This Is How Your Perfect Bra Should Fit, According to Experts

Don’t settle for constricting bands and gaping cups.

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Vladimir Sukhachev/Getty Images

If you have an overflowing bra drawer and still find yourself searching for ‘the one,’ you’re certainly not alone (in fact, some stats suggest that up to 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong bra size). And that’s not even factoring in the rest of the fit or what can happen to your bras with regular wear. 

“Throughout history, we’ve been told our boobs are the problem—that they’re too big, too small, or uneven in size—when misguidance and a lack of fitting options have been the problem all along,” says Ra’el Cohen, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at ThirdLove.

Ready for an upgrade? We asked Cohen to help  break down what to look for when shopping for a bra so you don’t have to deal with uncomfortable fits ever again.

How the cups should fit

When it comes to cups, Cohen suggests aiming for “comfortably full.” “You don’t want your breasts to spill out of the cup of the bra, whereas too much room can create empty, unsupported space. Look down to ensure the breast tissue fits evenly in both cups with no overflow and no gaping. Anything more than a ¼-inch gap indicates you need to go up a cup size (or less, which is why we invented half-cup sizes).”

How the bands should fit

For the band, the trick is to strive for “comfortably snug.” “You never want to feel like you’re spilling over the sides of your bra,” explains Cohen. “If the band is too loose and therefore not pulling the wire into the right place, you may want to try a larger cup size and a smaller band size. As a general rule, you should be able to slide two fingers under the back of your band. No more, no less.”

How the straps should fit

Straps that are too loose (and especially falling off your shoulders) could mean your bra is worn-out from use and the straps have lost their elasticity or that the bra is too big for you, cautions Cohen. “Straps shouldn’t dig either. The band of the bra should be giving most of the support—not the straps. If the straps are digging into your shoulders, chances are the band is too loose and not providing enough support.” 

How the size should fit

Of course, different breast sizes can also benefit from different cup sizes and styles. “Breast asymmetry can also impact the way a bra looks and feels,” notes Cohen. “Around 40 percent of women who experience our Virtual Fitting Room classify themselves as having an asymmetric breast shape, in which case it helps to have a bra that provides an instant lift and allows for an insert on one side to give your smaller boob a boost (ThirdLov’s 24/7 Classic Uplift Plunge Bra is a great option with removable inserts).”

How the shape should fit

According to Cohen, it’s also important to factor in your breast shape. “Athletic, or wider boobs with more muscle and less tissue, can experience cup gaping and therefore benefit from T-shirt style bras, whereas ‘bell boobs’ tend to be slimmer at the top and fuller at the bottom and can benefit from a full-coverage bra that features wider memory-foam straps.”

Cohen goes on to explain that "relaxed boobs," identified as having lax tissue and nipples that point downward, can typically benefit from a balconette-style bra that has a slightly shorter cup for more fullness at the top, whereas "east-west boobs" that have nipples pointing in different directions bode well with full-coverage bras that will help bring the breasts up and together. “For "round boobs," try a wireless bra for days when you want light support, or a balconette when you want an ultra-flattering fit,” she recommends.

A gentle reminder

Lastly, Cohen notes it’s important to remember a woman's bra size changes on average six times in her lifetime. “We have a tendency to think that we should be the same size we were told years ago when in reality your cup and band size will change over time. It’s just a number, so try not to get hung up on the change and know that when a bra really fits, you will look and feel your best.”

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