A Guide to Finding the Best-Fitting Bras for Mature Women
Where to Find the Best Bras for Older Women
Ladies, I know we all have our favorite bra — you know, the one you're probably wearing right now. The elastic may have stretched, and it doesn't seem to fit as well as it once did, but it is still the first one you grab when you open your top drawer. But, now it's time for a change.
Let's look at a few bras on the market that are targeted to the mature woman. That doesn't mean they aren't attractive. Don't think they're all going to look like something you used to see on your grandmother's clothesline. Styles, fabrics, and adornments have all improved, and we are now being offered bras that are not only comfortable but pretty as well.
I'll show you a couple of my favorites and tell you how to get the perfect-fitting bra no matter what size you are at the moment.
Bras are not one-size-fits-all. They're not even one-style-suits-all. So, in order to select the perfect fit, we need to look at our own body shape and size and consider the occasion when we want to wear it. Is this going to be worn under an evening gown at a party, or do you want something for everyday wear? Breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and what works for your best friend or sister might not be best for you or your situation.
Different Shaped Boobs
If you've ever changed clothes in front of other women, then you know that boobs come in all shapes and sizes. According to recent research by the company Third Love, there are seven different shapes of breasts. Below is a table that lists the different shapes and the styles of bras that are most suited to that shape.
Best Bra Styles Based on Breast Shapes
Shape of Breasts
Suitable Bra Styles
These are equally full at the top and bottom.
Most styles suit this shape, but a balconette shows them off best.
Wider at the top narrowing towards the bottom.
A plunging bra design is best for those with slender shaped breasts. If you want more volume, opt for a plunging push-up style. This will create cleavage.
Sloping with a wide space on the chest, pointing more to the sides.
A smooth T-shirt or push-up bra will minimize the spacing between the breasts.
One breast is larger than the other.
Buy a bra with removable pads or use a gel filled insert.
Narrower at the top with the weight at the bottom.This is often the case in full-sized women.
Opt for a bra with full coverage to take the weight off your back and shoulders.
Similar to the East West sloping but pointing more to the front.
A modified version of a balconette bra is ideal. One which has fabric a little higher will disguise a wider chest.
Similar to the bell shape but not as heavy.
Best shape for a plunging bra as the breasts are lifted to fill out the narrow portion at the top.
Finding the Perfect-Fitting Bra
For the perfect fit we need to check, the band, the cups, and the straps.
The band size is the number 32, 34, 36, and is the measurement around your rib cage. The band is responsible for supporting 80% of the weight of your breasts.
When you put your bra on, take a good look at how it fits. If you stand with your side to a full-length mirror, the band should be level. It should not ride up on your back. If it is, you need a smaller band size.
There should be no puckering along the sides.
The center should lie flat between your breasts, not leaning out nor in. If it is tilting forward, this indicates you need a bigger cup size.
The bottom should not impede your breathing or be low down on your rib cage. It should be right under the breasts.
To have a comfortable band, it shouldn't be too tight, and you should be able to pass two fingers underneath it.
Any red marks when trying the bra on will lead to irritation and soreness after wearing it all day.
Once you know the correct band size, let's look at the cup size.
Are you a B, C, D, E, etc.?
There are also double digits, such as DD or, in the USA, DDD. These are incremental measurements for those who are in between sizes. It is similar to going up a half-size in shoes.
Once you have fastened the bra, lean forward, allowing the breast tissue to fill the cup. Check on the side at the seam to make sure all the breast is in the cup and not pinched under the seam. Do this on both sides.
Now, look at yourself in the mirror. Does your cup runneth over? By this, I mean are your boobs spilling out and giving you the 'double boob' look? If so, you need a larger cup size.
If the fabric on the cup is puckering with gaps and not smooth, then you need a smaller cup size.
If you prefer an underwire, then it should not dig in under your arm. If it does, go up a cup size.
Most women have one side that is larger than the other. If this is the case, buy for the larger size.
If it is a significant difference, then consider using a silicone/gel insert that you place inside your bra to even out your breasts. If you haven't tried inserts before, they're quite comfortable and solve the problem.
For the perfect fit, the straps should be wide enough to support your girls without causing indentations on your shoulders.
The straps support 20% of the weight, so they need to be up to the job.
You should be able to pass two fingers beneath the straps to achieve the correct fit. Adjust the straps accordingly, but don't allow the band to rise across your back.
