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Like all clothing, bras should fit the body in a specific way, but many women aren't wearing the right option for their figure. If you find yourself wondering, "Why doesn't my bra fit quite right?" and the thought of calculating your bra size makes your head spin, relax and take note because buying a bra is far less intimidating when you're equipped with the correct information. Our experts demystify bra measurements once and for all, and give care tips to ensure your bras wash and wear well for all of their days. With the right information, you'll be able to find out your right size and the best bra type for your body with ease.

woman shopping for bras in store
Credit: Asia-Pacific Images Studio/Getty Images

How to Find the Right Bra Fit

Consider these expert tips for finding the perfect bra fit. Once you figure out the size that fits your body best, you can start shopping for different styles.

The Band

You’re not doing your breasts any favors by wearing a roomy band. The band provides most of your support, so you want it to be on the snug side but not so tight that you want to take it off ASAP at the end of the day, says Alicia Miller, a fit expert for Chantelle. The elastic will loosen over time, so start on the loosest hook. As the band stretches, you can move to the progressively tighter hooks.

Fit mistake: Wearing a band that’s too big, which is likely the case if it rides up your back. The band should rest on the lower middle of your back, so the cups stay lifted.

The Cups

The right bra has cups that accommodate the shape and orientation of your breasts (not just size), so cup size can vary by style. The cups should hold the sides of your breasts and rest comfortably on them—no digging or gaping.

Fit mistake: Wearing too-small cups. How do you know if your bra cups are too small? If there’s spillage at the front or sides, go up a size. Bra cups are also too small if the underwire sits on the breast, not under it.

The Straps

The primary role of bra straps is to help the cups stay in place. They should lie flat and snug without digging into your skin.

Fit mistake: If you’re tightening the straps with every wear, try a smaller band size or different style. A racerback suits a small frame or narrow shoulders. Are you going strapless? Size down on the band and up in the cup; this helps the cups stay up while giving your bust enough room.

Bras for Post Breast Cancer

After a lumpectomy or reconstruction, wear a wireless or sports bra in soft, stretchy fabric. Avoid molded cups and underwire, which can irritate as you heal, says breast cancer survivor Caitlin Kiernan, author of Pretty Sick ($7, Amazon).

How to Care for Bras

Your bra isn’t designed to last forever, elastic begins to degrade after six months, but you can extend its lifespan by following a few simple rules.

Hand-Wash or Wash on Delicate

Don’t toss in your bra with your regular load of laundry. The cycle is too rough for the fragile fabric. Hand-wash your bras instead, using cold water and a special detergent intended for lingerie. Your next best option is to stow it inside a lingerie bag and use your washing machine’s delicate cycle. After washing, lay your bra out flat to dry. (A foldable drying rack makes this super easy). Unless the label says otherwise, never throw your bra the dryer, or you risk destroying the fabric, warns Miller.

Rotate Different Bras

Don’t wear the same bra every day. It’ll stretch out pretty quickly. Invest in a few bras you love so you can rotate them. “What we say in the biz is one to wash, one to wear, one to spare,” says Miller, who recommends that every woman own at least three everyday bras for this reason.

The Best Bras to Buy Online

Too busy or shy to visit a store for a pro bra fitting? Fear not: You can confidently bra-shop online. Strapless bras, wireless bras, sports bras, t-shirt bras, and beyond: these hand-picked favorites have your back (and front).

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Credit: Courtesy of Macy's

Best Padded Bralette

Bralettes are comfortable, but they don’t always offer precise shape or adequate coverage. The material is sometimes thin and more revealing than you might want—as in, noticeable nipples. This seamless style gives you shape, and thanks to removable pads, you also get modesty. It comes in several different colors, including three different nude tones, black, and royal blue.

Buy It: Invisibles Comfort Lightly Lined Retro Bralette ($44, Macy's)

spanx bra
Credit: Courtesy of Spanx

Best Bra for All Breast Types

This bra by cult-favorite shapewear brand Spanx is a best-seller for a reason. It's made with stretchy straps and a hosiery back for ultimate comfort. It's available in a variety of band and cups sizes, and can also be fitted with added strap support if you need it. The Bra-llelujah! bra also comes in a racerback version as well as an unlined option, which retail for $68 each.

Buy It: Bra-llelujah! Full Coverage Bra ($68, Spanx)

harper wilde bra
Credit: Courtesy of Harper Wilde

Best Strapless Bra: The Flex by Harper Wilde

Harper Wilde takes the hassle out of bra shopping by offering three essential styles for everyday wear: strapless, lightly lined, or push-up. The color choices are simple, and they've invested in features like an x-shape bridge that folds easily for storage and quality microfiber bands that don't pill in the wash. There’s also a give-back element: The brand donates to Girls, Inc. to help educate girls across the world.

Buy It: The Flex Strapless Bra ($40, Harper Wilde)

soma bra
Credit: Courtesy of Soma

Best T-Shirt Bra

Meet your favorite new t-shirt bra. The Enbliss Wireless by Soma has soft contour cups that give full coverage and support without any wire or bulkiness. The top-rated option has a four-and-half out of five-star rating from more than 2,100 buyers is available in 13 colors.

Buy It: Enbliss Wireless Bra ($50, Soma)

bare necessities bra
Credit: Courtesy of Bra Necessities

Best Plunge Bra

Finding a sexy yet supportive plunge-style bra without bulky padding is no easy feat. The Natori bra is a high-quality bra—with a four-and-a-half out of five-star rating—that's still affordable. It has the lingerie look but still feels like something you can wear every day.

Buy It: Natori Feathers Plunge Bra ($68, Bare Necessities)

cosabella bra
Credit: Courtesy of Cosabella

Best Bralette

Even busty women can rock this delicate bralette. The full-coverage fit, adjustable straps, and lined cups hold everything in place. Plus, it's available in a variety of sizes, from petite to extra-large.

Buy It: Ballet Curvy Bralette ($90, Cosabella)

Comments (2)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
May 29, 2021
For women with BreSt cancer looking for bras try the American Cancer society for resources or your local oncology social worker.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
May 28, 2021
On paper as the saying goes...they (the bras) look great! Until you get to THE PRICE! In today's world...you think young struggling single women can afford these prices? The young married couple...also struggling can afford? And finally...you have retired ladies on a very fixed income ... I cannot afford that price! Due to lumpectomy years ago...one breast is so much smaller than the other...more so the older I get. These 3 groups of women need bras that are not the prices above! My solution in recent years...I've been living braless...meaning no bra on. Suggestions on better prices? Thanks for your info.