Wifey Wednesday: Choosing Lingerie that Makes You Feel Confident

Christian Marriage Advice

It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a subject, and then you all can comment or link up a marriage post in the linky below!

This week we’ve been “fighting the frump”. We talked about the importance of taking pride in your appearance and not looking sloppy, and in finding clothes that fit and flatter.

One thing that I have found makes a tremendous difference in both my confidence levels and how I look is having the right bra. And that can help your marriage–because when you’re more confident about how you look, you’re more confident in the bedroom! A little lingerie can make everyone feel wonderful, but today I want to focus mostly on bras, because they’re the trickiest. So today let’s talk about “foundational undergarments”.

A bra is supposed to lift and separate, so to speak. They’re supposed to stand HIGH. A good bra will give support and shape to you, and create a nice line for your figure. You’re not supposed to have four boobs. If you have four, it’s because you’re wearing too tight a bra and you’re spilling out. You’re not supposed to spill out the side, under your arms, either. You’re not supposed to sag. You’re not supposed to feel as if your bra is riding up if you lift your arms.

Finding the Right Bra Size

Why do these things happen? Most people wear bras that don’t really fit. Many of us simply don’t know our bra size. Here’s a YouTube video that can help you figure that out (Warning: does feature a woman in a bra, but it’s tastefully done and obviously for educational purposes. And the bra is modest):

One line I really love from the video: she’s talking about how many women who are bigger don’t like getting bras because it makes them feel fat. But she says, “Actually, a properly fitted bra can make you look slimmer, because it pushes the breasts up and shows off your rib cage.” So don’t be afraid of going up to the proper cup size!

Need that chart she mentioned about converting your measurement into a band size? You can find one here. And there’s another video about sizing bras there as well.

Once you know your size, what should you do?

Bra Tips

1. A new bra should fit comfortably when it is done up at the LOOSEST setting. That’s because bras, over time, stretch. If it fits comfortably at the loosest setting, then when it stretches, you can start fastening it tighter to compensate. If you buy a bra that has to be done up on the tightest one already, it’s almost guaranteed that in a few months that bra won’t be providing much support.

2. The straps are there for a reason. Adjust them. I find that I have to adjust mine every few weeks a little bit to keep a nice, firm fit. Bras stretch, so straps may have to get tighter. You want them to be right against your skin, not gaping anywhere. Don’t just set them once and forget about them. If your straps fall over your shoulder a lot, that’s a sign they should be tightened.

3. Small chested women can look great in a good bra! I’m in this category. I am the farthest thing from being well-endowed, but I’ve found that buying a padded bra that fits (not a push up, that’s too much) gives me some great shape and makes me feel so much better. If you’re on the smaller side, that doesn’t mean that you can’t look good in lingerie! You just need to find the right one. Lula Lu has a complete line for women who are A and AA cups.

4. Get the proper band size–even if it’s hard. Go for the smallest band size that fits well, because, as I said, bras stretch. Here’s something that thinner (not necessarily small busted, just thinner) women need to realize: the bras that you can buy in Sears, Wal-Mart, etc. may not actually fit. I have family members who will remain nameless who can’t find the right bra because technically they should be wearing a 30 band size, and most bras start at 34 (a few start at 32, but only a very few). So if you shop at a department store, your bras will always be slightly loose, so when you raise your arms the bra rides up (not comfortable).

So these girls buy all their bras online, where you can get band sizes as small as 28. Much more comfortable and flattering!

Other women may also have this problem for another reason: they’re very busty, but in order to find a cup size that fits, they have to go up to very large band sizes. So if they’re an F cup, for example, stores may not have those in 32 or 34. So  you end up buying a 38 DDD, which does manage to cover everything. But it doesn’t support well because it’s just not tight enough around your rib cage. In that case, you, too, might be better off taking proper measurements and figuring out your actual bra size, and then buying online.

5. Play around a bit with sizes. If you find that your bra size comes out to be a 38C, for instance, but that just isn’t comfortable, go down a band size and up a cup size. So a 38C woman will often also fit a 36D bra. Or a 34B will fit a 32C. Generally you should go for the size that all those fancy measurements say you should be, but sometimes certain styles of bras look better and feel better with that little trick.

6. Scoop and Separate. I learned this trick in a lingerie store, and boy, does it work! You’re going to do it with me now: Take off your shirt so you’re just wearing your bra and stand in front of a mirror. Now, with your right hand, reach under your left breast (your hand is between the bra and your breast). Lift that breast up a bit. Now look at the difference between the left and the right breast! One is standing up so much higher! Do this with both sides every time you put on a bra and you’ll feel great all day.

7. Try Some New Styles. There are push up bras. Underwire bras. Padded bras with underwire. Padded bras with no underwire. Lacy bras with no padding. Sometimes we get used to the type of bra we wore when we were first teenagers, and then we never really try any others. I’ve tried on a ton, and I can tell you that I love lightly padded and hate no shaping at all. I just don’t have the chest for it. But I hate push ups, too, because they just feel too big and that’s not me. But I would never have known that I liked the padded ones unless I had first tried them. So don’t be afraid to try something new! And sometimes it’s nice to have different bra styles for different purposes, too.

