Next time you’re bra-shopping, remember this fun fact: the band around your rib cage gives you 90% of the bra’s support. [WSJ]


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  1. DrGirlfriend says:

    Which is probably why those bras that are just cups, that you are supposed to use with halter tops and such, don’t work for anyone bigger than an A cup.

  2. ideagirl says:

    @drgirlfriend: If that–I might as well just slap a couple of band aids on my chest and be done with it…

  3. stpauliegirl says:

    Ladies, if you haven’t had your bra size professionally measured, you definitely should! I was totally wearing the wrong size and type of bra and got set straight by a nice lady at Nordstroms. And buy expensive ($30-$60) department store bras if you are well-endowed; your shoulders and back will thank you.

  4. nardo218 says:

    I just don’t see how that’s possible. I wear a 38F, there’s no way a band UNDER my boobs is holding them up. (Yes, I have permanent discolored grooves on my shoulders.)

  5. allthatsevil says:

    Is there more than one person involved with this article, or does the author think they’re the queen of England?

    “At all three stores, sales staff told US WE needed a bigger band size, and were able to identify appropriately fitting brassieres for US in a larger size.”

  6. darkclawsofchaos says:

    … ok…

  7. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Bras are bullshit.

    The way they are sized is wrong, wrong, wrong. Just like womens clothes, bras don’t take into account subtle nuances, like two slightly different cup sizes, in-between sizes, short and long torsos, narrow and broad shoulders, and a myriad of other differences.

    Nordy’s is a better option for bra sizing than Victoria’s Secret, who only makes bras for As and Bs (like their models!). Fredrick’s of Hollywood is also very good. And yes, a decent bra will run you about $60+

    Toasting the day when I can afford custom-made bras.

  8. Kierst_thara says:

    The expensive department store bras may fit better, but they all look like old-lady bras. There’s very few options out there if you’re not a lace/flowers/ribbons kind of girl.

  9. Bunnymuffin says:

    @Kierst_thara: When you get to a certain cup size it doesn’t matter where you shop, they all look like old lady bras. Not that department stores carry my size anyway. *snort*

    I used to get custom fitted bras at this little hole in the wall place in Portland, OR. It was run by a bunch of old little ladies that had no problem with lifting you and shifting you into the right bra, they even gave me lessons on how to don my bra properly. The bras were ugly as sin but the girls were happy and pointed the right direction. Anyone know of a place like that in the Seattle area?

  10. sodium11 says:

    Bras are instruments of torture. They are made in arbitrary sizes that seldom match your actual shape, and nobody even really knows where the cup sizes came from. The perceived need to wear one is a manufactured cultural phenomenon that is foreign to most of the world, and nonexistent until the last century or so. There is no evidence that they prevent sagging.

    If your bra is leaving permanent marks in your skin you need to stop wearing it immediately. Plenty of women have just given them up completely.


  11. amypop says:

    @Kierst_thara: You just need to look further — I found the Town Shop in NY a few years ago and it changed my life. I went from wearing crappy 38dd bras from VS (seriously, horrible bras) to lovely, supportive 34gs.

    If you’re not near an actual lingerie store (I think Intimacy and Bra Smyth have several branches), try [] — you can search by size there.

    @sodium11: Many of my friends are quite busty, and walking around WITHOUT a bra is torture. I’m guessing those plenty of women are no bigger than a B.

  12. Anitra says:

    @sodium11: How the hell is someone above a B cup supposed to “give up” wearing a bra?

    Sagging is not what I’m worried about – my problem is pain from too much unrestricted movement.

  13. TeraGram says:


    Give up my bras? Are you KIDDING? If I were to go braless, the next time my kid and I play tag, I’d probably end up getting knocked out.

    It’s a nice fantasy, but I’ll keep my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders, thank you.

    Seriously, big boobs are heavy. It is very uncomfortable to run when they’re unrestrained.

  14. Pseudo-Coup says:

    Sodium11, a bra that fits properly does not cause pain. Once the nice ladies at Intimacy told me that my band size was too large and my cup size too small (they are relative to each other – smaller band size makes the cup smaller), I haven’t felt the need to immediately shrug off my bra when I come home from work.

    A proper fit can make you look like you lost 5-10 pounds and several years. The “girls” should rest between your shoulder and your elbow. For the bustier of us out there, the brand Lunaire has a goal to make “pretty” bras for larger cup sizes (and small band sizes). Their prices also make my wallet happy – I spent 60 dollars on two of their bras at Belk this past weekend, and they are comfortable AND beautiful.

  15. Groovymarlin says:

    I recently learned (I believe it was from watching Tim Gunn’s makeover type show on Bravo) that when you buy a bra, you should always make sure it fits using the very last (or loosest) hooks (most bras have three sets). The reason is that “every bra eventually stretches” so you want to be able to switch to the next set of hooks at that point, and later to the tightest set when the bra has stretched completely.


    As for larger bras, I agree about Victoria’s Secret sucking. I’m a 38D and while they carry my size, I’ve never truly been comfortable in any of their bras. They definitely cater to A and B sizes. On the other hand, Cacique bras (which you can buy in Lane Bryant stores and on their website) are terrific. Their “Balconette” bra has changed my life and is just about the only bra I wear anymore. And at around $35-40, it’s much less expensive then the bras at Nordstrom. Of course, if price is no object, then I heartily recommend Nordstrom. They fitted me for even larger bras when I was pregnant and they were expensive, but wonderful.

