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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Bra

The well-known lingerie expert Rebecca Apsan selected the underwear worn by the characters in Sex & The City. Stars such as Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, and Linda Evangelista are known to frequent her stores. She's also written a book about selecting the right bra and underwear.

Rebecca claims that selecting the right bra can change a person's body and their life and make them happier.

With this in mind, we at Bright Side would like to show you how to select the right bra to make sure you feel both comfortable and beautiful.

Taking measurements

Many women buy bras that are the size they would like to wear rather than what actually fits them. Often, this turns out to be a cup size smaller than what they need.

In order to definitively work out which size you need, you have to start by taking your measurements. But bear in mind that these measurements are only the beginning. The size you measure might turn out to be slightly incorrect when you come to try something on, simply because different companies make items that are marginally different in size and because your body shape is unique.

Band circumference

Lower your arms. The measuring tape should be strictly horizontal and firmly pressed against your body. It will be more effective if you get someone else to measure you, but it is possible to do it on your own.

Chest circumference

Put on the most comfortable and ordinary bra you have (not a push-up or a minimizer). The measuring tape should be stretched horizontally and pass over the point of furthest protrusion from the chest but without pressing down on it.

Different countries use different systems to indicate cup sizes. If you want to buy underwear produced in a different country, use the following size comparison to work out what you need.

Our weight can change over time, yet many of us persist in buying the same bra size regardless of physical changes. Don't wed yourself to one size. If your weight fluctuates by 3-5 kg, take your measurements again and look at different size options.

Now it's time to go to the store. Bear in mind that trying on different bras until you find the right one may take around an hour and a half.

How to try on a bra

The band circumference and the chest circumference have an effect on each other. A size C for a circumference of 29.5 inches differs from a size C for a circumference of 31.5 inches. How? The greater the band circumference, the wider and more spacious the cup. Bear this in mind when trying on underwear.

Be prepared to try on no less than ten different bras made by a minimum of two different companies. Try classic designs with a smooth cup. Pick whatever you find more comfortable in terms of material. When you've found your size, you can then try different designs.

Take the first two designs of the size which you determined from taking your measurements. For example, 34A.

The following two models that you try should have a smaller base band size, but a larger cup size. So in this case, 32B.

The third should have a smaller base band size - in this case, 32A.

The fourth should have a larger cup size, e.g. 34B.

The final two should have both a larger cup and larger base band size - for example, 36C.

Each one you try should be evaluated according to three things: the cup, the base band, and the shoulder straps.

When you try on a bra, connect the row of hooks that is farthest to the right (that is, the loosest setting). Depending on the material, the base band can stretch up to 5 cm. That's when you'll need the remaining rows of hooks.

How the perfect bra should look: a checklist

The base band

90% of the support that a bra provides comes from the base band and only 10% from the straps. The base band should firmly reach around the ribcage but not cut into your skin. Lift up your arms and bend your spine from left to right - the base band should stay in place. The center of the bra should firmly hold the ribcage.

You should be able to fit two fingers underneath the clasp, but no more, otherwise the base band will ride upward after about half an hour of wearing the bra. It should lie completely horizontal across your chest. When you first try it on, it might seem a little tight - this is normal.

The cups

If the cups have folds in them, then the bra is too big. Try one with a smaller cup size.

If the bra is squeezing your chest to the point where you have wrinkles near your armpits, then it's too small. Try one with a larger cup size.

The major part of the surface area of your bones should lie around the edges of the bra - including your ribs and breastbone. If your bones are even partly covered by the bra, then you need a larger size.

The straps

A bra should not only support your bust but also raise it up. There's a simple test you can carry out to help you determine whether your bra is the right size. Find the middle point between your shoulder and your elbow. This is where your bra should protrude out from your chest the most. If it is lower than this point, tighten up the straps. But remember that they shouldn't cut into your shoulders or stretch the base band.

Make sure that there isn't too much weight falling on the bra straps. Lower them from your shoulder slightly; the cups might fall down slightly, but the base band should remain in the same position.

Remember also that you should check the length of the bra straps each day.

One other point: the height of your bust shouldn't be lower than the lower edge of your bra. A bra is meant to defy gravity.

A correctly chosen bra will help you to appear as though you've lost 3-5 kg.

Other things to pay attention to

When you're deciding whether or not to buy a bra with a busk, remember that if you're a C cup or larger, a little extra support won't do you any harm.

If the shoulder straps on your bra keep falling down, try using a special fastener that joins them at your back.

If you can't work out your size, you can always just take a bra with a larger cup size to a seamstress and ask them to shorten the base band.

If you have different-sized breasts, try wearing a classic design with molded cups that can hide the difference between them. Alternatively, try a push-up bra, and place a silicone or foam insert into the smaller cup (they're often given out for free in shops).

If you have a wide back and a small bust, concentrate on getting the cup size correct - you can allow the base band to be a little small. All you need to do here is buy a bra extender and the problem is solved.

Photographer Roman Zaharchenko for Bright Side
Bright Side/Girls stuff/The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect Bra
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