You find the most gorgeous bra you’ve ever seen. It’s a black lace balconette with gold trim weaving throughout. It sparkles with the tiniest of black rhinestones. The inner shell is as soft as silk and the price is exactly what you can afford.
You search the drawer, slowly at first, looking for your size while imagining yourself wearing this dream bra — everywhere. Your fingers move a little more quickly, searching the tags… 32B… 32D… 34A… 36C… 38D… Maybe I missed it, you think, and obsessively go back again through all the sizes. But, no matter how hard you look, the one size you are looking for is sold out.
Well, don’t give up just yet! If you were shopping for shoes, skin-tight jeggings or a fitted hat, you would not be so lucky — but, with bras, you have something called a “sister size.”
“Every woman has two bra sizes,” explains Eve Michaels, fashion expert and author of Dress Code: Ending Fashion Anarchy. “Every bra designer has a slightly different pattern which affects the bra fit. Just like shoes or clothing, each one’s fit varies. That’s why most women can actually wear two to even three different sizes in everything they buy.”
Step 1: How to find your true bra size
First, you’ve got to know your “true” bra size — and Michaels makes it pretty clear how important this is: “Want to look better in your clothes? Want your bust to appear younger? Want to appear 10 pounds slimmer? Want your waistline and abdomen to seem smaller? Want to feel sexier and ready to be undressed? Then wear the right bra (and matching panties, of course)!!!”
When was the last time you measured yourself? It’s recommended to remeasure every six months because of the way our bodies constantly change. So, let’s get to it!
Finding your true bra size can actually be a bit difficult (math-phobes, beware!). But, Victoria’s Secret has given us a few tools. The Find Your Perfect Fit quiz walks you through all your problem areas to find the best bra fits for you, or you can watch their short video on how to measure correctly.
Step 2: Check the fit
“When a woman tries on a bra, comfort and support is crucial,” Michaels adds. “No matter how pretty or sexy a bra looks, it must hold all the breast tissue properly and be comfortable enough to wear all day long… without pinching or cutting.” Your bra should fit comfortably on the loosest hook — the tighter hooks are to be used as your bra loosens as it ages.
The next time you are out shopping, try on a few bras in your true size and take note of each one’s fit. Are the straps too tight, band too loose, cups too small?
If this happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not your size. Instead, like Michaels mentioned earlier, bras — like clothes — can vary from brand to brand and fabric to fabric.
More: 7 Great reasons to hate strapless bras
Step 3: How to find your sister size
So, this is where your sister size comes in. Michaels explains, “A sister size in a bra usually translates to one cup size up with one band size down. For example, a 36C’s sister size is a 34D.”
This little switch-up essentially leads you to a very similar fitting bra. While shopping, if you find a bra in your true size, but the cups seem a little too small, then go up a cup size and down a band size (34C to 32D). Or, let’s say the band in your true size feels a bit too snug, then go down a cup size and up a band size (34C to 36B). Use the infographic below to find your sister size(s).
Step 4: Find your perfect bra
Lastly, to find the perfect-fitting bra, there are just a few more things to consider.
“The biggest mistake women make when they buy a bra is to rush through the process or buy a bra based on price alone,” Michaels says. “The first thing I tell my clients to look for in a bra is the design: full coverage, demi, balconette, sport, etc. In other words, what shape resonates to them? How much or how little coverage do they want or need? For what purpose do they want the bra?”
More: 3 Types of bras every woman should have
After those questions are answered first, then Michaels advises her clients to look at the bra’s color, fabric and construction. “A well-made bra in the right fabric and color will make a woman love her bra even more… and help it to last way longer.” Additionally, she notes, “The right bra will also lift a woman’s breasts, creating a more youthful-looking bustline and slimmer abs by comparison.”
But, above all, the next time you’re at the lingerie store and you’re feeling guilty about spending so much on a bra, keep Michaels’ advice in mind: “A great bra is a great investment and every woman deserves it.”
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