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How can you buy the right bra?

Buying a bra can be a daunting, and sometimes overwhelming, experience. With millions of options to choose from, navigating your way through the frills and spills of bra shopping can feel like a real chore. 

Whether your latest bra shopping experience has been a bit of maze or a total bust, we’ve got the info to help you find the support you need. 

Why is finding the right bra so tricky?

Bras come in so many shapes, styles, and sizes that it can be hard to know what will suit your body best. Some people with smaller breasts don’t feel like they need to wear bras, while for others, they’re an absolute lifesaver! It’s all up to your personal choice and what works best for your needs. 

Finding the right bra size can be especially challenging while your boobs are still developing. One week you might be a B Cup, and the next, you might find you need to go up a size. Weight loss or gain can also impact breast size, which can often mean needing to get a new bra.

Even when breasts are fully developed, buying a bra can remain a challenge for a lot of people with breasts. This is because many don’t actually know what a well-fitted bra looks like and how they’re supposed to feel.

Bras and underwear laid out on a grey background.
What is a ‘bra fitting’?

There are people who work in the bra section of big department stores who can help you find bras that work for you. Bra assistants are actually a great source of knowledge. They will show you how to take your measurements and work with you to figure out what will fit you best.

It’s normal to feel a bit awkward or uncomfortable about someone paying such close attention to your breasts, especially when they’re growing, but it’s a good idea to get measured by a trained assistant who can help you find your perfect fit.

Nobody actually has to see your breasts when you’re getting fitted. Normally, a store assistant will measure your chest while it’s covered by a bra or light clothing. Then, they’ll help you find some options to try on and come up with some sizes that will best suit your measurements. 

After you’ve put the bra on in the change room, with your permission, they’ll assist you with adjusting the straps and determining whether that bra is the right fit for you. 

You might need to go through a few different sizes and styles before you find the one that works. Once you have been fitted, you’ll have a better starting point when buying bras in the future and you’ll probably be able to work out what fits best on your own.

Some people may find that they need to get a fitting once every couple of years, as your body will naturally change in shape over time.

How do bra sizes work?

There are two parts to the size of a bra: chest size and cup size. 

Usually the chest size is represented by a number such as 10, 12, 14 or 32, 34, 36 and so on. These sizes may correspond to your usual top size. The chest is the part of the bra that runs across the chest and wraps around the back. 

These sizes will vary according to international sizing and different brands, so it’s important to always take your measurements.

The cups of the bra are what hold the breasts in and come in letter sizes (A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and so on). Different combinations of chest and cup sizes will determine the bra size, for example 14C, which is why both measurements are equally as important in finding the right fit for you.

Is it possible to work out my bra size at home?

While getting fitted by a trained store assistant is the best way of finding out your bra size, there are guides you can use to take your measurements and get a rough indication of what size you might be. If you want to try and take your own measurements, it’s a good idea to get someone to help you, like a friend or a trusted family member.

Here is a guide to measuring your bra size at home:

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Online bra stores now have sizing guides listed on their websites as well as helpful tools to tell you how to take your measurements. This guide from Berlei provides some handy hints and instructions for taking your measurements properly and figuring out what your size might be.

Why is it so important to wear the correct bra size?

Wearing the right bra helps keep your breasts supported throughout the day. It minimises jiggling and other movements that can be pretty painful, especially during exercise. A bra that doesn’t fit properly can cause back problems, muscle tension, and even headaches.

While it can be tempting to go for bras you like the look of, it’s important to think about how comfortable and supportive they might actually be in your day to day life. With so many styles and colours out there, finding a supportive bra doesn’t mean your choices will be limited to bras you don’t like. 

Some things to remember when choosing a bra are: 

1. What will you be wearing it for?

Some bras are designed for specific activities such as sports bras. If you’re buying a bra specifically to exercise or play sports in, it’s a good idea to go for one that’s specially made for that reason to give you the right support.

2. Choose colours carefully.

If you’re looking for a bra for general day-to-day life, plain colours like white, black or nude will probably be the ones you can get the most wear out of. While that bright orange floral print might be on your wish list, if you don’t want your bra to be visible underneath your light coloured t-shirts, it’s probably not the best idea.

TIP: When trying on a bra take a light shirt with you so you can see how the bra looks underneath your clothing.

3. Strapless or not?

Generally, bras without straps don’t provide a lot of support. You might like the style, but consider how comfortable it will be during the day if you feel like you have to keep pulling it up or adjusting it.

4. Do you need underwire support?

Some bras come with underwires for support. Whether you choose bras with wires or not is up to your personal preference. All breasts are different so there is no one style or fit that will suit everybody.

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