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Finding the Right Bra Size — and More Sports Bra Tips from the Experts

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When you see stats thrown around like, “Eight out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size sports bra for their sport,” first, you gasp. Then you want to find out more. Because, what if you’re one of the majority wearing the wrong bra? What if your girls could be better supported? What if your workouts could rock just a little more if you had the right fit? Well, have no fear and gasp no more. Today, we’re talking to a “Find Your Fit” expert at City Sports, the specialty sporting goods retailer. Read on and you’ll have all the details you need to know which bra you should be wearing for your chosen activities and how to find your most accurate bra size.

What are the most common mistakes women make when purchasing a sports bra? The most common mistakes women make when purchasing a sports bra can be summarized in two points: (1) all brands of sport bras fit the same and (2) sport bras sizing and feel are similar to a regular bra.

What tips do you have for preparing for a sports bra shopping trip? For example, how can one measure herself and determine her body structure, and what does that tell her about how she should shop? My first tip is getting honest measurements. Have a friend help you with this! All you’ll need is a measuring tape. The first measurement will be your bust (the tape should cross right at the nipple). The second measurement will be your rib cage, which will give you the band size. To find your cup size, you’ll need to subtract your rib cage measurement from your bust size (bust – rib cage = cup size). Example: 34” (bust) – 28” (rib cage) = 6” which is a size 32C. You can head to Moving Comfort’s site, enter your measurements and it even calculates for you!

What are the different types of sports bras out there? How are they categorized, and how can one tell them apart? There are three different categories of sports bras: secure, stabilize and control. Any bra falling under the secure category will be body hugging/compressing; these bras are great for activities like yoga/Pilates because the bra stays close to the body. Any bra falling under the stabilize category will be more supportive and have an “all-day wear” fit; if a woman is wearing this bra, she will notice adjustable straps and varying band sizes. Any bra falling under the control category will be maximum support and “no-bounce” effect; this type of bra would be the best solution for women who usually wear two sports bras and have no tolerance for any bounce.

Why do you need different sports bras for different activities? Is there a problem with wearing a really supportive one for a low-intensity workout, or is it only a problem to wear a lightly supportive one for high-impact activities? Great question! The different sports bras you’ll need for various activities will depend on the impact of the activity. For example, running is a high-impact activity that will require the most support of a sports bra, whereas yoga/Pilates is a low-impact activity that does not require as much support from a sports bra. If you are doing high-impact activities, no matter the size, you will definitely need the support! These activities tend to add up and you will need to be in the right “uniform” to perform at your best! On the contrary, if you decide to wear a supportive bra to low-intensity workouts (yoga, Pilates, barre), you are fine! A great bra can be costly, so I always suggest investing in a sports bra that will cover the wide array of all your health pursuits!

Are there certain brands that are better for certain activities? How about certain body types? There’s a lid to every pot, so there’s a sports bra for every woman! The fit will vary with brands, but a woman should always keep her bust shape in mind. Many retailers in the health industry have their own line of sports bras, so the options are endless. In my experience of both wearing sports bras and fitting friends for the right one, Moving Comfort, Nike and Under Armour are really great options; they carry bras that range from maximum support to sports bras that have strings for straps.

What’s the life of a typical sports bra? How do you know when to retire one? Replace your sports bras every six to 12 months! An easy way to remember this is when you’re replacing your athletic shoes, replace your sports bra!

For even more on finding the right sports bra — including dealing with fluctuations due to pregnancy or breastfeeding — head over to Fit Bottomed Mamas!—Kristen & Erin

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

Comments

3 Comments
  1. Erin says:

    Sadly, that is not the best way to get your bra size measurement, especially for the majority of women out there who don’t have a thin frame or perky boobs. Anyone who have lost a bunch of weight, has excess, or loose skin, & sagging breasts need a better way to measure. The best way I’ve found is through the “a bra that fits” thread on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits/wiki/beginners_guide

    The only other way I’ve come even close to finding a bra that fits fabulously is by going to a very expensive store in my city. The women there simply look at your naked chest, maybe only touching your back, never the breasts, & they can tell right away almost exactly the correct size for you. They show you the best way to put on the bra, scooping all of the excess skin & “back fat” into the cups. The first time I went there & tried on the size bra she said I needed, they fit perfectly & I looked 15 lbs lighter!

  2. Sara says:

    Erin is right; that reddit thread is one of the best I’ve seen. This link is great for explaining how cup sizes change in proportion to band size: http://www.epbot.com/2013/04/everything-you-never-knew-you-needed-to.html?m=1

    That all being said, though, a 28 band size DOES NOT EQUAL 34. 28=28. Someone with measurements of 28 band and 34 bust should be in a 28 DDD/E/F, depending on how that particular manufacturer labels their sizes. Those of us with smaller band sizes (30 in my case) have an incredibly hard time finding bras that fit, especially sports bras since they are often sized S/M/L rather than measured sizes. I was really excited to read this article, as I was hoping you might recommend some additional sources for sports bras, but I was disappointed to see more of the same misinformation. I hope that this article will be updated to reflect how bra sizing actually works, and I would love to see some brand recommendations for small band sizes that are hard to find in stores.

  3. Finding the right bra to wear is really important! Thank you for sharing this with us, Erin. This is truly helpful!

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