The Beginner’s Bra Guide
I am very pleased and happy that you visited my bra fitting guide. Finding a bra that suits you well is not an easy task so I am honored to provide you with my knowledge and insight so that you can shop effortlessly and make the best out of it. I will focus on how to get the correct bra cup size as well as look at different bra types and finish it off with awesome bra care tips.
Image: La Perla
Determining The Actual Size of Your Breasts
Research states that as much as 80% of women are having bra fitting problems. And the main reason is most likely the fact that they don’t know their real size. Without properly measuring breast size wearing any bra can be both uncomfortable and unaesthetic. In order to correctly determine bra size you need to make 5 measurements and calculate the results in a bra size calculator provided below. Note that every measurement needs to be done without a bra, so basically you measure your bare breasts. Even though the calculator is in inches there is also a size conversion table so you will be fine if you are only familiar with centimeters.
Take these measurements:
Measure the region right below your breasts while standing and being relaxed. Breathe normally and don’t compress the measuring tape. Take it easy when measuring.
This time tighten the measuring tape as much as you can. Exhale and press into the skin as much as possible.
Measuring bust should be done without distorting the natural shape of your breasts.
Just stand and measure right around your breasts
Leaning over in 90 degrees.
Lean down so your breasts drop down and take the measurements.
Laying down bust.
Lay on your back while measuring your bust.
Afterwards use the results in this bra size calculator to determine your true bra size.
Your Breast Shape
Knowing the real size of your breasts is just a half of equation. Understanding your breast shape is just as important. Lot of times bra might just never fit no matter what size you are trying on and it is all because of the difference between different shapes of breasts. Breast shape can be broken down in 2 main categories: by fullness and projection. So let’s see why it matters.
Pointy or shallow breasts
To put it as simple as possible – shallow breasts are more spread out on your chest having more area connection the breast tissue to the rest of your body, while breasts that are pointy stick out more and are attached on a smaller region.
To help you understand how these differences manifest in reality here are some of the main things that can happen to shallow breasts.
- When you are trying on or wearing plunge bras they tend to dig in to your skin at the top of the cup while it may seem that you are not really filling up the cup entirely.
- After determining your exact size it may appear that it is still just too big.
- It is quite common to have shallow breasts in some particular sizes. For cups it is mostly A-E and for bands 28-32 but still not all breasts are the same and sometimes you can be outside of this range and still have shallow breasts.
In case of having more pointy breasts you should determine your fullness. Knowing this will help you to determine correctly what bra you should choose.
Fullness of breasts
For determining fullness do the following:
- Bend down into 90 degrees and explore the breast tissue position in relation to your nipples. If more breast tissue is above or below your nipples you can tell weather you are more full on the top or at the bottom of your breasts. For a complete guidance on this aspect take a look at this article.
- Use this image guide for a complete determination of the fullness of your breasts:
When fitting the bra properly you must consider the correct bra for your current outfit as well. Wearing a bra that doesn’t match the outfit is just as terrible as bra that doesn’t fit properly. There are few common types of dresses and outfits that require a specific bra and there is also plenty of different bra styles that can be applied for almost any occasion. I am listing some of the most common bra types for different shapes that can save your day if you are not sure of how to properly match your dress.
Balconette bras have revealing low cups and show off quite a lot. These bras are highly feminine looking as they are fairly minimal. These bras can fit under almost any clothing since the features are very delicate. This type of bra is the ultimate vintage gem and resembles classic pin-up looks.
These bras are more like a strip of fabric than conventional bra. They are usually made from elastic fabric and does not provide much of a support so they are perfect for smaller size breasts. In case of having bigger breasts and you want to wear an outfit with open shoulders go with a strapless bra instead. Bandeau bras are very convenient as you just slide them over your head, place them where necessary and you’re ready.
