missfits faves what we're loving lately

Missfits Faves: What We’re Loving Lately

Missfits Faves: What We’re Loving Lately

Welcome back to our blog! This week we’re doing a roundup of what we have been loving lately: accounts, podcasts, businesses, articles, and apps!

What have you been loving, Missfits fam? Let us know in the comments below!

#1: PJ DeVito (@peterdevito)

Peter Devito is a New-York based photographer who uses his photos to highlight body positivity, diversity, gender-based violence, LGBTQIA+ rights, and more. His work has been featured in Vogue, New York Times, Allure, Marie Claire, and more.

#2: Growing Up with Toni Podcast

missfits growing up with toni cover image

We’re big fans of The Cut here at Missfits HQ, and we especially loved their podcast episode dedicated to the memory of Toni Morrison, a beloved and powerful author who passed away this month. In this episode, various readers of Morrison’s work reflect on how it impacted them over the years.

#3: Arlinda McIntosh (@funkingafter50)

“It’s only fabric, we make the rules!” – Arlinda McIntosh

Age is just a number and nobody demonstrates that better than the woman behind the Instagram account @funkingafter50. Ms. McIntosh rocks mindful consumption better than most, and sells her zero-waste, versatile skirt designs through her company, Sofistafunk.

#4: Bra Sizing in the NYT?

missfits new york times bra sizing

Yes, it happened!

So what do you think, do 80% of women really wear the wrong bra size?

To tl;dr the article for you: No, we don’t, because most bra sizes are arbitrary and bogus.

However, the number of women who are forced to put up with ill-fitting bras is still too high, which is why Missfits exists. To find your perfect fit, take our Fit Quiz or read about how bras are supposed to fit!

#5: Calmness is Contagious

missfits calmness is contagious

We’ve always known that our energy and mood affects others, but according to article author Ashley Abramson, Stanford scientists, neuroscientists, and psychiatrists, being calm is actually contagious. This occurs through a phenomenon called co-regulation, and is supported by polyvagal theory and attachment theory. V cool!

#6: The Happy Newspaper

No news is good news. But good news is good news, too.

Emily Coxhead is on a mission to spread good news to the world, and she does so through her quarterly newspaper, The Happy Newspaper. Each issue includes heart-warming stories, such as research-based evidence that cuddling helps heals injuries faster!

You can subscribe here.

#7: Flo App

Wouldn’t it be nice to be notified when your period is about to start? Now you will be.

Flo is an ovulation calendar, period tracker, pregnancy tracker, and health assistant with an easy interface and helpful features. They also have a very active blog with tips on menstrual health, pregnancy, diet, sleep, and fitness.

As an added bonus, Flo recently stopped sharing data with Facebook.

#8: Pinterest’s Compassionate Search

Pinterest recently introduced their latest endeavor, compassionate search.

When a user searches “stress quotes”, “anxiety”, “depression”, or other mental-health related topics, the app will suggest guided activities to help the user improve their mood.

The activities are research-based and the initiative has been backed by Stanford, Brainstorm, and the National Suicide Prevention Line. Yay for destigmatizing mental health!

What have you been loving lately, Missfits fam? Let us know in the comments below!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our Fit Quiz to find your perfect bra!

Our Favorite Bra Hacks

Missfits presents: Our Favorite Bra Hacks!

Is it just us, or is everything being “hacked” these days? 

You’ve probably seen those Instagram accounts dedicated to this very phenomenon – happy videos showing how to DIY a potato chip bag into a pencil case, a men’s shirt into a dress, etc. While these are fun and silly projects (though who needs a pouch made from a bra?!), we’re interested in “hacks” that will actually make our life better! 

Keep reading for our favorite bra hacks that will alleviate some of the pain bras cause us!

Bra Hacks #1: Peekaboo Straps

Do you have a top that you absolutely love, but cannot wear because it makes your bra straps peek out? 