8. Ask for Help. Many clerks in department stores/lingerie stores are happy to measure you and help you find proper bras that fit. An online resource I’ve found which is just AWESOME (and gave me suggestions I had never thought of before) is from Her Room lingerie. Basically, you answer a whole series of questions about the shape of your chest, rib cage, etc. etc., and then at the end they give some suggestions about what to look for in a bra that will suit you. I had never even thought of some of these things before, but I do have an issue with my bra straps falling off of my shoulders quite a bit because I have very narrow shoulders that are also slightly sloped. They had some good suggestions. It’s a fun test to take. After you complete it they give you a really detailed analysis with some tips, and a 10% off coupon code to use there.

How to Make Bras Last

I’ve had several bras for six years. They fit now as well as they did when I bought them (I just do them up a little tighter and I’ve adjusted the straps). How does that happen? One simple trick: I never, ever put my bras in the washer and dryer. Ever. I hand wash them.

That sounds time consuming, but it really isn’t that bad. You just stick all your bras in the bathroom sink with a little bit of gentle lingerie cleaning powder, and then you let them soak for a bit. Rinse well, and put the bras on a towel on your floor. Roll up the towel, and most of the water comes out. Hang the bras to dry. You’re all set to go!

The reason bras stretch and lose their shape is because of the dryer. If you keep your good bras out of the washer and dryer, they’ll last beautifully. (I don’t put my T-shirts in the dryer, either, and those last years).

Invest in Good Bras

Like I said in my post yesterday, I don’t care where you get your clothes as long as they fit and flatter. And if you would rather by lower quality clothing, and replace it more often, that’s fine, too.

But when it comes to bras, investing in something that fits and supports well is so important. It really does make a world of difference. And if you take care when you wash them, you’ll find that they do last. That means that you may have to spend at least $35 or $40 on a good bra, but it honestly is so worth it.

Remember to try the test at Her Room and get the 10% off coupon!

Tell me: what do you find most challenging about bras?

Now it’s your turn! Leave the URL of a marriage post you’ve written in the linky below. And then grab my Wifey Wednesday blog button and post it on your site, so other people can come back here and find other great marriage posts.

Sheila is the author of The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.

This post contains affiliate links.


  1. So many great tips here Sheila! Thank you!

    I agree with you about hand washing bras. Back in Kenya where i come from, we hand-wash all our clothes. My bras lasted years! But here in the states, the same bras faded out and became loose fast! Thanks for these tips, loving the series.
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…6 Ways to Navigate Financial Difficulties in MarriageMy Profile

  2. I have to wear a good bra and more importantly underwire because the soft cup Bras do not give my triple D’s the supported they need. And I definitely don’t need any padded bras my breasts are plenty padded!! I couldn’t even find a good nursing bra when I breastfed because the ones that were available just weren’t right! And forget me finding anything at Victoria’s Secret! I haven’t been able to wear anything from That place. Since high school

    • Kelly, that’s so tough! But you know the importance of a good bra at least. I can’t imagine the shoulder troubles and back troubles you’d have without one. That must have been so difficult in middle school/high school, though!

    • Just a quick tip for you (and I understand fully because I used to be a G). Check out your local mastectomy boutique. They usually have a much better selection of hard to fit sizes and if it is not in stock, they will order. Also, they know how to fit bras properly.

    • Lane Bryant was my saving grace when I was a 36DDD(extra long ). I never did find a decent nursing bra though. I had a breast reduction a couple years ago and I still have a hard time finding bras that fit but for completely differnt reasons! Boobs are so great and such a pain at the same time!

  3. Whoa, thanks for the tip about buying them online! I need a 30 band size, but the smallest I’ve found was 32. I honestly just didn’t think I’d be able to find what I needed without walking into Victoria’s Secret, and I just can’t go in there. So much pink and lace and cleavage. Just can’t do it. I’ll shop around online. :)
    AmyBean recently posted…Run like the wind, zombies!My Profile

  4. I only started following your blog recently (I’m engaged and I was looking for one with Christian marriage advice), so this is my first time speaking up! I’ve probably spent a lot more time thinking about bras than the average person, because I sew a lot of my own clothes and the undergarments are very important to getting a good fit on those, too! I’m actually making my own wedding dress, and I went to a specialty bra shop to get fit for a strapless before I started the fitting process, because I’ve had very little luck with getting those to stay up. And to my surprise, I was told that my size is two band sizes down and a cup size up from what I’ve been wearing! I think for me, the biggest challenge is thinking that bras are ridiculously overpriced for the amount of fabric you get and how quickly the foam cup ones, which I prefer because I get cold easily, wear out. I haven’t resorted to making my own yet, but there seems to be an underwear-sewing trend going around the sewing blogs that I read, so I may give it a shot sometime.

    • Becky, I think most people wear a band size that’s too big. It’s very common. I’m glad you’ve figured out what size you are. But my biggest suggestion: buy a really good one, and hand wash it. Especially a strapless that you would wear so rarely–it will last forever. Honestly.

