About Bras- 1. First things first: How do you know if your bra doesn’t fit correctly?
“Your bra is always trying to talk to you, that’s how I think of it,” Cohen says. “At the end of the day, take special note before you walk in the door and rip off your bra—which is typically what women do—of what’s bugging you. Are you feeling the hook-and-eye closure in the back? Is it scratchy? Are you feeling the wire digging in? Where is that wire digging in—in the middle or on the sides? Has your strap been slipping all day? You know you’re not comfortable, but sometimes we’re so busy we don’t take the time to figure out how or why.”
2. Give me a quick trick about bras or hack to figure out what specifically is wrong with my bra.
Cohen suggests taking what she calls the “T-shirt test.” “Put on a tight white T-shirt, and if you can see the bra very clearly, whether it’s the cup edge bulging or gaping, or the strap or the sides where it might be digging in, you’re wearing the wrong size,” she says.
3. What’s a typical bra fitting like?
Basically, a store attendant measures your rib cage and bust area with a measuring tape. (You can also do this yourself if you have a measuring tape at home.) This dictates your band and cup size. But that’s not all.
“She’s doing more than just measuring you. She’s also looking at your body shape, your breast shape, and how far apart your breasts are,” Cohen says. “She’s also seeing what brand you’re currently wearing and the size you think you are.”
4. OK…so does it matter which breast shape you have?
“People are always focused on the size of a bra—the band and cup—and that matters,” Cohen says. “But breast shape and bra style is also incredibly important. For example, if you have east-west or side set breasts that point outwards or have ample space between them, it’s very difficult for you to wear a full underwire around your whole breast.” Cohen says women with those breast shapes should find a bra with a shorter wire, that stops underneath the breast, instead of encircling it.
5. Let’s go back to sizes. Say you’re a 34B, and you think your band size is too large. Do you go to a 32B?
Nope. There’s a concept called sister sizing that nobody really understands. But here’s the gist of it, using 34B as an example: A 34B is the same thing as a 32C—the 32C just has a shorter band. If you’re going up a size, a 36A is also a B cup—it just has a longer band.
6. Say you need a cup size smaller than a 36A. What happens then?
“If you are a 36A, and you want a smaller cup,” Cohen says, “you’d be a 36AA.”
7. Wait, double letters mean the cup size is smaller? I thought that meant they were bigger—like DD.
“If you’re an A and you go down, it goes double, triple, quadruple — all of those are smaller,” Cohen says. “At the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s a double D — that’s bigger. It really is confusing. They don’t do it that way in Europe, it’s just a U.S. thing. At ThirdLove, we do D, then E, F, G, H, because it just makes more sense.”
8. What does it mean if your straps slip off your shoulders all the time?
“One reason could be that you have narrow shoulders or sloped shoulders,” Cohen says. “If that’s the case, we’d recommend a bra like a plunge bra or a racerback bra, where the straps are further in to combat that. You can also just try adjusting the straps to see if that helps.” According to Cohen, many women buy bras online and never adjust the straps to their own measurements when they put them on. That leads to a lot of slippage too.