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 How To Choose Bra
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 Exercises & Massage




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When you walk into a lingerie store or boutique and ask about buying a bra, are you asked what color you like, or are the salespeople taking the time to help you to select the correct size and style of bra? There are health, comfort and appearance-related issues involved with selecting the proper bra. If the salespeople take the extra time to ask the right questions, you will be happier with the bra you purchase.

Breasts are possibly a woman's most distinctive feminine feature, adding to her beauty and sex appeal. Despite this, many women do not properly look after their breasts and wear bras which do not fit well, offer little support, and displace the breast tissue, pushing it under the arm or flattening it around the breast wall.

You must think of buying a good, well-fitting bra as an investment with both present and future benefits, not only will it prevent your breasts from drooping in the future, but you will also immediately look slimmer and more in proportion. A bra that bulges and doesn't fit properly will spoil the most expensive dress.

"To get the right results, however, it is very important that you wear your bra correctly. While this may seem silly to women who have been putting on bras for years, there is indeed a proper way to do it."

Signs that your bra is not right for you include

  1. Red marks on your shoulders caused by your bra straps.

  2. Breasts forced over the top of the cup in a double bump.

  3. The center of your bra does not touch the breastbone.

  4. Your breasts are drooping or looking generally out of shape.

  5. Any or all of these signs could indicate that you are wearing the wrong bra size. that's not only uncomfortable, it can also over time, distort the shape of your breasts and cause a variety of health problems, from headaches to backaches and even migraines.

The Correct Size - Do you find that

  1. Your bra rises up at the back, thus not supporting the weight of your bust.

  2. Your shoulders are being pulled forward.

  3. Your bust is not properly supported and falls forward, instead of being in its central position.

  4. As you move, your bust bounces up and down and the straps keep falling off unless you tighten them, in which case they dig into your flesh, causing red marks.

If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you are probably wearing a bra with too large an underband and too small a cup, and you may well be experiencing both shoulder and neck pains.

In addition, because your breast is bigger than the cup, it pushes against the sides of the bra. for an underwired style, this can be harmful, as well as extremely uncomfortable. Remember, your bras should always fit accurately. cups should be just right; not too big, but deep enough to contain the whole of the breast.

The Correct Style

Small Bust

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To make the most of a small bust, try a balcony style bra, with or without padding. this can give you an enhanced neckline, excellent uplift, and a lovely, curvy shape. Half-cup bras also flatter a smaller bust; padding at the sides and under the bust give maximum lift. Avoid bras that have square-cut bust lines; they'll flatten you even more.

Large Bust

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For women with larger busts, wider shoulder and back straps give firm support. Full cups contain the breast better and give a better appearance. Underwired bras provide better support under the bust. Smooth, plain bra styles, without too much lace, help to make your bust appear smaller.

Just as you don't have one pair of shoes to match all of your clothes, you will need at least a couple of different bra styles for your clothes to look good. Tailored suits and shirts look best with a bit of uplift and firmer control, but when you're wearing jeans and a T-shirt, you may just want a soft, seamless bra to shape you and to go with clingy tops. Wear flesh-colored bras to avoid showing through, and backless bras with a low-cut party dress or sun top. Wear dark-colored bras under dark tops; there's nothing worse than showing a glimpse of white bra under a black top.

Also, if you're losing weight or if your weight varies over the course of the month, a bra with a little lycra or stretch is more accommodating and won't crease under clothing. Remember, your breasts will change with diet, pregnancy, exercise, age, and taking the Pill. Women whose breasts inflate before their period should have a special bra for these days, as their size can go up premenstrually. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can make a woman rise one full size in a week. Avoid underwire during pregnancy, as breast may become to fragile and sensitive.

Sports Bras

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Research in Great Britain has found that of the total number of women who exercise, 77 percent don't' wear a sports bra, and of this figure, 19 percent don't wear a bra at all. the remainder wear a regular bra or crop top. This is bad news, considering that any excessive breast movement puts a huge strain on the ligaments that hold the breasts in place, causing them to stretch, and resulting in long-term sagging.

