I just turned 50. I’m really not that old. Most days still feel pretty good for my age. Spry, pretty fit, and ready to go! And some days I feel every bit my age. Today is one of those days. I caught a glimpse of myself coming out of the shower and thought … Yikes! Are those sagging breasts really mine?
I quickly threw on my favourite lace bralette. It’s the one I wear every day around the house. Even when I sleep because I’ve been trying to stave off the sagging breasts thing. I have like four of them and I wear them all the time! They are so comfortable and better than a sports bra because they don’t give me tube boob. There’s nothing I find more unattractive than tube boob!
But I digress… As I threw on my bralette I was shocked and horrified. My favourite bralette wasn’t fitting right. Wait, what? What’s going on?
Dun dun duun!
The dreaded breast bulge! I’d heard about this before. I had even witnessed it before on other women. But never before in my mirror. On me. My breasts were bulging over the front and also over the sides under my arm pits.
Clearly I’ve been slacking off at the gym lately. As I pondered on a strategy to get/stay motivated to work out, my mind started wondering. Thinking about how many times in the past month or two I had to adjust my breasts/bra before a meeting, getting out of the car, opening the front door to get a package, going for a walk.
An unsightly bulge
And this wasn’t just happening in my bralette. I remembered having to ‘discretely’ adjust several times at a concert when I was wearing my favourite underwire bra and a fitted t-shirt. This is normally a really comfortable bra. And it props up my 50 year old breasts up so they look almost as good as they did in university.
I had adjusted my strapless bra non-stop at a party last week. Which I guess isn’t all that surprising. It still blows my mind that no one has figured out how to make a strapless bra that stays up. Come on Sara Blakely! If anyone can do this, it’s you. Help your sisters out!
As I thought about all these frequent and uncomfortable adjustments, I realized two things:
- I really need to get my butt back to the gym
- It was probably time for me to accept the fact that my bras no longer fit me and I needed spend the time and money to get fitted properly.
I’ve been avoiding this moment for a while now. I’m not sure why.
Bra fitting overwhelm
Maybe the cost? I love spending money, but spending it on expensive bras and underwear for everyday wear, brings out the frugal in me.
Maybe the fact that I’m a never-nude? And just the thought of being topless in front of a stranger as she measures and pokes and prod is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat.
Or maybe because even though I’ve been wearing bras for more than 35 years, I still don’t know a ton about them. And now that I’m getting older and am not quite as fit as I once was, what little I do know about bras probably doesn’t apply to my new fuller figure. I’m pretty sure that, like many things, buying bras for older women will be different than buying bras for a 20 or 30 year old.
So I decided to do a little internet digging and learn a few things about the wonderful world of bras. I figure it’s better for me to know a few things before I go in for a bra fitting so I feel more confident. Plus, if I know what to look for and what I want going into this, I’ll be less likely to fall prey to a sales women looking to make a big commission.
And I’m sure glad I did. Because, my goodness, there’s even more to know about buying bras for older women than I imagined. What kind of bra do I want? Support bra. Full coverage bra. Smoothing bra. Comfortable bra (shouldn’t this just be a given?). Was I looking for adjustable straps, convertible straps, an underwire bra, a wireless bra, a coverage unlined bra? Did I need wide cushion straps or pleated straps? Did I want molded cups, double layer underwire cups or full coverage cups?
I was beginning to understand that finding the perfect bra was a lot more than just figuring out the right cup size and band size. It’s both an art and a science. And it’s really quite interesting. Here’s what I found…
The anatomy of a bra
It’s probably pretty obvious, but just so we’re all on the same page.
This is the main part of the bra that covers the girls. Cup sizes range from AA (smallest) to H (biggest).
The bra’s band provides the support. Band sizes are measured around the fullest part of the bust and range from approximately 30 to 40 inches.
The bands that run over the shoulders from front to back and act as an anchor for the bra. They should be adjustable so they’re not too tight or falling off the shoulder. Options like wide straps and padded straps can add additional comfort.
The underwire is a thin wire strip that’s sewn into the seams at the base of the cups and provides that magical lift to the breasts.
Bridge (aka Center Front Gore)
The bridge of the bra is the center front area between the cups that puts your breasts in the proper place and prevents the hideous tube boob.
There are two types. The hook and eye on the back of the bra – the one that gave your high school boyfriend a hard time. And the front clasp closure.
Padded cups enhance the appearance of the breasts by adding fullness to the bust line. They are often removable or come in different sizes to accommodate individual preferences for a larger-looking bust.
What older women are looking for in a bra
As I began my search for my new perfect bra, I made a list of the things I was looking for. Here’s what I came up with:
Top of my list because I want to fully contain these babies and prevent all the spillage I currently had going on. I don’t have huge breasts, so I don’t think I need a full coverage bra. But I definitely need one that gives me smooth, bulge-free coverage.
Now in my perimenopausal years, like many women I have heavy, sagging breasts. I don’t need my breasts to be right under my chin like they were in high school, but I definitely love a little lift. It’s flattering and makes me look and feel younger.
My primary need is an everyday, underwire bra. And even though it’s for everyday, I still want it to be beautiful and a little sexy. Because even if no one sees it, it makes me feel more beautiful and sexy.
Last, but definitely not least, I’m looking for a comfortable bra. I want one that I put on in the morning and don’t think about again until I’m changing into my pjs. Ideally, it fits like a second skin.
