I Bet You’re Wearing the Wrong Bra Size. Here’s How I Know!

posted: 08/17/16
by: Rebecca Goldberg

There are few better feelings than getting home after a long day and taking off your bra. I've heard countless women, both young and old, express this very sentiment. Regardless of your height, weight or cup size, letting the ladies fly free after keeping them strapped down all day is simply a wonderful feeling. Considering the bra is an article of clothing that we're all very familiar with, it surprised me to learn that more than 80% of women are wearing bras that aren't the correct size! Right about now, you're probably thinking that the size you're wearing is correct or at the very least 'good enough.' Let me assure you, that's the wrong mindset to have.

Read on to learn how a *proper* bra fitting can make a world of difference, and hear what certified bra fitter, Stacey Campbell, had to say in response to our many bra questions!

After hearing the 80% statistic, I went home and dumped the contents of my bra drawer onto my bed. I had somehow accumulated over 40 bras of various sizes. (I know, it's ridiculous.) I laid across the blanket of bras, coming to terms with the realization that I had no clue what my size was. After lamenting the money I'd clearly wasted over the years, I scouted out a local bra boutique.

Le Bustiere Boutique
Le Bustiere Boutique, Washington D.C.

As I walked into Le Bustiere Boutique, I thought to myself, did I come to the right place? Upon first glance, it didn't look like the chain stores I'm used to. The selection was smaller, there was a lot of sheer lace, and I hadn't spotted even one classic 't-shirt bra.' I reminded myself that all the other shops from the past hadn't served me well, and I proceeded to put myself in Stacey's capable hands. She got out the measuring tape, did her thing, and proceeded to tell me a number that I hadn't been told in any previous fitting. Stacey said that while many woman wear bras that are too small for them, I was wearing bras too big for me.

bra fitting

Stacey began to bring bras in and out of the dressing room. Unlike other stores where I'd been hesitant to ask too many questions, Stacey welcomed them. This is the benefit of coming to a place where a trained professional is fully focused on you for the entire appointment and genuinely wants your feedback. This type of attention allows the fitter to figure out what fits best and what you like. You may look at a bra and think to yourself "I don't like how this makes me look." A trained fitter can figure out exactly what about the cut of that bra is making you feel that way, and use that information to not only bring you choices you'll be happy with but also tell you what types of bras you should stay away from.

The bras I tried on were definitely not what I was used to and I was initially skeptical of the thin fabrics. But by the latter end of the appointment, every bra Stacey brought in was a winner. She'd quickly picked up on my preferences, figured out what cut would minimize the areas that I'm self-conscious about, and helped me to select a handful of versatile, supportive and comfortable options.

Le Bustiere Boutique, Washington D.C.
Le Bustiere Boutique, Washington D.C.

Forget my bat mitzvah, this was my true entrance into womanhood! A bra mitzvah!

This was a slightly pricey endeavor for my millennial bank account--but for something that I wear against my bare skin every day, I consider it money well spent. In less than an hour, I had become a one-woman bra brigade. With a desire to share my learnings with others, I asked Stacey if I could interview her. She loved the idea, and was as supportive as the bras I'd bought!

For those of you who are inspired to get a one-on-one brappointment, I hope that this sends you in with confidence. For those of you who aren't, I hope that this--at the very least--helps to guide you in your future bra purchases.

Remember... just like a friend, a good bra is hard to find, comfortable, and always there to lift you up!

Interview with Stacey Campbell, La Bustiere Boutique:

How did you become a certified bra fitter?

I started learning before I was even wearing bras. Growing up, my mother was very adamant about having proper undergarments. My formal training started 20 years ago at le Vie en Rose, and it had a very strict fit culture. After three years of bra fitting training, I got certified.

What can one expect from their first bra fitting and what advice would you offer?

The first fitting is always a little daunting because people are shy about someone seeing their breasts. The best thing to know is that the fitter you are working with is a professional and wants the best outcome for you. Communication is key. Tell them what outcome you are hoping for while being realistic. If you are not comfortable with the fitter, ask for someone else.

What differentiates a specialty bra boutique from your run-of-the-mill store?

