Breasts change in density every three to seven years. This means the bra you purchased five years ago is likely not the correct size for you today. Your rib measurement can change and your breast volume and thus cup size can change, sometimes both. Breast changes occur throughout life, so be sure to respect your changing breasts by updating your bra size every three to five years, or as needed. This can be challenging, especially in the face of some peculiar practices in the brassiere industry…
The results of a number of surveys and studies in many different countries show that between 70% to 100% of women wear incorrectly fitted bras. The most common mistake made when selecting a bra is choosing too large a back band and too small a cup. But the bra industry is somewhat to blame. It has been less than helpful in actually making bras the size the tag says they are.
There are several mislabeling practices that evolved after WWII to try and fool women about their body image. We won’t confuse you with the facts, but you can search the net and read about them if you like. Other manufacturers simply have arbitrary labeling practices. Measurements are extremely helpful to get you started, but don’t rely on what the tags say. Learn to have a relationship with and hear what your “Girls” say when you are wearing a bra. Bra fitting is an art, not a science. That’s why there is simply no quick hard and fast rule to be sure a bra is perfect for you. You may go to the trouble to get all the “correct” measurements for your bra size, but the abundance of mislabeled bras out there will inevitably make you crazy.
A correctly fitted bra is comfortable, flattering and healthy. A healthy fitting bra does:
1) not leave red marks anywhere on your body after you take it off: around your ribs, back, chest or underarm area;
2) not leave shoulder indentations–also a sign that your breast support is coming from your shoulders rather than the bra cup itself, where it belongs; and
3) have a cup size which fully and comfortably cradles each breast without breast tissue spilling out from the side or top, or compressing or cutting into the breast in any way.
A good bra does not “push your breasts around.” It may be difficult to find a bra that does not squeeze the breasts together, as most bras are made for fashion and cleavage, rather than comfort and support. Many of us have wide set breasts and find it quite difficult to find bra’s made for this normal arrangement.
Bra fitters can be helpful, very helpful in some cases, yet some women go through the time and expense and still walk away with a bra that is not comfortable throughout the day. Shop around and experiment with what feels good.
Padded bras compress the breast, so experiment with cup sizes and do your best to avoid buying a size-reducing or size-enhancing bra. If you are large breasted, good cup support with or without an underwire and wider shoulder straps will offer appropriate support.
Let’s not overlook an excellent breast health practice: take your bra off at bedtime! This is an ideal time to perform breast massage. For very large breasted women who feel the need for a bra during sleep, find a stretchy lounge bra to support you gently through the night.
Measurements are a good start. But feeling your way into a new bra is your best bet. Take your time and try on many styles and brands. Inquire about the store’s return policy before you buy. Bra’s can be costly garments, and it can be a financial bummer to buy an ill fitting bra, which can make your girls feel stuffy, cranky and frustrated at the end of the day. Lastly, experiment with clothing you feel comfortable going braless in, to give the girls an occasional break. There are lot’s of cute tops and layered looks that can both compliment and make typically bra-wearing gals feel happy going braless. This will often find you wearing that secret smile of liberation, delightfully renegade.