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how should a bra fit

Bras are pretty complicated garments. Depending on the style, a bra may be made up of a multitude of different parts, panels of fabric, and details that contribute to its fit and overall benefits. And each component serves a different purpose. So, which part provides the most support?

In this guide, we’ve broken down everything you need to know around the answer to this common question.

Where does the majority of the support come from?

Many women assume that the cups or straps serve this purpose. But contrary to that popular belief, the band is actually responsible for providing a massive majority of the bra’s support.

The band is the strip of material underneath the cups that wraps around your torso. A wider band can better distribute the weight of the breasts, which is why it’s ideal for women who are full-busted. If the band is too loose or too tight, the bra’s overall level of support is dramatically compromised. Essentially, the bra band should fit as snugly as possible without being uncomfortable whatsoever. A solid way to check if the band is too small or big is to try fitting a finger or two underneath it (if you can’t fit any, you need a larger band size, and if you can slip any more than two under there, you need a smaller size).

In order to get maximum support from your bra, you’ll want to opt for styles that have adjustable bands with several rows of hook-and-eye closures in the back. That way, as the bra stretches out over time, you can tighten it to make sure you’re still getting the amount of support you need.

What about the other parts?

That doesn’t mean the other components of a bra don’t contribute to the support as well. As such, let’s dive into the anatomy of a bra, and how each of its parts function.

Underwire serves an important purpose in the bra, playing a major role in the lift it can offer while also giving the cups more structure and shaping power. It’s no surprise since the wire is the sturdiest material on the garment by far. As such, the underwire is capable of taking some of the pressure off the cups in terms of carrying the weight of the breasts. That said, it’s certainly possible to find wireless bras that are still supportive. But if you’re looking for a lot of lift and definition, underwire can be immensely helpful.


Related: Why Do My Bra Straps Dig Into My Shoulders?


Tightening the straps isn’t going to make your bra more supportive — that’s because this element’s job is primarily to secure the cups in position and prevent them from falling down. This is why it’s crucial to have a well-fitting band: if the straps are being relief on for support, then you’re putting a lot of pressure on your shoulders.

The cups are there to contain the breasts, holding them in place against the chest. Depending on the bra style, the cups may also enhance the shape of your breasts.

And the center gore connects the cups while separating the breasts. You’ll notice that bras designed for full-busted women will have taller center panels for some added support. If the bra fits well, the gore will lay flat against your body.

Pro tips

The most critical function of a bra is to provide support. Now that you understand the anatomy of a bra, you’re better equipped to seek out well-fitting styles that will suit your breast shape and size. Remember: A well-fitting band is imperative, as this part does most of the heavy lifting on the bra. So, have you been fitted by a pro in the last six months or so? If not, it’s time to get measured.


Related: Ask A Bra Fitter: What Are Bra Fittings Like?


We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!


Featured image lingerie:
Marion Unlined Wire Bra P5392 | Marion Hipster P5395 in Pink Parfait

Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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