To solve this problem, make the straps on your bra much longer than normal. Then, use a bra clip, an elastic strap, or a paper clip to attach the straps together in the back, or at the nape of your neck. It will hide those pesky straps in a snap!

bra hack paper clip

Bra Hacks #2: Straps Digging into Your Shoulders

While this issue actually derives from bra fit issues, there are ways to alleviate your pain more easily than buying a new bra. You can buy silicone pads, or just wrap an adhesive bandage around where your straps are digging into your skin. This will add some cushion to the straps and prevent those red skin grooves!

Bra Hacks #3: Straps Slipping Off Shoulders

If you have sloped shoulders and your straps fall off easily, fear not! There are some hacks for you. The first option is to wear a racerback bra, but this is not a good option for larger-chested ladies, as it can be hard to find a racerback in larger sizes. 

You can also use a bra clip or elastic band to solve this problem. If you’re crafty, a bit of hot glue zig-zagged on the inside of your strap will add grip and prevent slippage!

bra hack hot glue

Bra Hacks #4: Adding Support to Bralettes

We love bralettes but they don’t boost our ladies very nicely. If you want extra support underneath your cute bralettes, wear a nude strapless bra underneath for added lift and comfort. 

bra hack bralette

Bra Hacks #5: Band Too Short?

If the band of your bra is too small, make it longer with a bra back extender. They are inexpensive and a quick fix to this problem, especially because many brands don’t make bands in large sizes.

bra hack back extender

Bra Hacks #6: Boob Sweat

It’s August, which means that more than any other month of the year, we ladies are facing some serious boob sweat. To keep dry, try sticking a panty liner in your bra! Yes, it’s silly, but yes, it works!

Bra hack panty liner

Bra Hacks #7: Mom Life

If you’re a breastfeeding mom and are always losing your baby’s pacifier, clip it to your nursing bra! 

bra hack pacifier

Bra Hacks #8: The Bend-and-Tuck

Did you know there is actually a correct way to put on a bra? First, put your arms through the straps and close it on the correct setting in the back. Next, lean over and let your breasts fall into the cups! Finally, use your hand to guide all of your breast tissue into the cup. 

To make sure your bra fits you properly, be sure to check out our Ultimate Bra-Fitting Guide!

What are some of your favorite bra hacks? Let us know in the comments below!

underwire bra

Why Do Bras Have Underwires? The What, When, How, and Why

As far as bra components go, underwires are probably the most infamous. They snap and shift and shank us at the least convenient moments, and many of us have given up underwire bras altogether to opt for something less structured. 

This leads us to two questions: What is the actual purpose of underwires in bras? And secondly, is it possible to find an underwire bra that is comfortable? 

Keep reading to discover the why and how of underwires in bras!

The What: What Exactly is an Underwire?

Underwires are rigid semicircles sewn into the band of a bra, at the front and just under the breasts. The underwires are made from materials like plastic, metal, or resin; most bras use a steel underwire. 

Underwires range in shapes because they are designed to follow the curve of one’s breast root (where the breast joins the body). They are offered in three categories of shapes, and depending on your needs you’ll benefit from different underwire shapes:

J-Shaped Underwires

J-shaped underwires are found in everyday bras, from balconettes to demi bras. These underwires are suited for a variety of breast root shapes, and the lower center can accommodate close-set or touching breasts. If you are unfamiliar with all of these bra style terms, head over to our Encyclopedia of Bras to learn more! 

J-shaped underwires illustration

Plunge/Rocker Underwires

Plunge/rocker wires are banana-shaped wires that can accommodate wide breast roots that do not require much support. Meanwhile, a shorter wire means that they can be more comfortable for women with short torsos or high-set breasts. They are typically used in plunge and push-up bras. 

plunge underwires illustration

U-Shaped Underwires

The third style is a U-shaped underwire. With longer wires, they are often used in strapless bras (not reliant on a shoulder strap for support) and in bras designed for larger breasts, such as larger than a cup size D. U-shaped wires can give a centering effect and are generally suitable for women with narrow breast roots, because they do not stretch as wide as plunge or J-shaped underwires.

