If you find yourself wondering, why doesn't my bra fit?, and the thought of calculating your bra size makes your head spin, relax and take note. 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. We've even rounded up the best everyday-wear bras you can buy online right now.
How to Find the Right Bra Fit
The Band Size
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 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 main 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 every wear, try a smaller band size or different style. A racerback suits a small frame or narrow shoulders. 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 cause irritation as you heal, says breast cancer survivor Caitlin Kiernan, author of Pretty Sick.
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.
Rule One: 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 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.
Rule Two: 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 Online Bra Brands
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).
Best Padded Bralette: Emmie Wirefree T-Back Cami by Yummie
Bralettes are a big trend these days, but they don’t always offer precise shape or adequate coverage; their 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, modesty, along with the comfort. Its convertible straps go from traditional to cross-back, so you can wear this bra from work to workout.
Best Bra Brand for All Breast Types: Thirdlove
Real talk: Bras aren’t one-size-fits-all. The beauty of the bra brand Thirdlove is its inclusive size range (half sizes in cups) for all types of breasts. This T-shirt bra is comfortable, supportive, and looks great under every top. Not sure about your size? Check out their helpful online bra fit guide which takes you through the measure-at-home process.
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: Harper Wilde donates to The Girl Project to help educate girls across the world.
The Flex Strapless Bra, $35.
Best T-Shirt Bra: Enbliss Wireless by Soma
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. Plus, it's available in 10 colors.
Enbliss Wireless, $48.
Best Plunge Bra: Chantelle Festivite
Finding a sexy yet supportive plunge-style bra without bulky padding is no easy feat. The Chantelle Festivite is a high quality, beautiful bra that is still comfortable and wearable for everyday. It has the lingerie look but still feels like something you can wear every day. Worth the splurge!
Festivite bra, $84.
Best Bralette: Miel Nana
A soft blend of microfiber and Spandex makes this bralette a comfy option. The Miel Nana comes with removable pads and a side pocket that can fit a prothesis for women who have undergone breast surgery, and it has a back closure so it’s easy to get on and off.
Padded Nana, $44