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The How-To Lounge: Buying a Bra That Fits!

In case you didn't know, it's National Bra Fit Week! Since Susan Nethero, an expert bra fitter, says that 85 percent of women in America wear the wrong size bra, what better time than now to help you all find one that does? So if you're still buying the same size bra you wore in college or if you're wearing bras you owned before your pregnancy, it's time for you to go bra shopping!

To see some helpful tips

  • Get measured by a professional. Go to any department store's lingerie department and ask for a proper bra fitting.
  • The band (the part that goes around your back) provides 90 percent of the support, so make sure to measure your ribcage carefully. You can wear your clothing to take this measurement, but don't wear a bulky sweater or jacket. It's better, really, to not wear any clothes at all. These ladies have seen it all before so don't be shy!
  • Make sure to secure the bra on the last hook (the loosest notch) when trying it on, because your bra will stretch with wear and you'll need the ability to tighten it later. Make sure the band fits snugly, but not so that it creates a back roll.
  • Slip your shirt or blouse back on so you can be certain the bra looks and fits well under your clothing.
  • When determining your cup size, bend over at the waist and shimmy your way into the bra. This will evenly distribute your weight into cups.
  • If the band of your bra rides up your back, it's the wrong size. The straps of your bra should not slip from your shoulders or dig into them. Straps should be about 10 percent of the support; remember, 90 percent of the support comes from the band.

While there's a time and a place for sexy lingerie, your everyday bra should be about comfort and support. If you're wearing a bra that's too small and you spill out of the cup, you could be causing a loss of firmness — and you don't want to smash your breast tissue! Also, if you're wearing a bra that you can't fill out, you could be causing stretch marks, so the proper size really is more important than you think! And if you'd like a brief lesson on the history of the bra, check out what our friends at the Frisky have to say!


