Once upon a time, I decided to go braless. It had little to do with how mega-comfortable it can be (because yeah, it’s awesome) and more to do with how difficult of a time I had finding a bra that fit me well. After multiple IRL try-ons and being told I was three different bra sizes, I found myself disheartened that I couldn’t wear some of the cute styles I had my eye on without them feeling like they were either cutting into me or just a little too loose in some areas.
Here’s the thing though: The support you can get from your bra is multifaceted. There is, obviously, a physical support that can help alleviate strain on your back. 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. This is why I started this 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 trial and even more error, but Koehler and Garcia have a few tips that can help, ahead.
Meet the Expert
Understand What a Bra Should Feel Like
There are a quite 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 Your 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.
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.
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 to 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.