In search of the right bra | Natalie Joseph
Picture this – you’re about to get dressed, you stand naked in front of the mirror, then stare hopelessly into your drawer full of stretched out, torn, discoloured, damaged or too small bras.
If the truth be told all these bras have seen better days. Nonetheless, you’re left wondering which one of those tired looking bras to wear today! Even if you were ready to buy a new one, where would you start?
Do you struggle to find a store where you can get fitted and buy quality lingerie? Or are you overwhelmed with the choice of brands and styles out there?
I know I was, so I’ve spent a very long time finding out all there is to know about bras, right sizes etc. I even decided to launch my own lingerie line catering for women just like me! Unfortunately we’re not quite up and running yet, but in the meantime I can still be of help – I hope 😉
Here are a handful of useful tips to help you find the correct fit, store and brands to tailor to your bra needs.
How often should I get measured or fitted for a bra?
Ideally, aim to be fitted twice a year, because our bodies can fluctuate in weight at different times , due to temperature, menstruation, weight gain or weight loss.
Some bra fitters prefer to use a measuring tape to get an accurate measurement of your back and breasts, whilst others use their trained eye to estimate your size. A good bra fitter will then get you to try on a few brands to find a good fit.
How to determine a good fit?
A new bra will feel comfortably snug (about 2 finger width near your spine) with the loosest hook & eye on. As bras stretch overtime with normal wearing, gradually you’ll need to move your hook & eye inward to adjust the band.
If the band lifts when you raise your arms, then a smaller band is required. In this case you may need to increase the cup size and adjust the straps, so that the underwire sits flat against your body and stay in place when your arms are lifted.
If the underwire digs in under the arm or the bust is bulging over the cups, a larger cup size is needed. Your breasts should be totally encased within the cup and underwire.
Very few people have symmetric breasts. If you’re a little uneven, try a stretch lace bra, as this will stretch to fit to the breast. Alternatively, look for a bra that has removable pads and remove them accordingly, or add a breast pad under the cup that holds the smaller bust.
You should adjust your shoulder straps with each wear and wash so that you feel comfortable and supported.
How should I wash my underwired bras?
Underwired bras should be hand-washed in lukewarm soapy water (no need for fabric softener) to prevent the tip of the underwire poking through the wire-casing. Always attach the hook and eye before washing, gently rub it with your hands and hang it for drying.
Do not spin, tumble dry, dry clean or iron because direct heat will melt the underwire and the protective tip, therefore making the end sharp and dangerous. You should aim to wash your bras after every 2 to 3 wears to remove the oils released by your skin as this will affect the elasticity within the strap.
Which brands will best fit?
Always try on different brands of bras for comfort and fit as they vary in size and shape. Some popular brands with a wide selection of styles and sizes are M&S brands, Triumph, Fantasie, Elomi Lingerie, Curvy Kate, Nubian Skin and Agent Provocateur.
When it comes to a sports bra, the fit should feel tighter to keep you more supported. Shock Absorber, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and Freya all have a great selection to choose from.
Leading brands such as Nicola Jane, Anita and Royce Lingerie specialise in wire-free bras for mastectomy or maternity wear, or for women who prefer a soft cup bra.
Which UK stores have the best selection of bras?
With so many stores to choose from I’ve narrowed down the list which offers a wide range of brands and an expert bra fitting service: Rigby & Peller, Bravissimo, M&S, Selfridges, John Lewis and Lingerie Outlet Store.
It’s always worth visiting online stores such as Figleaves, Brastop.com, Boux Avenue and Pink Ribbon Lingerie as they cater all for bust sizes, in particular maternity, mastectomy, larger cups wearers.
What style do you wear?
With so many styles to choose from I’d always recommend you to try before you buy as each brand varies in sizes, and ultimately you need to be comfortable and feel supported in your bra for the duration of a day.