OW!

These bras have TEETH!

 

Ever said that?  Ever heard it?  Want to know WHY your bra hurts to wear it?

First off, the bra that 'bites' is most likely an underwire bra.  That is the biggest offender.  Second, the reason your bra 'bites' is that you are wearing the wrong size!

When you have an underwire bra, the design has the wire laying FLAT against your rib-cage.  When the cup doesn't fit your breast, when it is too small, all that weight PUSHES the cup out at an angle to the ribcage causing the wire to dig into the ribs ON EDGE.  Of course it's going to hurt. Another culprit is the band is too big.  Because it is too large, you tighten up the straps, right?  Well, that pulls the cups at a bad angle, and again you will get the digging in of the underwire.  You need to know also, that the 'wire' used in your bra is generally FLAT (think of a piece of wood plank.  Flat on top, flat on bottom, flat on sides with CORNERS).  That means it has a definite edge, and when you push that edge against your ribs, well, it smarts!

Interesting statistic - 90% of American women are wearing the wrong size bra!  Part of it is our culture.  The 'latest fad' calls for displaying your bust.  OK, fine.  Get a bra designed to do JUST THAT.  Don't buy a smaller cup size so that your breasts are pushed up and overflowing the cup.  If you wish to have a nice display of your breasts, there are styles of bra made to do it - they are called balconette or back several years ago they were called 'shelf' bras.  They make for an - interesting - look.  While they have your breasts propped up, they don't offer much in the line of 'structure' or actual support.  In fact, you get a LOT of *movement* when wearing one of these.  If you'd like to understand that idea better, try this - stand topless in front of your mirror.  Cup your hands UNDER your breasts and lift.  NOT clear to your chin, just until you have a nice mound.  That is what the balconette style bra does.  Now, slightly 'jiggle' your hands.  See the movement?  Since you have the breasts lifted, the movement is actually MORE noticeable than when they are in a 'normal' position.  Here, let me offer some visual examples:

Now, I'd like to have you pay close attention to the band (under the cups) on the second picture above and the picture below.  See how it lays flat and flush against the ribs?  That is how your bra is supposed to fit!  If the band is at right angles to your skin, it is digging in, and very painful after a while!

OK, so how do you know what size bra to get?  Here is how to do that:

1st - Measure for band size:  Keeping the measuring tape parallel with the ground, measure around your ribs directly under your bust after expelling all air from your lungs - you want this measurement to be as small as possible.  Round all fractional measurements to the nearest whole number.

If your measurement is: 

Measurement is: 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
Band size is: 30 32 32 32 34 34 34 36 36 38 38 38

After a 38 band size, the band size should be the closest higher even number to your actual measurement.  So, 41.5" is a 42 band.  A 41" measurement is a 42 band.

 

2nd:  Measure for cup size.  Standing straight, with your arms at your side, measure at the fullest part of your bust (preferably while wearing a non-padded bra) making sure the measuring tape is parallel with the ground and not binding.  Round all fractional measurements to the nearest whole number.

 

3rd:  Calculate your bra size.  Subtract your band measurement (1st step, above) from your cup measurement (2nd step above).  Generally, for each inch in difference, the cup goes up by one size.  Example:  step 1: 34" measurement = 36 band size.  Step 2:  39" bust measurement.  Step 3: 39"-36" = 3" or a C cup size.  You'd probably wear a 36C.  This calculation starts falling apart after a 4" difference and if you have droopy or saggy breasts, your measurement will not be accurate.

If the difference is: Your standard cup size is:
0" to 1/2" AA
1/2" to 1" A
2" B
3" C
4" D
5" DD or E
6" DDD or F
7" G
8" H
9" I
10" J
11" K
12" L

This is NOT a hard and fast chart - only YOU can properly fit your bra, by taking into account the softness of your breasts, the 'drop' or droop (sagging) and so on.  It WILL, however, give you a starting place.  When trying to find a properly fitted bra, you might need to find a specialty boutique and have them 'fit' you.  Try on a couple of bras in the suggested size(s) and go from there.  A properly fitted bra should support your breasts securely, but NOT be binding or overly tight.  When you buy a bra, buy one that fits on the largest adjustment (back hooks), as the bra is going to stretch with wear, and you need to be able to tighten it up.  Your local Wal-Mart, Kmart etc are NOT going to have bras with cup sizes larger than a DD.  And if you require an F, G, H or larger, don't even waste your time looking.  If you live anywhere near a major metropolitan area (San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Miami, DC, NY, etc) there should be a 'boutique' shop in one of the in town or outlying malls that carries lingerie and specialty bras.  I've found a couple in the DC/Richmond area.  I can't afford their bras, but they give me an idea of the size I need.  Since most of the clerks work on commission, I do not advise you tell the clerk that you just want to be sized, if you don't plan on buying one of their bras.  Remember, in those boutiques, the bras are going to START at $70 and go up from there.  Each.

Another way to check for the proper 'fit' of the cup.  With the bra on, turn sideways and look in the mirror.  Does your breast resemble Snoopy's nose?  It shouldn't.  Your nipple should be no lower than mid-way down your breast.  The mid-cup seam should fall exactly half way down the breast.  When the seam is too low, it will give the droopy-nose effect and if the bra gives you a Snoopy-nose, go up a cup size.

One last thing.  Care of your bras:  Always wash your bra with the hooks fastened, never leave them open - they have a tendency to catch on other parts and make holes.  Wash your bras in cold or cool water, do NOT bleach them as that will break down the elastic fibers, and if at all possible, HANG DRY.  An easy way to hang your bras to dry (inside) is to hook them closed (cups hanging down) over the lower bar of a regular clothes hanger and hang the hanger over the shower curtain bar.  You can fit 2-4 bras on a single clothes hanger.  Have enough bras that you aren't wearing/washing/wearing them constantly, as that breaks down the fibers.  My personal suggestion is a bra for each day of the week, and a couple of extra for 'special' - that strapless bra for the dress with spaghetti straps or other style that will show your bra; a racer-back bra for those tank tops that cut in on the backside. An athletic bra (this one SHOULD be real snug to minimize 'bounce' during workout). Well, you get the idea.

Hope this helps - I know I was shocked to find just what size bra I wear!  When you think of someone who wears an "H" cup bra, you think Dolly Parton or even 'worse'.  Not so.  Sometimes, it is that you have a fairly slender rib cage, or that your breasts are full (rounded), not necessarily that they are huge torpedos hanging on the front of your rib cage.  I personally take a 36 H or I cup bra.  But then, I'm 'squishy', too.  If you think that means I'm carrying too much weight, you are right, I am.  Remember, the breasts are 80% FAT tissue.  That is why most athletic women have small, very firm breasts.  They have worked the fat off.

 

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