How to Find a Bra That Fits, According to the Pros

different women wearing comfortable bras


The support you can get from a bra is multifaceted. There is, obviously, a physical support that can help alleviate strain on your back. But what isn’t immediately apparent is the boost you can get in your self-confidence when you find something that hugs your curves just right. That's why I started a serious pursuit to find a bra that fit me well, with the help of celebrity and editorial stylist Allie Koehler and Cuup’s director of fit, Tania Garcia.

The conclusion I gathered from both pros is that the process of finding a bra that fits you well is more of an art than a science. On top of your body’s unique curves, each bra brand has its own way of sizing and ensuring that its options fit your body—which is why you might find that you’re a number of sizes when you’re shopping across different retailers. It can take a lot of trials and even more error, but Koehler and Garcia have a few tips that can help, ahead.

Meet the Expert

  • Allie Koehler is a New York-based celebrity and editorial stylist.
  • Tania Garcia is lingerie brand CUUP's Director of Fit. She has over 15 years of experience fitting and styling bras.

Understand What a Bra Should Feel Like

There are quite a few indicators that you’ve found your perfect fit. “A bra that fits well doesn’t pinch or feel uncomfortable,” says Koehler. “It doesn’t slide off or ride up and doesn’t have gaps at the cups.” She adds that if you forget you’re wearing it and it’s nearly invisible under a white T-shirt, it’s a good match.

Make Sure the Bra Feels Comfortable When Secured at the Last Hook

“The band is the primary support system,” says Garcia, who explains that, ideally, you’ll want a bra that feels comfortable when secured at the outermost hook and eye, so that you can move along the inner hooks and eyes as the bra stretches out. 

If the bra band rides up in the back, it's seldom a strap problem. The issue is caused from the band being too big.

Check Your Straps

While the band does most of the lifting and supporting, the straps serve as reinforcements. Similarly, their presence should feel comfortably snug with room to tighten and adjust as the bra wears with age. If straps are slipping from the get-go, you may need to consider a bra style that's better suited for your frame. Full-coverage bras, for example, typically have narrow-set straps while balconette styles have wider-set straps. If straps are digging in, the band size may be too large and requires sizing down.

Get Measured by a Professional

They are trained to identify your size in accordance with their brand’s standards. “Lots of stores and boutiques will measure you in-store at no extra cost,” says Koehler, who makes the point that you don’t even have to step foot into a store to be sized by a pro. “Direct-to-consumer brands like Third Love even have questions built into their website to direct you toward which styles may work for you.” 

Brands like Cuup offer one-on-one virtual fittings to find your size. (You just need a tape measure.) A fit specialist will guide you on what to measure and calculate your size.

Know Your Breast Shape

Breast shape is an important factor when choosing bra styles as it will help narrow down the most comfortable and flattering fits. If breasts are fuller at the bottom, for example, full-coverage styles with wide straps can provide adequate support while balconette bras or styles with shorter cups can enhance fullness at the top. For more splayed, side-set, or relaxed breast shapes, bras with plunging silhouettes may help lift and bring the breasts closer together. If your breasts are asymmetric, they are different shapes or sizes. In this case, it's best to accommodate the larger of the two.

If you have asymmetric breasts and would like to achieve a more balanced look, consider using removable inserts to fill out gaps.

Pay Close Attention to Your Bra Cup

Whether you’re getting sized by a pro or going through the process solo, it helps to know what to look for in your bra cup. “Size down if there's gapping between your breast and the cup, size up if your breast tissue is spilling over,” says Koehler. “Think Goldilocks—it should be just right.”

Try Your "Sister Size"

Ever wonder why you’re different sizes at different retailers? It’s possible you’re receiving your sister measurements from each of them. "Sister sizing, as it’s called, is a collection of sizes that share the same cup volume, but each different band sizes," says Garcia. "When we shorten or lengthen the band, we are also adjusting the wires. Knowing your sister sizes allows you to explore the fit that feels best for you."

Koehler echoes this, and says that trying your sister size "can completely change fit and comfort level for some, and may work better in different brands.”

So how do we determine these measurements? "If the band size goes up, then the cup size goes down—and vice versa," says Garcia. "So, if your body measures at 34B you can also be 36A, 32C, or a 30D. If you prefer a more snug band as your measure then go for the 32C or 30D but if you prefer a looser fit around the band with nothing too snug then the 34B would be the way to go."

Sound complicated? There are a number of different sister size charts available online you can reference.

Speak the Language

When it comes to bra shopping, understanding the terminology is half the battle. While terms like "full figure" and "plus size" may sound synonymous to the untrained ear, they actually mean two very different things. Typically, the term "plus size" is only used to denote band size (38 or larger) and does not reflect on the cup size. The verbiage "full figure," however, is applied to bras with those plus-size bands and cup sizes of DD or larger. "Full bust" bras have the same range in cup size (DD and larger) but suit smaller band sizes.

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