How to Choose the Right Bra

Four Parts:Finding Your Bra SizeEnsuring a Good FitChoosing the Right StyleCommon Issues

Every woman deserves to be comfortable in her bra. Bras--just like bodies and breasts--come in just about every shape, size, and color imaginable. The enormous variety can be overwhelming when you don't know where to start. By learning your correct measurements, getting familiar with your body and breast shape, and considering when and where you plan to wear your bra, you'll be able to find the perfect bra in no time.

Part 1
Finding Your Bra Size

  1. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 1
    Put on a comfortable, well-fitting, non-padded bra. Choose the bra you feel most comfortable in--it should be snug but not dig into your sides.[1] Your nipples should be about halfway between your elbow and shoulder. If they are lower, tighten the straps to lift.[2]
    • You can also measure without a bra, but it may be slightly more challenging when things can move around.
  2. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 2
    Find your band size. Standing in front of a mirror, use a soft tape measurer to measure around your ribs right under your breasts. This is also where the band of your bra wraps around your torso. Pull the tape tight. Write down this measurement.[3]
    • Use the mirror to make sure the tape is exactly parallel to the floor. If the measuring tape is not in a straight line around your body and at an angle, you will not get an accurate measurement.[4]
    • Don't pull the tape so tight it's like you are wearing a corset. Just make sure it is squeezing your body snugly.[5]
    • If your measurement is a fraction (like 33 1/2 inches), round up to the nearest whole number (34 inches).[6]
    • Band sizes are measured in even numbers, so if your measurement was odd, you may want to try one size up and one size down (if you measure 35 inches, try both the 34 and the 36 size bra), but round up for now.[7]
  3. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 3
    Find your bust size. Wrap the measuring tape around your back and measure your breasts at their fullest point, usually at the nipple.[8] Write down this measurement.
    • Because your cup size can fluctuate based on hormones and bloating, try to measure on a day when your breasts feel relatively normal.[9]
    • If you are concerned about your posture (maybe you slouch), try bending forward at the hips to a 90 degree angle, or until your body forms an L shape. Then measure your bust from that position.[10]
    • Don't pull the tape tight like you did with your band measurement.
    • As with the band measurement, round up to the nearest whole number if your measurement is a fraction.[11]
    • Again, be certain the tape is straight across your back. The measuring tape should not angle up from your back toward your nipples.
    • All women have one breast that is larger than the other, so be sure you are measuring to the fuller breast.[12]
  4. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 4
    Subtract your band size from your bust size. The difference between these two numbers is your key to finding your cup size. A 1 inch difference = A cup. 2 inch = B cup. 3 inch = C cup. 4 inch = D cup. 5 inch = DD cup.[13]
    • Once you go above 5 inches (12.7 cm), cup sizes will differ with each company. There should be a sizing chart on the company's website and you can use your band and bust measurement to find which cup you want.[14]
  5. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 5
    Combine the cup size with your band measurement, and you have your final bra size. So, a 34C means you have a 34 inch band and a C cup.
  6. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 6
    Remember that the cup size is not the same for each band size. A 34B cup will be smaller than a 36B cup. When trying on bras, if you change band sizes you, will also have to change cup sizes.
    • If you need a larger band size, go down a cup size. So instead of 34B, you'll want 36A.
    • If you need a smaller band size, go up a cup size. Instead of 34B, go for 32C.
    • It is more important to have an accurate band measurement than cup measurement. Going up or down a band size is a more significant change than going up or down a cup size. Get a comfortable band first and then fine tune with the cup size.[15]
  7. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 7
    Get help from a professional if you need it. If you aren't sure you're doing it right, want a second opinion, or just don't feel like measuring yourself, stop into any bra or lingerie store or department and ask a sales associate for help. Helping customers find the best bra is part of their job, and they will know exactly what to do.

