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-A brassiere, also known as a bra, is one of the most important garments for a woman. Yet many women wear the wrong bra size, many times out of ignorance.

-Others wear bras a size too small because they cannot find attractive ones in larger sizes, or are unwilling to admit that their breasts are large and require a much larger bra fit.

-In addition, changing social trends have increased the variety and complexity of available designs, and allowed manufacturers to make bras that in some instances are more fashionable than functional. Regardless of this, it is paramount for a woman to know and wear her correct bra size.

Getting the right fit…

When buying a bra, get a proper fitting in a lingerie shop. A properly fitted bra is essential for both comfort and posture. A poorly fitting bra can cause back problems, muscle tension, and even headaches.

To know if your bra is a proper fit:

  • Ensure that the strap around your body is firm but comfortable.
  • When you stand side-on at a mirror, the strap that runs around your body should be horizontal and not ride up at the back at all.
  • The wires at the front should lie flat against your rib cage and should not dig in, rub or poke out at the front.
  • Your breasts should be enclosed in the cups and you should have a smooth line where the fabric at the top of the cup ends and meets your bust.
  • You shouldn’t have any ridge or bulging over the top or sides of the cups, even if you are wearing a lower cut shape.

Bra fittings should be done at least once a year or after every noticeable growth spurt. This is because age, pregnancies, gaining or losing weight, and hormonal changes cause bra sizes to shift from time to time. Bra sizes can also differ by country, manufacture and brands, thus as a rule of thumb, always try on a bra before you purchase.

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Different bras for different purposes…

Bras meet different purposes – support, coverage, comfort or athletics. There are different styles of bras designed for specific body types, trends and activities. No one bra can do it all hence you will need different bras for different functions. Some of the bras and their functions include:

Training bras. These are for young girls, of any age, who have started to develop breasts but do not yet fit the standard bra sizes. However, if your breast size warrants a full fitting bra you should wear one, even if you are very young.

Light support bras. These have no under wire and are good for girls with smaller breasts. They are less constricting than full support bras and many girls feel that they are more comfortable. Because they are wireless they offer less shaping than other bras and are most flattering on trimmer figures. These bras come in padded and unpadded versions and your choice depends on personal preference.

Full support bras. They have an under wire or plastic boning holding them up and can be worn by girls of any breast size. They are a must-have for those with larger cup sizes. These bras offer a shapely cut and have a structured build. These also come in padded or unpadded versions and are flattering on any figure type.

Push-up bras. Push-up bras are designed to show off cleavage. They lift the breasts and add shape to them with extra padding and always offer lots of support especially for women with small breasts who would like a large cup size look.

Sports bras. They help breasts from moving during athletic activity and even girls with smaller breasts should invest in a good sports bra if they take physical education or participate in sports.

Published in December 2013 issue