I can’t stress how important it is to go get fitted for a good bra. I know a lot of women who avoid it, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. At the risk of sounding like the mother of a child who is standing on the shop floor, trying their new school uniform on over their clothes; nobody is looking at you, just stand up straight and see if it fits properly. That’s really all there is to it.
Sales assistants don’t care if you’ve got more rolls than a building site at lunch time, if your lower back tattoo of nonsensical Chinese script is fading or if you’ve got one tic-tac and one honeydew melon. Like all sales assistants, they would get the boot if they weren’t taking in money. They know that women who feel comfortable and pleased with the product are more likely to part with their cash than women who feel like they’re being looked down on.
I’ve had many bra fittings, in most of the major department stores, and have never been disappointed. The protocol doesn’t vary much between places – you keep your bra on they wrap a measuring tape around your bust, the width of your back and then go get some bras in that size. They leave you to try them on and you can ask them to come back in if you’re not happy with something or if you’re not sure that the bra is fitting perfectly. It’s not uncommon to need a different size bra in different brands, or even different cuts. Read: How to know if your bra fits
In a recent trial for this post, my favourite store was Debenhams, for their wide range of sizes, styles and budget friendly bras. Arnotts had lovely stuff but tended towards the upper price bracket, Marks and Spencer didn’t have much to choose from but did have affordable options and Penneys as well as Dunnes only had odd lacy beige things in my size.
My first tip on getting the right bra is to trust the lady. I know a few women who worked in lingerie departments (I usually omit ”departments” from the end of this sentence, for the fun of it) and was surprised when they told me how common it was for them to have the heads eaten off them by women who wouldn’t believe that they were actually a different bra size to the ones that they had been wearing.
When it comes to sizes, we might think we know best, but I’m not so sure we do. The first time I got properly measured, I found out that I had been wearing a bra four sizes to small for years. Four sizes! If you have been wearing an ill-fitting bra, your new one might feel odd at first but you’ll get used to it.
Secondly, try before you buy. Changing rooms are there for a reason! I’ve picked up bras in my size and tried them on, only to discover that they squeeze tighter than a new couple at their first gaeltacht disco.
Finally, familiarise yourself with the different bra styles. The most common ones are:
A balconette bra is low cut and will push your boobs up, instead of together. It’s best for low cut tops and terrible for jogging, as most of your ta-tas are exposed and free to jiggle/take somebody’s eye out
- Push up
Everyone’s probably very familiar with push up bras, the most cleavage enhancing option. They push boobs up and together. This compression also makes them feel firmer and less prone to bouncing around the place like a litter of puppies
The T-Shirt bra is a dull but necessary part of most women’s bra wardrobes. They’re designed to be worn under clingy tops, so don’t have any embellishments or features that would be visible under clothing. They usually have cups are less revealing and come with a little bit of padding
- Soft cup
A soft cup bra doesn’t have under-wiring, so they often offer less support than you might need if you’re fuller chested. I find them more comfortable, and some do have fancy elastic fabric bits that do as good a job as under-wire
Strapless, low back and convertible strap bras are great if you have a top or dress that revels an area where you’d normally have your bra on show. If you need support, I recommend Wonderbra – they’re the only brand I’ve tried that have worked well enough to stop me having to do that awkward pull and wiggle to get the twins back in the pram.
There you have it, that’s my extent of knowledge on proper boob armour. Hope it was helpful!
Read the bra category for loads more tips, advice and (hilarious) comments