Am I wearing the right bra?

If you are on this page, the first seeds of doubts have already been sown in your mind. The expensive lacy piece of lingerie you spent a fortune on is perhaps crushing your ribcage. Or worse, you saw the ghost of quadra boob (spillage over the top) in the mirror. Or maybe your shoulders are screaming out in pain. Whatever it is, you have made up your mind to research on the bare bra basics.

Congratulations, you’re already on the right path, and fortunately, the right place!

Let’s start with the basic terms

Best to describe a few basic terms at the start so we are all on the same platform

1. Bra Band – The elasticated back band of your bra, with eyehooks at the end

2. Bra Strap – The narrow strips that rest on your shoulder

3. Bra cups – The cup-shaped fabric encapsulating your breasts

How do I know I’m wearing the wrong bra and what am I doing wrong ?

Moving on to business, let’s summarize the most common symptoms of an ill-fitting bra:

  1. Your breasts just don’t look right in that tight fitting shirt – While easy to attribute to your natural size, trust me when I say that it’s possible to find adequate support and lift for practically ANY chest. I have a very narrow waist and very heavy boobs (30 HH) , and for the first 23 years of my life, I tried to hide behind my father’s oversized tee shirts to hide the droop. Now that I’ve finally learnt the art of bra selection, I can wear anything I want without looking saggy or frumpy or oozing out of my top.
  2. Your bras feel just right in the store, and lose their fit after one wear –  Band size too large. Often seen along with another symptom – bra-band riding up the back
  3. Your boobs spill over the top – Case of cup size too small (have hope, it can be fixed)
  4. Your shoulders hurt after a couple of hours of wearing the bra and/or the bra cuts into your shoulders – Bra straps too tight, probably to compensate for lack of support in the bra. Can be fixed by buying the right bra design and size. Did you know that 80% of support should come from your bra band and your shoulder straps are pretty much only there to keep the bra on your body! 
  5. The bra hurts your ribcage – Band size too small, again perhaps to compensate for lack of support in cup design
  6. The underwire cuts into your flesh – Wrong cup design. More difficult to fix than 1 to 5, especially for the busty ones

So what should I do to get a good fit in my bra?

1. Determine your absolute underband size in inches/cms– Measure the narrowest portion of your waist using a measuring tape. This is the portion of your ribcage right under your breasts.  Make sure the tape is parallel to the ground for an accurate measurement. This measurement is your absolute underband size in cms/inches. Let’s say your band size is 28 inches/ 71 cms. (FYI – 1 inch = 2.54 cms)

2. Convert your absolute underband size  to the BRAND underband size – All brands define bra sizes on different scales. What this means is, that in Brand A, you need band size 28, while in Brand B, you might need band size 30, . It is important to refer to “Sizing Tables” provided by brands to translate your absolute band size to the Brand band size.

I’ve done a sample conversion  in the figure below:


3. Determine your absolute overbust size in inches/cms- Measure the largest portion of your breasts, while wearing your best bra. Let’s assume your breast size is 38 inches/ 96.5 cm. This is your absolute overbust size.

4. Convert your absolute underbust size to the BRAND cup size – Same logic as Step 2 applies here. Continuing with the same example, we read along identified row of band size 32″  and locate 96 cms (that is, F)

5. Put Step 2 and Step 4 together – Band size is 32″, as per Step 2. Cup size is F. Ta da da, the right bra size is 32 F.

Note – While this method will work in 8 cases out of 10, you still need to experiment with bras basis the length and shape of your breasts.

I will be covering the exceptions in future posts.

6. Additional Notes: Always wear your bra in the outermost hook – that is, the loosest setting on the band. This will ensure your bras last longer – when the elastic gets loose, you can just move to the next hook!

Also, while tightening your shoulder straps, make sure you can run one finger under the band easily. If these settings are not providing good support, you are probably trying on the wrong bra.

I will cover the test of a good bra in my next post!

Thanks for reading. Hope this helps!

Feel free to post any queries in the comments section.