Beat the bounce

Almost 78% of women are wearing a poorly fitting sports bra! Bra fitting expert Paula Svoboda answers Kate Evans’ questions on how to get the best fit for your breasts.

Style and size

When choosing a sports bra style, you need to consider more than just your size. The shape of your breasts and what exercise you’ll be doing also come into play.

Wireless sports bras offer great support for all breast types. Look for fabric that has very low movement properties, as all the necessary support is going to rest on its rigidity. They’re particularly good for low impact activities. For bigger busts, look for a bra with a compression fit and a high neckline for the best comfort and flexibility.

For women with larger breasts, sports bras with underwire provide extra lift, shape and support. They also help to separate and hold the breasts in place, but pay attention when being fitted as you don’t want the wire moving about or sitting on your breast tissue.

For breasts fuller at the top, go for an encapsulation style bra with underwire. It needs to have good coverage at the sides and top of the breast, and should be firm over the bust. If you carry weight at the bottom of your breasts, try padded styles for a natural shape, or wireless compression sports bras to hold the bust firmly in place.

With regards to style elements of a sports bra, if there’s an option to cross the back straps into a racerback, this will increase your level of support. Adjustable straps and hook and eye fixtures make it easy to keep your bra fitting as it should, as over time the fabric will stretch.

If you’re a sweaty betty, make sure your bra is made from anti-bacterial fabric, and look for breathable and moisture wicking options.

Fit for function

Here are some things to consider to help you find a sports bra that fits.

  • The back band of the bra should sit level with the front band. If it’s riding up or sliding around as you move, the band is too large. If the band restricts your breathing or digs in, it’s too small.
  • The shoulder straps should be comfortable and firm, not digging in or sliding down. If the shoulder straps are sliding off, it means your band is too big.
  • Check to make sure your breasts are filling the cup completely, and that you’re not spilling out over the tops or sides. If this happens, you’re wearing the wrong cup size.
  • If you’re trying on an underwire bra, the underwire should go beneath the contour of your breast. If you feel the wires digging in or resting on your breast tissue, it’s a sign you’re in the wrong size.
  • If specific cup sizes aren’t available, make sure the band is firm and tight, as this provides most of the support. The straps are there to hold the bra in place, and shouldn’t be rubbing or digging in.

Many stores have professional fitters on hand every day. I’ve been fitting women for 15 years and can tell a women’s size, shape and most appropriate bra style to suit them at a simple glance, which could make all the difference when you’re uncertain about any aspect of your bras.

Changes with pregnancy

During pregnancy, women should look to get a new sports bra as soon as there’s a noticeable change in their breasts — normally at about the 3-4 month mark, but it’s different for every woman. Look for a bra that provides you with extra support and flexibility to allow for breast size fluctuation, but avoid styles with underwire. Wireless sports bras will allow you room to move and will assist with circulation and fluid retention. Continue to wear a wireless style sports bra until approximately 6 weeks after you’ve given birth or stopped breast feeding.

It’s highly recommended that you have another fitting when you return to exercise as your breasts may be an entirely different shape, and returning to your old sports bras might not be the best option.

Care, wear and tear

To get the most life from your sports bras, it’s best to wash them after every wear. The fibres in lingerie retain their memory when washed frequently, and will keep your bra’s shape well into its life.

To wash your bra, a warm hand wash with gentle detergent is the preferred method. If you must wash it in a machine, always place your bra inside a lingerie bag and wash it on a delicate cycle. If you’re using washing powder, dissolve it in water first so it doesn’t get stuck in the fabric and cause skin irritation. Dry it in the shade, as the elastic will perish if left in the sun.

It’s recommended that you get a new sports bra every 6-12 months. A good indicator for your bra wearing out is the band. Almost 80% of your bra’s support comes from the band, so if the elastic fibres start to perish and it doesn’t feel as secure and firm as usual, it’s time to get a replacement.

Paula Svoboda is a professional bra fitter and bra stylist for the international lingerie brand Triumph. Based in David Jones in Sydney City, she has fitted over 50,000 women in her 15 year career, so she knows how to make the most of your assets.