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March 17, 2021

Are you having trouble finding a bra that’s both comfortable and supportive? You’re not alone. Millions of women choose the wrong bra size for their bodies. Given the enormous variations in sizing, styles and features to consider, it’s no wonder that many women find bra shopping confusing.

The right bra will support your breasts, help clothing look better, and get you through the day in comfort. Plus, investing in a bra that you actually like wearing each day will save you money in the long run.

Finding the right brais important for your well-being and confidence—a well-fitting bra will support your breasts, help clothing look and feel better, and may even prevent neck, shoulder and back discomfort. Plus, by investing in a few bras that you like wearing day after day, you’ll save money in the long run. Best of all, no matter your budget, it is possible to find the perfect fit for your body. You simply need the right resources to get started.

First, Let Go Of Old Notions About Bra Sizing

Many women think they know their bra size because that’s what they’ve always worn, or because it’s the size they feel they “should” wear. However, bra sizing is not nearly as straightforward as many of us think.

# A “C” Cup Is Not Always The Same “C” Cup

Many of us mistakenly think that bra cup size is standard across all band sizes. In reality, as band size increases, the width of the cup increases as well, even when the cup “size” stays the same. If you’ve been frustrated to find that a 36C feels too loose, only to find that a 34C causes your breasts to bulge out from the cups, this is likely why. In this example, going to a 34D would likely correct the issue.

# One Brand’s 34DD May Be Another Brand’s 36C

The brand, style, and material of a bra can make a huge difference in how it fits. One bra may have deeper or differently shaped cups than another, even in the same size. “Vanity sizing,” or purposely labeling bra sizes to have a larger cup size, can make finding the right bra even more complicated. Thus it’s important to understand what a proper fit is for you and find the bra that feels right, rather than sticking to a particular cup size.

The bottom line: you’ll be far more likely to find a bra that fits if you let go of preconceived notions of bra sizing and start from scratch with a proper bra fitting.

How To Find Your Bra Size

The best way to determine the correct size is to go to a professional fitter. There’s much more to consider when fitting a bra than chest and bust circumference: the shape and firmness of your breasts, the distance between your shoulders and breasts, and the curvature of your rib cage and spine, to name a few. A professional fitter will be trained to take these features into account and know which bra styles and brands work best for different customers.

It’s important to find a proper fit—you’ll want to support your tissues well.

Finding the right bra size for breasts requires a special approach, simply measuring the circumference around the breasts may give an inaccurate cup size result. Instead of measuring around your bust after you find your band size, measure an individual breast. This bra fitting guide will show you how.

Keep in mind: while these formulas can help you get closer to your true size, a tape measure fitting isn’t foolproof. Depending on the brand and style of bra you’re wearing, you may need to go up or down a cup or band size. Additionally, you may find certain styles work better for you depending on how little or much separation you have between your breasts. If possible, try on a bra before you buy it.


Good Signs That You’ve Found A Bra That Fits

Once you have narrowed down your size range and style preferences, you’ll find it easier to sort through the options and try on bras that are likely to be a good match. Check for these signs to ensure your bra fits:

  • The straps stay in place but aren’t holding much weight. About 90% of the bra’s support should come from the band and the cups. The straps mainly hold the bra in place, so if they slip or dig in, the bra doesn’t fit.
  • The band stays parallel to the floor when encircling your chest. A band that slides up in the back indicates that band size is too large. A new bra should fit snugly at the loosest setting so you can move in a notch or two as the bra stretches over time, while maintaining a proper fit.
  • The fullest part of your breast is in the center of the bra and falls halfway between your shoulders and elbows. A good bra will lift your breasts without smushing them.
  • Your breasts are not bulging over the top or sides of the bra. If you have one breast that is larger than the other (most women do), choose a cup size that accommodates the larger breast, and consider a bra insert to bring the smaller side into balance.
  • The bra feels equally comfortable when standing or sitting. Posture changes when we sit down, so check to make sure your bra doesn’t feel like it’s poking your stomach or sagging when you take a seat.
  • You can breathe normally. A bra band that constricts your breathing won’t be more supportive, only too tight. If going up a band size makes the bra too loose, choose a different brand or style.


Signs That It’s Time To Replace Your Bra

While a well-constructed bra that fits properly should last much longer than an ill-fitting bra, even the best bras wear out eventually. It’s best to replace your bras at the earlier signs of wear to ensure your breasts continue to get the support they need.


  • The band slides when the bra is on the tightest setting (the innermost clasps)
  • The underwire sticks out to the side instead of lying flush against your skin
  • You see visible wear, fraying or buckling fabric

Finally, it’s a good idea to get refitted or retake your measurements every time you shop for new bras. Breasts change throughout life—weight fluctuations, pregnancy, aging and menopause will all affect breast shape and size, so the bra size you wore previously may not be correct anymore.


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