What special effects can a bra achieve?
• Minimize large breasts
• Maximize small breasts
• Create cleavage
• Separate breasts
• Create rounded shape
• Support breasts and raise them for a youthful silhouette
• Push up breasts for fullness on top
Why get a custom fit bra?
Every woman’s breasts are slightly different, so many of us don’t fit perfectly into a standard bra size. Here are just a few of the issues that can best be addressed by a custom fit bra:
Larger or smaller space between breasts – the space between bra cups is a factor of the band size and cup size, but not all women with the same bra size have the same distance between the breasts. This could be a factor of the width of the breasts, or the width of the rib cage in relation to the depth. A custom bra can be designed with a larger or smaller panel between the cups.
Wide breasts with low projection or vice versa: Just because an underwire size is the right size, it does not guarantee that the cup volume will be correct. Women with wider breasts may have to go up a size to get a wide enough cup, but then will have extra space in the front, whereas women with narrower and more highly projecting breasts may find that in order to fit the volume of their breasts, they end up with a cup that is too wide. A custom bra can combine the right width with the right volume for a snug but not too tight fit.
Asymmetrical breasts are very common, and can mean a difference in size, shape, position on the chest, or direction if the nipple. A custom bra can be made to fit each breast comfortably, and special padding or shaping can be added to one or more of the breasts for a more symmetrical look.
Women with implants often have bra fit issues because, depending on the profile of the implant, it may project more or less than a “standard” natural breast. The shape of the implant may also affect fit.
How do you determine your bra size?
Bra fitting is, unfortunately, not an exact science. The only way to be 100% sure of a proper fit is by trying on several bras or getting a custom bra made. However, the following standard measurements can give you a starting point to use when determining your bra size.
Measure your rib cage just below the breasts. Breathe out first to get an accurate measurement, and if possible have someone else do the measuring to make sure the tape measure is level. Round any measurements to the nearest whole inch.
Once you have your rib cage measurement, add 4” if your result was even, and 5” for odd measurements. This is your guideline band size.
Cup size: Measure the fullest part of your bust in a non-padded bra with good support. If you do not have a supportive bra, lift your breasts to the desired level before measuring. Again, try to have someone else do the measurement to make sure the tape is level.
The next step is to measure around the rib cage above the breasts, with arms at your side, just above the breast tissue. Once again, breathe out and make sure that the tape measure is level.
The difference between the full bust and above bust measurement is your guideline cup size. The bigger the difference, the bigger the cup size. Here are the standard cup size guidelines:
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Although these are the standard measurements, larger cup sizes can vary by manufacturer, with one brand’s E being another brand’s DD. Generally, when ordering from a company that uses double letter cup sizes, check their sizing charts for details.
Remember that these are only guidelines, and that to get the perfect fit you will need to try on many different bras from different brands, or have a custom bra made to your exact measurements. Cup sizes are not the same in all band sizes – for example a 32A will have a smaller cup than a 38A, so when you go up a band size, try going down a cup size if you liked the fit of the cup on the first bra. For example if you liked the cup on a 34B, but the band was too small, try a 36A rather than a 36B.
Example of the bra fitting process:
You measure your rib cage below your breasts and the result is 32”. Add 4” to get your band size: 32+4=36”
Your full bust measurement is 39 ¼. Round to the nearest whole inch, so use 39” as your guide.
Your above-breast measurement is 36”. Your cup size is 39-36=3=C
Your guideline bra size is therefore a 36C. When shopping for bras, try a 34D and a 38B to compare and find the best fit.
How do you know if your bra fits?
These are some of the things you should be looking for when trying to determine if a bra fits properly.
The band lies flat and stays level with the floor.
If it is riding up in the back, it is too large and the straps are doing too much of the lifting. 80-90% of the support from your bra should be coming from the band and support panels in the bottom of the bra cups. If the band is digging in and creating bulges above and below, it is probably too small. If you go up a band size and still have bulges, try a bra style with a wider band and in a firmer fabric, like girdle fabric.
You adjust the straps in the morning, and don’t have to adjust them further during the day.
If you have to keep tightening the straps, the back is likely riding up and therefore the band is too big.
The cup is not gaping or overflowing.
Any space between the breast and the cup indicates that the cup is too big. If your breasts are spilling out the top, the cups are too small. Sometimes with elastic cup bras, the top of the cup will create a furrow in the breast even when the cup is not too small. This indicates that the cup is not supportive enough or the elastic at the top is too tight. We generally do not recommend a cup with more stretch than a firm girdle, as this does not provide the support that breasts require.
There is no flesh bulging anywhere.
Bulges at the top of a bra indicate the cup is too small. Bulges on the outside of the cups could be a too-small cup or mean the cups are too narrow or close-set. Bulges on the inside could be a too-small cup, or too narrow cup.
The fabric between the cups lies flat against your chest.
A space between the centre of your bra and your chest wall indicates that the band may be too big or the cups too small.
The underwires are comfortable and lie flat.
If they are poking into your breast tissue, the cup is too small. With a too-big cup, the wire can poke into your side. If they do not lie flat between your breasts, the cup could be too small.