If the straps are digging in or leaving a red mark, then you should go down a band size. For example, if you're wearing a size 38, go down to a 36. Remember, the band is the main support, not the straps.
The straps can be adjusted to hoist your girls into position, but don't overdo it. You don't want them pulled or strained; they should be supported and coddled.
Selecting The Best Bra Closure
- If you have always bought a rear-closing bra, maybe it's time for a change. I am a fan of front clasps, but they also make ones with a front zip or hooks and eyes.
- These are an excellent choice if you have reduced mobility in your arms or shoulders. Sometimes, you almost have to be a contortionist to get in and out of bras, but that isn't the case with a front-closing design.
- Most compression style bras have no closure, so you have to pull the bra over your head.
- These are fine for small-chested women but aren't suited, in my opinion, for full-size women, especially if comfort is required.
- It's quite a workout getting it off, too. And getting a snug one off a sweaty body is... let's just say Houdini would have struggled.
- For rear-closure bras, you should buy one that fastens comfortably on the loosest closure setting, so that as the elastic stretches over time, you can get more life out of it by simply moving to the next row of eyelets.
- Whether you fasten yours in the front and then spin it around or hook it behind your back, this type of closure was the norm for a long time.
- Check for the number of hooks and eyes. Two is okay, but three is better, especially if you have a fuller figure.
- If you have a nickel allergy, be sure there is an extra piece of fabric between the metal hooks and eyes and your skin. Most good-quality brands have this as standard.
Ask for Assistance in the Lingerie Department
The next time you are in the lingerie department, ask if they have a bra fitter. These ladies know their stuff and will tell you what your correct size is. I used to buy the same size I bought when I was in my 20s, but when I hit 40, I went in to be measured.
The difference in the comfort level was unreal. I had always been purchasing a 34B since I was in high school. Two kids and 20 years later, I was still buying the same style and size. Only when I was fitted for a bra did I realize I needed a bigger cup and a smaller band. Somehow, over the years, my size changed to a 32E.
Picking a Bra for the Right Occasion
At the end of the article, I'll tell you about a couple of bras that I personally like for every day use, but depending on your upcoming occasion, you still have options to consider.
- If, for example, you have a backless dress and need a backless bra, there are several to choose from, including those that are secured around the waist or at the neck.
- There are also self-adhesive bras that offer coverage and add a little bit of lift. I would only consider using these if you aren't doing too much dancing. They generally work well under tube tops.
- Along the same lines, you can buy body tape, which will provide you with needed support. This is a better option than your partner's duct tape (gaffer tape) as it is gentle to the skin.
As we age, our breasts change (as you're aware). It isn't only through breastfeeding. Weight gain and loss also have a big impact, and if you have been on a diet, you know one of the first places where you see a reduction is in the breasts.
My Favorite Styles
It used to be that after a certain age, you were expected to have a 'mom bra.' These were unattractive, thick-sided styles that looked more like they had been designed for military use and less like something you'd find in the lingerie department.
But, I think we can all agree that when we hit 40 or even 50 that doesn't mean we stop being feminine or stop wanting to look pretty. Thank goodness, manufacturers have finally realized that there is a huge market of women crying out for comfort and feminine styling. The manufacturers also know that we demand and pay for lasting quality.
1. Playtex Women's 18-Hour Ultimate Lift and Support Wire-Free Bra
One bra does not suit all occasions, however the is one of my favorites for everyday wear. I am a nightmare to go bra shopping with, but I know what I like and what I don't. This one fits the bill. Playtex Women's 18-Hour Ultimate Lift and Support Wire-Free bra
- For starters, I love the smooth cups. This make it suitable for wearing under T-shirts and tight-fitting clothes.
- I have always worn an underwire, and this is as close as I can get without one.
- The center piece sits perfectly on the sternum and stays put.
- The first time I bought it, I was unsure about the straps. I normally prefer thinner, feminine straps. But, let me tell you, I don't think I have ever had a strap slip down on this one because they sit close to the neck.
- The band width is something I always check. Ones that are too wide rub in my armpit area, and if they're too thin, flab (loose skin) spills out. On this one, the width is perfect for me.
2. Wacoal Women's Plus Size Awareness Underwire Bra
- It definitely isn't the cheapest bra one can buy, but, when you reach a certain age, sometimes you've got to say, I deserve this.