This is something you should own regardless of your wardrobe style. Convertibles can be adjusted to multiple ways depending on your clothing. Lot of time they have multiple strap positions available on the band when you place them in the X shape. Great thing is that straps can be removed and if you can have enough support you can wear them as strapless bras.
When wearing a dress that is revealing most of the back this bra is necessity. Backless bras are designed to be worn for such occasions. They usually have low band and transparent or non-existent straps. There are also backless bra converters that allow you to convert any bra to a backless bra. You might want to check out our backless bra guide for more detailed information.
Bras with no straps are great for wearing topless dresses and unlike bandeau bras they have better support for medium breasts. That is because strapless bras vary in band sizes and have underwire to provide some more support. Here is the list of best strapless bras for every size.
Demi cup bra
Named demi bras because of the shape of the cup. These are bras that lift and push together on your breasts while barely covering the nipples since they have bit smaller cups than full cup bras.
Full cup bra
The full cup bra is very classic bra and is perfectly designed for women with large breasts. They cover most of the breasts and usually comes with wider straps as well. The reason these bras are great for big breasts is that they can provide the most of support from all the bra types. If in any case wearing different bra type you feel as if your breasts are bulging on top you should definitely try a full cup bra.
Minimizer bras are usually worn by women who have larger breasts. Reason to do so is in cases where clothing may require some suppression.
Plunge bras are for the occasions when you wear a low cut dress and don’t want your bra to be visible. Plunge bra cups connect lower than other bras and they are usually accompanied with underwire so they still provide enough support.
Sports bras have lot of support. By design they are made to withstand heavy vibrations and bouncing. They are not meant to be worn regularly and often come in different variations. They either compress or encapsulate. That is to be considered when wearing a sports bra in a specific intensity of activity. Read more about sports bras here.
As the name suggests they push the breasts up. This bra is great when you want to put more emphasis on your cleavage. Lot of push-up bras come in a mix of plunge bras as well. So push up bras can also be worn with low cut dresses.
Adhesive (stick-on) bra
Usually made of silicone but sometimes done with fabric or other material. Stick on bras are good when all else fails and you really need to have appearance if no bra. Women usually chose adhesive bras when they basically need to conceal nipples and appear bra-less.
These bras are very slim and with little to no padding to not distort the natural shape of your breasts. Support is overall good but the key feature for t-shirt bras is to blend in with the body and not to protrude excessively.
Strappy bras are quite unique in a way. They are surrounded by decorative straps in multiple places and create variety of patterns. Lot of times these bras are worn as the only upper body clothing or combined with similar style tops. There are strappy bras that you can wear as a sports bra or as a lingerie that allows you to reveal your back using the straps as a decor.
Shopping for bras online can be both fun and infuriating experience. To avoid mistakes and disappointments you need to be a little mindful about how you approach your shopping sessions by applying some good tactics. Lingerie stores are rich in different styles and brands making it almost a roller coaster ride when looking for your next great bra. Most common problem that occurs in online shopping is buying the wrong size. Simplest thing to avoid this mistake is to buy multiple sizes of your desired model. At least 2. Most stores have very lenient return policy but take your time to do some research before you engage in this approach as having that extra bra that does not fit is just waste and heartache. Shopping smart by evaluating the places you buy from is important as well. make sure you read the feedback and reviews to consider the websites reputation.
Bra Care Tips
Bras unlike regular clothing need a tiny bit of a special attention but it is no big hassle. Remembering these will prolong the lifespan of your bra and assure that wearing it will stay comfortable and aesthetic.
- Do not over wear your bra. Rotate your bras throughout the days making sure you are not wearing the same bra more than 2 days in a row. This will let the band relax so it wont wear out as quickly.
- When washing the bras do not wash them as the rest of your clothes. Instead you should hand-wash them, or use the gentle setting wile containing the bras in a mesh bag as to not damage them.
- When it comes to drying then only air-dry your bras. Machine drying is too aggressive for most bras and comes with a chance of ruining them.