Cup them right – The Rules for Bra Shopping

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Standard

It is the most basic foundation garment, the one that can perk up those luscious curves making you feel confident and beautiful, from within. Bra – if worn rightly, can make you look younger and slimmer but if worn wrong, it might end up making you look dowdy. With the burgeoning of numerous International and domestic brands, the confusion is at its peak to select the right kind of bra which is not only good in quality, but is also affordable.  To add to the selection woes, there are multiple styles of bra available, leaving us wondering on how to choose the right kind of bra.

Do read on further to know some facts on right selection of bra coupled with some interesting trivia.

Evolution

Bra – short for Brassiere came into existence only in the late 19th century. Till then, women’s modesty was covered by corsets in various patterns. The evolution of fashion and the change of women’s stature in the society determined the evolution of bra from the corsets. The society became more acceptant of sins and sensuousness.

Herminie Cadolle from France developed the first modern bra by cutting the corset into two. “Soutien-gorge” as they call it in French, became famous through the early 20th century.

 In 1932, S H Camp did the first advertising campaign wherein the cup sizes were defined as alphabets starting from A representing the smallest cup size to D being the largest then.

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Warner’s ABC Alphabet Bra

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Palmers Bra in 1937

Around the same time other lingerie brand started growing rapidly. Triumph International was one of them. During the time of World War II, women who were recruited in military wore Conical Bra as a part of their uniform to support their body anatomically well. Thus came in the trend of the pointed conical bra.

(Think of Mumtaz  & Asha Parekh in body hugging chudidars and Sridevi in the song – Tohfa Tohfa….) Over the years, different styles of bra were introduced in the market. There came in the range of nursing bra, teen bra, sports bra, sleepwear bra, bridal lingerie, party wear bra and so on.

So, How to select a Bra?

It’s a pertinent question that everyone seems to fret about. You know all of it, but when you actually go for the purchase, you get overwhelmed with the shapes, sizes, colours, fits and the nonstop persuasion of the counter girl to buy the most expensive one. You end up buying the wrong kind. Bless the internet shopping; it has taken wrong fittings to a different level. We get lured by ‘Buy 4 bras at just 499’ and buy all. Only to realise later that either the quality of the fabric was mediocre or the fittings were weird.

Look for the signs below to know if you are wearing a wrong Bra.

  1. Do your bra straps cause red marks on your shoulder?
  2. Do your bra straps slide down or are you constantly adjusting them?
  3. Do your breasts bulge over the top of the cup in a double bump?
  4. Do your breasts droop or look generally out of shape?
  5. Does your bra band ride up in the back?
  6. Does the centre of your bra fail to touch your breastbone?

Any of the above may be affirmative of the signs that your bra isn’t right for you. These problems indicate that the band is too big or small, or that the cups are too large or small, depending on fit-related issues.

How should a Bra fit?

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Right kind of Bra

– The band of the bra provides 80% of the support. Ensure that the bra has good quality fabric & elasticity. The bra should be snug fit allowing your two fingers to pass through it. If the band rides up your back, it means it is large for you.

– The straps provide remaining 20% of the support. They basically level the breasts centrally. They should not keep falling off your shoulder or dig in your skin.

– Whether you are wearing a full cup or a demi cup bra, your breasts should fit in the cups. No spilling out of the cup, under the cup or around under arm. If it happens, it means you are wearing a small cup size. If there are wrinkles on your cup, it means you are wearing a bigger cup size.

– When you buy the bra, it should fit on the first hook, thus giving space for you to tighten later.

– The mid part of the bra, gore, should fall flat on your breast bone. If it is lifted up, it means your cup size of the bra is small.

How to measure your right bra?

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How to measure for correct Bra size ?

Band size is expressed in even numbers – It is the measurement of your chest just below your breasts. Eg 32, 34, 36

Cup size is the difference of measurement expressed in letter between your band size and the actual breast size at its fullest. It is expressed in letters like A, B, C, D etc. With increase in one inch, there is an increase in cup size from A to B to C and so on.

Step 1: To determine your band measurement, measure your ribcage directly below your breasts. If the tape measure shows an even number, this is your band size. If the tape measure shows an odd number, round up to the next even number to get your band size.

