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The modern brassiere has been around since the 19th century and even now, most women are wearing it incorrectly.
For women, a bra is one of the most essential items of a wardrobe, a must have, but experts estimate that almost 90 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra.
“Almost nobody is the size they think they are,” said Kris Beard, owner of That Special Woman, an intimate apparel boutique that specializes in bra fittings of all types including plus size and mastectomies. “You can get measured, but until you get fitted, you don’t know exactly what it is you need.”
Bra fitting has been a much-discussed topic in recent years, among everyday women and celebrities alike. Television talk show host Oprah Winfrey discussed the subject on her show and the Lifetime cable network had a reality show, Double Divas, that chronicled the day-to-day operations of two Georgia bra-fitters.
Locally, Mrs. Beard, who has been in business for more than 20 years, said she sees hundreds of women a year, who are looking to get the proper support.
“Sometimes, they’re embarrassed or ashamed, so they go years and years, wearing the wrong size,” Mrs. Beard said. “If you’re going to have balance in your body, your breasts need to be up and at ’em. No matter what size you are, a 32AA or a 54N.”
Most stores sell a certain range of sizes, and usually carry bras up to size D or DD. Some department stores and specialized boutiques carry a larger variety and sizes up through N.
A conventional bra fitting involves two measurements: one around the rib cage under the bust, and another around the fullest part of the breasts. It’s important to try on a variety of styles of bra, as each one is made differently and the fit varies by style and shape, said Brittni Mominee, a certified bra fitter at Dillard’s in Franklin Park Mall.
“You can measure one way, but when you put on that size in another bra, it’s not always right,” Ms. Mominee said. “The style, shape, and fabric could be wrong.”
Like every other piece of clothing, Ms. Mominee said, women should have a wardrobe of bras.
“Different bras do different things,” Ms. Mominee said. “Soft-cup bras help with shape. Seams lift and separate. Padding adds volume.”
For women who exercise, sports bras are essential, Ms. Mominee said. Sports bras are made to reduce movement caused by physical activity. Because breasts have no muscle, without proper support, skin and ligament can break down and cause sagging. Once your ligaments stretch out, they do not bounce back.
In addition, an ill-fitting bra could cause back problems and hunching, said Kassandra Schultz, a Toledo area chiropractor.
“The bigger the cup size, the more issues you would have with that. Your shoulder blades round forward, it pulls your head forward, and you’re not sitting up straight, because you have all that tissue pulling you forward, because it’s not in the right alignment,” Dr. Schultz said. “It could affect your breathing. You’re not breathing from your diaphragm like that.”
Wearing the wrong size bra can also make you look shorter, older, and even heavier. A properly fitting one can boost confidence and self-esteem.
“We’ve seen women get fitted and think they’ve lost 10 pounds, because they’re breasts aren’t hanging and adding bulk around the tummy area,” Mrs. Beard said. “It’s an illusion, but it makes them feel better about themselves.”
A woman’s breasts changes size several times throughout her life as the result of changes in hormones, weight loss or gain, pregnancy, and exercise. Experts suggest a fitting at least every six months.
For younger girls, fittings are suggested every time new bras are purchased.
“Once you start wearing a bra, you should get fitted,” Mrs. Beard said. “Whether you’re 12, 50, or 80 [years old], you need a proper fitting bra.”
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6133.
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Signs your bra isn’t the right fit
1. If straps fall off or cut into your shoulders, your cup and/or band width is either too big or too small.
2. Getting poked by the underwire? Your cup size is most likely too small.
3. If you’re wearing your bra on the last set of hooks, it’s probably stretched out of shape and no longer fits properly.
4. Wrinkled cups are an indication your cup size is too large. If your breasts are bulging out, your cups are too small.
Proper fit check list
1. A bra should lie firmly against the rib cage, with underwire lying flat against the chest between breasts.
2. The band of the bra should be horizontal all the way around and not riding up your back.
3. Your breasts should be uplifted; the center of the breast should sit between your shoulder and elbow.
4. You should be able to run your finger under your front band. Your bra should be snug, but not too tight.
Sources: Brittni Mominee and Paula Swan at Dillard’s at Franklin Park Mall and Kris Beard of That Special Woman in Toledo.