Facts about Bras and Shape Wear that May Surprise You

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Choices about bras that may surprise you

Facts about Bras and Shape Wear that May Surprise You

Quote of the day: “It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” William James

This quote seemed so apropos since most of us consider bra shopping as fun as swimsuit and jean shopping (insert sarcasm here).  And thanks to my wonderful book club friend, Cathy who suggested this post. She actually asked about the importance of good undergarments, but I went off on a tangent instead.

After my post about comparing undies to avoid panty lines, I wanted to tackle the bra subject. We all hear that most of us don’t wear the correct size, or many facts about bras to have them fit better. But it can be SO confusing.

My story all started about 12 years ago….


I was discussing that gap that happens with so many button down blouses with my best friend, Bethany. She asked me if I had a good bra. Of course I said yes, but when I went home, I wondered what “good” really meant. Could she know something I didn’t? I mean, I bought my bras at Victoria Secret. Didn’t that make them good?

This thought stuck in my head, so I decided to go to a local bra shop. You know the kind. Where all they sell is lingerie and it’s very expensive. Well, lo and behold, the woman looked at the bra I was wearing and measured right under the bra band. She put me in a 32 band (which was smaller than what I had been wearing) and gave me all the tips about how a “good” bra fit.

Not that I didn’t believe her, but I was amazed. How did I not know all this before? So I wanted to compare. I went to 2 department stores to see if they’d give me the same size bras. And they didn’t. All 3 places put me in different sized bras. Talk about crazy. Heck, even my mom was telling me to measure and then add 5 inches. How could everyone say something different?

Well this set me off to try to figure it out. I googled all the articles I could read and then put my noggin to use. And this is what I know.

Facts about bras for women over 50

The Band

The fact that your band of the bra is the heavy lifter is not new information. But do you really know what that means? It means that’s the most important part of figuring out which bra you should wear. So up to about a year ago, to me that meant measure your rib cage right under the girls and find a bra band with that measurement. Do not add to make it bigger. Do not use the “sister” size if your size isn’t available. Because the band should be tight enough to hold the girls up with very little help from the straps.

Yet it shouldn’t be too tight. What is too tight? You should be able to slide 2-4 fingers under the bra band depending on your personal comfort level.

Now, did you know that the true measurement of your band isn’t the number on the label? Have you ever measured your own bra? Considering I never thought to do this before this year, I doubt others have either. But the true “size” of your band is actually less than your bra band size. Well of course it should be. How else would it stay up and do all that work? So you should take 2-3 bras that you really like and fit well. Measure them. It’s not super easy with all the curves, but get an approximation. Mine is about 4 or so inches less than my rib cage measurement.

Some of this information could be different than from what you learned when you were younger for good reason. Materials have changed and evolved. What was the way to do it then, can be different now.

What is a Good Fit?

THE way to see if your bra is working is to check it with the method below. Each and every time you put it on. It takes less than 30 seconds.

Stand sideways in the mirror, bend your arm so it is parallel to the floor and look. Are your nipples halfway between your shoulder and elbow? They should be.

I talked about many of these issues in a very early post on my blog. The photo of Jane Fonda spurred me on to realize it makes such a difference in how we look.

Your Size

I hear so many women talking about their bra size. Have you ever considered that each company might have different specifications for their bras? There is no standard. Just like for your clothing sizing. You may wear a 10 in one brand’s pants and a 12 in another. IT’S THE SAME WITH BRAS. Yes, I’m yelling. Because it was an “aha” moment for me when I measured my bras at home. That’s why you should measure your bras. And find the right measurement for you. And use THAT measurement when you go shopping. Not the company’s sizing.

Does this make it harder? Maybe. Bras are one of those things you have to try on, even if you have the right band size. Because there are so many factors involved that make them fit well. Band size is only the beginning. The cups size, how flush it fits to your body, along with personal details that some people prefer are all part of the equation. No wonder it’s so hard to find the good ones.


So what are the details that I prefer? I have to admit that the newer styles where the side seams are higher are my faves. Maybe it’s because then the bra doesn’t seem to dig in as much.

Then there’s the style of the cups. Many women always like the contoured cups/molded cups so you don’t see your nipple through it. However, there is coverage for that issue too in the disposal variety or reusable variety.

Yet, I’ve heard time and time again in my research that the seamed cups are the best way to get more support. One of the reasons is that the lace used doesn’t stretch, so it keeps the girls supported. Another reason is they can be altered. Altered?? Yep, you can alter some bras since most of us aren’t totally symmetrical. But not the contoured types. Some articles will tell you that the contoured cups are better for those with obvious asymmetrical sides. It all depends on your preferences.


Bras are one of those items I will spend more money on. And trust me, there aren’t many things I pay full price for. Yet, it’s not impossible to get a well made one for a reasonable amount of money. Almost every store has sales, so if you’re diligent about keeping track, then you can get very lucky. That’s why I love the new filter on the shopping widget below. There is a button to get the sale alert if it’s something you like.

I’d say this is definitely one item that can be better to find online. You’d never realize how many variations and sizes there are, and most stores can’t carry all of them. But if you can’t try them on, how do you know what sizes to order? My favorite trick is to first make sure about the store’s return policy. And then order many different sizes. Sure you’re going to have to return many of them. But you would’ve had to go to the store anyways, so it’s just part of the process.

Shape wear

I don’t really wear shape wear. However when Hooked up Shapewear reached out to me, I thought it might be relevant to many of you. So I accepted their gift of one of their slips.

One of the reasons, I don’t wear shape wear is only because I’m trying to accept my body as is, even the jiggles and bulges. Yet, I know many of my friends like to wear shape wear for certain occasions and they have expressed some of their issues with shape wear. So I thought this idea that the piece hooks onto your bra was creative. I’m always intrigued by new inventions that fix our problems.

Now don’t get me wrong, it took me a little time to figure out how to hook it. Due to the bra I was wearing it with, I had to use the extenders that came with it.

Choices about bras and shapewear for women over 50

I wore my Hooked Up Shapewear all day with this outfit above. And it did as it said meaning it didn’t roll down. It can’t, because it’s attached to my bra. The other nice aspect is it acted as a slip should and created a slippery surface between my sweater tights and sweater dress. I don’t usually wear slips except in the winter to keep my sweater dresses from sticking to my tights.

If you are someone who is annoyed with shape wear that doesn’t stay in place, this could be the perfect idea. And use the code Curves25 for 25% off!!

About bras

The Facts

 I’m so glad to report that you should be able to Pin these images to your own Pinterest now. Except the first one. So I’d love it if you help me out and pin away! 

Even if you wouldn’t consider purchasing your clothing online, it can be helpful to look through my links to see what is available! It certainly doesn’t hurt my feelings, if you click on them but don’t like them. Just so you know, one of the ways I make money from this blog is through these linked items.

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