  16. tph says:

    @nardo218: The idea is that the band around your ribcage should be doing the bulk of the work holding up the cups (which should be fairly sturdy in and of themselves). The straps should just be holding the tops of the cups in place. If you put your bra on (but leave the straps off) the girls should still be held up pretty high – if they sag as if you’re not wearing a bra, your back size/band size/numeric portion of band size, might be off.

    As far as places to purchase, as someone who has pretty much outgrown anything that Nordstrom or Cacique can provide (40-42 H-I depending on the day/bra) I wholeheartedly recommend [] for girly bras (Le Mystere Dream Tisha FTMFW), and for sports bras, nothing I have ever heard of comes even close to my Enell (get it straight from []). Do you guys remember when you could do jumping jacks without pain? Have that feeling again!

    I did get fitted at Nordstrom though – I was super uncomfortable (nerves, not pain), but it was way worth it.

  17. ladycrumpet says:

    Several years ago I went to Town Shop to find out my proper size, which was much bigger than I expected. Basically the fitting lady just sort of eyeballed my size.

    Then recently I went to Intimacy because I needed new ones and heard that they do free alterations. Excellent service – the woman did a better job of figuring out my true size and which kind of bra/material worked best for me. Seriously, it has been a world of difference in terms of fit, support, comfort and making my clothes look better on me.

    Unfortunately good bras cost good money, but they don’t have to be ugly ones.

  18. amypop says:

    @ladycrumpet: I’m sorry your experience at the Town Shop wasn’t good. I’ve brought a lot of friends there and everyone has walked out very happy.

    Which Intimacy did you go to? I went to the one on the upper east side and couldn’t get anyone to help me. But I’m always willing to try somewhere new out if I can get great bras.

    @tph: Have you tried Freya or Fantasie of England? I won’t buy one that doesn’t have underwire that sits against my chest (woo separation!) and I find their bras lovely and even the very lacy, frilly ones have great support.

  19. nardo218 says:

    @tph: I’ve been professionally fitted several times, the size is right. I’ve heard what you said before, but I’m saying it’s simply not possible on a size F. My boobs jut out four inches beyond the band around the ribcage. Can you imagine trying to hold up two five pound water balloons by running an inch wide band underneath them? Won’t happen

    Seriously, the giving up a bra thing is folderol from 90 pound hippie twinks who idealize preindustrialization. Guess what — polio sucks. Bras were invented for a reason (and no, before them, women hoisted up with other means). You ever watch a silent movie, with the old ladies who were born in 1860 and never wore a bra? Or docus with tribal woman? Hell yes their boobs are to their knees. Our back muscles never evolved properly for standing upright; just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or healthy.

  20. DrGirlfriend says:

    I think Sandra Lee on the Food Network subscribes to the no-bra theory. If not, she needs a Nordy’s fitting, STAT.

    @Bunnymuffin: Would you mind sharing which store you went to in Portland for your fittings?

  21. nardo218 says:

    Milady is my local old lady funny smelling specialty bra shop. The women there did a really excellent job with me – measured me, picked a bra off the shelf, and it fit perfectly. She took into account all my bra issues and knew which bra would fit me right.

    It’s ugly as sin, btw.

  22. That70sHeidi says:

    @DrGirlfriend: OH MY GOD YES! Sandra has an awful problem with whatever she wears. I work with someone who is like that, rather top-heavy and obviously not wearing something that fits properly but what can you do. It would make a world of difference to her appearance if she got something that fit right. it certainly did mine.

    I can’t wear underwire, they just dig into my belly fat (painful) and then that causes the bra to push forward and out at the top, which looks ridiculous. I use the Calcique bras with the no-wire but with padding. They fit rather nice. Except th last one I bought for some reason refuses to mesh with my slightly larger right boob like the others have (same size bra). It’s annoying. I hope when it gets washed a few more times it loosens up and doesn’t give me muffin-boob.

    Finding a bra WITHOUT underwire is nearly impossible :(

  23. synergy says:

    Muffin boob! rotfl Perfect name! I have that problem now and then and never knew what to call it. Now I know! :D

  24. Mr. Gunn says:


  25. Bunnymuffin says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I found the listing for it, so it looks like it’s still in business. I think it was the Cameo line that they fitted me in, but that was 10 years ago. Maybe I should take a booby road trip.

    A -Bra Boutique Figurette/Cameo
    2548 SE 122nd, Portland, OR 97236

  26. JAYEONE says:

    The band around your ribcage?

    Ah, that would be the one cutting off my air supply.

  27. Her Grace says:

    @nardo218: That seems to imply that your bra is the wrong size. Even if the straps are doing a lot of the holding, they shouldn’t leave permanent marks!

    I know the size bra I wear is wrong. A 34D is not cutting it–I need to be in a 32DD-E, I think; a professional fitting is in order. But I’m also broke, and perfectly fitting underwear is not the priority right now. It made a huge difference when I realized I’m not actually a 36A-B, though, so at least my clothes fit a lot better. My mom’s not very busty, so I had always assumed I was built like her and MUST be an A cup. It turns out that’s really not true.

  28. ladycrumpet says:

    @amypop: Sorry, I just caught this reply. Going to Town Shop was still a good experience in that I had to face the fact I wasn’t wearing the right size.

    I’m now in Atlanta, so I went to the local Intimacy. Maybe it helps if you call to make an appointment? Now that I think of it, the woman spent a good hour with me getting me fitted! I also had to go there to find a good strapless bra for a bridesmaid’s dress and that was an amazing find.