U-shaped underwires illustration

The When: The Birth of Underwires

Back in 1893, an American woman named Marie Tucek received a patent for a “breast supporter”. Like a modern bra, her invention featured two cups for breasts and hook-and-eye fasteners in the back. 

patent for bra 1893

Notably, the patent also included the incorporation of cardboard or metal (or another stiff material) to lift the bust from underneath – as an underwire does in modern bras.

In the 1930s, another American inventor named Helen Pons patented a bra with an “open-ended wire loop” that was similar to U-shaped underwires in bras today. The patent laid the groundwork for further underwire bras, which emerged in the following decades.

In the 1940s, businessman and movie producer Howard Hughes (portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in 2004’s The Aviator) commissioned an underwire bra worn by Jane Russell in one of his films. The support offered from the underwires created a more lifted, centered, and exposed bust (read: cleavage). The look gained popularity, and by the 1950s, the incorporation of underwire had become standard for everyday bras.

Today, between 60% – 70% of bras sold globally are underwire bras.

The How: How Do Underwires Work?

When studying the design of underwire bras, we were surprised to learn that the physics of an underwire is similar to the physics used in cable bridges! 

Both objects use a cantilever system to provide support and stability through the redistribution of downward tension. In a bridge, the downward force of traffic is transferred up the bridge cables, into the towers, and down into the earth. Similarly, in a bra, the weight of your breasts is transferred into the cups, up along the wires, and down to your band. For this reason, a longer wire tends to mean greater support in a bra, and a snug, stable band is particularly important for stability. (Imagine what would happen if bridge wasn’t well-anchored into the earth). 

The Why: What’s the Point of Underwires?

Many women enjoy the structure that underwire bras offer. Compared their non-wired counterparts, underwired bras offer greater definition, lift, and weight distribution.

The curved shape of underwires guide breasts into natural contours so they appear uniform and even. They also can separate the breasts, so as to avoid a “uniboob” effect. 

Underwire bras also lift breasts above their natural position. To the extent that you appreciate a heightened and lifted bustline, a properly-fitted underwire bra can help to achieve that silhouette. 

The third benefit of underwires is that they distribute the weight of your breasts close to your chest and across your torso, so your shoulders and back don’t become strained.

Do you prefer underwire or soft-cup bras? Let us know in the comments below!

To learn more about bra history, bra styles, or bra care, check out our other blog articles!

To find your perfect bra fit, head over to our Fit Quiz!

cake by the sweet feminist

A Roundup of What We Loved in June

Welcome to our new blog series: a monthly roundup of What We Loved! 

In June, we saw a plethora of encouraging launches, ideas, and movements that support women all over the world. 

What did you love this month? Be sure to leave us a comment below!

1. Inclusivity in the Beauty Industry

Image of transgender model for Sephora campaign

Cosmetic brands have been championing diversity lately, which is a win for everyone. 

In June, Pat McGrath launched her first foundation, which is offered in 36 different shades that range from Light to Deep. Urban Decay also launched a foundation collection, with 50 different shades. Here’s hoping that these initiatives will inspire other brands to follow suit!

Sephora launched their Identify As We campaign, which features transgender, non-binary, and genderfulid individuals in their advertisements. It follows last month’s “We Belong to Something Beautiful” ad campaign, and is an effort to reach marginalized communities and reconstruct idealized standards of beauty. 

2. New Swimwear Sizing

Screenshot from kitty and vibe website

This month we discovered Kitty and Vibe swimwear, which is based on a unique sizing system that incorporates hip and butt sizes. Women have raved that they have finally found swimsuits that fit! No more diaper butt, hallelujah.

 3. Pride 

Image from Philadelphia Pride 2019

Happy Pride Month! While some argue that Pride campaigns are profit-driven capitalist schemes, we are encouraged by the celebration of all forms of love.

