How to choose the right bra
Finding your perfect size in three simple steps
Finding the right bra size can feel like rocket science, but in truth it is much more straight-forward than many of us think!
The first step is to find the correct underband size.
Since most of us, regardless of how skinny we are, tend to carry a little ‘extra’ around our rib cage, it is tricky to do this by simply using a measuring tape. Instead we recommend using one of your own bras as a starting point, preferably a reasonably new one. How does it feel against your back? Is it a comfortable fit? If you pull the underband straight out from your body at the middle of your back, does it leave a gap of more than 3-4cm? Or is it too tight to allow you to breathe normally?
If the fit is firm, but allows you to breathe normally, and the underband does not come away more than 2-3cm from your body when you pull it, then this is the underband size you need.
If your bra is riding up at the back when you wear it, or if you can pull the underband more than 3-4cm away from your body, you should go down at least one underband size (e.g. from 85 to 80). If you can pull the underband away more than approx. 7cm you should go down two underband sizes (e.g. from 85 to 75).
You will need a measuring tape to work out the right cup size. Measure your bust – wrap the measuring tape horizontally around the bust and back, at the fullest part of your bust. When you take this measurement you should wear a bra that is as comfortable as possible, or a snug-fitting top, to make sure your bust is "in the right place".
When you know your underband size and your bust measurement, you can work out your bra size using the cup size guide which you can find on our size guide page. E.g. if your bust measurement is 97cm and your underband size 80, the difference between these two is 17cm; in other words, a C cup.
Are you still unsure of which bra size to choose? Get in touch with our skilled customer support team – we would love to help!
Eva’s top 4 bra fitting tips
Always try on a bra using the loosest hook. Regardless of how expensive the bra is, or how good the quality is, the elastic will stretch over time. If you try on the bra at its loosest fit, and it feels comfortable, you can always use a smaller fit later on.
If you can fasten the bra at the back, it is not too small. The underband provides the majority of the bra’s support, and if the underband is too large, you will lose a large part of that support. If the bra feels too small, you should try a different cup size instead.
The underwire should be flat against your chest, including in-between your breasts; if this is not the case, try a larger cup size or a different model bra.
Don’t settle for a fit that is ‘almost right’. As you move around the fit will be even worse, and who wants to spend all day tucking their breasts back in?
How to choose the right model bra
As with any other item of clothing, when it comes to bras, personal taste and style will vary. Some prefer a smooth, non-padded bra in a neutral colour, others want colourful bras with lace and padded cups. Which type you choose is entirely up to you; padded and non-padded bras are available for all bust shapes and sizes.
Think about what kind of clothes you normally wear. If you like wide necklines you should choose a balconette bra, if low-cut necklines are your thing a push-up bra may suit you better. But the most important thing to bear in mind when making your choice is that your bra should be comfortable and a good fit for your bust!
What colour bra should I choose?
We have all been there, in front of the mirror in a thinner top or dress, and the bra showing through. There is a simple solution to this: choose a bra in a different colour to the top! A blue, pink or yellow bra is much less visible under a white top than a white bra. This is because white enhances white, so when combined with a white top the white bra becomes even more visible.
An underwear drawer full of monochrome bras may be much easier to deal with on washday, but remember that a splash of colour adds a bit of fun, and is easier to combine with your different tops and dresses.
Common questions and misunderstandings about bras
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequent questions we get about bras. We have also tried to address some common misunderstandings around bras and bra sizing.
"But surely a C cup is always the same size?"
Yes and no.
Cup sizes are based on a difference; the difference between the measurement underneath the bust and the measurement across the bust. In other words, a C cup represents a difference of approx. 17cm between underband size and bust measurement. On a person with an underband size of 60cm, a bust measurement of 77cm will mean the bust looks relatively large compared to the size of the body, and on a person with an underband size 100cm, a bust measurement of 117cm will mean the bust looks relatively small. But both are a C cup.
"I have always been a 75B!"