Types of bras for older women
Most older women find they get heavy sagging breasts as they age. If this is you, you’ll want to stay away from the bandeau or strapless bra. And don’t even think of spending money on those sticky adhesive cups! They are not doing anything to support older women breasts.
The best bras for older women are:
I know I’ve been complaining about my breasts getting bigger. But until my bra consultant tells me differently, this stays at the top of my list. Built with a little extra padding underneath and on the sides of the cup, push-up bras add a little oomph and cleavage.
For me, this is a must have! It has adjustable straps so it can be worn with a bunch of different top styles – halter, low back, razor back, even strapless, if I’m ever silly enough to try that again. This is perfect for me because I’m nervous about how much my new perfect bra is going to cost. And I don’t mind dropping the big bucks for something this versatile.
Supportive full coverage Bra
This practical bra typically features full coverage of the entire breast and wider straps that help distribute the weight, reduce sagging, alleviate back pain, and prevent the bra from digging into the shoulders. It generally has a higher neckline, which unfortunately means it eliminates my beloved cleavage. Probably not the one I’m looking for.
Front closure Bra
This ones great if you struggle with any shoulder mobility issues or have any trouble with the hook and eye closures at the back. Plus they’re great for clingy, form-fitting fabrics – minimizing lines and bumps and leaving a smoother silhouette.
These are my favourite, laze-around-the-house bras because they are super comfortable and pretty. I love lower cut ones because while they may not provide a ton of lift and support, they keep my breasts separate so I don’t have a uni-boob.
Even though I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t give me a uni-boob tube (which by now, you know I hate!), a good sports bra is essential. Especially now that I’m dedicated to getting back to the gym. The perfect sports bra is comfortable, full coverage, full support, and in a breathable, moisture wicking fabric.
Finding the right fit bras for older women
By now we know that making sure your bra fits properly is important. But this doesn’t mean simply finding the right bra size or cup size. There’s a who lot more to sizing bras for older women.
- Start with the band size. Wrap a measuring tape snugly across your back and measure directly under your breasts. If you’re in between two numbers, round down to the nearest even number. The bra’s underband should sit horizontally around your back without arching upwards and you should be able to slide two fingers underneath it easily.
- Cup sizes are measured by wrapping a measuring tape around your back at band level and measure across the fullest part of your chest, rounding up to the nearest half-inch if necessary. Every inch greater than your band size equals one cup size. So if this measurement is 1″ greater than your band measurement, you’re an A cup. 2″ you’re a B cup. And so on.
- Next take a few minutes to adjust the straps and clasps to make sure it’s fitting properly.
- If you’re large chested, you shouldn’t have any bulges. If you’re small chested, there shouldn’t be any gaping.
- The bridge of the bra should lie flat against the chest without any space between the chest wall and the fabric. If it’s an underwired bra, the wires at the front should sit flat at your breastbone.
- Do a few twists and turns. Bend over. Raise your arms. Throw on a fitted t-shirt. Look at yourself from every angle (hopefully they have a trifold mirror). Make sure you like what you see.
- If there’s something you don’t like, ask for assistance. These days there seems to be bras on the market to meet every woman’s needs.
- Try on lots of different fabrics and styles. Finding bras for older women doesn’t have to be dull, tedious or boring. Have a little fun and try something new.
What’s a professional fitting
I’ve only ever bought bras at Victoria’s Secret, La Senza or a department store, so I haven’t ever had the real, professional fitting experience. But I hear it’s life changing. Here’s what my friends have told me to expect:
- Find a store that carries a whole bunch of different brands and make sure the consultant is trained on all the brands. The brand that fits me best, may be horrible for you. You don’t want to buy the wrong bra, just because it’s the only one your consultant knows.
- Make an appointment before hand. You want to make sure you have tons of time to be measured properly for the right bra size and to try on tons of styles and fabrics to find the best bra for you.
- Take all the time you need and make sure you try a few stretches or dance moves in the fitting room to make sure its a comfortable bra that fits you perfectly.
- Don’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive bra – unless you love it and it fits you like a glove. And don’t feel pressured to buy one if you don’t like any of them. Make sure you’re 100% comfortable before your purchase.
Before you shop
By reading this blog, you’ve already taken the first step to eliminate some of the pressure. Aren’t you smart! Here’s a few more things to consider before your appointment:
- Do a quick review of your current bra situation. What styles, colours and fabrics do you love the most? Which ones fit you best? Are there ones that leave big red marks on your shoulders at the end of the day? Do you love the ones you can pull over your head, no clasps?
- Consider if you have any events coming up – do you need an underwire bra to show off your cleavage. Maybe you’re determined to finally find the best strapless bra out there for your hot new dress. Or are you looking for quality bras or comfortable bras that you can wear every day. If you have tops in tons of different styles, you may want to find one with adjustable straps that you can wear in a variety of ways.
- Consider what you value most – comfort, style, support or coverage.
- Consider the fabric – Maybe you’ve started having hot flashes and find foam cups and padding way too hot.
All of these things matter to finding the most comfortable bras for older women.
The great news is that now I feel prepared. I think I could confidently walk into a bra shop and carry on a conversation with a professional fitter. I might even be able to get topless withougt breaking into a cold sweat.
And hopefully now you can too.
I’m excited about this next step and can’t wait to book an appointment and get fitted proper for a bra for the first time ever! I’m so excited to find a bra that fits my new figure perfectly. Stay tuned… I promise to give you a full report about how it goes.