    • Okay, one more comment: you know where you could make a killing? If you already know how to sew, why don’t you offer to alter bras? So many people buy good ones, but then they get too loose. If you could make them slightly smaller, you could charge like $10 and people would pay because they wouldn’t have to buy a new one! I’ve often thought that that would be a good business idea. :)

    • Oh girl, spending bucks on a bra is so worth it! It’s not just about the amount of fabric – it’s about the quality of the construction. A well-made bra will last so much longer and be so much more flattering than a cheap one.
      Melissa recently posted…Trauma at the Hand of FictionMy Profile

    • I am just getting into sewing my own bras. I can’t find ANYTHING that is reasonably comfortable in my size . (34I) Underwire bras dig into my ribcage, so softcup is my only choice. Goddess has been the only brand that gets even a little close to a good fit. Linda’s ( I see an ad on the right) has some great information on their site for finding a good fit. I don’t’ seem to be built like the bras are made. 😉 I have trouble with straps falling off my shoulders, getting good support, etc, but I going to spend some time getting everything right on my own. :) Some great bra sewing resources:
      Bramakers Supply- http://www.bramakerssupply.com/
      Sew Sassy-http://www.sewsassy.com/
      Brooke recently posted…Fighting the Frump: Wednesday EditionMy Profile

  5. I hate bras. Seriously hate them so that I most wear a sports bra. I’m a AA cup, and noone carries that size. And any underwire cuts into me, and I’m a different size now than pre-pregnancy, pre-nursing (where I was a different size then, too). I’d be happy to go bra-less if it was socially acceptable (I do care about that, ironically…) I’ll check out that website, I’d love to buy online and not have to sort though the masses of B, C and D cups (and feeling bad at my very small size).
    Rachael recently posted…Book Review: Dear BirthmotherMy Profile

    • I hear you, Rachael! That petite bra size place looks like they have lovely things. It’s right here. I hope that helps! I’m sure you’re absolutely beautiful just the way you are, but a little lace never hurt anybody. :)

    • Ittybittybra.com is fabulous for those “what-comes-before-A??” sized women. I’m less than an A, probably about 32 inches around. Got sick of bra shopping in the juniors section, so I went searching. I found a $60 bra at ittybittybra, and I love it. It’s padded, so it gives my clothes some shape and I can look like a girl again! Yay!!

      • I may have to look at the ittybittybra site. My problem is that my measurements seem to lie. I measure at a 28, which according to her chart is a 32 band size. However, I’ve tried on many bras and I can’t breathe in anything less than a 36. And the cup size is a complete mystery. Most websites say to figure your cup size you add 4 to your band size, then subtract from your bust measurement. Well, when I do that I get a negative number! I usually end up buying a 36A but I can only find specific bands where the cups don’t gape, AND that have enough padding that I don’t have “headlight” issues.

        • I wonder if you’re just not used to wearing tight/form fitting things? If your rib cage literally is 28″, then a 32 band size is exactly it. If you’re wearing a 36, you’re wearing something that is roughly 4″ larger than your actual rib cage, and is likely riding up. I’d try the much smaller band size and much larger cup size and see what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised! It could be that you’re trying the smaller band size without going up a cup size, and that could be what’s making it seem really tight. If worst comes to worst, go to a department store and ask them to fit you. But if you do that, remember that many department stores don’t carry a good selection of 32s, and you still may have to buy online!

    • Rachel, I totally hear you. I dropped from a B to probably a AA after nursing my two babies. I felt ridiculous trying on every bra at Victoria Secret after my first child when they didn’t have anything that was small enough. I wear a 36 band too and they tried to give me a 34 to get the A-size cup smaller, but the 34 band was uncomfortably tight and I still didn’t fill out the cup. I wore sports bras all through pregnancy and nursing because they were so much easier and comfortable than the nursing bras. I’d continue wearing sports bras, but I hate that they give no shape or padding to protect against cold days. After my second child, I started wearing my pre-pregnancy underwire bra again, but the underwire cut into my rib cage, so I’m embarrased to say I just stuck some nursing pads between my ribs and the wire and delt with it. I’ve forgone that “extra” padding but still deal with the open space. I’m ok with my clothed appearance, but it’s hard to feel sexy when there’s so little there after the padding and curves of a bra have been removed.

  6. Nicole Rogers says:

    I am struggling with the whole bra issue myself. After having gastric bypass in 2008 I had no idea what I went down to & never took the time to really figure it out. I was upset over how small my breasts had gotten. From then I had my daughter in 2011 and the my son 3 weeks ago. I desperately need better bras. I’m still not comfortable with my body but I have noticed certain bra & panties that I do have make me feel more confident. Getting some new bras & panties is high on my ‘to do’ list. Thank you for sharing this!!!

  7. Yes to investing in good bras!! I know it just drives some people nuts to fork out the money for an expensive bra, but I think it is totally worth it. I used to get the cheapest one and it just never fit right and it wore out too soon. Once I started spending the money by actually going to a certain popular lingerie shop and getting fitted, I realized that the size I actually am isn’t sold in most Targets/Walmarts/department stores. Now I’m actually supported.

    I also tell people to spend the money on a pretty, expensive, supportive nursing bra. No one likes to spend money on those because they aren’t used long-term. However, you’re going to feel like a cow for as long as you breastfeed, so you should help yourself out by getting something pretty. That definitely helps in the wanting-to-have-sex-after-a-baby thing. Think of it as an investment in your marriage rather than in a piece of frivolous lingerie.
    Elizabeth@Warrior Wives recently posted…Do You Really Need That?My Profile

    • I completely agree with buying quality lingerie rather than cheap garments. I love the VS semi annual sales. This past time I waited until the bras were $15, and then bought several. (Including three unlined lace demi bras, which they usually don’t have in the store – they usually just have the padded ones, it seems.) I needed a new size so it was the perfect time to go in and shop. The cheap bras seem to stretch out faster, and they don’t have a wide variety of sizes.

  8. I found that actually getting measured was the first (and most important) step that I took to find bras that fit. Also, I buy my bras from Victoria’s Secret, and I learned that I need to try them all on before I buy. Just because I wear a certain size in one type of bra doesn’t mean that all bras in that size will look good on me! Finally, I had issues with my bra straps staying up as well. I found that a Racerback bra style (but in a regular bra, not sports bra) helps me tremendously. It took me some time, but I’m so happy I finally found bras that fit!

