Top tips for buying the right bra

Valentine’s Day is over, and by now you’ve probably seen quite a few pieces on the best lingerie to buy; but let’s get real for a moment: sexy lingerie is rarely supportive lingerie.

So while you may have wanted to slip into something ‘less comfortable’ for a special occasion, more often you’re probably wanting to feel and look your best while wearing other clothes on top.

And for that, you’ll be needing a good, sturdy and appropriate bra. Because believe it or not the right bra can make a whole world of difference to your style. It will lift you up – particularly good if you have a bit of a tum – give you a more flattering shape, and your clothes will fit better. You know that annoying gaping in a blouse or shirt? Nine times out of ten that’s because you’re not wearing the right bra.

Ultimately a great bra is the secret weapon to looking your best, and it’s the first thing any respectable stylist will focus on. Because a whopping 80% of women wear ill-fitting bras.

So how to make sure you don’t fall into this category? Here are five ways to check you’re wearing the right size bra:

  1. Straps should not fall down even after adjusting them.
  2. Your boobs should not be spilling over the top, sides or bottom.
  3. Your bra should be most comfortable when worn on the middle hook.
  4. The centre of the bra should lie flat on your rib cage.
  5. The band shouldn’t ride up your back and there should be no underwire digging into your skin.
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If you find you don’t tick all these boxes, don’t try and guess what size you should really be wearing (one of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking we have a larger back, when we’re actually a larger cup size). Instead, head off to a bra-fitting specialist, and even get a second opinion for extra reassurance.

Aside from wearing the wrong fitting bra, the other mistake you can make is wearing the wrong type of bra for your outfit. And with so many different bra styles out there, it’s pretty easy to get confused. Here’s my quick guide:

1. Plunge bra. Best if you’re wearing something with a V-neckline. You might be tempted to go for a padded bra for extra boost, but beware: as we age, our breasts become less full, resulting in your breasts falling to the bottom of the cups, and leaving an empty unfilled space that results in a wrinkled cleavage.

2. T-shirt bra. Also known as seamless or contour bra, it may not be sexy but if you’re wearing something fitted or clingy, the last thing you want is lumpy boobs. Stick to a simple T-shirt shape bra for super smoothness.

3. Full coverage. If you want to minimize the appearance of larger breasts and draw attention away from them with your outfit, opt for a full-cupped seamed bra which will give full support without any extra prominence.

4. Balconette bra. Ideal if you’re wearing something with a scooped neckline as it will give you a nice, flattering lift without an OTT cleavage. It’s also ideal if your breasts are less full, as it won’t result in creasing.

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5. Bralette. These are all the rage right now, and are extremely comfortable but can be a bit intimidating if you have a larger bust. They are supportive but won’t give you any additional shape, so these are best worn under looser clothing, or as a base layer under a few more.

6. Strapless. There are lots of different types of strapless bras, so you’re best to study your garment first and then decide which shape to go for

7. Sports bra. It’s essential to wear a sports bra when working out, both for comfort and to prevent sagging and damage to breast tissue. As well as making sure you’re wearing the right size, pick the bra that’s appropriate for your preferred form of exercise – high, medium or low impact. High includes things like running, dance, football and hockey, medium is jogging, cycling, tennis, gym and spin, while low is walking, stretching, yoga and Pilates

Once you have the perfect fitting and shape bra for your outfit, you’ll have created a perfect foundation for your look, and can go out with extra confidence!

About Jacynth Bassett

I'm the founder of the-Bias-Cut - Shopping With Attitude Where Ageism Is Never In Style. Swiftly becoming recognised as one of the UK’s leading pioneers of style at every age, I have written on the topic for The Guardian online, The Huffington Post and have contributed to an internationally published book. I also regularly speak on panels and podcasts, am a ViewVo accredited business mentor, and the weekly ‘Style Advisor’ for The Menopause Room. In my spare time, I love to dance, specialising in hip-hop, and to dine out with family and friends.