Good bra guide


Finding the right bra should be easy, yes? It's not like most of us don't have plenty of experience of owning and operating real live human breasts.

But judging by the plaintive cries heard from uncomfortable women all over the Style & Beauty Talk board (and in Health - oh yes, a bad bra can be deleterious to your health), a brassiere that lifts, squishes, flatters and more to the point fits is harder to find than Simon Cowell's wedding reception. 

But whatever your chest size, boyish or busty, Mumsnetters are there to help in the search for the right bra for your needs.

Measuring your bra size

To ensure you're buying a bra that fits properly, the best thing to do is head to an independent lingerie shop to be measured. In fact, Bravissimo (a store much-beloved by the larger-breasted of Mumsnet) long ago did away with the measuring tape and instead squint at your chest knowingly before handing over about 20 bras for you to try on until you find the perfect one.

Red braHowever, if you are doing your bra shopping via the internet, here is Mumsnet wisdom on how to get the correct size.

"Measure your back size by using a tape measure under your bust. Pull it tight but not cutting off the circulation. This is your back size, no need to add any other numbers to it. Then measure your boobs round their fullest part (this can be with a bra on) and subtract the back size from the boob size: 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=DD etc. Then the most important step is to try bras on. Use your measurements as a start ,but you may need to go up a cup size and down a back size and so on, until you get something that you are happy with." Mrspnut

Once you finally know your correct size, don't assume you will stay the same size forever more. Weight loss and gain, breastfeeding, gravity and just different bra brands can all alter the size you need.

Sports bras

To stop your breasts jiggling about uncomfortably while you run, skip or jump, Mumsnetters recommend:

"The Berlei Shock Absorber. You can get them cheap in TK Maxx sometimes. Make sure you are on the correct fitting (most people go for too large chest size and too small cup size)." SmashingNarcissistsMirrors

"I use two at a time from M&S." Panzee

"Most sports bras work by compression, so the tighter the better!" marriednotdead

Maternity and breastfeeding bras

Form follows function when it comes to bras that give you proper support and easy access during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Mumsnetters recommend:

"M&S maternity bras have breastfeeding clips, which is a bonus - you don't have to buy a whole new set of bras when the baby gets here." marie14

"I have an Anita underwired nursing bra, and it's the most comfy bra I've ever worn, nursing or not. It even has a toggly thing you can slide across to help you remember what boob to use next. (Although my DP thinks it's hillarious to creep up on me and wiggle it about to confuse me.)" Crankytwanky

"NCT do a bra-fitting service. Nice lady comes round to your house with samples, you try some and then she orders what you want. The lady I had was very knowledgeable about how different styles fitted, what shapes they suited, how they 'grew' with you etc. Worth ringing them to see if they have it in your area, and if it is available to non-members" BikeRunSki

Bras for saggy and post-breastfeeding breasts

And which style of bra is best once you can call your chest your own again? 

"My boobs are very shallow at the top but fuller underneath (like spaniel's ears). I wear a 32C but because of their shape a normal push-up bra or full-cup bra is too big. I find that a balconette bra is perfect." Mrsshapelybottom

"Rigby & Peller do the best bras, in my opinion, but are very expensive. However, as a rule of thumb they advise getting a much smaller back size than you would normally do, and a bigger cup size. Apparently, the smaller the back size, the better the support. It may take a bit of a while after stopping breastfeeding but they probably will get fuller again; mine have, a year after stopping." FattipuffsandThinnifers 

Bras for small breasts

"Try Debenhams Aquaris range, which are fluid-filled but quite structured on the outside so give a natural shape. They start at 30AA, I think, so you should find one to fit. They add about two cup sizes, and have much more volume than Wonderbras etc. I've worn nothing else for about five years!" CuppaTeaJanice

"I've got a very, very small chest and my current fave bras are M&S smooth cup underwired ones. They start from an AA cup. Very comfy. It's nice to have a good colour choice too, often small bras are only available in white." pollyblue

If you wish to enthuse about your favourite bra, the best place to do so is the Mumsnet Talk Style & Beauty board. Believe us, in the unlikely event that bra design ever moves on from the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder format, you'll hear it first here.

Last updated: over 3 years ago