All you need to know about bra size
If you’ve gone through the five steps for a perfect fit and have diligently performed the scoop and swoop but your cups still seem to runneth over, the problem may be your axillary tail of Spence.
“The tail of Spence is a normal part of the anatomy of the breast, and it is a normal extension of the breast tissue into the armpit,” explains Dr. Constance Chen, a board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist. “Some people just naturally carry more of their breast tissue in that area than other people.
Although the tail is an extension of your breast, a typical bra cup isn’t built to hold it. If your tails are more prominent, you may find that bra straps cut into them or smoosh them outward.
To fix: Aim for bras with straps that angle toward your neck rather than perch straight up on your shoulder. If you’re a fan of bralettes, try wide-strapped versions that extend the cup upward or opt for halter styles.
Many bras have meant-to-be-seen detailing for peeking out of tank tops and dresses. Extra trim, like lace along the sides or straps, can offer coverage if you want to tuck your tails. But, again, the tail of Spence is a normal part of our anatomy that begins developing around puberty.
Keep in mind that our bodies also have natural curves and fat deposits. Some incorrectly claim that armpit fat, back fat, and the like is actually tissue that’s moved from the breast to other areas as a result of wearing ill-fitting bras. They also incorrectly claim that the right bra can help permanently push these bulges back to your boobs.
“Breast tissue does not migrate,” Chen explains, putting the myth to rest. “Breast tissue is where it is, but it can be molded and shaped with lingerie just like the abdomen and thighs can be molded and shaped with elastic garments like Spanx.”
If your bra is too tight, she says, your excess breast tissue may spill out of the bra. A supportive bra that’s better suited to your body shape may lift your breasts into the shape you want. But Chen emphasizes that the breast tissue isn’t actually migrating in any of these situations. "facts on bra size"
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Sports bra basics for boobs on the move
Finding the right sports bra that’s supportive but not constricting presents another battle for those of us with breasts. One study found that if we don’t have the right fit, we may avoid exercise altogether. In fact, breasts were the fourth biggest obstacle to physical activity.
The steps for finding the right sports bra fit are the same as the everyday bra fit. But the process can involve a little more trial and error across different brands.
Finding your fit
- Many sports bras come in small, medium, and large, rather than offering a wide range of sizes. If you’re a D cup or larger, consider brands that offer sports bras in cup sizes, like Chantelle or Bare Necessities. And while you don’t have to do burpees in the dressing room, do try a few movements that mimic your exercise tendencies.
- Consider the type of activity. If you’re a multisport fan, you may need several different options in your activewear arsenal. Many bra companies rate how much impact their bras are meant to take, so be mindful of that while shopping. "facts on bra size"
Low-intensity sports means a low-impact bra. You should find one with a combination of coverage when in Downward-Facing Dog or inversions, but not too much restriction in the straps or the band during binds and twists.
|If your size is…||Then try…|
|straight sizes, under DD||Vida fit bra by Jiva|
|prominent tails of Spence, straight size||Luzina bra by Lolë|
|prominent tails of Spence, plus size||Adjustable wire-free bra by Glamorise|
|small rib cage and large bust size||Active Balance convertible bra by Le Mystère|
|plus sizes, under DD||Lite-NL101 bra by Enell|
|plus sizes, larger bust||Black Strappy Wicking bra by Torrid|
For runners, HIIT fanatics, or high-intensity exercises, you’ll want a high-impact sports bra that uses compression to lock the breasts in place to reduce painful bounce. It also needs to do its best to prevent chafing during repetitive movements. Choosing a bra with sweat-wicking material, such as nylon and polyester blends, and a wider underband can help.
|If your size is…||Then try…|
|straight sizes, under DD||Kara bra by Oiselle|
|prominent tails of Spence, straight size||Flyout bra by Oiselle|
|prominent tails of Spence, plus size||High Impact Sculpting no-wire bra by Cacique|
|small rib cage and large bust size||High Impact Convertible bra by Chantelle|
|plus sizes, under DD||Sport-NL100 bra by Enell|
|plus sizes, larger bust||Longline bra by Torrid|
Should you free your breasts from the bra?
Just as bra styles are a matter of choice, so is wearing a bra. Going braless won’t hurt your breast health. The American Cancer Society states that there’s no scientific evidence showing that bras cause cancer by obstructing lymph drainage.
If bras leave you feeling restricted, hot, or just generally uncomfortable, or if you’re tired of dealing with an extra garment when you get dressed, feel free to ditch bras altogether. You can also just wear them as wanted or needed or for high-impact activities.
If you’ve been a bra wearer all your life but you’re now curious about going bra-free, you can ease into the lifestyle by trying bralettes first or wearing camisoles with a built-in shelf. Or you can try these nine tips for feeling secure without a bra.
Of course, the right fitting bra can make all the difference when it comes to body confidence too. The choice is yours. "facts on bra size"