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Five Tips For The Perfect Bra Fit

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

It’s a question I’ve pondered for years, more specifically since I had my daughter and my wonky left rib made me move from a 32D to a 34C for the (perceived) purpose of improved comfort. But am I wearing the correct bra size?

I didn’t realise until fairly recently that the three different hooks you have on the back of a bra strap are not there for you to necessarily faff and adjust as you please. But that the loosest is the one you should use (and be the perfect fit) only moving along to the next hook as the elastic becomes less tight with frequent wear/washing etc.

I decided it was high time I got my arse (and potentially ill fitting brassiere) over to the Queen’s choice of luxury lingerie store, Rigby & Peller. If you want to get fitted properly, then this is the place to go.

I thought I may as well be honest and turn up to my appointment in my usual bra of choice, a floral T-shirt number from H&M. Yes I was fairly embarrassed, what with the abundance of luxe Italian lace and French fancy on every rail but my allocated fitting assistant, Kelly, simply told me the print was very pretty and that if it was comfortable, that was half the battle won.

My boobs sit fairly high on my chest (I’m not boasting neither have I had cosmetic enhancement – it’s just genetics….thanks Mum) and I don’t like a lot of padding or OTT push up action, it doesn’t suit my small frame. I explained all of this to Kelly, who would then essentially choose a selection of brands and shapes based on my requirements. The fit was the most surprising aspect for me, I am actually a 32D (Kelly advised realistically a 30D/E in some brands) and it isn’t that there is a style of bra that I can’t wear (I have NEVER found a balconette that doesn’t dig in at the sides or pinch at the front) but that I just have to find the right balconette bra. Kelly found me two that fitted beautifully, who knew?

There are five key aspects of the perfect fit which you will see in more detail in the pinnable graphic associated with this feature:

1. The central part of the bra – this should sit flat on your skin and be neither too loose nor poke your bits and pieces.

2. The wire – this should be very comfortable, if it sits directly on your breast tissue or stands away from your bust the cup is too small, try going up a size. Similarly if the wire is too loose, try going down a cup size.

3. The cups – There should be a smooth, unwrinkled silhouette. Assessing cup fit is always best done with a non padded design.

4. The band – fasten on the middle hook. The band shouldn’t ride up at the back but you should comfortably fit two fingers under the band. More than this then the band is too loose, if two fingers are uncomfortable then the band is too tight. Please note, if you go down in the back, you will need to go up in the cup size to compensate.

5. The straps – Adjust them so they sit firmly on your shoulders without leaving dents or indentations. Straps help to balance the weight of your breasts with the main support coming from the band.

The set I left the store with was an Ocean blue hued non-padded plunge satin bra with matching knickers by Marie Jo, the colour really suited my skin tone (nope, I’ve never really considered this before when shopping for underwear) and everything from this brand gave me the best shape and support whilst working with the majority of my wardrobe in terms of the type of necklines I favour. I was VERY tempted to invest in my first balconette but thought I would save that treat for when I have overhauled my closet and know what colours and styles I actually need.

Are you wearing the right size bra? do you make investments in pricier garments or tend to buy whatever as and when you need to replace existing pieces? Any other chest related chat please do feel free to discuss in the comments box below.

This post is not sponsored by Rigby & Peller but they did gift me a set of lingerie as part of the experience and they are an existing client of Rock My Wedding.

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Five Tips to Getting the Perfect Bra Fit
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Author
Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea

29 thoughts on “Five Tips For The Perfect Bra Fit

  1. Fab post Charlotte! Getting professionally measured for a bra changed my life. The thing is, I knew I was wearing the wrong size because my bras clearly didn’t fit but every time I measured, it resolutely said I was a 34B. It was so frustrating. Imagine my surprise/relief when the woman in Debenhams took one look at me and produced a 30E and fitted perfectly! I remember her telling me to always try your top back on over a newly fitted bra to see exactly what a difference it makes.

    My only issue with my bra size is that I’m limited to where I can purchase decent bras that don’t break the bank. Most high street shops don’t go lower than a 32 back and if they do, they don’t do a big enough cup size (especially annoying as I’ve since gone up to a FF which is IMPOSSIBLE to find!) I’m left with a handful of shops where I’d be lucky to find a bra for less than £40 unless in the sale (will be checking the comments in case anyone has any suggestions away from the usual suspects!)

    Can I also say – handwashing bras really does make a difference. Yes it’s a pain but worth it for long-lasting band strength. Top tip – get a cheap salad spinner to help dry them quicker!

