Fashion For Real Women

Brassiere Basics

While the brassiere has been popular for nearly 100 years, industry experts estimate that 75%-80% of all women are wearing the wrong size bra. Pregnancy, weight changes, and -- dare I say it? -- gravity can have an impact on size, and the average woman will wear six different bra sizes in her lifetime.

If you haven't given the matter much thought, it's probably worth your while to grab a tape measure and check your size.

While there are a number of different formulas for arriving at the appropriate back and cup size, I'll give you a shortcut to eliminate a lot of guess work. Just click over to Ann's Bra Shop and follow the directions at to instantly calculate your size.

Surprised by the results? Many women are. If they haven't been fitted for a bra recently or ever, they tend to buy bras in the size they WANT to be, not the size they are. Don't fall into this trap. Who cares what size it is, as long as it makes you look great? Tell people whatever you want--they'll probably never see the inside tag, so just let them appreciate the outside results.

Having said that, here's what to expect in a well-fitting bra:

1. The underband around your body should be firm but comfortable. You should be able to run a finger under the band. If it's too tight, you need a larger size or a wider hook placement.

2. The back and front of the bra should be parallel to the floor or slightly lower in the back. The lower edge of the band should anchor between the shoulder blades. The lower the back fits, the better the support.

3. The center panel should lie down against the breastbone, not bridge away from the body. If it doesn't, your cup size could be too small, or the panel is not large enough to accommodate the separation between your breasts.

4. Underwires should lie flat against your rib cage, enclosing your breasts without rubbing or digging into the soft tissue or your armpit. If they bulge, you probably need a larger size cup.

5. It should have a smooth outline, without bulging at the top or the sizes. The cups should not pucker or wrinkle.

6. It should support the weight of your breasts mainly with the broadband and the cups, NOT the shoulder straps.

7. Check your silhouette. The bust should be midway between the top of the shoulder and the bend of the elbow to create a silhouette of balanced proportions.

If your brassiere doesn't fit correctly, it's probably because you don't have the right size. Taking a few minutes to "get things straight" will make you look slimmer, trimmer, and taller-WITHOUT a trip to the gym!

Need some more guidance on the best bra for you? You'll enjoy the "What to Wear Under What You Wear" bonus in Wardrobe Magic.


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at  .  Brassiere Basics

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