Step 2: Measure the fullest part of your breasts holding your arms at your sides. Keep the tape measure level around your body and measure the fullest part of your breasts (over your nipples).

Step 3: Subtract your band measurement from the measurement of the fullest part of your breasts to determine the difference. The cup size is the difference between the measurements.

As a general rule, the difference between each cup size is 1″.

So A is 1 inch difference, B is 2 inch difference, C is 3 inch difference and D is 4 inch difference.

Eg : If your band size is odd number, 35 , you round it to 36. Now if your fullest part of breasts measure as 39, then your bra size is 36C. ( 39 -36 =3. A difference of 3 inch is C cup size)

Breast sizes are growing. From 1990 – 2000, the average size had gone from a 34B to a 36C.

Bra Style for your Body Type

1) Small Bust ( A to B )–

 Balconette style bra with padding to enhance the curves

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Balconette Style for small bust

 Half Cup Bra with Push up

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Half Cup Push up Bra for Small Bust

2) Average & Large Bust ( C  onwards )

 Bra with wide straps for support

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Wide strapped bra for big bust

                                        Full cup bra

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Full cup bra for big bust

  Under wired

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Underwired Bra for large bust

Minimizer

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Minimizer Bra for big bust

Different Styles of Bra for different occasions

1) T- Shirt Bra for seamless look and daily use

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T-shirt Bra for Daily wear

2) Strapless Bra & Plunging bra for different Party wears

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Strapless bra for Party wear dresses

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Plunge Bra for Deep open necked party wear

3) Sports Bra

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Sports bra for Gym, athletics, dance , aerobics.

4) Nursing Bra for post pregnancy feeding

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Nursing Bra for post pregnancy feeds

The biggest selling bra colour is nude and skin tones now. Ten years ago, the biggest selling bra colour was white, while ivory and cream were a close to second. Tea rose was the favourite from the 1920s through the 1950s.

 

Wash Care

  1. When you try on a bra for the first time, try it on the loosest set of hooks before you examine for fit. Over time, as the elastic naturally stretches, you can switch to the middle set of hooks, and then the inside set of hooks.
  2. Buy several bras and rotate them through your wardrobe regularly. By giving a few bras equal wear, you extend the life of all of your bras.
  3. Hand washing in cold water with a gentle lingerie detergent and lay flat to dry. Try to avoid washing machines, especially without a lingerie bag, and NEVER put a bra in the dryer! The heat from the dryer will break down elastics and damage the underwires.

Recap

  • Follow the three step routine to determine your right size
  • Select the apt style for your bust size
  • Select the right pattern for the occasion ( NO lacy bra for daily wear, their intricate work create detailing on your outfit)
  • Select the right colour (NO white bra for white outfits. Embrace nude coloured bra – they are your best friends )

 Happy Right Bra Shopping !

( You can shop at Zivame )

 

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7 thoughts on “Cup them right – The Rules for Bra Shopping

  1. You are well intentioned – but you have some facts wrong. Your history of bra and the evolution is inaccurate. You are correct, corsets were worn for 100s of years, It was a ban of corset manufacturing due to WW1 that led women to bound their breasts with a “boy band” form, leading to the 20s flapper style. Itel (Ida) Rosenthal, a popular dressmaker, in an effort to make her dresses fit better – added cups to create the “Maiden” form. The bra was never designed with health in mind. Current bra construction is very unhealthy. Unlike corsets, which also supported the spine, Today’s bras exasperate our fragile neck, back and shoulder anatomy. That leads to many chronic pain conditions. Just getting a current bra to fit, cannot fix the fundamental problems with the design. I wish you would write about that! If you want more information please contact me.

    • Hi Mary, Thank you for stopping by and reading the article in detail to give your comments. While my aim to write this article was a preliminary knowledge on selection of bras and their right fitting, I did not intend to make it a pure postural lesson. Posturewings, I understand is doing pretty fine work in creating support garments. Would love to try one of it to know the effect 🙂 Thanks again.

      • I’ve been a follower of your blog for quite some time now. I never had anything to say so never commented. I really like the simple fashion sense you portray in your posts. Quirky and chirpy, and easy to acquire. Keep up the good work 🙂

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