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Fit Factors

 

Fit Factors

 

fit factors

 

This page is all about the different factors that can affect the fit of a bra.  We have tried to include the most common factors here; however this is not an exhaustive list.

Every woman will have her own unique shape and even if you wear the same bra size as somebody else you will experience different fitting issues.  You are not just your cup size or back size there are lots of things to take into account; both individual body types and the features of different bra styles come into play.  Here are some of the things to think about along with your personal preferences for fitting:

Body Factors

Bra Factors

Size and shape of torso

Shape of cups/cut of cups

Width of shoulders

Cup material firmness

Breast tissue type/shape

Shape of underwire

Tissue firmness

Shape/depth of wings

Breast volume

Position of straps

Breast setting

Width of central gore

Asymmetrical breasts

Width of band

Rib cage padding

Height of central gore

 

As you can see there is quite a bit to consider.  Let’s go over the fit factors above so you get an idea of how each can affect fit.

Size and shape of torso

– Obviously different sizes of torso need different band sizes, however the shape of your torso can also affect fitting.  For example you may have a torso that narrows dramatically towards the waist, most ladies will have torsos that narrow at least somewhat towards the waist, those with dramatically narrowing torsos may find longline bras problematic.  This is because a longline bra band is wider and designed to start higher on the back and finish lower.  You may experience looseness at the bottom of the band if you have a torso that narrows more than the manufacturer has allowed for.  The opposite affect may be found if your torso narrows less than the manufacturer has allowed for.

 

Width of shoulders – Narrow shouldered women may have problems with slipping straps on bra styles with wider set straps.  See our bra style guide for more information on the features of different bra styles.

 

Breast tissue type/shape – Breasts are varied with more types than you may have imagined.  Some types can be based on your age or if you have had children while others will be dependent on the distribution of you breast tissue across the breast or the direction of the ‘Point of Bust’ (meaning the direction that the fullest part of the bust or nipple area points, this could be different for each breast or the same).  Here are a few examples of the different types; Centre Heavy, Bottom Heavy, East West, Wide Set, just to name a few.  Many women will have more than one ‘type’ or ‘shape’ as all of us are individuals and this should be celebrated!    

Breast Tissue Firmness – This factor can affect the fit of bras as less firm tissue may need more support from cup material to achieve certain looks.  If you are looking to achieve a pushed up and together cleavage, but have softer breast tissue, you may experience wrinkling of the beast skin and more spillage type symptoms than those with firmer tissue.  Push-up or plunge bras tend to have less coverage in the cup and may not offer the support softer tissue needs.  Full cup bras, balcony bras and moulded or spacer styles may offer more support and give a more pleasing smooth appearance.   Balcony bras will offer a good level of uplift whilst offering more of a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ style cleavage.

Breast volume – Different volumes of bust will need differing levels of support.  Fuller busted ladies may find straps digging in due to the weight of their bust and may like to look for styles with wider straps to distribute the weight more effectively across their shoulders.  Some manufacturers are noticing this and making their bigger bras with wider straps.  Again with a larger breast volume more support may be needed in the cup to ensure breasts aren’t ‘trying to escape’!  Full cup styles or styles that offer more coverage will be the ones to look out for; half cups or demi cups may not offer the security of fit that may be needed.

 

Breast Setting – this refers to the width of the gap between the breasts and also the height placement of the bust on the torso.  As you can imagine some ladies will have a bust that sits higher on their torso than others.  Women with high set busts will need to adjust their straps to near the shortest setting, some bra straps may even be too long on the shortest setting.  Higher set busts can cause underwires to dig into the armpit even though the volume of the cup seems correct.  Consider soft cup bras and look for those bras with shorter wires.  Larger back bands are likely with higher set busts as the back gets wider towards the top.  Low set busts will be closer to the natural waist on the torso and therefore may need a smaller backband as the torso tends to narrow towards the waist.  

Women will also have varying widths of the gap between the breasts.  If you have a particularly wide set bust you may need to look out for bras with a wider central gore to help improve fit.  A ‘full on’ cleavage, breasts toughing look my not be possible for this type of bust, Push up and together bras may not be comfortable or produce the look you are going for.  However there are lots of lovely styles out there to achieve different looks.  Conversely those with a very small gap or touching breasts may find bras with a narrow gore, with the underwires of each cup close together, to be more comfortable and provide a better fit.

 

Asymetrical Breasts – All women have asymmetrical breasts to some extent, one is slightly larger than the other or one is slightly more saggy than the other one sits higher and so on, just like ears, legs, hands etc. no two are exactly the same.  However the difference can be more pronounced in some ladies, depending on the degree of difference you may want to try different solutions to improve fit. 

