Wearing the wrong size bra can lead to increased pain in the neck and shoulders as the breasts are inadequately supported. One of the most common causes of breast pain is poor support and women are often shy to look for the correct size of bra. As a result their bust is unsupported from below and all the support comes from the shoulder straps which causes welts and indentations in the shoulders.

It is estimated that 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra. Are you one of them?

This lack of support can also lead to a large portion of the breast hanging down on the skin below the breast causing an area of warm moisture through the day. This results in a fantastic breeding ground for bacteria and fungi to grow- often seen as a white or red discolouration under the breasts and eventually leading to darker discolouration in dark skins. An inappropriately tight bra can also cause problems. There is constriction of the respiratory muscles (the muscles that helps us breathe) causing breathing problems, as well as back and should aches too.

So what is the wrong bra and how do you find the right one for you? Look in the mirror with your bra on and see if it fits.

Your bra doesn’t fit properly if:

  • The under-band is riding up at the back: If the under-band pull up at the back or lifts up when you raise your arms it is too loose.
  • The shoulder straps are digging in: A vast majority of the support for your breasts should come from the under-band – support from below – not suspension from above. If your band is too loose, the straps will dig into your shoulders and you will be left with red marks there.
  • The center between the cups lifts away from the body: The center should lie flat against your body supporting and separating your breasts. If it does not, your cup size is probably too small.
  • The straps do not lie in parallel to each other but stretch outwards: This normally means that your under-band is too tight and is overstretching at the fastening.
  • Some of your breast spills out over the top of your bra: The classic ‘four breast’ look! The cup is dividing your breast tissue because your cup size is too small. Often women are alarmed to find they are actually a DD, E or F rather than a C cup.

Tips for a good fitting bra:

Get some help:

Most lingerie shops and department stores offer a bra sizing service and you should take them up on it. This is usually an obligation-free service. Budget for a good bra.

If you are worried about the cost of a bra take some time to see how much you have spent on clothes in the last six months and how many times a week you wear the items. Your bras are the items that are worn most often in your wardrobe, yet it’s the one item women are most reluctant to spend money on. Spoil yourself and your bosom!

Understand your bra size before you start shoping

Know your under-band size and cup size. Even though South Africa follows metric measurements, bra sizes are still measured in inches. To convert centimetres to inches, multiply by 2.5.

First, take a soft measuring tape and put it around your body just underneath your breasts. Take a deep breath in and pull the measuring tape snug to your skin. Record this measurement (e.g. 31 inches) and then add 5 to it, rounding up to the next even number (31+5= 36 inches). This is your under-band size. The under-band size is commonly what is known as 32;34;36;38.

Next, measure around your chest, over the fullest part of your breasts (normally at the nipples) when you are wearing a bra. Record this measurement (e.g. 38 inches) and subtract this measurement from your under-band size (38 – 36 = 2). This will correspond to the cup size you should try first.

  • 0 = AA cup
  • 1 = A cup
  • 2 = B cup
  • 3 = C cup
  • 4 = D cup
  • 5 = DD cup
  • 6 = E cup

Remember that this is only a rough guide of your size. Once you’ve measured your bust, you should then shop around and try on sizes one above and one below the size you have measured. As you adjust the under-band size up (e.g. 36 to 38) come down by one on the cup size (e.g. 36D down to 38C). Not all bra styles will suit all breast shape, so it may take some time to find a bra that suits and fits you. When you do find the right bra, it should be comfortable and not dig into your skin anywhere. It should support your breasts well and give you a good shape. A good bra can give you as much shape and lift as expensive plastic surgery!

Every woman is different in her personality, her looks, her shape and her breasts