  9. When I was growing up my mom had parties in people’s homes selling… under-garments! She’d show the different styles, and then make appointments to visit the women in their homes to measure them in private.

    Now, don’t laugh – or groan. These were form fitted (a gazillion measurements) and made-to-measure for every woman. Nothing sleazy or anything.

    The company was called “Spencer” and they had a factory in Rock Island Quebec Canada where each bra was sewn completely made-to-measure. Because it was the 60’s, you can imagine the “styles” of the bras… NOT fashionable at all. But they did fit each woman perfectly.

    Eventually the company went out of business (about 1992). My husband and I actually went there to tour the factory and see if it would be a viable business to buy – but we didn’t the experience necessary to make it a success. The concept was valuable – especially for women with fit problems of every type.
    Lori recently posted…Where Are Your Eyes?My Profile

  10. If you live in the States (I don’t know if you have this store in Canada) the best place I have ever bought a bra is at Dillard’s. The ladies in their lingerie department have training that goes beyond just measuring you and sending you out into Bra-Land on your own. I have loved – LOVED – every single bra I have ever gotten there and they last forever.

    Having a good bra is more important now than ever for me. I’ve nursed two babies and the girls just ain’t as perky as they used to be! My bra size has changed almost every time I’ve bought a bra in the past few years. Always, always, always get fitted before buying a new bra.
    Melissa recently posted…Trauma at the Hand of FictionMy Profile

  11. Anonymous says:

    As a husband who sometimes visits your site I wish I could do so without seeing a woman dressed in her underwear that is a temptation to me to lust. I only want to see my wife that way. As a teenager I used pictures much like this in advertising flyers that came to my home to fuel lustful thoughts.

    I realize this post is meant for wives and I think it’s a good and valuable subject for you to address. I would have no problem with a link to a video with a content warning so I can avoid it but the picture was unavoidable just scrolling down the page skimming the posts.

    A (Weaker) Brother in Christ – 1 Timothy 5:2

    • I understand what you’re saying, and I’m sorry for any offense. But this is where my dilemma came: that video was so great and illustrated so many points in a way that I never could do just by writing. And if you link to a video, rather than embed the video, it gets watched about 10 times less than if it’s embedded. I felt it was important enough to embed, because it can make such a huge difference to women. I also thought she was quite well covered compared to most beaches. Again, I am sorry for causing offense, but sometimes women really NEED a place we can talk about these things! I’ll be getting back to “normal” programming on Monday.

  12. I just recently read somewhere (online) that there is no universal sizing for bras. Not only are sizes different between countries, but also between brands, and sometimes even between different styles of the same brand! (So, just because you are a 36C in one bra at one store, you might not be in every bra you try on!)

    • That’s absolutely true. If you click on the link to the charts on the page, you’ll find that they explain that and explain the sizing in different countries as well. It is really complicated.

  13. workinprogress says:

    Great post Sheila.
    You are so right about your point #4… big box retailers (I’m thinking Kohl’s, Target, here in the US). DO NOT carry the right sizes for many of us. Steer clear of those stores. You have to go to a better end store. Nordstrom has a great bra department and the sales girls in the bra department are trained to properly fit you. On line, I also like http://www.barenecessities.com . They have a great selection and range of sizes.
    I must say, the one thing I disagree with is the advice given in the video to add 4 inches to your band size. I think you actually get a better fit when you buy the band size at or right above your actual measurement (ie: if you measure 31 or 32 inches, go with a 32 inch band) It does feel snug at first, but you will get even better support and shape.
    I have had good luck washing my bras in a lingerie bag in my front-loading washer on the delicate cycle and then hanging to dry.

    • These are my favorite places to get fitted and the only places (I went to perhaps 8 different retailers) that carry nursing bras in a cup size large enough. You would think that the manufacturers would keep in mind that most of us get at least a little larger while nursing! I agree that it is so easy to put things like this for ourselves on hold, especially when they can be so expensive, but it does make everything else easier. I buy all of my other clothes as thrift stores or get them as gifts but I spend easily 5-10 times more for that one item that fits well. It isn’t so much about finding something sexy since it is hard to find particularly feminine nursing bras in my size but I do feel better when they fit. I asked my husband if he minded me getting a new one for after this latest baby since the one that I wore most of the time with the first two is wearing out. His response reminded me how much it matters to him too–he absolutely agreed!

  14. workinprogress says:

    another great bra site is Linda the Bra Lady.

    • Anonymous says:

      Completely agree!! The first time I went to a bra store where they actually took proper measurements, the lady working there giggled when I told what size I was currently wearing because it was so wrong!! But where I am (in Canada), bras to fit me (I’m a 32G) are upwards of $130 each. So I found styles that I liked in stores, and then ordered online from Lindas. Even though I have to pay duty, my bras average out at about $50 each, which is well worth it!!

      Another thing to consider is how quickly bras wear out! Even with proper rotation (i.e. you don’t wear the same one every day), they typically only last 6-12 months. Busty girls need to remember that their bras are doing a big job, and they will wear out quickly!

      • I would disagree. I can easily get by with two great quality bras lasting me years. How are you taking care of them? And what brands do you buy?

