The right bra can either make you feel ultra-confident or desperate to free your girls the minute you arrive home. Plus, finding the right bra fit is also a mission of its own. From balconettes to strapless styles, bras are meant to support you and lift your spirits — literally and figuratively.
According to Google Trends, searches for "how to measure bust" have increased 60 percent over the last 30 days. There's also increasing evidence of the impact of breast-supporting garments on women. But while women are constantly searching for the perfect bra that offers comfort and won't dig into their shoulders, there is more to the hunt than just identifying your band and cup size.
Shop TODAY talked to bra specialists to get an accurate read of your true size and fit, along with how to determine when to ditch onerous intimates once and for all.
How to measure your bra size
Measuring your bra size is less complicated than it looks. According to bra fitting expert Zainab Akbari, all you need is a soft measuring tape to get the right fit. To begin, Akbari suggests wearing your favorite unpadded bra — no sports bras, push-up bras or minimizers — for a more accurate reading.
"Take a snug measurement around your rib cage in inches, directly under your bust and level all around," she suggests. "If you got an odd number, round up to the next whole number. Then, take a loose measurement in inches over the fullest part of your bust, keeping the tape level around your body. Ensure that the tape isn’t too tight by taking a deep breath in and out. If needed, round up to the nearest inch."
"After finding the first size, go up one band size and down one cup size so you can compare the fit," shared undergarment educator Kimmay Caldwell. For example, a 30C would move up to 32 and down to B, for a 32B. However, depending on the brand, your bra size may vary depending on the style, cut and material of the bra.
Caldwell also suggests getting fitted by a professional every time you purchase a new bra in person. She uses her own guide, which she calls "bra size starting points" to get an ideal fit.
"Size is a great starting point, and the fit is the best focus. This is why working with a trained bra fitter is so valuable," added Caldwell.
How is a bra supposed to fit?
The right bra will make you feel supported and lifted without the pain of thick wires and hooks. According to bra fitting expert Marissa Renelt, there are five specific areas that you can always check to verify if your bra is fitting correctly — your band, straps, cups, underwire and center gore (aka the space in between your breasts).
How often should I replace my bra?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to replace your bra. For starters, if you feel that the underwire is starting to bend, then it's time to change your bra.
"Frayed, pilled and stretched-out fabric is a sign [you are due] for a new bra," shared Jeni Hulick, director of retention marketing at Bare Necessities.
Another thing to consider is the hook of the bra. Your bra should fit snug and be attached to the first set of hooks. "When you’re at the last, innermost set of hooks, it’s definitely time for a new bra," she added.
Hulick also recommends saying sayonara to your bra when the straps are stretched out or your body shape has changed due to weight fluctuation.
Best bras with support, according to shoppers
According to shoppers (and one Shop TODAY writer), True & Co makes the perfect bra for all your comfort needs and support. Amazon shoppers who gave this option a glowing five stars confirm that this wire-free scoop neck bra offers a buttery feel on top of the easy wear.
"This bra actually holds up my heavy girls. It feels great; no sharp plastic or wires to dig in," one shopper with a 40DDD bust added.
If you're tired of wires, this bra is the solution for everyday softness and comfort. According to the brand, the material is so plush that you won't want to take it off. This bra "supports with no wire, makes the girls look nice, covers the back bra fat, and is very comfortable," added one reviewer.
This T-shirt bra is ultra-smooth and features a soft stretch microfiber to hold your bust in place. The memory foam demi cups are also ideal if you struggle with gaping and perfect for those women that wear a band size between 32 and 38.
"I appreciate the little teeth on the adjusters that keep the pretty pleated straps at the ideal length. The center gore tacks perfectly. The underwire gives my chest a natural, subtle lift and never jabs or presses into me," added one satisfied reviewer.
Looking for a more revealing garment? This chic bra features a microfiber and mesh finish to match your silky blouses and dresses. The three-part underwire will support your bust while the mesh design provides a more luxurious feel.
If you're looking for an everyday essential that will give support and comfort for hours, this is the bra. It comes with a soft microfiber material and multi-position straps that can be worn in three different ways: crisscrossed, as a halter bra or as a traditional T-shirt bra. With a plunging neckline and molded cups, this is a bra that will solve any undergarment issues.
Strapless bras with support, recommended by shoppers
For women with a larger bust, you'll want to rely on a supportive bra that has a nice grip. With more than 4,800 ratings, customers agree this one is meant to hold your breasts without pain thanks to the minimizer design and silicone gripper elastic.
A busty gal confirmed her 36F size has survived the common burden of falling with this bra. "Wow my boobs stayed in place and didn’t sag down and it actually felt so comfortable and looked really nice under an off-the-shoulder top," she added.
If straps are not your thing, you'll feel more relaxed with this wireless strapless bra offering full coverage. The design encompasses full-coverage contour cups and cushioned back closure. You won't risk it falling to your rib cage due to the non-slip material.
Sometimes a bandeau is the best solution to your bra woes. This lightweight strapless features non-padded cups and a side boning for added support. Also, it comes with a silicone grip to prevent slipping.
Feel elegant in this strapless bra with lace detailing. The garment comes with removable and adjustable straps for added support. This bra will give you the confidence to dance all night without worrying about things falling apart.
"It provides support and does not slide down. I live in hot, humid Houston and this bra is very breathable, which is a lifesaver on extra warm days," added one reviewer.
