Wearing a Bra Doesn’t Mean You Understand It. Bras Explained.

Bras. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are a staple in women’s wardrobes. By now, you’ve probably bought several bras throughout your lifetime. But are you buying the right size? 

That sounds like a strange question, but the truth is, over 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size. As a result, when bra shopping, they wind up buying undergarments that are uncomfortable and don’t provide the right amount of support. Most of the time, bra shopping is more of a chore than a fun day out.

So, let’s make it a little more tolerable. Here is a quick explanation of bras and how to choose the best one—the things you’ve always wanted to know but were maybe too confused or embarrassed to ask.

Wearing a Bra Doesn’t Mean You Understand It. Bras Explained.

What kind of bra should I wear?

There are over 30 different styles of bras, from full cup to strapless bras. It’s good to have a few different types in your lingerie drawer so you can wear tops with different necklines and not worry about straps or part of the cups showing. 

You can even find special styles, such as sports bras for working out and nursing bras—a must for breastfeeding moms. There are push-up styles for some extra volume, bralettes to wear under sheer tops, and trusty, everyday T-shirt bras that work with any kind of top. 

Finally, there are special bras available for women who have had breast surgery. For even more tips and resources for finding the right type of bra for your body, check out our favorite  “Learn” page from Glamorise. You’ll have all the information you’ll need the next time you browse the lingerie section of your favorite department store or favorite online shopping site.

What should I look for in a bra?

Without a doubt, looking and feeling great in a bra is important. If it doesn’t fit properly, you won’t look or feel your best. You don’t want to spend time pulling any part of it up or down, or rearranging the girls inside the cups because they are falling out or you are uncomfortable in some way.

Some of the main things to look for in a bra are:

  • Band size
  • Cup size
  • A style that works with your breast type

The band is one of the most essential parts of the garment—even more than the cups or straps. Your breasts’ center of gravity rests on the band, which supports about 90 percent of their weight. 

Bra cup size is important because the cups hold your breasts. Gaping (when the breast sits at the bottom of the cup, leaving room at the top) is a common problem for many women. This can happen when you buy a bra that doesn’t fit with your breast shape. One quick fix is to tighten the straps to close up some of the space. In the long-term, though, research the best type of bra style for your breast shape. 

What should I look for in a bra?

How should a bra fit?

Your bra should feel snug and secure. It shouldn’t be so tight that it’s hard for you to breathe, or it’s making deep red marks in your shoulders or sides. An easy way to tell if your bra is just right is to slide a finger underneath the band. If your finger slides under easily, your band is at the right amount of snugness. If you have trouble fitting one finger underneath, it’s too tight; more than one finger and it’s too loose. 

How do I know if I’m wearing the right size?

Besides the tips for achieving the right fit, there are other ways to determine if you are wearing the right size. For instance, your bra may be too big if:

  • The cups gape
  • The straps won’t stay up.
  • The band rides up in the back.
  • The bra cups are wrinkled or creased.

If you try a smaller band size, you’ll likely have to go down a cup size, as well.

Your bra may be too small if:

  • The cups are too small for your breast size, so your breasts are spilling out.
  • You are continually readjusting your breast in the cups.
  • The straps dig into your shoulders.

The best way to determine whether you’re wearing the correct size is to get measured. It’s easy to do it yourself or go to your favorite department store for a professional bra fitting. To measure your band size, wrap a cloth tape measure around your chest underneath your breasts. 

Round to the nearest even number and write this number down. Then move to your bust size. Wrap the tape measure around your chest at the fullest part of your breasts, and write that number down. Subtract the smaller number from the larger number to figure out your cup size.

Here’s another fun fact—the letter/number combination that makes up your bra size means something. The number stands for your band size, the letter, your cup size. This is where it gets a little confusing. 

Any cup with a “34 band” is known as a “true cup” size. Then there is something called “sister sizes,” which are bra size equals in the same cup volume.  (Stick with us here). Your bra’s sister size is the other ones listed on a size chart going across in the same row as the size you’re currently wearing.   

How do I know if I’m wearing the right size?

How do I take care of my bras?

Proper washing and drying are vital for prolonging the life of your bra. The elastic will lose some of its stretch, and the bra itself might lose some of its shape due to normal wear and tear, but if you take care of it properly, it will stay in good condition for much longer. The best way to wash a bra is to do it by hand using a detergent for delicates. (Regular laundry detergent will work, but it’s not quite as gentle as the brands just for delicates). 

Lay the bra flat and allow it to air dry. Tossing it in the dryer will dry out the elastic even faster, not to mention the damage underwires can do to the machine.

Finding the right bra does take some work. It requires research and an understanding of your body, bras, and how they work together to make you look great and feel even better. We hope this crash course in “all things bra” will make your next shopping trip a little easier!