Americans saw a big push for the Equality Act, which will garuntee protection from discrimination for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Tinder jumped on board and is donating money through their #RightToLove campaign, and Taylor Swift urged the US Senate to pass the bill with her star-studded music video You Need to Calm Down. The number of elected officials in America who identify as LGBTQIA+ has risen since last year, Mastercard is allowing transgender individuals to use their chosen name on their debit and credit cards, and brands like Morphe and American Apparel launched collections that donate 100% of proceeds to LGBTQIA+ causes.

4. Women-Led Protests

Women disperse a protest by stripping to their bras

Women around the world demanded equality this month. Swiss women protested equality in the workplace (you can read more on our blog here!) by burning bras and staging walk-outs. Israeli women dispersed violent protestors by stripping down to their bras in the middle of busy streets. And Japanese women (18,000 of them!) petitioned to remove regulations that require women to wear high heels in the workplace. Who run the world?

5. The World Cup

fifa women's world cup 2019

June launched the kickoff of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held this year in stadiums around France. Women from all over the world fought hard, including Team USA, who broke the record for the largest margin of a win in a World Cup game after they defeated Team Thailand 13-0.

6. Female Artists

cake by The Sweet Feminist

This isn’t exclusive to June, because we always love female artists, but this month in particular we’ve been loving the wonderfully political homemade cakes by The Sweet Feminist and the empowering illustrations by Alison Rachel’s Recipes For Self Love

7. Lingerie Brands Promoting Body Positivity

Plus-size mannequin in Nike store

Thank you to brands who depict real women in their marketing campaigns! This month we loved the inclusivity of model casting in JBC Lingerie, Hopeless Lingerie, FLUX Undies (that are period-proof!), and Aerie. Special shoutout to Nike, who advertised sports bras on plus-size mannequins in their London store!

Thanks for another great month, Missfits fam. See you in July!

Women throwing feminine objects in a Freedom Trash Can in 1968

Bras as Instruments of Political Protest: A Brief History

The bra is a fascinating object of study. 

Depending on who you ask, it can represent femininity, functionality or oppression. In addition to being an everyday undergarment, it’s also been used as a symbol of political  protest, long before the days of Women’s Marches and #FreeTheNipple. 

But why protest with bras?

Perhaps more than any other garment, bras are heralded as an icon of  femininity and womanhood – both of which encapsulate complex sociological issues. They have therefore been visible for decades as women have fought for freedom from gender-based expectations and rules, freedom from cultural discipline of our bodies, freedom from legal or political control over what we do with our bodies, our family, our career, and more.

Below, we’ve outlined a brief history of how bras have been used in protests around the world!

Early Protests: What to Wear by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, 1873

Screenshot from Phelps's "What to Wear", which includes burning corsets as a measure of protest

The earliest record we found of women’s undergarments and politics is in feminist writer E.S. Phelps’s 1873 book What to Wear, where she describes the burning of corsets as an act of liberation. We hear a lot of talk about bra burning and protests in the 1960s, but the idea was actually initiated in this text:

“So burn up the corsets! No, nor do you save the whalebones. You will never need whalebones again. Make a bonfire of the cruel steel that has lorded it over the contents of the abdomen and thorax so many thoughtless years, and heave a sigh of relief; for your ‘emancipation,’ I assure you, has from this moment begun. A certain sense of freedom follows this change.”

Screenshot from Phelps's "What to Wear"

Miss America Protest, September 1968, New Jersey

It began with a letter. A former child star named Robin Morgan, on behalf of an organization called “The New York Radical Women” wrote a letter in August 1968 to the mayor of Atlantic City, asking for a permit to protest the Miss America Pageant. Her reasoning was that the Pageant “projects an image of women that many American women find unfortunate: the emphasis being on body rather than brains, on youth rather than maturity, and on commercialism rather than humanity.”