Part 2
Ensuring a Good Fit

  1. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 8
    Hook the bra so it is hanging around your waist. Make sure the straps are loose--you can tighten them later if you need to.[16]
    • If you have trouble hooking a bra behind your back, you can hook the bra at the front and then twist it around your waist so the hooks are at your spine.
  2. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 9
    Lean forward and pull the bra up from the front only, sliding your arms through the straps. The cups may feel empty or a little too big at this point, but that's ok. The band should be snug and low on your back.[17]
  3. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 10
    Lean forward and, using the opposite hand, reach into the bra and pull the soft flesh near your armpits into the cup. Pull all the soft flesh forward and up. Then hold the bra in the center between the two cups and jiggle it.[18]
  4. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 11
    Check the fit and tighten the straps. Straps shouldn't be so tight they dig into your shoulders, but there should be no slack.[19]
    • Does the bra pinch your breasts or make it look like you have four boobs? Then it's the wrong size.[20]
    • Your nipples should be about halfway between your shoulder and elbow.[21]
    • If your breasts are spilling out of the sides of your bra, you need a different size.[22]
  5. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 12
    Remember your bra size is not permanent and will change along with your body. Just because you are a 34C now doesn't mean you will always have those same measurements. If you've gone through a major body change or your bra doesn't feel right, take your measurements again.
    • Get refitted if your weight has fluctuated more than 10 pounds, you've had a baby, started exercising regularly, or have completed hormone therapy.[23]

Part 3
Choosing the Right Style

  1. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 13
    Get to know your breasts. The size and shape of your breasts may impact your bra size and influence which style is most flattering to your body. Breasts and bodies come in every shape and size. Instead of worrying that your breasts don't look like a Victoria Secret Model's, concentrate on dressing for your body and finding what looks best on you.
    • Examine detailed fitting guides that recommend bras for many different shapes and types of breasts. They make suggestions for women with prominent breast bones, large areolas, distended stomachs, and more.
  2. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 14
    Consider the function of the bra you are buying. Is this an everyday bra to wear under a t-shirt? Do you wear a lot of low-cut shirts or are you planning to wear a backless dress? Maybe you can only afford one bra and need something with versatility? There are tons of possibilities for different styles, cuts, and fits.
    • Check out a guide to the pros and cons of different bra styles, and on which bodies and breast shapes they work best.
    • A seamless bra can be a great everyday bra to wear under T-shirt or with other form-fitting clothes, as it will be almost invisible underneath.[24]
  3. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 15
    Buy a sports bra for exercising. If your breasts bounce or move too much during activity, the supportive ligaments begin to break down.[25] Bouncing can also become very painful, and the discomfort may eventually prevent you from participating in activities.
    • Check the impact or intensity level when shopping for a sports bra. A low-impact bra works great for yoga or hiking. A high-impact bra is necessary for activities like running.[26]
    • Smaller-breasted women are usually comfortable in compression bras (that give the appearance of a "unibreast") and look like a cropped tank top.
    • For larger-breasted women, an bra that cups and encapsulates each breast may be more comfortable and inhibit bouncing. These bras have wide straps and clasps.[27]
    • You may also find a bra that combines compression and encapsulation, which will give you the best support overall.[28]

Part 4
Common Issues

  1. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 16
    Check that the cups are smooth and the edges lie flat against your chest. If the cups are wrinkled or look pointy, you may not be filling out the cup and need a smaller size. If you are spilling out of the cups or feel pinched, try a larger cup size.[29]
  2. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 17
    Make sure the bra band is snug and low in the back. The band can be parallel to the floor but should angle no higher. If the band is too high, the bra cannot provide proper support.[30] Try a smaller band size or tightening the straps.
  3. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 18
    Make sure the straps stay in place but don't dig into your shoulders. Your straps should not provide the majority of the support. If you're relying on the shoulder straps to keep your breasts lifted, you may actually need a smaller band size.
    • If your shoulders are sloping or narrow, try a bra with a leotard back, a racerback bra, or buy a special clip that will keep your straps from slipping off your shoulders.[31]
  4. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 19
    Check that the underwire doesn't dig into your chest or pinch your skin. The wires should not bend outward in the center. Try a larger size or consider a bra without an underwire.[32]
    • Many women choose to wear a bra with an underwire, but a soft-fit bra that is properly fitted can provide equal support. Go with whatever feels most comfortable to you.[33]
  5. Image titled Choose the Right Bra Step 20
    Make sure the band isn't too tight. Run a finger under the front of your band. If you can't slide your finger under the band, your bra may be hooked too tight or you need a larger band size.[34]
    • If your bra becomes uncomfortable when you sit, try a larger band or a bra with and arched center panel. Your ribs expand when you are in a seated position. You want your bra to be comfortable whether you're on your feet or in a chair.[35]


  • Don't be afraid to ask a store associate to help, that's what they're paid for and they will be incredibly useful in finding you the right bra.
  • If you find "the one," and you can afford it, buy a few of them.
  • Don't put your bras in the drier. They will last longer. They will last even longer if you wash them on a delicate cycle in a lingerie bag.

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Categories: Brassieres