        • Anonymous says:

          I hand wash them all with soap for delicates and hang them to dry. I buy great quality brands, but if you’re busty, they will eventually just give out and not give the same amount of support as they once did. Sometimes I don’t even notice that they are losing support until I try on a new bra right after wearing the old one – and I’m always shocked at the difference!

          • Ladies, try being my size! At 5′ almost 2″ I measure at a bra size of 36N. I was just remeasured 4 months ago at a specialty shop in my town and we still have not been able to find a bra in existence that actually fits me properly. Try looking for N cups online…. You will find about 5 styles and I can guarantee none of them are fun or pretty. At 26 years old that is very discouraging. However, I do believe God made me this way for a reason (and my hubby sure never complains) so I guess I will just keep plodding along paying $65-75 for a bra that is too small because a J cup sports bra with an oversized band is as close as it gets. As long as I don’t do any jumping jacks I won’t have any major catastrophes!!

  15. Heather P says:

    I have found that the more I exercise the more I lose in the top area of my body. (Not where I need to lose mind you.) A couple years ago I went down in my band size and up 1 in my cup size. I currently have issues with the straps. Guess I need to tighten them.
    Thanks for the info on washing them! I have always washed them in the washer and hung them up to dry.

  16. Stephanie says:

    After dealing with embarrassment and poor fit for years and years, I finally had a sales lady at Lane Bryant ask if she could give me a bra fitting. I am very well endowed and could never find a bra that would fit right, mainly because the regular stores just didn’t go up high enough in cup size. I was a little apprehensive, but that one day changed my life 😉 She measured me and helped me try on a couple and I have never seen ‘the girls’ look so good!! Now, I know exactly my style and size and can order online whenever I need a new bra. If you are larger like me, and need some help, maybe try a Lane Bryant store and their Cacique line! Oh, and if you are larger, may I suggest buying a soft cotton bra to sleep in? I have done this for years and despite my larger size, gravity has not had as much of a negative impact as it probably would have :)

    • Stephanie, as someone who has never had this problem, I appreciate your suggestion about sleeping in one! I never would have thought of that. :)

      • I should have said “challenge”, not “problem”. Right? :)

        • Stephanie says:

          Yes, challenge…ha ha!! Having dealt with it for so long (high school was so difiicult, I was already a full D at that time) and then having them get larger as I got larger (something I am working on currently…weight loss) I really wish I would have found Lane Bryant sooner!! Plus, they have neutrals and cute colors/prints…even some sexier choices…all in sizes that fit me and make the hubby happy :)

  17. If any one lives in the GTA and would rather shop in person, Shapings Bras in Burlington is amazing. That is where I first learned this concept. We took multiple older aunts who love it too. There’s something to love when your bust gets seperated from the rolls apparently :) give it a try! I have an amazing sports bra from there that was crazy expensive ( thank you mom!) but I have had it for 9 years and let me tell you…nothing bounces but the ball! :)

  18. Fabulous tips here!

    I’ve been at both ends. For much of my life, I purchased bras in the girls’ section. I couldn’t pay the $70 or whatever for the woman’s bra that really fit my band and cup size, so I made do with what I could find in department stores by shopping next to tweens. I do think some of that is changing, and online shopping is helping women find styles that fit in unusual sizes. I was also pleased to see that Victoria’s Secret (and yes, I hate their advertising too, but they do give good bra fittings) now carries a line of smaller-sized bras in their “Pink” section.

    Post-enhancement, I went through several sizes before I found what my true bra size was. (I think I’ve actually seen that video before, Sheila!) Sure enough, it involved going down in band size and up in cup size. As you said, I feel so much better, though, with a well-fitting bra. And you’d think that a bigger cup size would make you look bigger, but it doesn’t. It looks and feels bad to be spilling out of an ill-fitting bra. (A problem I never thought I’d have.) I still struggle with straps because my shoulders are also narrow.

    One thing to consider: A lot of magazine models are shown too-small swimsuit tops, bustiers, etc. because they are actually wanting that woman to look like she’s spilling out. So we women should NOT use that image as a standard for what proper-fitting lingerie looks like.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…Our Sexualized MusicMy Profile

    • Thanks for that, J! And GREAT tip about comparing ourselves to swimsuit models. We shouldn’t try to look like that!

  19. Oh my, I just did the bra size calculator at the Linda’s online site. According to it I am a 34G. I pretty much have worn a 38 or 40 C/D/ or DD for decades. I don’t like online shopping for clothes so I am kind of bummed. I don’t live near a big city so I am not sure wear to look for that size otherwise. But it does explain why I hate bra shopping and nothing ever fits. I did get fitted at Victoria’s Secret once. That it definitely not the size she said. But they don’t sell that size in store so I am not surprised. None of the bras she recommended for me fit well either. I think it might be important not to trust stores that don’t have the full range of sizes. Very interesting.

    (Editor’s note: added a link for people to see the store).

    • Debbie, that’s EXACTLY what I was trying to say in this post! Thanks for that comment. Very helpful. And I’m glad that you do know what size you really are. But so many people are wearing a band size that is TOO BIG, thinking they’re a C/D cup, when they’d be much better with a smaller band size and a larger cup size. Thanks for illustrating the point so well! I do hope you find a bra that fits.

    • I would seriously question the accuracy of either that calculator or my tape measures. It is claiming I’m a 32D. Given that I meet most of the fitting criteria in the video and I’m currently wearing a 36A, I highly doubt that is the case.

      • Actually, Stacy, if you meet the criteria, that’s EXACTLY the case! The woman in the video was wearing a 40; her band size was really 34. She needed to go massively up the cup sizes and massively down the band sizes. So you sound like the same issue!