A letter to Atlantic City mayor asking for a protest permit

The protest took place in September, and about 400 women showed up to the Atlantic City boardwalk. They handed out pamphlets, compared the pageant system to livestock auctions with the aid of real farm animals, and notably, tossed traditionally “feminine” products into a Freedom Trash Can.

Women of the 1968 Miss America Pageant Protest throw feminine objects into a Freedom Trash Can

The items included fake eyelashes, issues of Playboy, mops, high heels, and of course, bras.

According to the protestors, these items were “instruments of female torture” and did not have a place in a feminist society. 

Notably, the women did not burn the bras, but the bra-burning feminist trope was born from this event. Following the protest, a New York Post article drew comparison between the Freedom Trash Can and protestors of the Vietnam War who used similar trash cans to burn their draft cards. The content was then misinterpreted and disseminated falsely through media outlets (see below).

Image of "The Bra Burners" article in the New York Post, which discussed bras and protests

In following years, bra-burning became a symbol of the feminist movement, but in fact, it originates from #fakenews.

The Girl in the Blue Bra, 2011, Egypt

During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, an image was captured of a female protestor being abused by the Egyptian military during a sit-in near Cairo’s Tahrir Square. 

The woman was dressed in a hijab and a black abaya when she was seized by the police. As she was beaten in the square, her clothing tore and she was left unconscious wearing only her bright blue bra and jeans.

She was photographed this way and the image of the anonymous Girl in the Blue Bra became a symbol for anti-violence movements throughout Egypt. You can read more here (trigger warning: violence, military force).

A woman holds up a poster with the image of the Girl in the Blue Bra, at a protest

Eurovision Protest, May 2019, Jerusalem

One of the most recent examples we have seen protests starring bras was in May of this year. 

The popular European singing contest EuroVision held its finals in Tel Aviv, Israel in May. While the final was not set to air until after sunset on Saturday evening, which is the end of Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest), there were many rehearsals and preparations taking place throughout the city to prepare for the taping.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protested this violation of  Shabbat by stopping traffic, blocking roads, and attacking officers who tried to intervene.

Orothodox Jewish men protesting EuroVision

A group of women saw the commotion and stripped to their bras in the middle of the demonstration. The protestors, religiously banned from looking at strangers in their undergarments, dispersed quickly, thus ending the demonstration.

Women stopping a protest by stripping down to their bras

Protest Against Sexism, June 2019, Switzerland

Earlier this month, demonstrators of all genders gathered across Switzerland to promote workplace equality, fair pay, equal rights, and longer paternity leave.

Across the nation, protestors left work at 3:24pm (the time of day when women should stop working to earn, proportionally, as much as men in a day), flooded the streets with signs, and burned bras. 

The protest was similar in nature to the 1991 protests, which pressured the Swiss government to legally enforce gender equality.

Photo of a crowd at Swiss protests, with a woman holding a sign that reads "Feminism = Equality"

What do bras symbolize for you? Do you think they are an effective tool of protest? Let us know in the comments below!

Check out more of our blog posts about bra history and bra fit, then head over to our Fit Quiz to learn more about your own bra fit!

Photo of a bra hanging from a clothesline

7 Bra Care Hacks You Need to Know

Finding a good bra is like finding a good relationship; it comforts you, supports you, and you will do whatever it takes to make it last forever. On average, we keep our bras for three years, so it’s possible that some of your bras have outlasted one or multiple partners.

It’s rare that we find a bra that fits us perfectly, so when we do, how do we ensure that it lives its longest life possible? Keep reading to learn our 7 hacks that every woman should know about bra care.

Woman's hand adjusting the dial on a washing machine

Bra Care Hack #1: Wash every three wears (or so)

Let’s start with wear. If you’re like us, you want to wear your favorite bra every day and wash it during quick mid-week loads. We recommend washing your bra (about) every three wears, to optimize its life while still staying fresh.