The best way forward is, to always fit to the larger breast ensuring you are properly supported.  Straps can be adjusted to help pull up the cup a little more on the smaller/higher side.  If you have a small size difference you could try moulded cup styles, they are moulded from thin foam material and can help to disguise the difference and even out your profile.  Look out for bras that offer removable pads, you can remove the extra padding in the side for the larger of the two breasts.  Another option for those with a larger difference in size could be silicone pads of ‘Chicken fillets’ as they are sometimes known, to boost the smaller side by adding volume directly in the cup.

 

Rib cage Padding – By this we are meaning the amount of flesh around the rib cage.  Some ladies have very little ‘padding’ around their ribs so when finding their start point size and using their actual or true band measurement some can find this too restricting and uncomfortable on their ribs.  As these ladies have little flesh between the tight bra band and the bones of their rib cage they may find their true band to be too tight and want to size up in the band.  This is a matter of personal fitting preference.  We would however stress that this is only a good idea if you really find the band too tight or if you have sensitive ribs as increasing the band size can compromise the support offered by your bra.

Conversely ladies who have some ‘padding’ around the rib cage may find they can comfortably size down in the band.  Again this is personal preference and is guided by your body and comfort level.  If a lady is finding her bra is riding up her back a little through the day or she is just not getting the support she is looking for going down in the band may be the answer.  Even if she measured her start point size and used her true band size, if there is some padding on the ribs a smaller band size may be able to offer more support and stop the back riding up from the weight of the bust at the front.

 

Shape or cut of Cup – As you may know there are different styles and shapes of bra out there to offer different looks and suit different situations.  The cut of a certain style can vary widely from brand to brand.  So a balcony bra from Lepel in 34H will be cut differently to another balcony bra from Freya in the same size; and they will both be different from those at Curvy Kate and bras that are the same type from the same brand will be different depending upon the individual feature of the style.  Some balcony bras will have padding whilst other won’t.  The cups on Balcony bras are cut lower than those of a full cup bra meaning they offer a bit less coverage and more of a sweetheart neckline.  Ladies with a full, top heavy bust and softer breast tissue may find that a balcony bra in the correct size for them may not give the best overall look, as the cups may not provide enough support for the softer tissue and top fullness, some spillage may still occur and it might cause an uneven line visible under clothes where the cup finishes.  Styles incorporating stretch lace at the top of the cups can help to minimise this as the stretch lace is more forgiving and can adjust to your form. 

Some cups are cut quite low as in those of ‘Push-up’ styles – they tend to be half or demi cups in that they finish around an inch above the nipple or less and tend to have a deep v-neckline to enhance the cleavage.  Ladies with very full busts may find these bras unsuitable as they do not provide enough support and coverage for the volume of breast tissue.  Cups can be moulded from a single piece of material or ‘Cut & Sew’ cups that can be made from two to four separate pieces of material sewn in different ways to offer enhanced support or uplift.  For example some ‘Cut & Sew’ cups have a Side Sling support panel, closest to the wing of the bra and incorporating the strap.  This feature is designed to help pull in and centre those busts that tend to point outwards, or those that have a lot of volume at the sides.  This cut and shape will create more forward projection so some ladies may find it helpful while others won’t like the look.  Our Bra Style Guide explains the different styles and what they do if you are looking for a bra to create a certain look or go with a particular outfit.

 

Cup material firmness/rigidness – As you can imagine there are a few different materials for cups as well as different ways to sew or mould them.  Moulded cups will not be as supportive as Cut & Sew cups however they do offer a smoother rounder shape for those looking to even out their bust line or who want a smooth seamless look under close fitting t-shirt type tops.  I find moulded cups to be comfortable and offer some protection against ‘naughty nipples’ when you are cold and in a close fitting top, however moulded cups are moulded to a pre-determined shape and this may not match your breast.  Some can be unhelpful if you have a shallow upper portion of the bust and can look too big or show a ridge under clothes if the cup material is too thick.

Cups with horizontal seams create a more conical shape, although very supportive, this may not be a look you like.  Some cut & sew cups can be made from more rigid materials that don’t offer as much stretch as others.  I have found some bras with lace on the upper cup section to squash my bust line a little and I didn’t like the look of flatter on top boobs it created under clothes.  This is down to your personal preference for the shape and look you want to achieve and what clothes you wear with your bra as well as what features of your bust you want to enhance or address.  Non padded bras will always form more to your natural bust shape than padded or moulded foam styles, different styles of cut &sew cup will help to give support and uplift in different areas and create different overall shapes or looks.  Again all of us are different and all bras are different so you will need to try different styles and brands to find the ones that work best for you.