    1. A website called Leia lingere usually have good sales on big brands (Freya, panache, fantasie, curvy Kate) with lots of larger sizes, I also Buy swimwear from there in cup sizes – again they have cracking sales.
      In real life Debenhams have a own brand range called gorgeous for DD+ sizes and they are really reasonable – they have some 2 pack bras for £22. Again for the sizes you require you’re probably better off ordering online for a better range, but most larger stores usually have a few sizes in stock so you can at least try some on to check how they are before ordering online.

      1. Thanks Claire! Never heard of Leia Lingerie so will check them out (love Freya!) You know what, I completely forgot about Debenhams own brand range… Must have a look again at them because they are definitely good value for money!

    2. Hi Jo! My sister is a 30F so has the same problem, but it has changed her life (and comfort!) since she was measured properly. Hand washing definitely does make a difference, the salad spinner tip is excellent! x

  2. Turns out good ol M&s have been telling me I’m a 36b for years when I’m a 32 d! The difference in comfort and appearance is amazing. I’ve also completely ditched wired bras over the last 6 months and feel liberated! Much harder to find but I bulk buy in every colour when I do!

  3. I hate bra shopping. Being an early developer I was a D cup at 13. I’ve got a small back and all front. I now just go to bravissimo and get them to work their magic. My most recent bra to get me through the last few months of breastfeeding is a 30FF! I started feeding at 34H! I’ve lost 3 stone in baby weight too. My poor boobies!

    1. I would have been jealous of you Claire, I had no boobs at all until I was basically 16. Glad you managed to find a comfortable bra, I really struggled through feeding – I wore a few unwired numbers that didn’t fit properly, you live and learn! x

  4. I’m a 28/30 back and a large cup size (usually E to FF depending on breastfeeding/pregnancy status). Things have got better over the years but it is still very difficult to find good quality, supportive and reasonably priced bras in a small band/large cup. Everything seems to start at 32, or else it’s over £40 for one bra. And don’t start me on swimwear! 🙂

    Due to my bra shopping difficulties, I’ve done a lot of research and have the following tips:
    1. Do not go to M&S to get measured. They add 4 inches to your underbust measurement, which frankly is ridiculous;
    2. Get measured at least once a year. Your bra size can fluctuate a lot, especially if you’ve lost weight/had a baby/are breastfeeding;
    3. There’s a Facebook group called Boob or Bust that has a bra size calculator on it and is a good source of advice. It teaches you how to measure yourself properly and you can get online fit checks (if you’re brave enough to post pics – it’s a closed group though). There are also loads of tip offs when there are bra bargains to be had online!

    1. Tracy, I was going to recommend Boob or Bust too. I just wanted to add you can post and ask for a private fit check by an admin (so you’ll only be sending your pictures to one person) if the thought of the whole group seeing makes you uncomfortable.

    2. Definitely on the measuring tips every year Tracy, your size can change so it makes sense to keep on top of it. The Facebook group sounds really useful, thanks for the tip! x

  5. Intriguing… I’ve not found a bra that fits since having my daughter nearly 18 months ago. My boobs are really wide set, but don’t fill out the cup if I size up to get the underwiring wide enough. I have no idea what to do, but miss wearing pretty bras that actually look good with clothes. Any suggestions from anyone else with wide set boobs? I used to be a 32 b/c, but no longer…

    1. Hi Mel! I too was a 32B pre-children, and I am reasonably wide set so I understand your struggle!! I am now a 32C/D depending on the style, and I still don’t necessarily always fill the cups fully (depends on hormone levels etc, I fluctuate quite widely week by week). Have you spent some time going to different specialist shops (by which I don’t necessarily mean expensive ones! Just local underwear specialists that stock lots of different brands)? I definitely suggest trying lots and lots of different makes and styles as the underwiring shapes will all be different. I don’t buy high street bras as I’ve found they don’t generally work for me, but the specialist underwear shops I do go to generally have a really good selection in all sorts of different shapes. Sorry not to be more helpful, but just wanted to give you some encouragement to source your local underwear shop and have a try of lots of different shapes. There will be something that works for you I’m sure. x

      1. Annie – I so agree with trying multiples on. I spent hours trying on loads of styles and sized last year and had to leave empty handed unfortunately. I need to go though this process again and buy every colour going when I find a perfect one!

      2. Thanks! That’s actually really helpful to know that I’m not alone with my wide set boobs and that there might be something out there for me. Better find a good local shop…

  6. This is timely! I’m actually booked in for a bra fitting on Saturday, after I tried buying some new ones last week and having an epic fail. My usual size was way off, the sizes either side seemed not to fit so I left utterly stumped. Hopefully M&S can sort me out!

  7. I could really do with a good fitting – breastfeeding has played havoc with my size! I much prefer non-wired ones now but a good fit isn’t easy to find with a C/D cup I find.