Image of water falling

Bra Care Hack #2: Wash in cold water

Hot water will stretch out the elastic of your bra band quicker, so we recommend washing with cold water. The hottest you should wash is 30°C (90° F).

Soapy hands under running water

Bra Care Hack #3: Use a delicate cycle (or hand wash!)

The hard agitation of a normal cycle will wear down the fibers in your bra. If you can, hand-washing your bras is the best option to preserve their life. If you’re busy and hand-washing is a #goal but not an option, a delicate cycle is fine.

Pro tip: fasten your bra before you wash it. This will prevent the hooked closures from grabbing onto anything else in the load. If you have one, wash your bra in a specialized lingerie laundry bag.

Image of soap on a net

Bra Care Hack #4: Use mild detergent

Bras are made from delicate fabrics, so try and wash with a mild detergent. Use one without bleach, as it breaks down the underwire and fabric. If you don’t have a mild detergent, use a detergent meant for colored clothes, even if your bras are white. That way you can ensure that you won’t bleach your bra.

Bras hanging on a clothesline bra care hack number 5

Bra Care Hack #5: NO DRYER

The heat from your dryer will kill the elastic of your bra. Always air-dry your bras, and adjust the wire and cups back into their original shapes before you dry them. Lay the bras flat to dry, as hanging can stretch out the straps. If you don’t have space to lay it flat, you can hang the bra over the center gore (between the cups), so it is folded in half.

Bras stored in drawer bra care hack number 6

Bra Care Hack #6: Store your bras flat

Never fold or hang your bras to store them. They will retain their shape the most if they are stored flat and stacked on top of each other.

Bra Care hack number 7

Bra Care Hack #7: Rotate through your favorites

Our last preservation tip is to rotate your bra everyday. This gives each bra a chance to “rest” in between wears, so the elastic and padding can return to their original shape.

These are our 7 best tips to ensure that your bras live long, happy lives!

We want to know: what is your bra care routine?  Leave us a comment down below!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our Fit Quiz, which will help you identify which bras are best for your boob shape.

Bra Cups 101: Why and How Bras are Measured in Cups

The most common answer from our Fit Quiz was 34B. Many of us know that the “34” represents the circumference of your torso in inches, but what does the B cup size indicate?

Bra cups have been measured in ABCD sizes since the 1930s, but the definition of what the cup size measured has changed slightly.

When bra cups were first introduced, they were sized according to how the breast fell in relation to the body. Now, bra cup sizes are based on how far your breast projects away from your torso.

The First Bra

Over 100 years ago, in 1914, Mary Phelps Jacobs (later known as Caresse Crosby) received a patent for the modern idea of a bra (which you may have read in our Every-woman’s Encyclopedia of Bra Styles!).

She eventually sold this patent for $1,500 USD, or today’s equivalent of $21,000, to Warner Brothers Corset Co.

Image of the first patent for a brassiere, which features a hand-drawn sketch of the first bra.
3rd November 1914: A copy of the first patent for the brassiere, filed on 12th February 1914, by Mary P Jacob. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Warner Brother’s Corset Co. sat on the patent for a few years before introducing their range of bras that would revolutionize how bra cups were sized.

But before we get to that, you need to know about S.H. Camp.

The Beginning: S.H. Camp and Company

The practice of sizing bra cups with ABCD was started by S.H. Camp, an American corset company. In the 1930s, as bras were beginning to replace corsets as a woman’s undergarment of choice, S.H. camp (very subtly) marketed their bras as “anatomical supports”.

“Advertisement: Camp (S. H. Camp & Company).” Women’s Wear Daily Mar 22 1956: 29. ProQuest. 7 June 2019 .

The “anatomical supports” were sold in cup sizes A-D. However, the cup sizes were not based on the volume of different breasts, as they are today, but rather on how much they hung off of a woman’s body. You can see the difference in the sketches on the right-hand side of this 1932 advertisement.

