Fitting guide: top tips for a perfectly fitted bra

Worried that you’re not wearing the right size bra but don’t know where to start? Then read on, as international bra fit coach Ali Cudby demystifies the issue of fit…

Bra fitting tips from international bra fit coach and author Ali Cudby

The Importance of Getting Busted!

Why is bra size so hard to figure out, and how is a woman supposed to make sense of her size without getting an advanced degree in boobology?

No matter how confusing the methods, experts agree that proper bra fit is important, and fit is more than simply a matter of fashion. A woman’s feelings about her bra are directly connected to how she feels about her breasts, her body and, ultimately, herself as a woman.  But measuring for bra size isn’t the way to go because it simply doesn’t work.

So forget about measuring and dump your preconceived notions about bra size.  There are no bra sizing standards in the lingerie industry! Fortunately, there is one surefire way to your ideal bra, and that’s by focusing on how a bra fits your unique body.  As I say in my bestselling book, Busted! The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic, I think that every woman should get Busted!

Getting Busted! is the key to looking and feeling amazing through finding bras that fit – and here’s how you do it.

Begin with your underband
Understand your underwire
Smooth your cups
Tack your gore
Easy on your straps
Determine your shape

Begin with the band:

Your band should do 80-90% of the job of supporting your breasts. It’s the foundation of your foundation – the most important fit factor.  The key to proper band fit is making sure of three things. Your band should be 1) firm, 2) anchored and 3) sitting in the right position on your body.

  • Firm means that you should be able to get a couple fingers under the band, and when you pull it away from your back, you should have immediate resistance against your fingers. It should only pull one or two inches away from your body. Less and it’s too tight. More and it won’t give you that critical support for your bust.
  • Anchored means it should sit on the narrowest part of your ribcage and shouldn’t move from its position over the course of the day, no matter what you’re doing.
  • The proper Position for your band is approximately horizontal with the bottom of your breasts. It might be lower, if that’s where your bra wants to anchor, but it will never be higher.

When women walk around with their band floating somewhere between their shoulder blades they aren’t getting any support. As the band goes up in the back, the bust droops down in the front, and nobody wants that.

Understand your underwire:

The underwire is like a smile.  All of your breast tissue should sit inside the smile, and the underwire should sit directly against your body from one end to the other.

Smooth your cups:

Cups don’t always cover the entire breast, and some are designed to expose the top of the breast – like a half cup bra. No matter what style of bra you choose, you want a single, smoothly sweeping line from the bottom of the breast to the top, without any lumps, bumps, wrinkles or gaps.

Most of us have one boob bigger than the other. Always fit the larger one – you can fill in the smaller with insert pads, if needed.

Tack your gore:

The gore is the centrepiece of the bra, the bit of fabric that connects the cups in the front. That fabric should be sitting snug up against your sternum in an underwire bra.  Any gaping between your body and the bra in the centre indicates a fit issue.

Ease your straps:

If the band is carrying 80-90% of your breast support, it means the straps can only be doing 10-20% of the work.  Too many women let their shoulders carry the weight of their breasts, and that can lead to aches and pains – or worse!

What you’re looking for is just enough tension to keep your straps in place, without slipping down your arm, which is both uncomfortable and unsightly.

Determine your shape:

Just because a bra is the right size doesn’t mean it fits. Getting something that’s the right shape for your body is important for showing off your assets to their best advantage. Experiment with different bra styles and choose the one that best suits your body.

To get a sense of the size you should buy, it helps to begin with your existing bra. Examine your fit in the band and cups. When you pull your band away from your back, if it comes away immediately you might need to go down one or more band sizes.  Here’s a pro tip – your band and cup size are actually interrelated.  That means for every band size you go down, you will need to go up one cup size to keep the same volume.

Ultimately, you’ll need to try on a bra to determine your best fit, since sizes vary between brands and bras. Getting Busted! is your best head start – and so much fun!

This is a general fitting guide. For specific advice for bra fitting during pregnancy, see our maternity and nursing guide.


Ali Cudby, Fab Foundations

Ali Cudby from Fab Foundations

Ali Cudby is the founder of Fab Foundations and the author of the best-selling book Busted! The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic

Got a bra fit question? Contact Ali

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Main image: Shutterstock

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