Almost on a daily basis we hear people say things like "I am a 75B, I have been that size since I was 15” or "I am an 80C, I have been that size for 30 years”. These people may very well have worn the same bra size all this time, but unfortunately it does not necessarily mean it is the size they should wear. Like the rest of our bodies, our busts change with time too. Often an older bust may not be as firm as a younger bust, and pregnancies, breast feeding, and other life events can affect the shape and size of our busts.
The best advice we can give our customers is to go for a bra fitting every few years, since very few people go through life with the same bra size.
"That size is too small, I am not that slim!"
Often, when we recommend a bra size, the customer replies that they cannot possibly wear such a small underband size, frequently adding “I’m not that slim/tiny”.
Regardless of whether your bust is large or small, it is essential that your bra fits properly, and the underband provides 90% of the bra’s support. The underband lifts, holds, and distributes the weight of your bust across the whole of your back.
If the underband size is too large your bra will slide up, and your shoulder straps will end up carrying the weight of your bust. This can result in the straps digging into your shoulders, which in turn can lead to shoulder and back pain. You may not notice the discomfort straight away but if you are constantly wearing a bra that is too large, it will hurt your back in the long run. The good news is you can prevent this, by already now choosing a bra in the correct size!
"G cups are huge, I can’t wear that"
Plenty of studies have shown that 7 out of 10 women wear the wrong size bra, and if you are one of those people who have yet to find their correct size, it could very well be that you need a larger cup size than you think.
If you at the moment are wearing, say, size 85D, but really should wear a bra with the underband size 75, then size 75G could be the best fit for your bust. Large cup sizes are not really as large as people think when a bra has been fitted correctly.
"All bras make my breasts look cone-shaped"
This could be because of two reasons; you are wearing the wrong size bra, or the model is not suited to the shape of your bust.
If a bra’s underband size is too large and the cup too small, the bra can still sit relatively comfortably and feel like the right size, but this often results in the breasts looking cone-shaped. Instead try going down an underband size, and up one or two cup sizes, for a more evenly shaped and rounded bust.
Since no two busts are the same, not all bras will fit all busts, and some models can create a cone-shaped look. Try putting a top on over the bra just to double-check before you make that final decision to return the bra to the store, though; occasionally our eyes play tricks on us and can create the illusion of a cone-shape.
"Narrow straps will dig into my shoulders"
The width of the shoulder straps varies with the size of the bra for most of the models we stock. A smaller size will have narrower shoulder straps, whereas a bra with a larger underband size or cup will have slightly wider straps.
That wider shoulder straps are required for larger size bras is not strictly true. It is not the job of the straps to carry the bust. The weight of the bust should in fact be carried and evenly distributed around the rib cage by the underband, and this is why it is so important that the underband size is not too large. The most important function of the shoulder straps is to help keep the bust close to the body.
If the bra straps are digging into your shoulders, you can try loosening them. If that does not help, it may be that the underband size is too large and you should go down an underband size.
"My bust is too big for a padded bra"
Since all busts are differently shaped, not all bra models fit all busts. But saying that a padded bra is only suited for a smaller bust is simply not true.
A padded bra can help you get a better fit, since the padding helps create a smooth finish, and gives the bust a nice, naturally rounded shape. Most of our bras only have a thinner padding, a few millimetres thick at most, which often does not add any extra, visible fullness to the bust.
One example of how padding can affect the size of your bust can be demonstrated by taking a measuring tape, wrapping it around your bust, and then pulling the tape out a few millimetres. Can you tell the difference?
"How should I wash my bra?"
Bras should always be hand washed, and by hand washed we mean by hand, in a bowl or in the sink, not the gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine. This is to help your bra keep its shape and colour, and to stop any embroidery or other detailing from snagging.
Your bra should be dried flat, or on a wash line with the two cups on each side of the line, to ensure that the straps and the underband do not stretch. If your bra has moulded cups, make sure to reshape those after washing.