Wired bras with support, recommended by shoppers
9,100+ verified Amazon reviews admit this push-up bra gives the perfect lift and support. Whether you have a cup A or a size 36DDD, this feminine bra is meant to provide the plump you need while "keeping the size of your breast from squeezing out. Coverage is great, it's definitely comfortable and not scratchy at all," added one shopper who gave this five stars.
If you're looking for a little push, this is the bra for you. The non-wired bra offers a quick lift to those ladies in need of a lifted illusion. Also, the design offers a good shape without being too tight on the back and non-constricting on the front. The cups will hug your breasts without the added padded material from traditional styles.
If you're tired of the extra gap with your regular bras, this brand will solve any space issues. Pepper offers unique styles for women with small busts that struggle with average bra size charts.
This classic design is ideal for women with AA or A cups. "I have always been an odd size as I have a large rib cage, I ordered a 40 AA and was amazed at how well it fit. This is the first bra I have ever purchased that fit me without extenders and the cup size was perfect," one customer noted.
This comfy undergarment is made with ThirdLove's signature memory foam cups and adds the perfect balance of support and softness.
Embrace a balconette style without the extra fabric. This design from Cuup is created for women that want to make a statement. The cups are sewn and not molded with offers a natural shape to your boobs. Even though it's wired on the bottom, this brad won't dig in.
"The cups fit like a glove and the fabric is so breathable (no more boob sweat!). They are also cut in such a way that somehow manages to hide the cup when wearing low-cut tops, yet simultaneously keeps everything in place without falling out," said one buyer.
This bra combines elegance, structure and support while providing a flattering figure to your chest. Coming in eight different cup sizes and two colors, it has fastening hooks in the front for a comfortable feel and easy buttoning.
Your breasts will feel safe and secure in this seamless bra offering full coverage. The Wacoal bra features lace detailing at straps and an underwire structure that is breathable and won't hurt your ribcage.
Wireless bras with support, recommended by shoppers
If wires are not your thing, turn to this elastic-free bra from Spanx. The garment will feel as comfortable as your leggings due to the front closure and buttery fabric. It is made with ultra-fine stretch microfiber to feel like you're not wearing one.
"Best bra I’ve ever gotten! So comfy, feels like a sports bra but still has the support of a regular bra!" added one shopper who rated this five stars.
Forget those days of digging and slipping bras when you try this wireless one. The bralette from Tommy John is made with a thermoregulating fabric and lightweight support that won't exhaust your breasts after the end of day. The straps are fully adjustable and the cup is ultra-breathable for those ladies who worry about underboob sweat.
Your boobs are about to be lifted happily ever after with this seamless bra from Glamorise. What makes this bra comfortable is the padded shoulder straps ending digging inconveniences.
"You could be wearing the tightest of T-shirts and it’s so nice and smooth with a natural shape," added one happy customer.
For a sportier feel, this wireless bra from Free People will support your breasts no matter what. With 21 colors to choose from, this bra might easily become an everyday essential and pairs easily with your favorite tank tops, camisoles or dresses. According to customers who are size DD, this bra is also supportive enough and flattens your shirt thanks to the compressive material.
Sports bras with support, recommended by shoppers
The slogan for this sports bra should be undeniably supportive and comfortable. The undergarment has incredible compression without feeling discomfort and a three-level clasp closure that is easy to attach.
If you're more plus size, this Lululemon sports bra is designed for runners and athletes that need extra support. The bra will reduce boob bouncing thanks to the adjustable straps and ribbed underband.
Don't struggle with a pullover sports bra when you can just adjust the straps and hook the back on this shopper-approved find from ThirdLove. This one is lightweight and has wireless cups for a sweat-free session. The straps are adjustable and ideal for those that do high-intensity workouts.
Don't stop your active life because of a bad sports bra! This one is adjustable and offers soft cups and a scoop neckline for easy movement. Also, the back mesh will cool you down when you're working out.
"I don't have to be readjusting all the time. The material is so breathable that I can survive Florida summers!" said one shopper.
Nursing bras with support, recommended by shoppers
Become a master at breastfeeding with this wire-free nursing bra. This option comes with clip-down cups that offer full coverage and a wide band that doesn't cut into your back. Plus, it's super breathable and easy to maneuver when you're holding your newborn.
This bestselling bra will support your pregnancy from the first trimester all the way to delivery. It features removable pads, clip-down straps for easy pumping, back closure and full coverage that will make you feel like a queen.
If you're expecting, don't expect your regular bras to support you. This nursing bra will inspire you to continue building your baby's room in comfort. The bra comes with ultra-thin memory foam cups, drop-down cups for easy nursing and is made with the softest Pima cotton material.
You will receive endless comfort and support throughout your post-pregnancy with this nursing bra. It's made with a stretchy yet supportive wireless construction to move your baby comfortably.
"It’s the first one I’ve tried that has looked and felt like I’m wearing a normal bra. It still has great support and functionality like a nursing bra," shared one buyer.
Meet the experts
- Zainab Akbari was the customer service team lead for Bare Necessities, an online retailer focused on lingerie, swimwear and loungewear products.
- Marissa Renelt is the assistant merchant at Bare Necessities.
- Kimmay Caldwell is an undergarment educator and bra expert with more than 17 years of experience in the lingerie business. She previously discussed bra dilemmas on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna.
- Jeni Hulick is the director of retention marketing for Bare Necessities.