Health and Comfort
Selecting a bra is about more than finding the "prettiest" bra or finding a bra in your favorite color - selecting a bra has real health and comfort-related considerations. A bra that doesn't fit well and offers too little support can displace your breast tissue, pushing it under the arm or flattening it around the breast wall. Bras that don't provide adequate support can stretch the breast tissue over time, making your breasts sag and droop. The right bra that offers good support helps keep your breasts youthful and firm, and can make a big difference in shaping and making you look slimmer and proportional under your clothes.
A bad bra that doesn't fit properly can spoil the most expensive dress. Get the right bra to look and feel your best.
Testing for Bra Fit
Am I Wearing the Wrong Bra?
Poorly-Fitting Bras Cause Health Problems
Guide to Finding the Right Bra Style
- Bra Styles for the Small Bust
- Bra Styles for the Large Bust
Wear a Full Support Sports Bra
Tips for Proper Bra Care
Some Facts about Bras and Breasts
Testing for Bra Fit
To test for bra fit, run your arms 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.
How to Tell if You're Wearing the Wrong Bra, or Your Bra is the Wrong Size
- Do your bra straps cause red marks on your shoulder?
- Do your bra straps slide down unless you're constantly adjusting them?
- Do your breasts bulge over the top of the cup in a double bump?
- Do your breasts droop or look generally out of shape?
- Does your bust fall forward, instead of being in its central position?
- Does the bra pull your shoulders forward?
- Does your bra band ride up in the back?
- Does the center of your bra fail to touch your breastbone?
Any of these things may be signs that your bra isn't right for you, or may not be the correct size. These problems indicate that the band is too big or small, or that the cups are too large or small, depending on fit-related issues. For full details on finding the proper size, check out our Guide to Finding the Right Bra Size.
Potential Health Problems for Ill-Fitting Bras
If your bra fits poorly it isn't just unflattering - it can cause potential health problems, too. These are a few of the health problems related to ill-fitting bras:
- Shoulder pain;
- Neck pain;
- Stretching the breast tissue;
- Compressing or distorting the breast tissue.
If the bra doesn't provide good support, you may experience pain and stretching of the breast tissue, leading to droopy breasts. If the bra is too tight, it can also cause pain, and it can compress or distort the breast tissue over time. If the cup is too small, it can compress your breast tissue and squeeze it out around the sides, top or bottom of the bra. Particularly harmful is compressing the breast tissue between an underwire and your body. Wearing a poorly-fitting bra isn't just a fashion faux-pas; it can lead to health problems and ultimate distortion of your breasts.
Guide to Finding the Right Bra Style
The Right Bra Style for a Small Bust: A balcony-style bra, with or without padding, can highlight the natural curves of a small bust. Balcony-style bras provide lift and a lovely, curvy shape, as well as a nice neckline. Half-cup bras are also a good choice for a small bust, and selecting a bra with padding at the sides and under the bust provide extra lift. Avoid square-cut bras, as they serve to flatten the look of a small bust.
The Right Bra Style for a Large Bust: Women with large busts should look for wide shoulder and back straps for firm support. Full cups provide better shaping and contain the breast better than other bra styles. Underwire bras provide the best support for big busts. Lace and decoration on the bra makes the bust appear larger, so if you want a smooth, natural look, a plain bra style without too much lace helps your bust appear smaller.
Different Clothes Require Different Bra Styles
Finding the right bra style isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different bra styles provide different shaping and work best with different types of clothes. Tailored suits and shirts, for example, look best with a bit of uplift and firm control. When you're wearing jeans and a t-shirt, though, you might prefer a soft, seamless bra to shape you and wear well under the clingy tops. Flesh-colored bras are good under light clothes; wear dark-colored bras under dark tops to avoid flashing white bra, and backless bras go best with a low-cut party dress or sun top.
- Bras with lycra or a bit of stretch are good choices if you're losing weight or if your weight varies over the course of the month. Breast size may change with diet, pregnancy, exercise, age and taking the Pill. Breast size can go up premenstrually, so women may need larger bras during the days leading up to a period. Pregnant women may experience hormonal changes that increase an entire bra size in a week, and should avoid underwires because the breasts may become fragile and sensitive.
Wear Sports Bras When You Exercise
Some women consider sports bras as "optional" during exercise. They're not. Any excessive breast movement puts a significant strain on the ligaments that hold the breasts in place, causing them to stretch and resulting in long-term sagging.
Everyday bras simply don't provide enough support and hold the breasts firmly in place during exercise. Sports bras are specially designed to allow freedom of movement while holding you firmly in place, and they're made of fabrics that channel moisture away from the skin to the outside of the fabric. Sports bras come in different shapes and styles suitable for different activity levels, but they're absolutely vital to wear when you exercise.
Caring for Your Bra
Ideally, you should wash your bra every day, by hand. Washing your bra daily removes body oils, preserves the color of your bra, and lengthens its life. If you wear two bras and wash them in turn, they should last for three months. Never put your bra in a clothes dryer - only air dry them.
Some Interesting Facts about Bras and Breasts
- Breast sizes are growing. From 1990 - 2000, the average size has gone from a 34B to a 36C.
- Twenty to thirty years ago, a DD cup was unusual; now G, H & J cups are not uncommon. Changing diet and The Pill are the culprits.
- Bra-wearers are getting younger. Twenty to thirty years ago, 12 and 13 year-olds bought teen bras; now 8 and 9 year-olds are taking the plunge.
- Today, the biggest selling bra color is nude and skin tones. Five to ten years ago, the biggest selling bra color is white, while ivory and cream were a close second. In 1971, skin tones were bestsellers, and were second favorite until about 5 years ago. Tea rose was the favorite from the 1920s through the 1950s.
- Higher number of separations, divorces and remarriages have boosted the demand for attractive lingerie.