can also fit differently based on the time of the month.
All of this is made worse by the fact that large companies tend to standardise their sizing to a certain set of measurements in order to be efficient in production. However, this approach doesn’t always work because it assumes that women are of cookie-cutter body types and ignores the uniqueness of our body shapes. Most importantly, it also ignores the wearer’s own standard of comfort.
Stand upright without a bra on and using a measuring tape, measure the circumference of your underbust, where the band of a bra would usually sit. You can then match your measurements against the sizing chart of that specific brand and figure out your bra size.
Measure around the fullest part of your chest. The difference in volume between your underbust and overbust is your cup size. You can then match your measurements against the sizing chart of that specific brand and figure out your bra size.
It’s completely normal and surprisingly common to have one breast that is bigger than the other, but to help prevent fit issues like cup overflow, women with asymmetrical breasts should always fit the larger breast first. If you want, you can even out their appearance by adding a bra cutlet to the smaller breast, or getting a bra with removable pads and taking them out on the larger side.
At Perk by Kate we specialise in soft bras, which can help overcome issues like this. Since our soft bras come with the option of push up or normal paddings, we usually offer the customer the option of having different padding choices per breast.
First and foremost, get the cup fit right. Bra cups should contain your breasts evenly without pressing into your breast tissue. There should be no spillage at the sides.
Once you have the cup fit right, focus on the band. It should fit snug. You should be able to stretch the band around one inch outwards. Fit the bra on the outermost hook and adjust inwards over time.
Having nailed the cup and band fit, adjust the straps to hold up your breasts. If your bras straps are digging into your shoulders, it could mean your cups are too small or your band is too big.
Whether it’s due to ageing, hormones, weight fluctuations or pregnancy, a woman’s breast size will change over the course of her life, which is why it’s important to get professionally fitted every six months or so.
There are many health risks associated with not wearing the correct size bra including lack of support which can cause back, shoulder and neck pain, especially in women with large breasts, breast pain due to tight-fitting bras, breast sagging as a result of wearing a loose bra that fails to support the breasts and help keep them in shape, and even chaffing, blisters and scaring as a result of rubbing.
Unfortunately bras don’t last forever, but depending on your size, how well you take care of your bras and how many you have on rotation, a good, basic bra should last about a year. To get the most out of your bra, it’s important to wash them by hand and to rotate the ones you wear most often. This will help stop the band from overstretching and causing the cups to loose their shape.
If you’re still unsure about what size bra you should be wearing, there’s a handy bra size calculator that you can try online for free.
This article was first published in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.