        • What I meant is that I barely fill the cups in my 36A. I don’t think there’s any way I could be a D cup- if you saw me you’d understand. :) I’ve tried on 32 bands- I can’t breathe in them and can barely get them on on the loosest setting, never mind the cup size. Maybe just for kicks I’ll try and find a 32D to try on next time I’m in the store though.

          • My other issue is that I have very wide shoulders (proportionally speaking). Bra straps always either fall down or sit too close to my neck, and racerbacks sit too close to my neck and show around the inner edges of my shirt necklines..

    • Debbie, I worked at Victoria’s Secret and have also been measured by other people at various stores, including VS, and I have to say that measuring yourself (if you know how to do it correctly) is best, because it seems that most people who sell lingerie don’t seem to measure correctly at all. In January or February, I went to VS and was fitting bras (because my size had changed, which is why I was there), and the girl told me that I needed a 34D even though that wasn’t right at all, and was obviously too big. I tried one on because she insisted that a 34C would be too small – granted, my breasts were spilling out of the 32C I was trying on, even though the band size was fine, so I needed a 32D, but not a 34D! The band size AND the cup were too big. People who work at stores selling lingerie generally haven’t been there an incredibly long time and often are just learning how to measure, so if you can get the hang of measuring yourself and know how bras are supposed to fit then you’ll fare better.

    • Just to update. I went and looked for bras. I found that a 36F fit better than a 34G, then I also discovered that a 36F is actually a 36DDD. I have 3 new bras that fit and finally keep everything in its place. I have to admit, I wasn’t really fond of your fighting the frump series at first read. I am one of those people who is perfectly satisfied in my hooded sweatshirts and sweatpants at home, and don’t plan on changing. I have less body image issues than most, and a great sex life. (My hubby is not concerned about what i put on, just that i am willing to take it all off ;). But I am so delighted to have finally figured out the bra thing for when the rest of the world sees me!! So I am glad I stuck around.

      • Yay!!!! That’s awesome. (am trying hard not to be jealous of a DDD. Although I’m sure there are days you’d rather be like me! We women are never satisfied. :) ).

        • ButterflyWings says:

          I’m perfectly happy with my size… I just wish they made nice bras in my size. And that there was little more natural “up” left in them.

  20. Hey Sheila,

    I just had to read this and laugh. I have pretty much been in a nursing bra for the last 2 years – I cannot WAIT to get into one that doesn’t have snaps! :) Just had to smile at that today – it will come!

    Annabel recently posted…Choosing to bendMy Profile

  21. Thanks for the tips! Two weeks ago I went into a department store for a fitting and they were less than helpful….it was a waste of time. I left with a bra that I hate. Hopefully, with this information I can go back better armed to select one on my own!

    Mrs Annonymous recently posted…Living Well Wednesday (5)–Quality vs QuantityMy Profile

  22. Thanks for this series, Shelia! thanks to you I am starting a journey to battle lifelong frumpiness and I am so thankful for the tips and websites other readers have posted too. They are so helpful to me! Has anyone had any luck with finding smaller nursing bra sizes? I just did the calculator on Linda’s site and it told me I was a 30B, but she doesn’t have any options in that size. I would spend some more time searching, but my 4 month old just woke up!

  23. A reader asked me to post this comment anonymously:

    Yes! The right bra totally makes a difference! Last summer I had a nasty breast infection which resulted in my first mammogram at the age of 36. I thought maybe “the girls” would prefer good support in a real bra instead of being squished into a sports bra like they had been since I quit nursing my youngest 6 years ago. Since that one change I cannot tell you how many people have asked me if I’d been losing weight (I hadn’t really, the same 5 up and 5 down cycle I usually do) or complimenting me on how great I looked! Couple that with learning what clothing styles flatter my body and you have a recipe for one feeling hot mama!

  24. Thanks for the links. I have a friend who’s been kind enough to tell me I needed a better fitting bra, and I’ve tried to find them…this helps a lot. :)

  25. This is really helpful information as I have always had trouble find a bra that fits! I’ve gone back and forth between a 34 D and 34 DD, which is hard enough to find, but according to the sizing information you posted I should really be a 30H?! Yikes, now that one I won’t find in the department store. So my dilemma is that I need to be able to try something on before I feel comfortable buying it, especially if I am going to shell out a lot of money, which at the moment is unfortunately not possible but that is besides the point. So here is the issue: just because something is “my size” doesn’t mean that it will fit me well. I have this problem with everything but especially bras. Any suggestions on finding the right fit without actually being able to try it on?

    • Ashley, I think many online retailers offer free returns if they don’t fit. So maybe it’s worth a try? And then if you do find one that fits you can order a bunch the same!

  26. I can’t say enough about the value of a bra that fits! Makes you feel like a new woman. When I finally got around to it and was in the dressing room with the fitter, she took one look at my old bra and started shaking her head and saying, “Oh, no, no, no…” Turns out it was totally the wrong size! I felt like an idiot – and this was last year, so you’d think I was old enough to know better – lol!
    Gaye @CalmHealthySexy recently posted…8 Free Gifts to Give Our ChildrenMy Profile

  27. Yeah, I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for the last 4 1/2 years straight. And gained and lost and gained (and starting to lose) a LOT of weight. I need new bras SO BADLY! I’m going to go get refitted ASAP! Great advice!
    Megan G. recently posted…spring break!My Profile

  28. In the town where I work, there is a Bra Salon…Braserie Dearie. I went there in 2010 to look for a strapless bra to wear with my dress for my 20th class reunion. The ladies there are so sweet. She measured me, a 38DDD. I found a nice strapless bra..which cost MORE money than I spent on the dress! lol The salon owner also had me try on some regular bras…from France. They were $68 each!! Woah! as much as a good bra helps, I just cannot spend that much on ONE bra!

