Don’t just blindly guess your bra size—here’s how to wind up with bras that last and love you back.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated: May 21, 2019
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Not to be dramatic, but a life spent wearing ill-fitting, uncomfortable bras is simply no life at all—and if you’ve already found the bra of your dreams you know exactly how life-changing this staple undergarment can be. Because let’s be honest, the wrong bra can not only make or break an outfit, but your entire day.

Shopping for bras isn’t always a cake walk, though, and worthwhile bras can be an investment. Besides weird lighting and cramped dressing rooms—or straight-up not being able to try things on if you’re bra shopping online—it’s hard to know exactly what you need (especially if you haven’t treated yourself to a new bra since, oh, college). Never again let yourself suffer in a so-so bra, thanks to these essential bra shopping commandments.

1. Get Measured by a Professional

Ideally, all ladies should try to get sized about once a year, or after going through any bodily changes. It’s always smart to know how to measure your own bra size, but if you’re getting measured for the first time in a while, leave this task up to a pro.

2. Have at Least Five Everyday Bras You Love

Yes, five! It might seem like a lot, but having a solid lineup of bras will give each one a longer shelf life. Wearing the same bra everyday—or even for more than one day at a time—is one the biggest bra mistakes women tend to make. Over-wear will stretch out the spandex, so don’t discount the importance of a good bra rotation for long-lasting bras.

3. Go for Quality Over Looks

It’s always fun to have some cute, cheap bras for special occasions, but don’t rely on looks alone to get the job done day in and day out. Even though stronger, quality materials often carry a higher price tag, it’ll always be a worthwhile investment—especially if you’re anything larger than a C cup.

4. Focus on the Feel of the Band—Not Just Cup Size

You might not realize it, but most of your bra’s support should come from a snug band. To gauge sufficient snugness: When worn on the loosest hook, the band should allow only one of your fingers to slide underneath. As the band naturally loses elasticity over time, adjust by using the tighter hooks. The band should also be completely level all the way around your rib cage. If it’s too loose, your bra will start riding up your back, which is not only uncomfortable, but causes soft flesh to bulge (making you think you have back fat to lose—when you don’t!).

5. Avoid Minimizer Bras

Not everyone is after a bigger chest—but if you’re looking for ways to make your breasts appear smaller, minimizer bras aren’t the best route. A minimizer bra will compress breast tissue and actually increase the surface area of your breasts (exactly what you don’t want), but a high-quality bra with enough lift and side support will help tame your chest area more than you realize.

RELATED: I’m a DD and This Is the Only Bralette I’ll Wear

6. Know Where Underwire Discomfort Comes From

Where and how the underwire hits you has to do with a few factors. Is the underwire digging into your breasts? You might actually need to try a larger cup size. But if the underwire is cutting into the skin below your breasts, try going down a band size.

7. Know Your Proportions

Where exactly should your breasts be in relation to the rest of your body? There are no "rules" here (and everyones' figure is completely different), but here are some helpful guidelines: If you turn sideways and look in the mirror, a well-fitting bra should hold your breasts comfortably in place midway between your shoulder and elbow crease; looking in the mirror straight-on, a good bra will keep your breasts within the frame of your torso—neither super pushed together nor smushed out toward your arms.

Read on to find the best bras for big boobs, plus more tips for finding your bra size from bra enthusiasts.

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