While this sizing technique was popular for S.H. Camp-branded bras, it was not widely adopted by outside brands.

The Reinvention: The Warner Brother’s Corset Co.

Now let’s jump back to the Warner Brother’s Corset Co.

In 1937, The Warner Brothers Corset Co. (later known as Warnaco, to avoid confusion with the film company) introduced their ABC Alphabet Bras, which were offered in four types: Type A, for “small youthful busts”; Type B, for “average busts”; Type C, for “heavy busts”; and Type D, for “very heavy busts.”

A 1938 advertisement for the Warner Brother's Co. ABCD sizing of bra cups, which shows a woman wearing a bra, looking off into the distance. Bra cups illustration image
“Advertisement: A’Lure Alphabet Bra (the Warner Bros. Co.).” Harper’s Bazaar 08 1938: 144. ProQuest. 7 June 2019 .

These definitions indicate that the ABCD cup sizes corresponded to a woman’s breast volume, rather than another feature.

The bras became very popular, bringing in $1 million to the company by 1947.

A 1949 advertisement in Harper's Bazaar, depicting a sketch of a woman standing in her bra and underwear, and another sketch of her fully dressed.
“Advertisement: Warner’s Le Gant Alphabet Bras (Warner’s Le Gant).” Harper’s Bazaar 09 1949: 97. ProQuest. 7 June 2019 .

After the introduction and success of the ABC Alphabet Bras, many American and international brands followed suit and began offering their bras in the same sizing system.

Today, Warnaco owns Speedo, Ann Cole, and White Stag, among other brands, and has licensing agreements with companies including Christian Dior, Fruit of the Loom, Victoria’s Secret, and Ralph Lauren.

The ABC Bras are no longer for sale, but the A-D cup sizing is carried on through Warnaco’s partnered brands, as well as nearly every other international lingerie retailer.

Bra Cups Today

Today, brands around the world sell bras in cup sizes that typically range from AA to DD (E) or DDD (F).

Cup sizes measure the volume of your breasts, approximated based on the difference in circumference between your torso and your bust.

Your U.K. cup size can be calculated by subtracting the circumference of your torso, measured under your busts, from the circumference of your torso, measured on top of your breasts. A 1-inch difference indicates that you are an A cup, a 2-inch difference indicates B cup, and so on.

This scale differs across countries, however. While each UK cup size increase corresponds to a 1-inch increase in circumference, European and Asian brands increase by only 2cm. Therefore, the larger the cup size, the larger the actual size variation you will see between countries.

A chart that indicates the sizes of bra cups, depending on her bust and band measurements.
Chart taken from BlitzResults.

Remember that even between brands, there are many size discrepancies between lingerie brands, so your bra size will change depending on where you shop. You can refer to this chart below to get a loose idea of what your cup size may be, depending on where you live.

And, as a final reminder–size is just one aspect of bra fit. Shape, density, and preferences are just as important if we’re talking about finding the best bras for your body. If you want to know more about your breast shapes and which type of bra cup is best for you, head over to our Fit Quiz!

a pile of different kinds of bras

The Every-Woman’s Encyclopedia of Bra Styles

Bras as we know them today were officially introduced to the world in 1914 by Mary Phelps Jacobs, who received a patent for a strapped garment that was designed to support breasts. Since then, we have seen some ridiculous bra styles, from Madonna’s (in)famous Jean Paul Gaultier cone-shaped bra to the annual Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bras which have retailed at $1,000,000+ USD.


For us everyday women, we only want our bras to feel like a million bucks. But how do we begin to navigate the world of bras when there are so many bra styles? It seems like every season, lingerie brands are inventing new bra styles that we’ve never heard of before (Cage bra? Seriously?). Here, we break down all the vocab that brands are using to talk about bras: what they look like, when you should wear them, and why they are useful. Most bras are a mix of different styles, but here are the basics.

