Bra Talk: Knowing the Right Fit and Finding the Right Type

bra types, sizes


Bra or brassiere is an undergarment designed to support a woman’s breasts. The evolution of bra has remarkably seen through the years. Did you know that a bra is one of the most complicated garments to make? A typical design has between 20 and 48 parts, including the band, hooks, cups, lining, and straps. It’s a highly technical garment, made of lots of tiny pieces of fabric, with so many sizes to consider for different cups, etc.

Today, bras are deemed not only as an intimate garment designed for comfort and support but fashion played a great role in changing the perspectives of women towards them. A lot of manufacturers and designers of this intimate apparel came out with bolder and more complex designs which are distributed and sold worldwide.  Victoria’s Secret for one has the celebrated annual fashion show showcasing not only bras but also premium lingerie and intimate apparels empowering women about sensuality and comfort at the same time.



Choosing Bra Size 


Choosing the right size and fit for a bra is very important. Breast tissues can be damaged when you are constantly wearing the incorrect size apart from the fact that it causes discomfort and can be indirectly the cause of neck problem and even headache.

According to The British School of Osteopathy, bad-fitted bras or bras that are too-tight especially those with under wire can put stress on bones and muscles, which also can cause breathing problems.

What is so alarming is that 75% or 80% of all women are wearing the wrong bra size. A lot of women are either embarrassed to ask for help, that’s why they just conform into the size they think they are in, or they are so much into the design of the bra that’s why they bought it not knowing the hazard adhered to incorrect fitting.

Keep in mind ladies that our bra is supposed to be a support for our breasts and to give us a comfortable figure at the same time. Fact is our bodies change all the time, breasts included. The size, shape and even breast tissue change over time as we gain weight (because of pregnancy, nursing, and simply as we age ) or lose some muscle tone after diet and exercise. It is highly recommended that we get the size and be refitted every six months (the average lifespan of an everyday bra)—or at least once a year.  So it is imperative to check your latest size, else, you might need to change now.


Proper Fitting: What You Need To Know

You may want to ask for professional assistance from a trained salesperson assigned specifically in the lingerie and intimate apparel section of your favorite clothing store or department store. But in case you want to do it yourself, here is the quickest way to find your proper size.


Finding Your Bra Size


1. Have a measuring tape ready. Wear a non-padded bra (soft-cup bra is great).
2. Wrap the tape measure around your ribcage snugly (it can also be your diaphragm) just right under your bust. Add five to the measurement (if the number is even, add six), the result will be your band size (32, 34, etc.).
3. And then, wrap soft tape measure across the fullest part of your bust. Whatever the measurement that you will get, subtract it from the band size that you first took, and the difference will be your cup size.

Here’s corresponding cup size based on the difference you got from the two measurements:

One inch=A
Two inches=B
Three inches=C
Four inches=D
Five inches=DD
Six inches=DDD

Apart from that, I will excerpt some pointers that you have to be aware of from the “Secrets of Style: The Complete Guide to Dressing Your Best Every Day” by Lisa Arbetter.


1. Closure. Whether in front or in back, the closure must lie flat without pulling. If you’re trying a bra with a back closure, use the center hooks to judge the fit.

2.  Underwire. The channels that contain an under wire should fully enclose the breast and lie flat against the chest; they should never sit on top of the breast tissue itself. Cushioning is very important.

3. Cups. Your breasts should fill the cups completely, without spilling out over the top of the bra or under your arms. Wrinkly fabric in the cups means that the bra is too large or that it is the wrong shape for you.

4. Straps. Bra straps should sit in your skin straight and flat, without digging in or sliding. For optimal fit, straps should be adjusted after each wearing. Sliding straps can easily be remedied by simple readjustment.

5. Band. To anchor a brassiere properly, the band, when fastened, must make a perfect curb rib cage. The band should be snug—but not so snug that you can’t fit a finger underneath.


NOTE: The tricky part is that, even if you know your bra cup and size, bra sizing still varies from brand to brand so it would be better if you fit them first before actually buying just to save yourself from sparing money buying the wrong fit.


Bra Types


Now that you are aware of how to get your bra size and the proper fit, let me enumerate different types of bras available in the market.

Some of the articles discuss more than 20 types of bras (others I don’t need to discuss simply because they are very obvious, like strapless and under wire bra). I will narrow it down instead to those basics ones that women often use depending on their activities and their functionalities.


T-shirt Bra. A T-shirt bra is designed specifically for a seamless contour especially the cups in order to give a smooth look under tight or lightweight fabric. The cups are lightly padded to prevent the nipples to be poking through.

Padded Bra. From its name itself, it has padding in the base of the cup to support and lift the breasts and give the appearance of larger breasts. It also is helpful to prevent the shape of the nipples to be showing through the shirt.

Full Cup Bra. This is the type of bra that has the full cup which completely covers the breasts. Full cup bra is highly recommended for women with larger cup sizes as it offers the most support.

Racer back/Sports Bra. Racer back is the best option for sports bra as it hinders the strap from falling especially during the strenuous physical activities. Sports bra differs as well. There are sports bras especially designed for jogging, others can be for yoga. Support is the top priority for this type of bra. Sports bra offers firm support, eliminating bounce which can be a bit painful and also to give room to breathe and to reduce sweating.

Push-Up Bra. It gives maximum cleavage, pushing the breasts together. The cups are joined low between the breasts, which makes them appear like a plunge bra. Some push-up bras are padded, which can be removable (inserts) while other padding are built-in. There are push-up bras with gel padding, making the breasts appear a couple of cup sizes larger than they are. Push-up bras are great options for women who have smaller breasts size just to create an illusion of fuller breasts.

Plunge bra. Plunge bras are ideal choice for low-cut clothes. While it gives support, it also molds the shape of the breasts, giving it a nice cleavage.  The cups are low and plunging, usually joined together with a thin center piece between the breasts.

Maternity/Nursing Bra. Although the two often times are used interchangeably, they are of different functions. Maternity bra is meant to be used during pregnancy as it gives extra support and comfort. On the other hand, nursing bra is designed to have a flap that you can unclip conveniently when breastfeeding.

Convertible or Multi-way Bra. This definitely is must-have intimate apparel. The straps are removable and the hooks can be reattached into different ways depending on what clothes you wear. The looks can go from standard, one shoulder option, low back, crisscross, low-back with extenders among others.

Mastectomy bra. This is a medical bra carefully designed for women who had mastectomy (one or both breasts removed). Mastectomy bras often are prescribed to be worn during the recovery process after surgery.

Minimiser bra. If some women are opting to give the illusion of fuller breasts by wearing padded-bras or push-up bras, minimiser bras are designed for women with average to large breasts who want them to appear smaller. Minimiser bra could reduce the bust measurement by an inch or two.


Other types are:

Adhesive bra
Balcony bra
Bandeau Bra
Demi-bra
Front-closure bra
Shelf-bra
Strapless bra
Trainer bra
Underwire bra
Molded-cup bra


Proper fit and knowing the right bra size not only is essential for comfort and support but it also promotes confidence by enhancing your curves and giving you a nice lift. Choosing the best bra design and its functionalities based on your size, activity and the clothes you wear is highly-recommended as well.

So save yourself from discomfort. Don’t compromise comfort over style. Be informed. Be empowered!


images from Wikimedia & Pixabay
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