    I too had Gastric Bypass in 2009. and lost 90 lbs. I never dropped a cup size, only band size from 44 to 38! l

  29. Ok, every time I follow the bra size measurements formula, it comes up with a bra size that does NOT fit. Trial and error worked for me, instead. Now that I am done having babies and breast feeding and have seemed to have settled into my new size and shape up top, it was once again trail and error to find what size bra I wear. I had bought 3 34C bras during the tail end of breast feeding. I was a 34 C after the baby before my last one was weaned. Apparently, I’m smaller now as the underwire dug marks into my sides and my breasts didn’t quite fill the cups. The big box stores’ next size down was a 34B. Well, after trying some of those on, the 6-boob feature didn’t work for me.

    I talked things over with my sister who’s had her own share of bra fitting issues since she seems to have not only gotten her boobs during puberty, but mine as well! She recommended that I stay at the C-cup size and go down to a 32 in band size. I also decided that I need to continue with padding for nip coverage and shaping, but now I also need some sort of push up feature to put the hard working girls back up to their previous location on my chest.

    HOWEVER, local big box stores don’t sell 32c’s where I live and I am NOT dragging 4 small children, 3 of them boys, to the local Victoria’s Secret! On top of that, I wasn’t willing to pay $50 per bra! Not when I’m not sure if there’s going to be any more changes!

    So, I went on ebay and found some great bras for great prices. I also prefer balconettes or demi bras rather than full coverage, so I found what I wanted….great quality bras that fit great and didn’t cost an arm and a leg!

    So, while I admit I’m not very happy with how my breasts turned out after having and feeding children and I’ve never been happy with their more demure size, I have to admit, a good bra makes all the difference in the world.

  30. My biggest issue is that, ever since my boy came along, I’m lopsided. :-( Leftie is a good cup size larger than righty! Makes fitting bras impossible. I just wear a sports bra, or get a minimizer in a size that fits well enough, and call it good. I would LOVE to be able to wear demi-bras again.

    • Kat, if you follow that link to Her Room with questions about your breasts, that’s actually one of the ones they ask, if I remember correctly from taking it. And then, once you’re finished the survey, it gives you specific suggestions for you. So I’d try to go back and take it, because they may have some good ideas for you!

  31. I measured and followed all the steps and I am totally wearing the wrong size. The funny thing is that I have been measured so many times but it is different every time. I’m going to try ordering online since some of the sites mentioned in the comments have good return policies.
    Erica recently posted…A Raw MomentMy Profile

  32. ButterflyWings says:

    What do you do when your bra size doesn’t exist, even online? I’m a 46AA.

    I’m usually stuck wearing 44C – which is too tight as a band and too big as a cup. So I fall out the sides but don’t fill the cup. I’ve tried wearing a 44B but since I can’t wear underwire, it’s next to impossible to find a bra that size because the few that exist have underwire.

    I’ve resorted to importing them from the UK and US but it’s still rare to find one in my size that fits – even rarer to find a pretty one. Most of them just come in plain material and in black, white or beige. I want to wear sexy underwear for my husband, or even just cute things but they don’t exist once you get into plus sizes.

  33. Thanks for the great advice Sheila! If I may say, I had myself measured and fitted for a bra at Victoria Secret and it has been the best fitting bra I’ve ever owned. I love their kind service and they have bra’s for almost every size, and also different styles (covering more or less)… Just thought I’d mention it…

  34. Great suggestions about shopping for bras. It’s so true. It’s hard as a woman to find the right size and shape and design. I struggle with this and I’m often buying bras every couple of months because they stretch out all funny or I forget and throw them in the wash or I fluctuate sizes, and then don’t even let me get started on how hard it is to find cute and sexy full figure bras so I don’t feel like (no offense to my mom and grandma) an old lady. I’m definitely going to tuck some of these suggestions away as it looks like I’ll be shopping again soon.
    Hannah recently posted…Kiss Me! I’m Irish!My Profile

  35. My problem had been strap falling off my shoulders, until I found a bra with a second spot closer to the middle for the straps to hook into. Perfect!
    I also love how the lacy bras look, but it irritates my skin and makes me itchy, even the littlest bit! That sometimes is very disappointing.

  36. I am a huge believer in a well-fitted bra, and feel fortunate that I worked at a lingerie store for awhile so I know how to fit myself. I used to wear a 32B, with the band on the tightest setting, but now that I’ve gained weight I wear either a 32C-D (with the band tightened to the middle setting) or a 34B-C (with the band on the tightest setting, which means that they won’t last very long I guess). Not all bras from every store are created alike in sizing, unfortunately, even though it should be a pretty easy science, so it’s always best to try things on if possible. I mention the 32 band size because for a long time when I was thin, before I started working at the lingerie store, I didn’t realize that there was a band size less than a 34 because most stores don’t have them, so my bras were always too big around my rib cage and therefore didn’t feel that good to wear. When I found my right bra size, however, I felt so much better in my clothes.