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
When I'm measured I always end up with a bra that is too big. I don't really think they know what they are doing since I've seen so many different guidelines floating around out there. There needs to be on universal way.
starbright14 starbright14 9 years
Do NOT go to Victoria's Secret to get fitted! Because they carry a fairly limited range of sizes, they seem to always lie instead of admitting they don't carry my size. They ALWAYS size me at a 34B, which rides up and the cups are floppy. When I was sized at Macy's and Nordstrom, I ended up with a 32D - which is perfect. Do yourself a favor and get measured at a good department store.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
wow, i think it says something that i've been reading this site so much that i recognize postings from one-two years ago. ;)
melizzle melizzle 9 years
I also used to sell bras for a while... fitting is a process, not just a one-step, tape measure thing. You have to consider style of bra, material, the way your breasts sit, etc. Get fitted, try lots of stuff on and don't give up. There's a perfect bra out there for everyone.
JustSomeChick JustSomeChick 9 years
I have the hardest time finding bras that fit me well. I am rather small to begin with, and breastfeeding 2 children didn't help with the shape much. Ha. Who'd have thunk that boobs so small could sag... Anywho, it sucks, and I am so frugal that it kills me to spend $50 on a bra at VS. So I find a bra I am comfortable in and stock up. I was measured once at VS and it seems I wear the right size, but I wonder if the fact that I was measured with a push-up bra on affected the accuracy.
britnish britnish 9 years
my mom always tries to tell me i'm a smaller cup size and bigger band size. but then again she is a dd, so that probably warps her sizing guesses
Stacey-Cakes Stacey-Cakes 9 years
Does anyone else have a problem with the straps being too long even if when you tighten them all the way? I have tried a bunch of different brands of bras and I can not find one where the straps either constantly fall down my shoulder or they stick straight up hovering about 3 inches above my collarbone. I understand that I am pretty petite (about 5 '1.5") and my boobs are pretty perky so they are up high...but one brand must make a bra that has shorter straps. Any suggestions?
Marci Marci 9 years
Loveritz, thanks for the tip ont he Biofit bra. I've been putting off buying new bras because the department stores are so overwhelming. To Victoria's Secret I go!
loveritz loveritz 9 years
Do yourselves a favor and go try out the new Biofit bra at Victoria's Secret. I'm 100% obsessed! Hands-down the most comfortable bra I've ever had
Poster-of-a-Girl Poster-of-a-Girl 9 years
agree with misswills! i work in a lingerie department. The generic tape measure formula is not 100% accurate, there is also variation with brands and breast types. The best is to get a sale person to actually spend some time with you and after they measure you, they should help you pick out a few bras and then see you try them on, cuz then we can go from there and also show you what to look for. A lot of women wear a size way too small for them and when you measure them and they find out they are bigger sometimes they get upset :( But you just have to get over the mental block of trying on a bigger size because when you find the one that fits, you'll be much more comfortable, and you will look amazing!
randomname12345 randomname12345 9 years
VS is actually not a very good place to get measured. Most of the girls do the measuring with a tape measurer over your clothes. They use a generic formula to get your bra size. A proper fitter most likely will not use a measuring tape. She'll look at you in your current bra and use a variety of tactics to get you in the right size. Real fitters will also give you lots of suggestions on what would work well with your body and boob type (yes, there are different types of boobs!)
rpenner rpenner 9 years
I always thought I was a B cup. Then I got myself fitted. I am a C cup. Every girl needs to get themselves a proper fitting.
sunshowers83 sunshowers83 9 years
I find that there's too much variation between brands to rely on one measurement, even if it would be considered "correct." I should be a 32B according to the correct method of measurement, but at my favorite lingerie store, not only do the cups make my boobs pointy, but I get side-boob spillage going on as well so I have to go up a cup size. At another store, the 32B cups were fine but the bands were really tight. There is one lady who works at a nearby department store who is legendary for her accuracy - she knows what size you need in just about any brand. However, her methods scare me. She has no qualms about reaching out and grabbing the boobs without warning. No tape measure, just feel and intuition!
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Thanks Liz, I needed to know that!
LizL LizL 9 years
I went to Lady Grace to get measured last year because I am larger up top. I always looked big and bought at 34DD. She measured me, and I was a DDD or FF. The best thing about it was that the right sized bra made me look smaller. This year, I am 6 months pregnant, and my boobs haven't grown at all! I can still wear the same bras. A little hope for all you bustier gals out there.
linb linb 9 years
I've been measured. My bra size is not common. Stores do not carry it. Woe is me.
Sydney-C Sydney-C 9 years
My best friend went and got fitted for her strapless bra to go under her wedding dress last week. To me, she is fairly flat-chested, but the lady told her that she was actually a C! When she told me that, I was like, d*amn, I need to go get measured then, because if you are a C (which I think I am), then apparently I am actually a FF lol
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I love bra shopping. I try to get measured no less than twice a year. I hate seeing women in the wrong bra and it looks like they are saggin when it's the bra. The wrong bra = evil.
gooniette gooniette 9 years
I would definitely recommend a specialty shop for the bustier women here. I got fitted for the first time last month and found out I was way off on my size (band size smaller and cup size way bigger). I finally bought a bra that fits and doesn't cut into my shoulders and cause permanent indentations or ride up in the back because of all the weight in front! It was so nice to choose from a selection in the store as well. That's never happened to me before.
SusanTeufel SusanTeufel 9 years
My Mom always told me I was no bigger than a B, tops. I'm a 36 D.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
I've been measured but I think bras need half sizes or something. I don't think I fit into the strict categories. I'm like a b and a half. lol I don't know. I buy mine at VS and they're pretty good.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I'll never forget when I had VS measure me, they were so off. They told me I was a 34B when I am a 36C. It was too funny.
AujahAcorn AujahAcorn 9 years
i think nordstroms does free measuring this week for bras. if not this week its at some point during the year. you get a cookie also! : )
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I need to go get a new everyday one soon :)
ikimashokie ikimashokie 9 years
Whenever I go to get measured or do it myself, I end up swimming in the band of whatever size it is. I haven't been rightly measured because of this, but when it is time to buy new bras I buy them based on how I feel my current bras are fitting, coupled with the "this means too big/small" rules of buying bras. The first time I was measured, I was made out to be a 36 C/D, and after a few years, I look back and realize that I was probably more of a 34DD or so, since in college I put on weight, and my band size went down... My boyfriend lives 10 minutes away from a Bare Necessities shop, and one of the salesladies said of me that I knew what I was doing when I was bra shopping... I tried Nordstrom as well, but the lady was rude. :(
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