 

Shape of underwire – Some bras have deep or high underwires , full cups and some balcony styles have quite deep wires at the sides, balcony bras tend to be lower at the central gore than full cup styles, Half Cup styles will also have lower or shallower wires both at the side and the central gore.  This can be helpful if you find underwires dig in under your arms even when you have adjusted and found the correct size.  Some bras are made with wider underwires than others, this can accommodate those with wide rooted breasts (the ‘root’ is the part of your breast tissue that attaches to your torso, the inside back of your breast where the tissue starts, sometimes this can start quite a way back under your arms in others it may not), however it may not offer the best fit to those with narrower roots but lots of projection or centre heavy busts.

 

Shape and depth of wings – Again different styles and brands will cut the wings of their bras differently.  Some bras such as longline styles have very deep often straight wings, to distribute the support across a wider area.  Some styles have shallower wings that narrow towards the back and offer less back and side coverage to accommodate more strappy summer tops that are cut lower under the arms.  Some women prefer smaller wings whilst others will like the extra coverage and support of a larger wing.  Some styles can irritate under the arms if the wings are cut too high for you whilst others can be annoying if all the support is centred on a narrow wing and back band – it can cause more red marks or pressure marks.  Again it all depends on your body and what you feel comfortable in, try different styles and note down what you find uncomfortable or irritating.

 

Position of straps – Depending on what level of support, cleavage enhancement and the neckline of your clothes different straps will give different results.  Larger bras and bras for bigger breast volumes tend to have wider straps these days, and this helps to spread the weight of the bust and avoids indentations on the shoulders that can be seen through clothes.  Full cup bras will tend to have more central straps that pull from the top centre of the breast.  Balcony and Balconette styles have more wide set straps that pull from the side of the breast and allow for wider and deeper necklines, while Push-up styles also have wider set straps but the cups and straps tend to be angled inwards to help push the breasts together and enhance the cleavage.  Some Strapless and Multi-way styles have detachable straps with one or more positions on the cup and wing or back to attach the straps to achieve different solutions for different styles of dress or top.  Try them all and see what works for your wardrobe and your curves.

 

Width and height of Central Gore – This is the part of the bra that rests in between your breasts and should ‘tack’ nicely to your chest wall.  This is where the underwires for the two cups are joined or secured together.  Some styles will have a narrow central gore where the underwires touch whilst others will have wider set cups with more of a little triangle panel between the underwires.  Depending on the setting of your breasts some gore widths and shapes will be better fitting than others.  Some speciality bras for low cut necklines have invisible gores or rigid U-shape gores to offer bra solutions that cannot be seen under party dresses.  Some Push-up styles have a low rise gore that is almost just a narrow string or piping to secure the two cups together at the front, whilst front closure bras will have the fastening point on the gore. Some gores will be higher than others as with underwires and can be comfortable or push on your breast bone and annoy you.   All will affect the fitting and look of the particular bra.

 

Width of Band – This follows from the width and shape of the wings.  Some bras narrow quite dramatically to allow for low back tops and to be less obtrusive under strappy summer dresses and cami tops.  Wider bands can help to offer more support for more ample busts and spread the support over a wider portion of the back.  Narrow back bands tend to have less hooks vertically and sometimes also less sets of hooks, maybe two sets instead of three or four.  I would always look for bras with three or more sets of hooks as this offers more flexibility of wear over time for stretching and weight loss or gain.  Bras with two sets of hooks are fine, but more suited to occasional wear; worn only for the Bedroom or for particular party/summer outfits.

 

Ok so that gives you a flavour for the many factors affecting fitting and highlights that there is no one size, type, brand or style that will fit your bust in every situation, or match your preferences for comfort and shape under different clothes.  But being aware of these factors will help you to spot individual fitting preferences and help to avoid styles that may not offer the best fit for you.

Remember Not all bras in the same size are equal!  Different manufacturers and brands will size and cut their bras in slightly different ways!  So in order to achieve your flawless fit you will need to try on a range of bras in different styles and sizes from different brands to see what works best for your body shape and fit needs.  You can’t just find your size and just pick up that size for every bra every time you shop.  For those of you groaning now, I understand it is annoying, try to see it as an investment in yourself; like having to kiss a lot of frogs, you have to try a lot of bras to find the right ones and work out some basic fitting rules for yourself!

Why can’t manufacturers all make bras to the same sizing exactly?  Well variety is the spice of life and bras need to be differently sized for all the different bodies out there and to achieve different results.

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