HOW TO BUY A WELL FITTING BRA
1. Go to a professional fitter
One of our staff testers had been wearing a 38B for years. So you can imagine her surprise when a professional fitter broke the news to her that she was actually a 36C. "Unbelievable!" the staffer exclaimed. "But you know what? The 36C feels much better — more supportive and comfortable." Her advice? Get thee to a professional fitter; nearly every department store has one. Or, if you're strapped for time, at least check your measurements yourself. Keep in mind, though, that bras are like shoes: No two fit the same. You have to try them on.
2. Take your measurements
Not only will a properly fitted bra feel more comfortable, but it will make your clothes fit and look better. So learn how to do the math, so you can figure out your own dimensions:
Step #1: Stand straight and relax. Don't inhale and expand your rib cage as if you're about to blow out candles.
Step #2: Using a soft tape measure, measure all the way around your body, placing the tape measure right beneath your breasts (example: 30 1/2). If your measurement is an even number, add four to that number. And if you're an odd number, add five, rounding up if necessary to the next even number. Congratulations: That's your band size.
Step #3: While wearing a bra, measure completely around the fullest part of your bust (across the nipple) without pulling tight. Make sure the tape measure goes around your entire back. Do this in front of a mirror so that you can make sure the measuring tape isn't dipping down in the back.
Step #4: Subtract the number from your band size (38 - 36 = 2). The result will indicate your appropriate cup size, based on the following guide:
0 = AA
1 = A
2 = B
3 = C
4 = D
5 = DD
6 = DDD
3. Make sure it fits.
The mistake many of us make is settling for a bra that's close enough, rather than holding out for one that's perfect. How to know if you've got an ideal model? The most important consideration is comfort. Here's what to check for next:
• While putting on the bra, bend over and allow your breasts to fall naturally into the cups. Stand slowly and adjust the bra: Put a hand to each breast and raise the nipple so that it's at the center of the cup. The center of the bra should lie flat against the breastbone. Be sure there is no gap.
• Check that the bra cups are smooth, with no wrinkles.
• Finally, turn to the side and look in a mirror to see whether the back of the bra hikes up. If it does, then the bra doesn't fit correctly. The back of the bra should rest comfortably against the middle of your back.
• The band should be snug on the loosest hook so that when the band stretches, you can continue to tighten it and get more life out of your bra.
Written by Joyce Blackwell