At boutiques like Le Bustiere, we work closely with every client to ensure that they are happy with the results before they leave. We explain why certain bras work best for your body type, breast shape and lifestyle. We also get into 'bra styling,' a fancy term for wearing the right bra for the outfit.

What are the tell-tale signs that your bra doesn't fit right?

There are so many! Here are a few of the key signs:

  • If the bra cup moves away from your body when you are standing straight.
  • If the bra cuts in to the breast tissue, creating the 'bubble boob' effect.
  • If there is space between the bra and your body.
  • If you're constantly adjusting.
  • If you can see breast tissue under the bra when you raise your arms.

What are the negative impacts of wearing the wrong bra size?

For those with larger busts, the impacts are obvious: health issues such as back, shoulder and nerve pain. But no matter the chest size, a poorly fitting bra can affect the breast tissue. If the breast tissue is not supported, then the dreaded decline of firmness (sagging) will start to occur.

The wrong size bra can also affect the fit of your clothes. I find that many clients go down a size in clothing after being fitted in a bra properly.

These boutiques aren't necessarily the cheaper option. What makes it worth the price?

A good bra is going to start in the $60 range. This may be more than some hope to spend, but what I tell clients know is that a bra is a foundation. I compare bras to a house. The foundation is the most important part of a home. You must get the foundation right so that the building will be strong, sturdy, and look great. Bras are the same. They're engineered and designed to make whatever goes on top of them look good. At Le Bustiere, we know our clients are looking for beautiful, styled items. Thus, we seek out the best from all over the world, while still trying to be sensitive to prices. You know when you come to this type of boutique that you're going to find amazing styles and service, with a price tag that might be a bit higher but well worth it.

Standard cup bra vs lace bras:

There are two cups types for bras: molded (t-shirt) and non-molded (cut and sewn.) Contrary to what many think, molded bras do not offer better support than the thinner sheer bras. The cut and sewn bra is actually more supportive and enhances your natural shape. We have basics like t-shirt bras, we just don't place them on display. The customer who wants the basic molded cup will typically ask for it by name. That bra has a place in everyone's wardrobe, we just feel it shouldn't be every day. Shake it up a bit!

Bra care 101 and maintenance:

It's best practice to hand wash all bras. Most have elastin fibers which give it the stretch, so using a gentle but strong wash is key to protecting that material. You can use a lingerie wash or another traditional product that's made for natural fibers. Retiring the bra is a whole other story. Every item has a wear life, and those lifespans vary. Bras for a smaller bust will last longer than one for a larger bust. Wearing the same bra everyday will naturally break down the fibers. Oils, salt and sweat on your body naturally break down the fabric. Pair that with daily wear and tear, and it will only be supportive for approximately six months. For larger breasts, the time can be even shorter. I suggest having a handful of bras in rotation. This will give you the best support and ensure that your bras last for up to a year. So wear one, and then be sure to rest it the next day.

How does one determine which bras to buy?

My suggestion is to look at your lifestyle and your existing wardrobe. Take a look at what kinds of clothes you most often wear. Then take your time and build a bra wardrobe to match that. Remember, these items are for the most intimate and sensitive parts of your body. They should be selected with care.

What does each style of bra offer?

Strapless bras are convertible (meaning they have straps to cross or halter) and this makes them versatile. They're a must! Plunging 'V' bras are great if you wear a lot of deep cut shirts, button up/woven fabrics, and wrap dresses. A demi bra is a great sexy option that offers lift and is best suited for low cut tops--but not every bust size is a good fit for this style. A full coverage bra is self-explanatory. It offers the ultimate support and coverage, and is a comfortable choice for women with larger busts. Seamless bras are perfect for lighter and sheer fabrics. Push-up bras are really not necessary, unless you have a smaller band and chest size (like an A or B cup.) If you have the right support in a bra, you will have a natural lift which creates the peaks and valleys without the help of a push-up.

All that aside, I think the most important thing to consider when selecting a bra is asking yourself how it makes you feel. Not just fit and comfort, but also emotionally. Does it make you feel beautiful? It should!

Le Bustiere Boutique, Washington D.C.
Le Bustiere Boutique, Washington D.C.