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Finding the right pieces to complete your wardrobe can be challenging, but bras seem to defy even the most skilled shopper. Bras that should technically fit have straps that dig in or cups that never seem to sit right. There are the lovely lacy bras, there are the comfortable supportive bras, and the two never seem to have much in common. And if you’re a bargain hunter, best of luck with sizing, as to whether you’re a 34B or a 44E, your size is likely to be sold out. But bra shopping need not be a constant misery. A look at the most common factors in poor bra selection should help you spot the cause of your bra shopping woes.

Made to Measure

When was the last time you were measured for a bra? If you have lost or gained weight, or recently begun an exercise program, you may be due for a fitting. Get measured at a lingerie shop, or if there’s not one near you, have a friend measure you. If you’re having a friend measure you, have them measure under your breasts and at the fullest point of your breasts when standing upright, bare-chested. For the best possible fit, your friend should measure the fullest point of your breasts when you are bent over at the waist and while you are laying flat on your back. Calculate the average of the three fullest point measurements to get a cup size that will fit you through a full range of motion.

In Your Cups

Your bra cups should contain all of your breast tissue. There should be nothing spilling over the sides. The straps should never dig in, and the band should never gape. The center gore between your breasts should always sit flat against your sternum. If all of these things are not present, try different sizes until you find a size that fits best. Many people find that they are a smaller band size and larger cup size than they imagined. For instance, some people go from 42C to 40DD.

Get In Where You Fit In

Buy bras in shops where the selection in your size is plentiful. It might seem cheap and convenient to try the bargain basement shops. But what you gain in a 25 percent off sale, you lose in hours trying to find a suitable size and decent selection. The smaller selection in larger sizes are quickly snapped up. Bra shops that cater to those with fuller bra sizes will have bras suitable for all occasions. When you shop at stores that cater to your needs, you can buy that halter top with the confidence that you’ll find a suitable bra to go under it.

There’s Hope

The average American bra size recently jumped from 34B to 34E, and the average American dress size is now 16. This may prompt retailers to offer a broader selection of bras in fuller sizes, making bra shopping less of a pain. But the most powerful weapon against the misery of bra shopping is you. Insist on the quality you deserve, and shop at retailers who respect that right. Get the support you need.

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