You may have heard the astonishing number that 85 percent of us are wearing the wrong bra size. This is a problem for several reasons: not only is it uncomfortable, but the wrong size can also cause breast cysts, tenderness and pain. When wearing the proper size, however, our clothes fit better, our posture and the way we carry ourselves improves, we appear slimmer and younger, and our overall appearance and self-esteem rise.
Getting Fitted for the Right Size
Many people have researched how most women do, in fact, wear the wrong bra size. These same people have gathered information on where and how women can be fitted for and purchase the correct size. We checked with the local Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s and JC Penney stores, as well as Bedtime Boutique in Bloomington, to get the scoop on how the bra-fitting procedure is performed at each store and to tap their banks of experience.
Each of the stores we polled said that the number one problem they see regarding women and bras is that women are wearing the wrong size. Brenda Tannahill of Bedtime Boutique pointed out that this isn’t always the customer’s fault. “The manufacturers are not uniform in their sizing. There is American and European sizing, and even another, different Japanese sizing. We fit them all and then tell customers ‘this is how your bra should fit you.’ Once they fit, it makes the whole job easier.”
When fitting bras, each store first measures around the rib cage to get the correct band size, and then around the fullest part of the breast to get the correct cup size. This process takes about 30 seconds and is usually done in a dressing room over clothing or a bra. None of the stores we spoke with charge or require appointments for bra fittings; any time they’re open, they offer fittings. Victoria’s Secret’s Whitney Robinson said they suggest customers get fitted every six months. Even a slight weight change, as little as five pounds, can make a big difference in proper bra size.
Like many women, you may be surprised to find out that 90 percent of a bra’s support comes from the band around the ribcage, not the cups or shoulder straps. Many women make the mistake of tightening their straps, pulling the band up and creating more stress on the shoulders and back. Sue Nethero, owner of Intimacy Boutiques in Chicago, Atlanta and New York, said there are things to look for which tell you if your bra is the wrong size:
• If your cups runneth over, it’s time to go up a cup size.
• If your cups dimple, it’s time to go down a cup size.
• If you have the dreaded back fat, you probably think your bra is too tight, but you’re wrong—your bra
is too big. Wearing the bra lower on your back with a smaller band size will completely eliminate the
• If your strap falls down, that means your bra band is riding up and you probably need to go down a
The right size will not allow the back of the bra to ride up or the shoulder straps to fall down. It will give proper support, which will take the pressure off back and shoulder muscles, enhancing posture. Clothes will fit better, lines appear smoother and curves will be accentuated. Overall appearance and self-esteem will increase, and you will even look younger.
Bras Linked to Minor Health Problems
The wrong bra can do more that just feel uncomfortable or give you “dreaded back fat.” Research suggests it can cause breathing, skin and circulation problems; back pain; and even digestive disorders.
Fashion bras have been linked to breathing and digestive problems. This type of bra is generally tight-fitting and has an underwire which presses on the rib cage, making it difficult to breathe. According to the British School of Osteopathy, the pressure that is put on the rib cage and the diaphragm can cause digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Sports bras are also dangerous if worn too often or for too long. The pressure used to hold the breasts in place while exercising can constrict the rib cage and cause breathing difficulties and circulation problems. This is especially dangerous because during exercise, one breathes deeply more often and blood circulates faster than when resting or pursuing normal activities.
According to the article “Is Your Bra Bad for You?” by the Daily Mail, some studies indicate that bras which are too tight can cause lesions or lumps on the skin, also known as lymphomas. For this reason, it is important to only wear bras “with at least two sets of hooks and padding on the inside of the hooks.”
Whether you’re concerned about looks, comfort or staying healthy, it’s a good idea to get fitted for the correct bra size. Stop by a local lingerie store or department to get on your way to looking and feeling great! TPW