Few things are guaranteed in life, but you can pretty much count on the fact that your bra size will not stay exactly the same throughout your entire adult life. If you’ve been wearing the same bra size on autopilot for more than several years, it’s very likely that the size you’re wearing is incorrect even if it was once the ideal size for you.
It’s a good idea to remeasure your bust every time you’re considering buying a new bra. This might seem excessive, but your bust size changes significantly in response to even the most subtle shifts in your body composition. Losing five pounds or taking up light weight-lifting at the gym can cause your cup size to change by a full letter. Larger changes in your body, like major weight loss, pregnancy, or menopause usually result in even more drastic shifts in size.
Since your body changes gradually, you probably won’t even notice if the bra size you’re used to wearing becomes less accurate over time. Wearing an ill-fitting bra still causes you to receive inadequate support and leads to discomfort regardless of whether or not you notice your bra size has changed, which is why it’s so important to confirm your size before you buy a new bra.
Measuring your bra size correctly is important, but it doesn’t guarantee that every bra in that size will be your perfect fit. Some bras follow a skewed sizing system, or are just poorly designed and won’t fit you correctly even if they’re labeled with your size. Learning to recognize the red flags of a hopelessly ill-fitting bra can cut uncertainty out of your bra shopping process and prevent you from accidentally buying an uncomfortable bra that lacks the support and security you need.
The first things you should keep your eye out for when you try on a bra are gapping or wrinkled cups. If your bra cups don’t lay flat against your skin or wrinkle, that means the cups are too large and your bust isn’t adequately filling them. On the other hand, if the cups of a bra are digging into your skin, that’s a clear sign that you need to go up a cup size.
The straps of a bra are a useful indicator of how well the band is supporting your bust. If the straps of a bra slip down over your shoulders or dent your skin, that means that the band of the bra is either too loose or too tight and is forcing the straps to pick up its slack in terms of support. Also, a bra’s band riding up or digging into your skin are also signs that it is too large or too small for you. Your band should stay securely in place and its center—the part in between the cups—should lay flat against your chest at all times. Test the fit of a bra’s band by lifting your arms up over your head when you try it on. If the band rides up at all, it doesn’t fit you correctly.
Any new bra you buy should always fit you best when fastened on the loosest clasp. Bras stretch out naturally over time, so any bra that only fits you when you fasten it on the tightest clasp from the get-go will likely only end up fitting you for a very short period of time.
Have you ever tried on a bra in a store, loved it and brought it home, and then ended up hating the way it looks underneath every piece of clothing you own? This frustrating phenomenon is much more common than it should be, but it’s completely preventable. Bras tend to look very different when you wear them alone versus when you wear them under a top; just because a bra fits when you try it on by itself does not mean it will still look good after you get dressed. Always try on a bra underneath a top before you make a purchase to determine whether or not a certain bra fits well when you’re actually wearing clothes.
A form-fitting—but not overly tight—T-shirt is one of the best test tops to wear when you go bra shopping. T-shirts are one of the most difficult tops to pair with a bra. The thin, form-fitting fabric of standard tees tends to reveal bulges, gapping, seams, and dreaded quad-boob much more clearly than other top styles. After all, one of the most popular bra styles—T-shirt bras—are designed specifically to maintain a smooth, invisible finish underneath your T-shirts. If a bra you try on still looks good and fits well when you wear it under a T-shirt, chances are it will work well with almost any other top you own.
Finding a well-fitting, high-quality bra you truly love is akin to finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. If you find a bra that is comfortable, supportive, attractive, and fits you well, consider buying more than one. The fit of different bra styles varies depending on their materials, design, and the quality of their construction. Loving a bra style in a certain size from one brand doesn’t mean that you’ll love a similar style in the same size from a different brand. Plus, there’s no guarantee that a certain brand will continue selling your favorite bra style indefinitely.
Buying more than one copy of your favorite everyday bra style gives you insurance against the frustration of changing inventory options, but you shouldn’t buy more than three identical bras. Within a few years, your bra size will probably change slightly, rendering a never-ending collection of one bra style in one size a useless waste of money. Only purchase two or three copies of the same bra at a time, and remeasure yourself before buying again.
As long as you know how to measure your own bra size correctly from home and recognize the red flags of an ill-fitting bra, you should be able to find just as much success with bras you buy online as with bras you find in brick-and-mortar lingerie and department stores. While you shouldn’t be afraid to buy bras online, you should still exercise a good amount of caution when determining whether or not to make a purchase from a certain online shop.
Always review the bra size charts on an online store before you buy a bra from that website. Make sure that you measure your bust according to the sizing system the store uses. Never assume that a certain store uses a US sizing system just because they’re a US-owned company—many US-owned online stores carry bras that are made by international manufacturers and conform to a different sizing system.
Also, check reviews whenever possible to get a better idea of both the quality of the bra you’re considering as well as the reputation of an online store itself. If a certain online shop doesn’t list reviews on its products and you can’t find much information about it through online searches, that’s a good sign that you’ll probably have more success shopping elsewhere. There are plenty of honest, reputable online lingerie stores that sell real, high-quality bras, so you should never settle for buying from a sketchy, little- known retailer.