- I love an underwire as long as it is comfortable, and this one is.
- For me, wearing a quality-made bra isn't so much about how it makes me look to other people. There are a lot of bras that can give a smooth, outwardly profile, but this one feels good on my skin and makes me feel good in my heart.
- I believe in the company's ideals, and in its support for cancer awareness.
- Wearing this is just one of the ways I feel I am making a difference to benefit causes which affect women.
There you have it, ladies. Now you can confidently buy online or in a department store knowing which bras best suit your shape and the occasion.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
I'm in my late 60s, and find that my once DD breasts have shrunk down to a B, which is okay by me! The problem is that it's all weighted at the bottom, so the upper half of the cup is wrinkled as it's more or less empty! I could probably take tucks in the upper part, but is there a better solution?
Before you opt for surgery, I would strongly suggest you try inserts, they're quite comfortable. You would place them in your bra under your arm. It will gently push the upper part towards the center.
You can also select a bra that has a more coverage. In the chart above, it says that for 'bell shaped breasts' a full coverage works best.
There are many full coverage bras that are both pretty and comfortable.Helpful 28
I am 66-years-old. I have large breasts and need back support, uplift and high cut cups so that I stay in my bra. What kind of bra do you suggest?
Near the bottom of this article, there is a link to a Playtex bra on Amazon. It is under the heading, 'my favorite styles' and is number one.
Although that is a great bra, and may suit you, I think you would be better off with the Playtex Women's 18 Hour Original Comfort Strap Bra #4693.
The reason I think you would prefer the original style, is the straps are wider, and the cups come up higher. This should eliminate spilling out, and the wider strap at the back will help with support.Helpful 22
My bras leave red, super uncomfortable marks underneath my breasts. By evening I want and need to remove my underwire bra. I've worn good brands for years. Can you offer any help?
A few different reasons could be causing the red marks. It could be that your bras are too tight and are digging into your skin.
Another possibility is that your bras could be too loose and as you move throughout the day it could be rubbing and causing irritation.
Another thing to check is whether you have changed laundry detergents. Because the bra is next to the skin the entire day, and because it gets pretty warm under the breasts, it could be causing an allergic reaction to your detergent.
It could also be the underwire itself. If you have a nickel allergy, it might be that through washing, the protective coating on that wire has worn away in places and is causing a reaction. If you have a sensitivity to nickel, and many women do, that may be the culprit.Helpful 16
My 70-year-old sister is in a nursing home with dementia and has gained a lot of weight. I imagine she is 275-300 lbs. She won’t wear a bra, but the facility wants her too. When I measured her a few months ago, she was 54 inches around her bust. I’m at a loss how to purchase a bra for her. I don’t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions?
I can tell that this has been causing you stress. You want to do what's best for your sister and abide by the wishes of the nursing home.
The good news is there are bras out there in her size. You'll need to take another measurement to determine what size band she'll need.
You have 54" inches around the fullest part of her bust. Now measure underneath the breasts, continuing under the armpit and around the back until you make a full circle. You'll want to be on the rib cage. Keep the tape measure flat.
When you have that number, subtract it from the first. Here's the chart.
3" = C
6"= DDD, or F
7" = G
You would continue with this until it meets the difference. Some manufacturers go up to a J cup. Remember, when it is a double or triple digit, it is just an incremental measurement, like the half sizes of shoes.
Another thing to consider is you can buy extenders up to about 6 inches. For example, if you find the perfect cup size, you can purchase an extender which has hooks and eyes at both ends.
Amazon allows you to return the bra (free returns) if it's not correct.
Glamorize makes bras in plus size that get good reviews and are reasonably priced. Search for this bra on Amazon: Glamorize Women's Plus Size Magic Lift Full-Figure Support Bra #1000. I think it would be ideal for your sister. The straps and back are wide, and there is good coverage on the front.
Let me know how you get on.Helpful 15
So where can I buy these bras? I put tear drop bra in a search and didn't get the results I wanted.
The words, 'tear drop' are in reference to the shape of breasts. In the table above, I've listed the different shapes of 'boobs' and the styles of bras that best suit them.
For tear drop shaped bras, a plunging bra is your best option. It will lift the lower part of the breast creating a fuller look.
You can buy a plunging bra on Amazon via the link in this article. Maidenform do plunging bras that offer quality and value for money.Helpful 8
© 2016 Mary Wickison