You don’t see pants fitters, shoe fitters or dress fitters. So why do we need bra fitters? Except in unique cases, I think most women are smart enough to figure out their own bra size. In this post, I’m going to tell you what most bra fitters know and then some. With sufficient information, you can absolutely figure out the bra size that works best for you. First, you need to start by putting on your best fitting bra. If possible, this bra should not have any padding. Get in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Now, go through the following check list and choose “yes” or “no” next to each point:
Is the center of your bra sitting flat against your body? If you are wearing a minimizer bra, or a soft cup bra and have breasts larger than DD cups, this may not be the case. In these two cases, the center not resting against your sternum is okay.
Are your underwires sitting under your breasts in your breast crease and not poking out?
Is all of your breast tissue contained in your cup? If you are wearing a demi style bra or low cut bra, your breast tissue may not be in your cup. This is fine unless you feel the tissue is spilling out of this style.
Do your cups fit with no gapping or puckering?
Are your shoulder straps comfortable and not falling off or digging into your shoulders?
Is your nipple line half way between your shoulder and your elbow?
Is the bottom of your bra level and parallel with the floor?
Are your hook and eyes on the tightest or middle setting?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, you’re in the right bra size. The number one mistake women make is wearing a bra with cups too small and a band size too big. Or put another way, she is wearing a 38C instead of a 36D. For some reason, women are more willing to go up a band size than a cup size. But when you’re walking around, no one is looking at you and thinking you have a certain bra size on. They only notice if you look good or not. So, don’t get hung up on your bra size; it’s just a number and a letter or two. The goal is to have you looking and feeling the best you can. Okay, so let’s go through your list.. If you said “no” to any of the above questions, I have the answer for you below.
The center gore or center front of your bra is lifting away from your body. When you have very larger breasts, it may be impossible for the center of your bra to rest on your sternum because you have so much breast tissue – your breasts are already touching in the center. Soft cup bras also have a hard time resting on your sternum because they don’t have underwires to anchor the bra under your breasts. Minimizer bras are working to reduce your bust projection, so many minimizers do not have a center panel designed to lay flat on your sternum. If any of these reasons apply to you, don’t worry about this symptom. For everyone else, if your center panel is not laying flat on your sternum, this is a symptom that your cup size is too small. Your breast are actually pushing your bra away from your body. The first thing to do is go up a cup size. If your cups now fit, but your band is too big, the next step is to go down a band size, but go up a cup size to maintain the same cup volume. Example: Currently wearing a 40D. First try a 40DD. If band too big, go to a 38DDD. If the underwires in the center are pointing out and away from your body, this is another symptom that your cup size is too small. It can also mean that the bra manufacturer is not using strong enough underwires.
If your underwire is sitting on your breast tissue instead of in your under breast crease, first make sure you put your bra on correctly. Reach in to your bra cups and pull up your breasts into the cups so that your breast tissue is above the underwire. If your breasts are now shooting out the top, you need a bigger cup size. If your breasts look fine now, you have the correct cup size. If your underwires are digging into you on the sides, this is another symptom that you need to go up a cup size. There is also the possibility that your band size is too tight. If you are on your last hook, and your bra is literally pulling the underwires apart so that they are not following your breast crease, your band size is too small. Go up a band size and down a cup size in this case to see if it feels more comfortably. For example, go from a 36DD to a 38D. Conversely, if your underwires are resting below your bra crease and your bra can not be pulled up into the right position, this is a symptom of your band being too tight. The band is sliding down your torso to a more narroer point on your body. In this case, go up a band size and down a cup size. Finally, bra manufacturers use a variety of underwire shapes in different bra styles. If your bra fits great except the underwires seem wrong, this could simply mean this particular style of bra is not for you.
If your breast tissue is spilling out of your bra at the top, or if you have on a demi cup style bra and the top of the cup is causing an indentation in your breast, your cup size is too small. Go up a cup size. If you are unsure about all of this, the ultimate test is to put a t-shirt on over your bra. If you see a bulge above the cup line, the cups size is too small.
Gaps and puckering in your cup usually means the cup size is too large. However, there are also other reasons. Most women do not have the same size breasts – one is larger than the other. Therefore, one cup will fit, and the other will usually be too small with gaps or puckering. Always fit a bra to your largest breast. Contour bras that are molded with a thin layer of foam do a great job of hiding different breast sizes. You can also purchase what are called “cookies.” These are pads that can be popped into the bottom of your cup to compensate for less breast tissue on one side. If your cups fit great except for gaps at the top of the cup where it attaches to the bra strap, your particular bra may have tcups that are too full. As women get older, we tend to become hollow above our breasts. Bras with demi cups or balconette styles will probably work better and be more flattering. Another interesting point here is that when you don’t fill out the upper part of your bra cup, this gaping leads to your bra straps falling off your shoulders. So, there is a very good reason to get a bra where you fill up the entire cup.
Shoulder straps digging into your shoulders is usually a sign that your band is too large. Bra support should come 90% from your bra’s band and only 10% should come from your shoulder straps. Test this by slipping your bra straps off your shoulders. If your bra falls off, your band is way too big. If your bra stays on – even though your breasts may become a bit droopy, you are wearing the right size. The design of your bra back can also make a difference. Bras with a leotard back helps distribute the support down your back. So a great solution here is to go down a band size, and up a cup size (assuming your cup size is right) and look for bras where the straps are closer together in the back.
Getting the girls in the correct position on your chest is critical. Too low, and they can make you look heavier and older than you are. Your breasts – at any size – should have the nipple line equidistant between your elbow and shoulder. If they aren’t you are in the wrong size, or in a bra without enough cup support, or in a bra with too large a band size.
Once I put my bra on, I go straight to the mirror and confirm that my bra back is pulled down and parallel with the front of my bra. This simple adjustment can make a world of difference for every woman. Think about it, most of us attach our bras behind our back. It’s easy for the bra back to be left too high on our back. Pulling your bra back down balances out your bra and helps give your breasts support. If your bra band creeps up your back during the day, this is a clear sign that your band is too large. You need to go down a band size and up a cup size if you are happy with your cup volume. So, for example, go from a 42C to a 40D and see if you don’t get better support. A tighter band that is also in the right location on your back will also help reduce back fat.
Hook and eyes don’t lie. On the loosest hook? Your band is too big. On the tightest? Your band isn’t big enough. I personally do not like bra band extenders that can be purchased to extend your bra back. Very very few women actually need these. Most of the time it’s putting a band aid on a wrong size bra. Women need to go up a band size and down a cup size to see if that size fits better before going out and buying bra band extenders.
So there you have it. You can be your own best bra fitter. And one final point. when you change band sizes, this is a major size change. When you go up a band size from a 36C to a 38C, for example, in actuality you are going up a band size and up a cup size because a 38C cup is the same cup size as a 36D. Conversely, when you go from a 38C to a 36B, (down a band and a cup size) you are going down a band size AND down 2 cup sizes because the cup size in a 38C is the same volume as a 36D. In other words, going up a band size and keeping the same cup size means you are going up a band size and up a cup size. Conversely, going down a band size and keeping the same cup size means you are going down a band size and down 1 cup size. So, changing a band size is a huge size change and also changes cup sizing as well. Changing a cup size within a band size is fine tuning – as long as you keep the same band size, you can go up and down a cup size to hone in a better fit. So, get your band size right first, then play around with cup sizes. This chart on HerRoom gives more details on fit. Find Bras at HerRoom