fashion, Reviews

Bra Shopping: What to Know to Find The Perfect One (or Three)

Okay, perhaps in the interest of transparency I should say I love my bra now. A couple months ago, I didn’t love my bras at all. I had my favorites, sure, but I was never dying to take my bra off when I got home in the evening… Yet I wasn’t completely comfortable in any of them. I was buying bras at Victoria’s Secret – and while there is nothing wrong with their bras, for me, there wasn’t anything incredibly right about them either. I was simply wearing the bra that was the most comfortable and pretty (yes, I really love a pretty bra), yet fairly affordable.

So, when I went to buy a new bra a couple of months ago, I decided to try other stores and see if I could find a really awesome bra. If any of you have ever done this, you could probably attest to the fact that finding a stellar bra is actually not easy. Sure, there are beautiful bras (think La Perla) and there are basic everyday bras (think Jockey) but the in-between bra for a woman who wants to feel sexy yet still be fully supported and comfortable… this is not an easy find. Especially for a woman of my stature (a US size 12/14, 38D/DD/E). I jokingly told my boyfriend while in the midst of this process, “The bras are either saying, ‘Back Away! Don’t touch me! I am celibate for life!’ or ‘See me? Aren’t I beautiful? You will love me, but don’t expect your boobs to stay in me!'”

To make this process even harder, I have always felt that my boobs are not a perfect rounded shape that just fit in a bra. In fact, I once had a bra specialist tell me me breast is wide and starts under my armpit… that was heartening! Despite that, on the road to finding a perfect bra, I have learned quite a few tips and knowledge that has helped me determine what actual fit for me is, what my issues were (underwire) and how to find the right bra. I will also include at the end of this blog post what bra brands I finally found a great bra with. I hope these tips helps!

Breasts Come in Shapes

I have always referred to my breasts as saggy avocados… greta visual right? Well, there is an actual name for this shape: Tear Drop. I must admit this is much nicer than what I was calling them. So how do you know what shape yours are? Well, Rachel Torgerson wrote a magnificent article in Cosmopolitan that explains the different shapes breasts come in. She interviewed Ra’el Cohen, the chief creative officer for Third Love (which I haven’t tried), and got the details on bra fit and breast shape (see visual below).

Image Credit: Katie Buckleitner – Cosmopolitan

Basically, there are seven different breast shapes that then determine which style of cup would work best for you. For myself, I am generally better in a balconette style because I am not full enough to fill out a full coverage cup, but I am too full for a deep-v or skimpy cup. As for padding, that is entirely up to you. I am actually a bit self-conscious of my breast size so I tend to prefer lightly lined or unlined styles to avoid my breasts appearing even larger. However, upon getting properly fit, I actually wear a little padding now without feeling too self-conscious.

Underwire Matters

For myself, this became very important to me when I was told by a couple different bra specialists that my under arm fat was not so much actual fat – but rather, was boob tissue that was migrating to the side because my underwire was the wrong size. Basically, I was cutting off the side of my breast tissue because my underwire was too narrow to accommodate the width of my breast tissue, so it was migrating under my armpit instead of being part of my breast tissue. Obviously this wasn’t ideal. I had thought my breasts were getting smaller, when in actuality, the wrong size underwire was causing my boobs to change – and not in a desirable way.

Table showing underwire length based on band size vs cup size

This was a little confusing when I was first told and then began to do my research about it. And this is where the term “Sister Size” comes in as well. Basically, the bra industry models the underwire in an underwire bra off of a B-cup model. A 32B will have a 32 size wire, 34B will have a 34, 40B will have a 40, etc. This sounds very confusing, but the chart below will help explain it. Ultimately, if you feel like your underwire isn’t wide enough for your breast tissue, then you don’t just go up a cup size, that won’t solve the problem. You would have to go up a band size in order to get a bigger underwire.

The positive side of this is after learning how to properly put on my bra (see below), I can undo the harm my ill-fitting underwire bra caused by slowly redistributing the underarm breast tissue into my breast. Of course, this means my breast will also become fuller and I may need to change bra sized again, but I am okay with that to have a comfortable and smooter fit.

Three Steps to Putting on a Bra

It feels odd to think I didn’t know how to put a bra on correctly for most of my life, but I really didn’t. I would simply slip the straps up to my shoulder and then reach back and clasp. Then I would pull by breast tissue up and I was done. However, I learned the easy three step process to putting on my bra that helps your breast tissue rest more comfortably in the cups and also helps to move the side breast tissue into the cup

  1. Slip straps onto shoulders then lean forward resting breast tissue in bra cups
  2. Clasp bra behind back and then gather the entire breast into the cups, pulling from the sides to ensure breast tissue won’t be cut out of the bra cups
  3. Stand up straight and adjust your straps if necessary
Image Credit: Commons

What I Am Wearing Now

So what did I find? What did I buy? A couple actually! I will list them (with links, if possible) and describe what I love about them in particular.

  1. Eve’s Temptation – Amelia Push-Up Bra
    I actually stumbled upon this brand at the Eve by Eve’s store in a mall near me. I had never seen the store before and decided to check it out. The lingerie section had all these beautiful bras and I really loved the designs. Come to find out, the Eve’s Temptation brand was the same company. This was surprising to me because the Eve by Eve’s store had a very clean and modern aesthetic that I appreciated shopping but the Eve’s Temptation store is (in my opinion) cluttered and stressful (like an H & M or a Zara). However, this particular bra I purchased in two colors because I really loved the way it fit. The best part about it is the very wide and structured sides and back. It doesn’t well to shape those parts of my body and hide any squish I don’t want to show in dresses or blouses. This bra has removable padding.
  2. Victoria’s Secret – Incredible Perfect Shape Bra
    I love this bra more than any of the other hundred or so I have purchased over the years! I absolutely adore it. So comfortable and justy fits well. The only problem I have found is that the top lip of the cup starts to turn outwards. I am not sure why. So I have had to replace it every 4-6 months. This doesn’t completely bother me since I wear a bra everyday of my life. But I do wish it would last longer. This is a lightly-padded bra with invisible side straps.
  3. Natori – Underneath T-Shirt Bra
    Well, I fell in love with their pajamas and decided to try a bra. This is my first one from the brand and I adore it. I am looking forward to trying some other styles. I really love how the bra has clean lines and is wrapped in this super soft. cotton material that is so smooth on the skin and you’ll practically forget you are wearing it. It is lightly padded for a natural shape for under t-shirts.

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