1 Try on a bra with the band and cup size you've arrived at in these steps. You should not regard this as your definitive size until you have tried on a few bras, and even then you will often find you need a different size in different brands or styles of bra.
2 Put on the bra on correctly. Known as the "scoop and swoop," this is a more correct way to make sure all of your breast tissue is in the bra:
- After taking the bra off its hanger the shoulder straps will need to be lengthened. Put your arms through them and lean forward slightly so that your bust falls into the cups.
- Fasten the bra on the largest set of hooks and eyes. Don't worry if it's tricky to fasten, if you're trying a smaller back size you will notice that you need to stretch it around you to make the hooks and eyes meet.
- Still leaning forward, take hold of the underwires and give them a wiggle from side to side to make sure you're settled comfortably into the cups.
- For each side in turn, slip your hand into the side of the cup and lift each breast towards the centre.
- You will probably have to adjust the length of the shoulder straps. Slip them off your shoulders and adjust the sliders so that the straps are short enough to stay in place but don't cut in.
3 Check the band size. The correct band size is the smallest you can comfortably wear. (This might be smaller than your underbust measurement-bra bands are quite stretchy, especially at 42+.) It needs to be firm enough that the bra is still fairly supportive without weighing down heavily on the shoulder straps.
- You should be able to run your fingers around the inside of the band, but not much more. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit no more than a fist under the back of the bra where your spine is at.
- It should fit on the biggest adjustment, but will probably be too tight if you try to fasten it on the smallest size. Bras are designed to fit like this so that you can tighten the band as the elastic starts to wear out.
- If the band is roomy enough for you to be able to comfortably fasten it on the tightest adjustment, try a smaller band, for example if a 32D is too loose, try a 30DD. Remember that the cup size has to be changed when you move to a different band size - for every band you go down, you must go up by one cup size in order for the cups to remain the same capacity and vice versa.
- If you find the band painfully tight you should try going up a cup size because too small of cups can make a band which is too big or the right size seem ill fitting. If going up a size, maybe even several does not work, then try going a band up and a cup down, e.g. 28G to 30FF. However, try the first method before the latter.
4 Check the cup size. The correct cup size should be completely filled out with no wrinkling of the fabric or space in the cups, but any spillage or "double boob" means the cup size is too small, even in low cut or pushup bras.
- Check around the cups for any bulging, not only at the front but also at the sides under your arms.
- Make sure the underwire encloses your whole breast and lies flat against your rib cage.
- Check at the sides under your arms to make sure the underwires are sitting on your ribs, not on soft breast tissue. If they're cutting into the sides of your breasts then you need a larger cup size. Also be aware that if you have been wearing a bra with a too big band and too small cups, you may have ended up with migrated tissue, which will seem to be armpit rolls, or back rolls. This can be fixed after getting a well fitting bra.
- If the underwires are pressing painfully against your breastbone at the centre front you may need a smaller cup size or you could try a plunge style with a lower centre front (this is more likely to be an issue with the cups than the band.) Or you might just be human, and it's the shaping of your ribcage. In that case, wait for the bra to be "broken in" and see how it fits then, or go with the lower centre front.
- If you think the cups might be too small but you're not sure, try on a bigger cup size as well to double check. It will usually be obvious if the smaller size fits better.
See how it looks with your top on. You've found a new bra that fits well, maybe in a different size or style to the ones you're used to. Now it's time to see what it does for your figure! If you're trying a t-shirt bra it's also important to make sure it gives you a smooth line under fitted clothes.If you look side on to the mirror, you should be able to see that your bust is approximately halfway between your elbow and your shoulder.
- In a well fitting bra, your bustline will be supported at the right level. A lot of people find that their clothes fit a lot better, and they discover a waist that could never be seen before! If your bustline had previously been quite low because of a poorly supporting bra, you may even find that you need to wear a smaller dress size.
- A fitted t-shirt will show up any bulges from cups which are too small, and likewise a moulded bra that is not filled out will show lines at the bust where the edge of the cups are visible. It's also useful to make sure that the colour of your bra is not showing through a thin or light coloured top - if you need to make your bra invisible, go for seamless cups which match your own skin colour rather than the colour of your top.
- It is a common concern that wearing a smaller band size will make a big bulge around your back. However, these bulges are actually caused by the back of the bra riding up when it is too large. You should find that when the band sits lower at the back, it fits firmly and remains horizontal, rather than pushing upwards creating a bulge.
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