What makes a great Bra?

What makes a great Bra?

Having a great bra is a big deal! It can significantly impact health, comfort, but also confidence and self-image. I was absolutely delighted when several ladies connected with me after I published my last post, sharing their experiences, troubles, thoughts and questions. It confirmed to me even more that we really should be talking more about bras, boobs and fittings. And it made me even more keen to write this post. I have written it based on my years of personal experience finding bras for myself, and also my professional experience of fitting countless ladies at Bravissimo. SO, here goes, let’s talk about what makes a great bra:

Let’s talk about size

A bra is made up of two parts: the band and the cup. The number part of your bra size refers to the band, whereas the letter part refers to your cup. So, a 34G is a 34 around your back, and a cup G. So far so good? Your size can change every 9 -12 months, as your body goes through life: hormone changes, weight loss/ gain, pregnancy and nursing, varying fitness levels and even your menstrual cycle can cause your size to change.

Interesting bra fact: Different brands/ styles come up different in size, so while you might be one size in one style or brand, you might be a different size in another.

Let’s talk about fit

How should a bra fit? Many ladies just don’t know what to look for. Here are my thoughts: The band is where you get your support from in a bra. Therefore, a great bra should be quite snug around your back. You should always do it up at the loosest, furthest hook to start off with. The reason I say this is that when the bra stretches, you can make a bit tighter with the second, and then third hook. Think of a bra a bit like a shoe: once a shoe stretches, it is handy to be able to tighten it with laces/ straps, to keep it in place. When done up, the bra should sit firmly around your back, without much movement. If your bra has wires, the wires should sit flat against your chest at the front. At the side, they should come up to just under your arm. When the bra is on, there should be no breast tissue trying to escape from the side, or the front, and the wire should not feel like it is digging into any of your breast tissue. At the front of your bra, the cup should not press on your boob in a way that it makes it pop out, creating what we sometimes call “double boob”. Think of the cup’s job being encompassing your whole breast comfortably. Just like you want a cup used for coffee to be able to hold all your coffee, your bra cup should be able to hold your whole boob. And just as you want different sized cups for different types of coffee (espresso cups are smaller than cappuccino cups, which are in turn smaller than latte cups etc) you need different sized cups, for different sized boobs.

If you have a firm enough back, and a big enough cup, you should achieve maximum support, and lift. Your boobs will be held in place, which (especially for us ladies who have been around for decades of life and gravity running its course, and/ or have birthed or nursed children) is a huge advantage. Another advantage if you have the right fit in a bra is that your clothes will look superb over it. The correctly sized bra will keep your boobs in the right place – i.e. up. The lift to your boobs will accentuate your waist, and make your curves look fantastic! Also, you will not have bulges under your t- shirt, but rather a lovely smooth shape.

You’ll notice I have not really talked about straps much. They are kind of irrelevant if you get the back and the cup right. A strap is simply there to hold your bra up a little better, but you shouldn’t seek much support from a strap. You can wear your strap as loose or as tight as you like – but the support should ultimately come from the band. Sometimes tightening the strap can give you a little more lift, while loosening can give you a more relaxed loungy look. It is completely up to you!

Interesting bra fact: like feet, boobs are very often different sizes. If you have one boob bigger than the other, always fit the biggest boob, rather than the smallest. Stretch lace bras can be really helpful in disguising size difference in boobs.

Let’s talk about comfort

It’s all very well and good having the right fit, but is it comfortable? I have tried on several bras in my time which fit well around the back, and the cup encompasses my breasts, but they are just uncomfortable! Some wires are too robust and stiff for me, while others are softer. Some fabrics work against my skin while others don’t. And more than that, some fabrics are supportive enough to carry my boobs while others are simply not. As a result, there are some brands or styles that I go to, and others that I am a little sceptical about. It does not mean that I reject new styles and brands all together, but I as a ‘must’, I try them on and test them under clothes, before deciding to purchase.

Let’s talk about style

There are lots of different styles of bra for different occasions/ fits and clothes. You have to go for what suits your circumstance.

Full cup bras usually give you the most support and the most coverage. They hold you in place, making you feel secure, while giving you a nice smooth shape under your clothes.

Balconette bras tend to have slightly less coverage than full cup bras, and the straps tend to be wider apart. They work really well if you have a little bit of a broader back, and wider shaped boobs that are full at the top.

Plunge bras have wires that sit really low on your chest. They are perfect for a lower cut dress or top to show off your cleavage (if you so wish) without worrying about your bra showing. The low wires are also perfect for you if you find that high wires on your chest dig in and feel uncomfortable.

Non wired bras are very in right now. Some people simply don’t suffer wires at all. Others don’t wear them because they have had recent surgery to their boobs, or they are breastfeeding. Non wired bras can offer fantastic support, excellent shape and maximum comfort. Just go ahead and try one on and see how it feels. The thing to watch out for is again that the band is nice and snug, and that there is no breast tissue bulging out of front or the side.

Moulded bras are the ones that have more moulding to their cups. People sometimes also refer to them as T shirt bras or padded bras. They are thicker and more robust. These usually work better with smaller sized boobs. Having their own shape, they do not fit around your breast as well as a softer material would, and bigger boobs often just don’t sit well in them. They are good if you want a completely smooth line under a piece of clothing, with no lace or seams showing though.

Let’s talk about shape

Ultimately you get to choose what type of shape you want your boobs to have in a bra. Do you want your boobs to be perky and forward facing, or do you want a more relaxed and natural look? Some bras might make you feel a little bit too pointy under your clothes. In order to choose the right shape, the only thing you can do is simply try on a bra, and put on a fitted piece of clothing over it. Then you will know!
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on what makes a great bra. Basically, it has to be correctly sized, comfortable, and right for you, in terms of occasion/ situation and shape. Ultimately, for me, a great bra provides you with support, security, comfort, a look that accentuates your shape and therefore increases your self-confidence.

I absolutely LOVE my bras and choose which one to wear every day according to my mood, outfit choice, and the day’s activities. I love having the right bra for the right moment and I have to say that more than once, my great bras make my day!

In my next blog post I will tackle sports bras and maternity bras!

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Katerina Faulds