In the long run, the washing machine’s ’hand wash’ cycle is not suitable for bras, as even the most gentle cycles include a spin cycle to drain the washing of water. During the spin cycle, the underwire can start working its way out of the bra and, if you do not notice this in time, after a few washes it can work its way out completely in the wash, through the drum, and ruin your washing machine. Apart from the underwire, the bra’s hooks (the fastening) can get caught on delicate lace or other garments and snag them.
We do not want to completely put you off washing bras in a washing machine – after all, we all have our lazy days – but a bra that is cared for in the right way, hand washed and dried correctly, will last much longer than a machine washed bra that is not dried correctly.
We have all been there: bra straps showing through your favourite dress, black bra straps peeking out from underneath the spaghetti straps on your bright yellow summer top, or you could really use a white bra with black shoulder straps.
Do not worry; bras with interchangeable shoulder straps allow you to mix and match to find the right combination for every occasion. We stock a multitude of interchangeable shoulder straps in a range of classic colours, but also transparent straps, straps for halterneck bras, and straps with decorative detailing including cage bra imitations.
Sometimes your bra might need a few more centimetres at the back. Getting an extender could be a better solution than replacing the entire bra. We stock 1, 2, and 3 hook extenders in a range of classic shades, and since bras almost always feature the same hook spacing, our extenders suit most bras.
If your push-up bra is not providing the desired effect, or if you are one of many women with differently sized breasts, insert pads could be the solution. Our bra inserts are made from soft silicone, which rests comfortably in your bra without any visible edges. Many bras have pockets where the inserts can be slipped in, or the inserts can be placed directly in the cups.
Mesh bags (laundry bags)
Mesh bags are mainly used for delicate items, such as tights, lace knickers, and slips, which need extra protection when washed.
Many people refer to mesh bags as ’bra wash bags’, but we always recommend hand washing bras. This is because even the most gentle wash cycle uses a spin to get the water out of the laundry. The force of the spin can be rough on clothing, and can result in the bra’s underwire starting to work its way out. A loose underwire in the washing machine can cause any amount of problems, and above all, bra hooks can get caught in lace, and other delicate fabrics and details, and damage them.
Breast tape comes in many shapes and sizes, from those who are placed underneath or above the breast for support, to decorative nipple covers shaped like hearts with sparkly rhinestones, or round discs with satin bows.
Different types of bras
There are three main categories of bra: non-padded, half-padded, and padded, and these come in a range of different models that suit different busts and different occasions. Before we look more closely at the different models available, we wanted to explain what we mean by the three main bra categories.
Non-padded bras are exactly that – not padded – with cups constructed of two or more layers of thin fabric. The layer closest to the bust is often made of a mesh fabric, which provides stability and support. Despite being very thin, the mesh fabric gives good support to both smaller and larger busts, and its transparency makes it almost invisible even under the thinnest lace.
On half-padded bras, half the cup is padded, and the top part of the cup, near the neckline, in non-padded. The thickness of the padding in the bottom half can vary, but unless otherwise stated it is a few millimetres thick. The non-padded part is often made from thin lace, but can also be in the same fabric as the rest of the bra.
On a padded bra, the whole cup is padded. Again, the thickness can vary, but unless the description says otherwise it is a few millimetres thick, and the thickness is even across the cup.
Perhaps the most common of all bra models, and it works just as well underneath a casual cami top, as a sleek party top.
The push-up effect is created by slightly thicker padding, which helps push the breasts together to give the impression of a larger fuller bust, and a beautiful décolletage. If you want an even fuller-looking bust, many of our push-up bras can be fitted with removable pads, allowing you to adjust the push-up effect to the occasion.
Although we do stock push-up bras in most cup sizes, they are mainly suited to smaller or middle-sized busts, as the push-up effect is not as obvious on an already larger size bust.
The word ‘balconette’ comes from the French word for ‘small balcony’, and this is exactly how a balconette bra works. It lifts the bust without pushing the breasts together, like a small balcony or shelf for the bust to rest on. Balconette bra models have a straighter line, and wider set shoulder straps, which works better underneath wider square or heart-shaped necklines; wearing a classic bra model, you would risk the cups or the straps showing.
