BY MOLLY WILKENS
A bra that doesn’t fit right can cause back
problems, muscle tension, and even headaches. A bra that is fitted right can make our clothes fit better and even make us look pounds thinner.
A woman’s relationship with her bra is complex. Getting the right fit can be maddening. Seven out of ten women are not wearing the right size bra, according to experts. This is not healthy for your breasts, back, and shoulders—especially if the breasts are in a bra that’s too tight.
I went to several stores in North Macon’s The Shoppes at River Crossing to find out if I, like many others, was wearing an ill-fitted bra.
The folks at Victoria’s Secret (victoriassecret.com) recommend a professional fitting to get the best fit. These are available free of charge at most major department stores and at Victoria’s Secret. But you can do it yourself by following the instructions below:
Measure around the ribcage, just under
the breasts, with a flexible measuring
tape; add the number 5 to this measure-
ment. This will give you your band size.
Then measure around the fullest part
if the breast with a bra on. Some reco-
mend wearing your favorite bra for this
step in order to mimic what type of bra
you’re looking for.
Next, subtract this number from your
band measurement. The resulting num-
ber will indicate your cup size using this
guide from Good Housekeeping
Another measuring technique from BareNecessities.com, a company dedicated to bra fit and fashion, includes the following (a picture guide is available on their website):
uMeasure under your arms, high on your
back, across the top of your chest. If this
measurement is an even number, this is
your band size. If an odd number, add 1”
to determine your band size.
uMeasure loosely around the fullest
part of your bust. Next, subtract your
band measurement from your bust
measurement; each inch represents a cup
size. For example: if your band
measurement is 34” and your bust
measurement is 36”, the difference
between these measurements is two
inches, and you’d wear a B-cup. (http://
I went into three local stores to try and find the right size bra. Each of them did the exact same thing that I recommended above to take the actual measurements.
At first I was a little embarrassed to ask, especially when the young lady from my first stop Victoria’s Secret, asked if I wanted to do it on the store floor or in a dressing room. I opted for the dressing room, because I thought I would need to take my shirt off. Of course I did not have to do that, and it took less than 30 seconds to measure me.
I found out quickly that even with the measurement, the sizing can be a little off because of breast shape, but it gives a good place to start. The thing I loved about Victoria’s Secret was that they have every style bra they carry in boxes, by size; and they have you try all the ones on at once. It makes finding the right style bra so much easier and less intimidating. I also found out they now carry sports bras!
For those of you who are still a ittle
gun-shy about getting a bra fitting, Dillard’s has a lovely online tool for you. They have created “Pheobe the ‘fIt’ Girl”, as an alter ego to their Regional Lingerie Director, Sandra Palacio. They even have a YouTube video, demonstrating a bra fitting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNfouTlZ3yM) and a Facebook page dedicated to Phoebe. But I actially didn’t find all of this out until I went in to Dillard’s.
Next I went into Dillard’s intimate wear department. While the measuring procedure was the same, the dressing room was more spacious and had a boudoir atmosphere. I found a great fit in a bra here as well.
And last I stopped by Lane Bryant and worked with Myesia and Rosa. I learned here that a lot of larger sized women can find their special larger sizes here, and that the plus sized ladies have just as hard of a time as others who are less endowed.
Did the tips above make a difference for me? They certainly did! I found out I was one of those in the wrong size! I also found it’s best to start out using the hooks on the outermost side of the bra, so that when the fabric stretches—and it will—you can still tighten it up.
You will want to also consider cup type, demi or full coverage, underwire or not, padding or not, as well as material type such as lace versus cotton. Once you get over the fear of getting fitted and having to try on multiple bras, it really is an exciting and victorious feeling in capturing the right fit! Happy hunting!
Choosing a Mastectomy Bra
Assuming that you have not had breast reconstruction following your mastectomy, you’ll be looking for a special mastectomy bra designed with stretch pockets inside the cups. A mastectomy prosthesis can be had as fiberfill forms, silicone forms, foam forms, and gel forms. You’ll need to educate yourself on which will work best suited for you. The prosthesis slips snugly inside the pocket. For this reason, it’s important to choose a bra that fits correctly. A properly-fitted mastectomy bra will ensure that the breast form rests firmly against the chest and doesn’t slip from side to side, up or down. Mastectomy bras are usually purchased at a specialty shop. A certified mastectomy-bra fitter can help you. Both the prosthesis and the mastectomy bra are often covered by medical insurance.
Choosing the right fit differs depending on whether one or both breasts have been removed. Single mastectomy patients should choose a breast form in the same cup size as the existing breast, of course. Thus, measuring for the bra size is exactly the same as that for a regular bra. Double mastectomy patients can choose any cup size when it comes to breast forms. Most patients feel most comfortable choosing prostheses that are the same as her former cup size. However, it is possible to choose a smaller or larger cup size if preferred. It’s usually recommended in this case not to go more than one cup size larger or smaller. It’s also recommended to choose a shape that conforms to your body shape/type. Mastectomy bra styles can be as varied as regular bra styles; they don’t have to be ugly. Finding the right one can make for a more natural transition.
Be sure to see our article on reconstruction after mastectomy in this issue.