Your Ultimate Bra-Shopping Guide to Eliminate Back Fat, Spillage, and More

Breasts, boobs, chest-They're just something that women have to deal with, whether they're a 32A or a 36G. A good bra makes all the difference in your posture and how your clothes fit, plus it can even make you look thinner. Eighty-five percent of women wear the wrong bra size, guesstimates Susan Nethero, founder of Intimacy Boutiques. And they almost always go too big. If you're one of them, here's the price you pay: "A poorly fitting bra makes you seem older, thicker, and less proportionate," she says. Related: Sports Bras for Larger Breasts

A really great way to tell if you're wearing the right bra is to turn sideways and look in the mirror to see where your bust falls in line with your arm. "The fullest part of the bust should be midway between your shoulder and elbow," says Nethero. Here are a few tips that we learned from her for finding the right bra. Watch Now: How to Knock Five Years Off Your Look

Get Strap Happy
Too many rely on straps to keep them well-supported, and the effects can be damaging to shoulders, especially if you have a larger cup. "90 percent of the support you get from your bra should come from the band and just 10 percent should come from the straps," says Nethero. Related: Firm Arms in Fifteen Minutes a Day

Finding the Perfect Cup
If your cups are too small, your breasts will spill out of them. Even demis are pretty and good for lower-cut blouses, fuller coverage in the cups will make sure that your breasts aren't sliding forward or toward the center. When they're adequately supported, you'll look taller and thinner, and your breast size will end up seeming smaller, too, if that's what you're looking for. Related: Exercise Your Way to a Perkier Chest

Signs that Your Band is Too Big:
1. It's riding up your back, thus accentuating any back-fat situations.
2. The cups on your bra are rising forward, causing the front of the bra band to gape open. (You can see down the front if you're looking down.)
3. Your breasts are falling together in the center, and the cups are gapping.

Rule of thumb: With every cup size you go up, subtract two inches from your band size.

If you wear a size 8 or 10 top, you likely wear a size 34 bra; a 12 or 14 top needs a 36, and so on. Buy a bra that fits when it's hooked on the loosest, not tightest, row. Why? Bras stretch over time, says Nethero, and "if it's loose, it can't lift." You want to leave yourself a way to tighten things up a few months later. Related: 5 Reasons to Stand Up Straight

When One Breast is Bigger Than the Other
Always find a bra that fits the larger breast. "You never want to compress breast tissue because it softens it and causes sagging," says Nethero. "A good-fitting bra will hold the breasts in the cups properly, thereby alleviating the feeling of being uneven and seeing unevenness in clothing." Related: Your (Very) Personal Health Issues Addressed

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.