    Has anyone a good recommendation where to get fitted that’s not M&S (I’ve heard pretty bad reviews on their fittings – but then I love their undies..)?

    1. Maike, there’s nothing wrong with M&S bras, just their measuring service! I’d say get measured somewhere else (Debenhams, Bravissimo, or sometimes the smaller independent retailers are good), then once you’ve found your size go and try on some stuff in M&S without asking them to fit you.

      Or get on Boob or Bust’s facebook group and use their bra size calculator to get your size and then get shopping! x

  8. Excellent post! I was remeasured post-breastfeeding and felt a world of difference once I started wearing the correct size. It is a funny thing that we don’t think to get measured more often given this is an essential bit of kit for us girls (and it is a free service), but I think we are all guilty of it!! The one issue I have is shoulder straps. I think I must have particularly sloping shoulders or something, but getting straps to stay up is a nightmare. The tightest ones never stay up for long for me, even on the first couple of days of wear, then I am forever pulling them up from somewhere down my arms during the day. Anyone else afflicted by this? I am similar to you Charlotte in that my genetics mean my boobs are relatively high, but even so this seems a bit ridiculous…

  9. Ooooo this is a good reminder that I promised I would get myself measured there one day! I should really get that sorted! ha!

    I remember the first time my mum went to Rigby & Peller – she was sooooooo happy that finally she had found a bra that actually fit & didn’t hurt her at all! (As a well endowed lady she has always struggled with painful bras that never quite do the job right)

    I usually always end up going to M&S as they have a bigger variety of bras for bigger busts but have just seen the comment above re their measuring so will have to re-think that! I have a friend who swears by bravissimo, so might also give them a try.

    Right, off to find some free space in the diary for bra shopping!

  10. Oh no, I didn’t know M&S are bad for fittings? They have such a big range of nice undies that I thought it would be a good place to go? I have really small boobs and small budget, should I try Debenhams instead?

    1. Kitty, Debenhams have always been better for me – small boobs and small budget too! M&S measured me very differently I have to say.

  11. I’m not sure I get the point of being measured unless you are planning to purchase from one brand. There is so much difference in sizing, one size in one brand is completely different to a size in another.
    Whenever I have been measured I usually totally disagree with what the fitter is telling me. They usually suggest a smaller back measurement and bigger cup size which for me just feels incredibly uncomfortable and I certainly don’t want my back fat spilling over the sides of my bra! For me, I find a bigger back measurement and smaller cup is much more comfortable. I guess you just have to go with what you think.
    I gotta say I loathe wearing a bra, it comes off as soon as I get home in favour of a crop top – 8 year old style!

    1. Yes I went down two back sizes and up two cup sizes when I was measured Michelle and some new bras were so uncomfortable to start with, others fit like a glove. Think you have to try lots of styles until you find the perfect one for you.

  12. I was measured last month at M&S and I can’t believe how much comfier my new bras are, I hadn’t noticed my old ones were so uncomfortable until then! I thought I was a 34DD or 36D – turns out I’m a 38DD!!! This did through up a problem though as there were very few of the pretty coloured bras in my size and the majority of the ones that I did like were all padded – I don’t think I need extra help in the boob department.

  13. Brilliant post Charlotte!!
    I had been wearing 36D for years – and knew the size wasn’t right for me anymore – the real decider was when I splashed out on some new strapless bras in 36D and they literally slide right down my ribs!!! So bit the bullet and went and got measured at Debenhams – the girl looked a bit surprised when I said the size I was wearing – measured me – I am actually 32DD – which I was in shock over (and still am) but they fit SO much better!! I have also been following BOB group on Facebook as I didn’t quite trust the Debenhams fitting initially!
    A good online place for larger cup sizes at a good price is Brastop – and I think they have free returns!

  14. Sooo glad I’m not the only one who’s had a funny measure at M&S! A few years ago was told there I was a 36back when I was a size 6/8 clothes size on top. It just didn’t make sense to me at all so went to Fenwicks who measured me as 30EE and got me onto Freya bras. Completely love them and can often get 20% off in Debenhams or look online, various places stock them. They did an amazing basic yet pretty style in black and white I stockpiled for years but they discontinued it. I nearly cried!

  15. Really good post. It was a revelation when I want to bravissimo for a proper fitting some years ago (having previously used M&S). I’m now a total convert and recommend to everyone regardless of size. I wear a 28 back (I’m a dress size 6/8) so it can be hard to find my size in other shops but bravissimo and brastop is really good. I’ve also found a range of eBay shops that sell freya, cleo and panache so would also recommend looking there.

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