By PATRICIA GRAHAM
T-L Lifestyles Editor
WOMEN HAVE been wearing bras - or something akin to them - for thousands of years and have spent at least that amount of time attempting to get the perfect fit.
Reports dating back to 2500 B.C., tell of warrior Minoan women on the Greek isle of Crete began wearing a bra-resembling garment and while their version of the bra would differ greatly from what today's women are familiar, there is no doubt the Minoan women would still want a great fit.
After taking an informal poll of my female bra-wearing friends, many had complaints about the garment they put on each and every day.
Complaints ranged from bra straps digging into and slipping off shoulders, being poked by underwire, bras riding up in the back, gapping blouses at the bustline, lack of support and sagging under clothing. Many reported they often felt the urge to take their bra off before the day was over.
According to yerna.com, eight out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra.
Maidenform bra-fitting expert Pattie Ficorilli explained that "a bra that fits properly should be so comfortable, you shouldn't even feel like you have one on."
Whether you choose a bra to enhance, minimize, support or show off your bust, fit is crucial. It's the key to keeping you comfortable and supporting your breasts properly. Some local stores do offer professional bra-fitting services but many do not which forces consumers to go it alone, resulting in ill-fitting undergarments.
Here are a few steps to finding the ideal bra from ehow.com:
Step 1: Use a measuring tape to measure around your bare rib cage, just beneath your naked breasts. This number indicates the band size most appropriate for your figure.
Step 2: Measure the widest part of your bust, sliding the tape around the middle of your back. Hold the tape as level as possible to ensure accuracy.
Step 3: Note the difference between the two measurements. Use the following as a guide, and try on a range of sizes above and below your measurement: If your bust measurement is up to 1 /2 inch larger than your band size, then your cup size is an AA. A measurement of 1 /2 inch to 1 inch more than the band size indicates an A cup, 1 to 2 inches indicates a B cup, 2 to 3 inches indicates a C cup, 3 to 4 inches indicates a D cup, and 4 to 5 inches indicates a DD or E cup.
Step 4: Select a range of bras according to your band and cup size.
Step 5: Try on a bra. Place your hands through the straps and bend over to allow your breasts to fall into the cups. The cups should contain your breasts - unless you're trying a demibra or an enhancing bra - and should center your nipple in the fullest part.
Step 6: Close the bra using the middle hook. Look for a band that fits snugly but doesn't cut into your rib cage. If it's too tight, try adjusting the hook closure before proceeding to a larger size.
Step 7: Adjust the straps so the band fits comfortably under the breasts and around the rib cage. If the bra seems to slip forward, if you find yourself pulling up on the straps, or if it feels as if your breasts are falling out of the bottom of the cups, the band size is too big.
Step 8: Check the fabric or bridge between your breasts. This should lie flat on the breastbone. If it sticks up or stabs your breastbone uncomfortably, try a larger cup size. If it puckers, try a smaller size.
Step 9: Move up a cup size if your breasts bulge from the bra. Move down a size if you notice wrinkles in the cup material.
Advice from brasizeinfo.com recommends taking the measurements while wearing a regular everyday bra and to keep in mind that some women may be in between sizes. To get the proper fit, following these checkpoints:
"The key to looking great is to start with the right bra," adds Ficorilli. "When women look and feel their best they exude confidence."
Flawless fit is more than band and cup measurements. Ficorilli also suggests that women adjust their shoulder straps snugly.
"The straps are key - even if the bra band and cups fit properly the straps will slide off your shoulders if they are not adjusted correctly," she says.
And then there is the hook. Another little known secret is that a bra that fits well should be fastened on the middle hook. If adjusted properly, bulge will be minimized because the bra will be even in front and back.
Experts recommend women who have lost 10 pounds or more get re-fitted for bras and every women should re-evaluate her bras on a regular basis to be sure they are fitting properly - a woman's body does change over time, and bras stretch and lose shape with repeated wear and washing. It may be time to stock-up again, soon!
According to barenecessities.com, women will know they've found the perfect fit when their breasts feel like they're "sitting" in the cups. Also, wearers will not feel any underwire pinching and the bra will feel comfortable and supportive.
The site states women shouldn't have to settle for a so-so fit. Sometimes you will have to go up a cup size or two. Don't let it concern you sizes do vary among brands. Finding the perfect bra takes time and patience, but the way you will look (and feel) once you have found it will be worth all of your effort.
Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.