We’ve  all heard that statistic. You know the one that says 85 percent of women are wearing the wrong bra size. So we know we’re not alone. We have wrong-bra-size-wearing friends all over.

So it is no surprise that when I go bra shopping with a client, we find  that she has indeed been wearing the wrong bra size. We also discover during the bra-fit process that life can be a so much lovelier when you’re not constantly pulling, adjusting, tugging and grabbing. So, let’s just get down to the nitty gritty of it all…nail down some bra issues here and now, shall we?

We  asked several top local bra experts to break it down for  us ladies who have been either squashing and suffocating our breasts, or letting them go rogue in too-large cups and droopy straps.

Cyla Weiner of SyLene (www.sylenedc.com)

Kiersten Ballman of Coup de Foudre Lingerie (www.shopcdf.com)

Sarah Wiener of Trousseau  (www.trousseaultd.com)

Carol Orrell of World’s Best Bras (www.worldsbestbras.com)

What is the most common mistake we make when it comes to bras?

Cyla:  Wearing one that is too small or one that is totally stretched out. If it’s too small you get red lines on your rib cage and sometimes have four boobs. When it rides up the back it is too big and doesn’t give you the support you need.

Kiersten: Wearing a band that is too big and a cup that is too small, which compromises the support and comfort of the bra. The most common bra size in the U.S. is currently a 34C. The most common bra size in our boutique is 32E. I suspect that most women  have not been properly fitted and that a 34C is a common default size in the national chain stores.

Sarah: Selecting too large a band size combined with too small a cup size. Because of mass marketing, what most people think is a C cup, is really a DD cup. What is perceived to be a DD cup is actually an F cup. There is no such thing as “a really full C.” If you are popping out of the C cup, you simply move to the D cup. Additionally, many mass marketers have put more stretch in bras — diminishing fit and support —  in an attempt to fit more women into them and to limit the number of skus that they must carry in their size range. Most women are fuller and slimmer than they think!

Carol:  A bra that is too big in the band and too small in the cup.  The bra then rides up in the back, sags in the front, and straps either fall off or dig in.

 What is the most important part of a bra fitting? Cup? Band?

 Cyla:  The band is the most important as you should think of it as the foundation. It actually gives you 90 percent of the support.

Kiersten: Bra fitting is both science and art. We fit the band, the wire, the cup, and the straps, usually in that order, all the while, assessing the customer’s comfort level. There are trade-offs with the support and comfort of every bra.

Sarah: Like blue jeans, not every bra fits everybody and sometimes size needs to be adjusted for the bra style. A quality bra with rigid construction for proper support is the best. Too much stretch equals minimal support and short product lifespan.

I’m on a budget. Bras are expensive? How can I get the most bang for my buck?

 Cyla: Get three basic nude bras that match your skintone and can be worn with everything. Alternate your bras as they last longer that way.

Sarah:  Invest in good quality bras and take care of them. They will last longer, fit better, feel better and make your clothes look better. Also, bras do not have to be purchased all at one time. As you acquire a new bra, toss an old bra.

How often do I need to be fitted for a new bra?

Kiersten: The intimate apparel industry suggests once every six months. I think that once a year is adequate, unless there have been hormonal changes or weight fluctuation that have influenced the bustline.

Cyla: Once every year. A woman’s bra size can change up to 20 times in her  life. Things such as weight gain or loss, birth control pills, pregnancy and nursing, and of course the unavoidable gravity affect bra size.

Sarah: Anually, or when you experience physical changes or become uncomfortable (in your current size).

Carol: When you gain or lose weight.  Also, as a woman grows older, often the density of the breast tissue decreases so that a smaller cup is needed.

What can a proper bra fitting do for how clothing fits, posture, etc.?

Kiersten: When a customer has the proper fitting bra, the weight of the bustline moves from the shoulders to the ribcage, allowing the release of the shoulders. This promotes better posture and slims the silhouette.
Sarah: Most women experience perpetual bra frustration because they  need to adjust their bras all day long. A properly fitted bra will make you more comfortable, and can reduce strain on back and neck.

Carol: You will look better in all of your clothing when the bra lifts (your breasts) up to halfway between yuor shoulder and your elbow – that is where they put darts in clothing.  Also, blouses will button better.

What is a good everyday bra? 

Kiersten: My favorite every day t-shirt bra for smaller cup and band sizes is the Marie Jo Avero. For larger bustlines, nothing beats the Prima Donna Madison 3 part bra for lift and comfortable support.  Their wires are triple-wrapped, and the bands are lined and reinforced. I also like Chantelle’s new Vous et Moi t-shirt bra for smaller cup sizes (up to and E or F), as this bra converts. And, Fantasie’s Rebecca t-shirt bra for larger cup sizes. Both of these bras are in the lower to mid price range.

Cyla: Simone Perele Andora or Marie Jo Avero.

Carol: Custom-fit bras that have been manufactured formerly by Pennyrich, Jeunique, or Scuptress, but are now called LeUnique.  I wouldn’t wear anything else.

Final thoughts on the importance of a proper bra?
Sarah: Comfortable, properly fitted shoes and underwear are the building blocks of any wardrobe. You can put an ill-fitting  bra under an expensive dress and it will look awful. Put a great fitting bra under a $10  t-shirt and it can look amazing.