The natural balconette push-up effect is created by lifting the bust straight up, instead of pushing the breast together like the classic push-up bra. This creates a natural-looking fuller bust, which makes these bras suitable for larger busts too.
If you are looking for a bra with embroidery and lace this will not be your thing, but if you are after a smooth bra without detailing or visible seams this is the model for you.
The cups on t-shirt bras are smooth, and very often moulded, with anything from lighter padding to thicker push-up style padding. Most importantly, the cup surface is completely seamless, which makes the bra pretty much invisible, including under figure-hugging clothing. The cup fabric often has a smooth finish, which also makes this the perfect bra to wear under fabrics that have a tendency to cling, such as chiffon, which can become static.
Most of us will need a nursing bra at least once in our life. Nursing bras vary from thin soft bras that you simply push to the side for breastfeeding, to more classic wired bras with clip closures that open the cups.
One myth surrounding nursing bras is that wired nursing bras can cause mastitis. This is not strictly true. A wired nursing bra provides good support for your bust, and relieves the strain on shoulders and back, and as long as it is the correct size and fit for your bust, it will not alone cause mastitis.
Although your bra size can change significantly during pregnancy, the under bust measurement usually is the same before the pregnancy and a little while after giving birth. So if you buy your nursing bra during the latter part of your pregnancy, it can be a good idea to choose an underband size that is one size smaller than the size you are able to fasten behind your back. This is because your rib cage usually expands a little during the pregnancy itself, which affects the underband measurement. When you come to choose your cup size, do not forget to allow for the increase in breast size as your milk is coming in. As a general guide we recommend choosing a cup with enough space for your hand to fit inside; this should give your bust enough room to grow.
Wireless / Non-wired bras
Although wired bras are often the best choice for great bust support, there will be situations when a non-wired bra is preferable; you may be sensitive to the metal in the underwire, you may have scarring under your breasts from a recent operation, or you may simply find non-wired bras more comfortable.
Non-wired bras are available in a range of models, from more triangular models supported by shoulder straps and a band around the back, or bandeau models, to models that have the shape of a regular bra but simply lack the wire. The right model for you and your bust is a personal choice, but our general advice is that the larger the bust, the more important the support, and for this reason we tend to recommend the more classic models.
Your bust still deserves proper support when you are working on your tan, or enjoying a nice cool swim. Most of our bikinis are sold as separate pieces, which means that you can pick and mix bikini bra and bottom to make sure you get the best size and fit of both. We stock a range of bikini bra models, from simpler non-padded styles to push-up models with thicker padding. Available shoulder straps range from classic straight straps to halterneck and bandeau models.
Bras with removable shoulder straps
If you want a flexible bra suited for most types of clothing and occasions, a bra with removable or interchangeable straps is the ultimate choice.
A white bra is more visible under a white top than a coloured bra, but you may not want pink shoulder straps showing underneath the white straps of your top. In this situation, you could simply choose a coloured bra with removable straps and attach white straps that day.
We also stock a range of decorative shoulder straps, from transparent straps with colourful detailing, to straps that can be attached as traditional straps but also between the cups to create a cage bra effect.
Bras for low back tops and dresses
Some dresses and tops have very low cut backs, but there is nothing to prevent you from wearing a bra underneath them. We stock three different types of bra for these kinds of garments. The first, which used to be the most popular model, is a classic stick-on bra, which is attached separately to each breast and then fastened between the breasts.
The second model is not as common, but here you use an extra long underband, which is pulled down into a V-shape at the back and fastened around your midsection.
The third, and now most common model, is a bra with a transparent underband across the back. This gives the same excellent support as a normal bra, and the underband is almost invisible – perfect with that lace dress.
Stick-on bras are available in two main types; bust tape, or separate cups that are attached to the breasts and fastened in-between the breasts.
The thin bust tape comes in nude shades and is practically invisible underneath the most snug-fitting clothes; perfect for dresses and tops with plunging necklines or open sides.
The second type, with separate cups that are fastened between the breasts, come in many different styles, from thin nude-coloured materials, to thicker push-up versions in silicone for that natural feel.