How to Buy the Best Bra for Your Body

Did you know that the average woman’s bra size changes six times throughout her life? Weight loss, weight gain, exercise, pregnancy and hormones are all contributors to our ever changing bustlines. Unfortunately, many of us tend to overlook these factors when we’re shopping for the most important foundation garment of our wardrobe! Wearing the correct bra will keep your breasts from sagging, ease back, shoulder and neck pain, and help you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin. But, if you’re like many women, chances are you’re not wearing the one that offers the best support for your unique body.  
Your bra collection should be replaced several times each year in order to achieve the best support and fit. So, if you’re still hanging on to those bras you wore 10 years ago (or even 10 months ago, for that matter), you’re due for a bra shopping spree. The elasticity, shape and color of bras typically don’t last longer than a few months--especially when you wash them regularly in a washing machine. If you wash your bras by hand, they’ll last a few months longer than that, but no matter how well you take care of your bras, you should still shop for new ones on a regular basis to ensure your breasts are supported properly.
If you’re confused about what type of bra you should be buying, the following tips will point you in the right direction before you shop for this essential, highly overlooked wardrobe piece.
Understand the Top Bra Styles
Not every bra is created equal. Some bras are meant to be worn under your favorite t-shirt while others should be worn with formal frocks. These four styles will help you decide which type of bra you need to be on the hunt for before you head out on your shopping trip.
  • T-shirt Bra: This type of bra offers everyday support that’s seamless, soft and super comfy! Made from fabric that won’t stick to even the tightest-fitting t-shirt, this bra style is designed to be less noticeable so it won’t show through thin fabrics. T-shirt bras also come with or without underwire.
  • Demi Bra: This bra style is designed with wide-set straps--perfect for wearing with low necklines and dresses. Demi bras offer just the lower half of the cup which helps to define and enhance cleavage. Because this bra type offers less support, you shouldn’t wear it every day, and only on special occasions.
  • Strapless Bra: This style of bra is designed to offer the best support and full coverage under any type of strapless clothing. A strapless bra can come with or without underwire and in a variety of styles from push-ups for formal attire to bandeaus to wear under casual tops. Convertible bras also fall under this category as they come with removable straps that can be worn several ways.
  • Push-up Bra: The most popular bra style of all is the miraculous push-up! Designed with more padding in the lower cup to create the “push-up” effect, plus underwire, this type of bra is perfect to wear under both casual and formal clothing when you need a bit of a boost.

Know What to Look for When Trying on Bras
The best fitting bra for you will depend on the style, fabric type and brand you choose. Don’t be shy about trying on a variety of the aforementioned bra types at the department store or heading into a specialty lingerie boutique. It’s important to take your time when you’re shopping for a bra because you just might find the best support in a style or manufacturer you never dreamt of wearing before.

When browsing for a perfect bra, make sure it... 
  • rests firmly (and not too tight) against your rib cage.
  • lies level from front to back across the bodice.
  • has shoulder straps that fit closely to your body without digging into your skin.
  • offers enough lift so that your breasts rest on the wall of your chest.
  • contains straps that don’t move an inch when you make everyday arm movements--and especially when you raise your arms above your head.  
  • provides you with cups that can be filled by your breasts without cleavage spilling out of the sides or top, and covers the sides of your breasts completely.
  • offers wires that lie flat on the breast bone in order to support both the sides and undersides of your breasts without signs of gaping, digging or loose fabric.
Schedule a Professional Bra Fitting
Whether you’ve lost weight, just given birth or are buying your first bra, you should plan to see a professional bra-fitting specialist at a major department store or specialty lingerie boutique once each year to find the most comfortable fit. The best bra-fitting specialists will treat you with respect, answer your questions honestly and not try to sell you anything you’re not comfortable with purchasing. Be on the lookout for heavy sales pitches, because if the specialist is pressuring you to buy things you don’t necessarily need, the store doesn’t have your best interest in mind, and you should probably look elsewhere for a fitting.
A good bra-fitting specialist will... 
  • ask you a bunch of questions about your current bras, including what size you’ve been wearing and whether or not you experience pain or discomfort throughout the day.
  • thoroughly evaluate the bra you’re wearing when you come in for the fitting.
  • use a tape measure to take two or three measurements of your full bust and chest.
  • let you know if your current bra size isn’t working for you.
  • help you try on a variety of bra styles in order to find your best, most supportive fit. 
After your fitting, you should leave the store feeling confident that the bra-fitting specialist helped you make the right choices. You should also feel equipped with new bra know-how so you can pick out bras on your own the next time you shop.   
Learn How to Measure Yourself
Knowing how to measure yourself between professional bra fittings is essential, especially if you tend to lose or gain weight throughout the year. Even if your weight fluctuates by just 10 percent, you’re due for a new bra size. The good news is that you don’t have to head back in for a lengthy professional fitting more than once a year if you just follow these three easy steps to measure yourself in the comfort of your own home.  
1. Find Your Band Size
Stand up straight, keeping your arms at your sides. Use a tape measure to snugly measure around your back, under your armpits and under your bust. If you wind up with an even number, add 4 inches. If you wind up with an odd number, add 5 inches. For example, if you measure 32 inches, your ideal band size will be a 36.
2. Figure Out Your Bust Size
Stand up straight with your arms at your sides. Once again use a tape measure to snugly measure around your back, underneath your armpits and this time, around the fullest part of your bust. If you see that this measurement falls between whole numbers, round up. For example, if you measure 36 1/2, your bust size is a 37.
3. Calculate Your Cup Size
The final step is to subtract your bust size measurement from your band size measurement. The answer to this simple math problem will provide you with your ideal cup size. In this case, the difference is 1 which means the correct bra size is an A cup.

This chart will allow you to easily figure out your bra cup size based on your own results:
Difference Cup Size
Less than 1 inch AA
1 inch A
2 inches B
3 inches C
4 inches D
5 inches DD or E
6 inches DDD or F
7 inches G

Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge in finding the best everyday bra for your body, the next step is to figure out what type of sports bra you should be wearing. That way, you’ll feel confident and comfortable during your most active days, too!