If you’ve been plagued with “uni-boob” or bulges creeping out in places you thought no one had bulges, maybe it is your bra that is at fault. More specifically, it’s the bra size that may be incorrect.
Most women, at some point in their lives, have all had at least one bra that fit properly. Maybe it was the first bra you owned. Perhaps your mother took you to the local department store and let the clerk there assess the fit of that all-important first bra. After that, life happened: you got older, perhaps had a pregnancy or two and your weight may have fluctuated up or down by more than a few pounds. As well, do not forget chronic disease, illness or the inevitable effect of gravity! All of these factors will take their toll and can change the size and distribution of the breast tissue. Yet, unbelievably, some women are still buying the same size bra they bought 20 or more years ago! Whether this is due to vanity (“I’ve always been a 34B”) or ignorance about correct fit, or whether being so busy looking after everyone else’s needs, that their own needs get sublimated, this question is one of life’s little mysteries. Personally, I think it is a combination of all these factors.
It is impossible to look for a perfect fitting bra without first understanding what is considered good fit to start with. Considering that 7 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra, it appears that not everyone knows what good fit is all about, let alone what it looks like and feels like. A bra doesn’t fit, just because it’s pretty or on sale!
One of the frequent comments I hear from women regarding their bra size is that they don’t want to go into a larger cup size because they do not want to look too big (“OMG – I’ll look like DOLLY PARTON!”). Let me tell you right upfront – a correctly fitting bra will actually make you look smaller! How? Bras that cause the breasts to bulge make us look fat, just like clothes that are skin tight, will accentuate every bulge. You will always look slimmer in clothes that fit properly. Improper fit in a bra is, at best, uncomfortable, and causes the clothes you wear over it to hang and drape incorrectly: at worst, the lack of circulation in the breast caused by constriction of the blood vessels have been linked to several breast-related health issues, including breast cancer. A correctly fitting bra is not just a matter of vanity; it is a matter of your personal health.
While every woman has her own ideas and preferences about fashion, style and fabric choice (and thank goodness we do!), the primary functions of a bra have always been to support as well as to cover the breasts in comfort. Not all bras do all things well…. just because a bra covers you or is comfortable doesn’t mean it has good support. By the same token, it may be supportive, but if it still doesn’t cover you adequately or it isn’t comfortable, you won’t wear it. Good fit is by nature a combination of good support, good coverage and comfort.
A properly fitting bra should not ride up at the back, nor fall off the shoulders. Strive for cups that fit all the way around each breast with the band and the centre front sitting on or very nearly on the breastbone. The band should be wide enough to hold the cups in place without being too tight or riding up in the back, and straps should be sized to be comfortable without twisting or digging in to the shoulders. The cup fabric itself should be stable enough to keep the breast inside the cup and support the breast comfortably while performing everyday activities. The wires, if any, should encircle the breast mound and not poke, pull or protrude. There should be no flesh bulging out of the bra anywhere. Bras that conjure an image of “two melons in a hammock” are not supporting the breasts, in fact, they are transferring the weight to the straps, which can cause problems in the arms and lower back. Support in a bra comes from the band – band elastics should not roll up, or dig into the ribcage.
Personal modesty influences in how much of the breast mound the cups should cover, with an exception made for deliberately immodest cup styles which may be desired under certain garments. Demi cup bras are intended to cover about half of the breast mound above the nipple, while a full coverage bra covers most or all of it. If a bra-type garment is to be used as outer clothing, such as a halter top or a swimsuit, you may wish to make it more modest. Exceptions to this, such as exotic dance or fetish wear, or “playtime” bras showing a lot of breast, will always have to be considered by the wearer and what level of coverage they are comfortable with.
The seaming, and style of the bra as well as the fabric and findings from which it is made will determine how comfortable we will find it. Some women are sensitive to synthetics or to latex (the rubber compound found in virtually all elastics, except latex-free) and would find any bra, a nightmare to wear. Some ladies find seaming of any kind an irritant, for others it may be back closures, under-wires or stretch straps. The bra may offer good support, and the coverage they want, but they still can’t wear the bra. The comfort factor is always a personal decision and no amount of persuasion on the part of a bra fitter is going to convince you that the bra is comfortable. You need to do some investigation to see what the cause of the discomfort is. I remember one bra where we tried a new seam covering, which caused our model to scratch incessantly! This was a prototype bra we were making for a client, so you can imagine how quickly we got rid of that roll of seam covering! I guess there was a good reason why it was less expensive than our regular stuff.