How to Know If Your Bra Fits

How to fit a bra
Think you know what bra size you wear? Linda Becker of Manhattan shop Linda's Bra Salon would probably tell you you're insane. We chatted with the expert on how to know if your fit is right, what to look for in a bra, and other useful tips. "I tell people all the time, 'You only think you're comfortable. You're not comfortable. You have no idea what comfort is. Wait until I get you in a bra that fits.' When you wear a bra that fits, it's like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe it.'" Yup, she's that serious about bras.

When we waltzed in and told her we'd been told we were a 34C, she asked if the person who said that had been drunk at the time. She whipped out a tape measurer, did some magic, and sent us home with a 30E. (We're still trying to wrap our heads around that one). After a 25-year career and two Manhattan stores (plus online), Linda says most women are sorely in the dark about what size they actually are. We asked her about how to know whether you're in the right size, bra life and care, and more.

Real Beauty:
So how do you know if a bra's not fitting your properly?
Linda Becker: You know it doesn't fit right if it rides up in the back-that means the band's too big. People think there's something wrong with the straps if they're falling off the shoulders all the time, but what that really means is that the band's too big. If your bra moves constantly and you're always adjusting it, it doesn't fit.

Read more: How to find the perfect bra.

RB: When trying on bras, what's the most important thing to look for?
LB: Your band has to be snug! When it fits right, the bra should be on the loosest hook, and it should be snug because as it gets older, you'll want to be able to tighten it up. I can't say it enough-your bra should never be loose. It needs to be snug, and I mean snug. Not tight, but snug.

Read more: Learn what makes Chanel Iman feel super confident.

RB: Like snug enough to leave marks on your skin?
LB: Marks are okay as long as it doesn't hurt. You should put a bra on and say, "Oh, this feels a little tight." It's when it's, "Oh, I can't breath" that it's not okay. If the bra's not snug, it can't hold up your breasts, and you're always going to have saggy breasts in a loose bra. Always.
Some women will say, "I'm not comfortable in this." Well, why even wear a bra? They'd be comfortable if they didn't wear a bra at all! You'll be more comfortable in a bra that fits any day of the week over a bra that doesn't.

RB: Is there a rule of thumb for where the tightening clasp on the strap should be?
LB: If you have to tighten it all the way down to the bottom of the strap, near the beaus of the band, it's the wrong kind of bra for you.

Read more: Little black holiday dresses for every shape and budget.

RB: What should women with large chests be aware of?
LB: Most are trying to get support from the bra straps, and that's a real no-no. Never, ever try to get support from the straps. You should get your support form the band, not from the straps. When you tighten your straps and they dig into your shoulders, it can cause nerve damage and can give you headaches. And, besides, you'll fall out the bottom eventually.

RB: Is it true that you're not supposed to wear the same bra two days in a row?
LB: You should always rotate your bras! How you store them is also important. For instance, if you buy t-shirt bras, you never want to bend one cup into the other. You always want to lay it flat and lay one top of the other and kind of keep a rotation going. You put the one you just wore in the back keep the new one to wear in the front.

RB: So no cup into cup?
LB: If it's a lacy bra without any molding, it's fine to store it however. If it's molded, that's the shape you want to keep the bra in. If you continuously bend it, it breaks the whole molding, and it'll wind up leaving big bumps and lumps in the bra. You kill the bra much earlier that way. A bra's life is about six months, but if you don't take care of them, they're going to last even less than that. And if you have really large breasts, they always last less than six months. The bigger the breast, the faster your bra wears out because it's working harder.

RB: How do you know when a bra's dead?
LB: The elastic is bumpy or it just doesn't fit you right anymore. I know mine are dead because they're uncomfortable or I look in the mirror and it doesn't look right anymore. Or if it's on the tightest hook and it's loose, or if there's wire coming out, holes in it, bent cups. If they're not in good condition, they can't do their jobs. And bras have to do a job and if they're not in good condition, they can't do their job.

RB: What's the right way to launder a bra?
LB: By hand! Use warm water and some lingerie wash. Special wash for bras and delicates doesn't have petroleum in it because it'll ruin the elastic. Throw sports bras and panties in the washing machine in a bag, but anything with an underwire you should wash by hand. Put them in the bathroom sink for half an hour and every time you walk by, swoosh them around. Don't wrong them, don't squeeze or twist them, just let them get a good soak. After, rinse them to get all the soap out, put it in a towel and gently squeeze to get the moisture out. Then take it out, re-shape the cups and hang it up to dry.

For more from Real Beauty:
The 7 Biggest Beauty Sins
33 Best Makeup Products of All Time
Easy Hairstyles in 15 Minutes or Less
33 Ways to Look Thinner Right Now
11 of Fall's Best Dark Nail Polishes

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.