To stay in shape, a well-designed sports bra is as essential as a good pair of trainers; an everyday bra doesn't give enough support during exercise. Sports bras are specially designed to allow complete freedom of movement while holding you firmly in place, and are made from specialized fabrics that channel moisture away from the skin to the outside of the fabric. They come in different shapes and levels of activity, and include seamless cups for a natural outline, racer backs, and cotton-rich materials that allow the skin to breathe.

Health Matters


Wearing the wrong size bra or a badly fitting bra can result in back problems, headaches, neck strain, rashes, and pulled ligaments. This happens when the bust is not well supported by the bra, because your breasts may begin to droop and fall to the bottom of the cup. The breast tissue will role off the chest wall and under the arm, thus pulling on the neck. This can result in headaches, since the muscles being pulled in the shoulders go all the way to the head. Reduced blood flow to the head can cause headaches and backaches, as the extra weight of the bust places more pressure on the back.

These problems can be remedied by wearing the right bra. In this case, an underwire bra will take the strain and open up the chest so that you can breathe properly. It allows the proper blood flow to rebuild.

Some Facts

  1. Breast sizes are growing. The average size has gone from a 34B to a 36C over the past 10 years.

  2. Twenty years ago a DD cup was unusual; now G cups are not uncommon. Changing diet and the Pill are the culprits.

  3. Bra-wearers are getting younger. Twenty years ago, 12 and 13 year old bought teen bras, now eight and nine year olds are taking the plunge.

  4. Today, the biggest selling color is white, while ivory and cream are a close second. In 1971, skin tones were bestsellers, and were second favorite until about five years ago. Tea rose was the favorite from the 1920s through the 1950s.

  5. Higher numbers of separations, divorces, and remarriages have boosted the demand for attractive lingerie.

To make sure you have the right size, check that:

  1. The back of your bra does not ride up, otherwise the underband may be too big, and you could need a smaller size.

  2. Your bra straps are not falling down or digging into your shoulders. If they are, you may need to adjust them or use wider straps or use shoulder savers.

  3. Your flesh does not squeeze over the top of your bra. If it does but feels fine everywhere else, the cup size is too small.

  4. Your finger can pass under the band in front. Your bra should be comfortable but not tight, otherwise you need a larger band size or you must fasten your bra at the next looser hook.

  5. The middle of your bra lies as flat as possible against your breastbone for a comfortable fit.

To get the right results, it is very important that you wear your bra correctly. While this may seem silly to women who have been putting on bras for years, there is indeed a proper way to do it. We recommend that you follow the following steps when putting on your bra. 

Put your hands through the straps so that the straps are over your shoulders; bend forward from the waist and adjust your breast position so that your breasts are completely within the cup with the nipples being at the fullest point within the cup; make sure the hooks are fastened at the middle position; stand up and adjust the straps so that your breasts are at the right level; and make sure that the bra does not rise at the back and is comfortable without being too tight.

Before You Begin
  • Try to get someone to take the measurements for you - your posture will be more relaxed and natural. The measurements should be more accurate.

  • Stand up straight and breathe normally

  • Don't measure over the top of clothing

  • Wear the bra you feel most comfortable in

  • Use a cloth tape measure if possible. Note: Older flexible tape measures can sometimes stretch and distort over time.

Traditional Measurement Method

1. Determining your Bra/Band size

(ribcage circumference measurement)

  • Measure around the chest directly under the breast at a constant height with the cloth measuring tape. Add 5 inches to that measurement. This dimension is your bra/band size (If the bra size works out to an ODD number go up one inch to the next EVEN number.) This should equal the circumference around the chest, directly above the breasts/under the arms. 

  • Now measure around the chest at the height of the fullest part of the breast. The measuring tape should be held horizontal, flat on your back, and your arms should be down. Make a note of that measurement (only used for comparison) and compare it to the Bra Size from step 1.

2. Determining your Cup size

(projection of breasts from chest wall)

  • To determine the proper Cup Size, find the difference between step 2 and step 1 (step 2 - step 1.) Use the chart below to determine your Cup Size.