    One thing that I would like to mention – My rib cage is 28″, so raising it by 5 makes a band size of 33. Which doesn’t exist. So what band size should you get when it’s in the middle like that? You just have to try things on to figure it out. I find that in most cases a 32 band fits me best, but in some cases a 34 band fits alright if there isn’t a 32 available. I would suggest going down rather than going up if you get an in-between measurement, but it might be different for everyone – I think that at my former workplace they told us to tell people to go up rather than down.

    I don’t like shopping on the internet for clothes because you can never tell how something is going to fit, so I always exhort people to go to an actual physical store to try things on. (Unless it’s somewhere like Etsy, where they measure the actual article of clothing rather than give you a general size chart that usually isn’t accurate.)

    • I guess I should say, when I was VERY thin, because I’m at a good weight now. I’m just not underweight anymore. My cup size just finally caught up with the rest of my body. And my rib cage is very small for some reason. My mom is small around her rib cage too, though, so I think it’s genetic.

  37. After my last two pregnancies, I’ve found that a great pick-me-up (no pun intended) was to get fitted for new bras once I was done breastfeeding. I am a 36D/DD, so VS worked great for me. I loved being able to find pretty, and sometimes sexy, bras in my size. My husband loves that my bras have some lacy detailing, and I love that “the girls” are back up where they are supposed to be. I even got a push-up bra; in other stores, push-up often means the same for B-cup and D-cup, but VS (and other specialty retailers) realizes that push-up for C-cup and larger is more about support and shaping, not padding.

  38. Stephanie says:

    What online stores have a good return policy. As you said, not every style bra fits in the same way. I was fitted at victoria’s secret, but they still don’t carry a lot of option in my size in the store. I ordered two bras from them online and neither of them fit me properly! There really wasn’t a way to return them either, so I don’t know who to order online from or what affordable stores to go to for a somewhat-awkward size 32-D

    • I wear size 32D in most bras as well. It’s pretty easy to find at Victoria’s Secret – I got five bras in that size for $15 each at the semi annual sale. (Darn VS credit card.) Two of them were super soft (not scratchy), unlined lace; one was lightly lined; and one was slightly padded. It shouldn’t be that hard to find. Now my sister – she’s a 32DD. That one IS hard to find!

  39. I loved this series! Thanks again, for all that you do in your writing 😀

    I just wanted to throw this idea out there for any that might be interested, concerning make-up.

    One of the reasons I never bother with lipstick or gloss or anything very often is that my husband doesn’t like kissing it, and I don’t like it when I get it on the kiddos kissing them, so usually for the sake of kissing my lips stay dry and untouched. But lately I’ve found a new item that I REALLY like – it gives just enough color to look nice, and it’s not super sticky and doesn’t get on anything. They’re ‘lip-stain markers’. I love love them cause it’s comfortable, looks nice, and feels like there’s pretty much nothing there. I got mine from Avon, but I’m sure there are lots of other makeup companies that make them.

    And thanks for the inspiration! I’m not a pajamas all-day person, but it’s pretty rare that I go beyond the jeans/t-shirt look, and I’ve been making it a point to do so more since you started this, and I feel a lot better about me 😀

  40. It’s no wonder that so many women are wearing bras that don’t fit correctly…with all the different fitting methods out there!

    According to the fitting method in the video embedded in the post, I should be wearing a 38C (which is what I’m currently wearing, but it doesn’t lay flat against my chest…but maybe that is okay since it’s a soft cup, not an underwire? In another video on her website, a woman with a shape similar to mine is shown wearing a soft cup bra that does not rest against her chest).

    According to the link given right under the video (http://shrsl.com/?~3dtd), I should be wearing a 36DD or 36E. I tried a 36DD the other day, and the cups were DEFINITELY too small. Perhaps I should have tried a 38DD since they didn’t have any 36DDD or 36F bras, but I didn’t have enough time.

    According to Linda’s bra size calculater (http://www.lindasonline.com/bra-fitting-calculator.html), I should be wearing a 34G. My eyes are popping out of my head at the thought of wearing a G cup. REALLY??? Should I mention that I’m nursing? Who carries NURSING bras in a cup size that large???

    There there are the folks from Hanes…who actually make bras… (http://www.onehanesplace.com/outlet/bras/wirefree-bras-%28all%29/leading-lady-wirefree-nursing-bra?cm_vc=OnsiteSearch&cmFV=#prod-details), according to their measuring instructions, I wear a 40A!

    So between the 4 different site my band size ranges from 34 to 40, and my cup size ranges from A to G. Oye vey! What is a girl to do???

  41. I know this is an older post, but I just saw it on Pinterest! I have the issue of being a 32D. I just went to this size from a 32B after having my son almost 2 years ago, so I haven’t had much time to acquire well fitting bras. I have found some great bras at Belk and Victoria’s Secret, but I will say that I ordered several cheap bras on a sale at Victoria’s Secret and they were horrible! After 1 wash (I never put them in the dryer, but I do wash them on gentle) the cups started curving outward in the center and the straps are all very very long and fall off. I ended up wasting about $45 on those because I thought a $15 VS bra was a great deal. I’ve also had some cheap bras become dented in the middle of the cup, which of course looks incredibly silly and is very noticeable! Now, I’m more prone to spend about $30 on a good bra because I know it will last, and I hang them to dry by looping the back clasp through the wire shelving above my washer and dryer! Recently I had a bra fitting at Belk and it was a great experience – very professional, not at all awkward, and quite fun! I definitely urge all women to get a fitting now if you haven’t before, and then after you have a baby or go through a significant weight change.

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