Chart to Determine Bra Cup Size

Difference Cup Size Example
Half inch     AA cup Step 1: Underbust measurement is 37". Add 5 inches. Bra Size is 42.
One inch  A cup
Two inches     B cup Step 2: Full bust measurement is 45".
Three inches C cup
Four inches D cup Step 3: 45 - 42 = 3" difference. Cup size is C.
Five inches      DD or E cup
Six inches    F cup Result: Buy a 42C bra.
Seven inches  G cup 

The usual bra measuring system may not work

Some people have written to me suggesting that the previous measurement scheme does not work at ALL for them. Why? The previous measurement guide is an approximation. Each person is unique, and all busts differ in volume, shape and spacing, just as each person's unique body size, height, and weight can affect a bra's fit; a tape measure and simple formula may not always tell the whole story. Plus, even if the measurements ARE accurate, there are no real "standards" for bra sizing, so differences between manufacturers is common.

An alternate bra measuring scheme

(from Tanya Brown at Tanya Brown's Breast Prosthesis Emporium)

Determining your Bra/Band Size: (ribcage circumference measurement)

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  1. Measure around the chest directly under the breast.

  2. Measure around the chest, directly above the breasts/under the arms.

  3. If the difference between the two measurements is two inches or less, use the Step 1 measurement. If the difference is over two inches, you may want to try one bra/band size larger for comfort. This will be your bra/band size.

  4. If the under-breast measurement is an odd number, add one to reach the next even numbered bra band size.

  5. Now measure around the chest at the height of the fullest part of the breast. The measuring tape should be held horizontal, and your arms should be down. Make a note of that measurement (only used for comparison).


  • The previous measurement instructions are most applicable if you are taking bra measurement with an existing set of breasts.

  • If you have only one breast due possibly to surgery, or have an uneven breast cup sizes, you should probably equalize the cups (with some form of padding) to the existing or largest breast when measuring to maintain measurement symmetry.

  • If you do not have breasts due to whatever the reason, you will take the bra band measurements listed above, but you can pretty much be whatever cup size you wish, depending on what your plans are. Remember that choosing a cup size proportional to your body frame will look the most "natural."

  • Suggestions on choosing a cup size (from Tanya Brown at Tanya Brown's Breast Prosthesis Emporium):

Bra band sizes 32-28

  • "Slender" build: A cup

  • "Average" build: B cup

  •  "Heavier" build: C cup

Bra band sizes 40-42

  • "Average" build: B cup

  •  "Heavier" build: C-D cup

Bra band sizes 44-46

  • "Average" build: C cup

  • "Heavier" build: D-DD cup

If you are in between sizes or you are having difficulty finding a good fit, when you go up a cup size, you should go down a band size. If you go down a cup size, you should go up a band size (ex: if you have a 36C and it is not fitting quite properly, you would probably want to try a 38B or a 34D next.)

  • When sizes are DD and above, great care must be taken to be properly fitted. Some bra manufacturers make their Bra Size slightly large. (e.g. a bra marked 38 will probably fit a 40 woman.)

  • For sizes above D, cup sizing is not well defined. It can keep increasing by an inch for each successive letter, or it can repeat letters for new cup sizes above D. So, a DD cup is the same as an E cup. A DDD=EE=F cup, a DDDD=EEE=FF=G cup and so on.

  • Long line and 3/4 bras should only be considered if their length is LESS than the distance from the under-bust to the natural waist line.

  • If either of the bra sizes given here is very different than what you are currently wearing, go with your current size.

  • When ordering a mail order garment where a proper fit is important, make sure that the return policy of the company is well understood.

  • If you are taking these measurements without wearing a breast form on for only a single prosthesis, determining the bra cup size can be more difficult. Some experimentation may be necessary.

  • If you are taking these measurements for two prostheses, you can simply take the bra size measurement (Step 1) and then choose the cup size that is right for you.

  • These are guidelines only. Proper sizing may vary for different body sizes, heights, and weights.

  • When sizes are DD and above, great care must be taken to be properly fitted. Some bra manufacturers make their Bra Size slightly large. (e.g. a bra marked 38 will probably fit a 40 woman.)

  • Someone sent me mail asking about how to properly measure for a bra when the breasts have sagged significantly due to gravity. The truth is, I'm not sure because you probably then need to be wearing a bra to get a proper measurement. Catch-22.

  • I would suggest that seeing a bra fitter in this case would probably be best.