Support System: Everyday Bra Styles that Get the Job Done

The following bras are the basic bra styles that vary according to their basic construction.

1. Padded Bra

Illustration of a padded bra

Why is it special?

Padded bras are bras with a padded lining that enhance the shape and size of breasts. They give you the appearance of a fuller bust, and they can disguise any unevenness in your breasts.

When do I wear it?

Many women wear padded bras every day because they offer support while still being comfortable.

Is it right for me?

If you are part of the #ittybittytittycommittee and want an extra size boost without being too obvious, a padded bra is a good choice.

2. Convertible Bra

Illustration of three convertible bras with convertible straps

Why is it special?

Convertible bras can come in all styles, structures, and supports, but they are special because the straps can be restyled and even removed.

When do I wear it?

Convertible bras are the ultimate Swiss Army Knife for all types of outfits. Are you wearing a racerback top? Convertible bra straps can connect at the back. Do you have a one-shoulder dress? The convertible bra can work with that. Do you need a strapless bra? A convertible bra has you covered.

Is it right for me?

If you have a diverse wardrobe but don’t want to shell out a small fortune on lingerie to work with your different styles of tops, a convertible bra is your answer.

3. Minimizer Bra

Illustration of a minimizer bra

Why is it special?

Minimizer bras are the opposite of padded bras: they are designed to make your breasts appear smaller. They do not actually shrink your breast size (sorry) but they are designed to minimize their size, by either lifting and distributing your breast tissue across your chest, or by doing a good old-fashioned Spanx-style squish.

When do I wear it?

Minimizer bras are good everyday, every occasion bras if you wish to reduce the perceived size of your breasts. They look especially great under clothing with streamlined silhouettes, such as bodycon dresses or turtleneck tops.

Is it right for me?

If you have a larger chest and wish to appear smaller, we recommend trying a minimizer bra. When buying a minimizer bra, buy one in your normal size, as a smaller size will simply make your breasts look misshapen.

4. Underwire Bra

Illustration of an underwire bra

Why is it special?

Underwire bras come in a wide array of styles, but they can be identified by a hard strip of U-shaped or J-shaped wire sewn into the cup of the bra.

When do I wear it?

Because of the rigid structure, underwire bras offer good support and lift to all breast shapes and sizes. Many women use them as everyday bras.

Is it right for me?

A good underwire bra will help you conquer the world, but an ill-fitting one will send you spiraling. We’ll help you find one that minimizes poking – take our Fit Quiz now!

5. Full Coverage Bra

Illustration of a full coverage bra

Why is it special?

Full coverage bras are straightforward – they offer greater stability due to longer wires and more fabric on all sides. They are designed to be comfortable and subtle.

When do I wear it?

Because of their support, full coverage bras are great everyday bras if you have a larger chest. They can be worn under anything, because they often come in neutral colors and smooth, body-hugging fabrics.

Is it right for me?

If you have a bigger bust or generally require more support, you will find full coverage bras to be more comfortable and supportive than their plunge or balconette counterparts. 

6. Demi Bra

Why is it special?

Demi bras once again reference French: “demi” = “half”. Compared with full-coverage bras, they are designed to cover less (ie: half) of your bust.

When do I wear it?

Demi bras are versatile and can be worn under anything: t-shirts, button downs, or summer dresses. They offer good coverage and support while still being very natural-looking.

Is it right for me?

Demi bras work for small- and large-chested ladies. They can be low-cut, so if your breasts are fuller on top, we recommend a full coverage bra instead.

Our Favorite Br-ahhhhh: Bras Designed for Comfort

This group of bra styles are the bras that we could live in (and do!). They are the ones you reach for on your day off, the ones that you wear on planes, the ones that don’t poke you or shift around, the ones that make you forget they are even there.

7. T-Shirt Bra

Illustration of a t-shirt bra

Why is it special?

T-shirt bras are lightly padded and made of soft, smooth fabrics. The cup is lightly shaped to create a very natural looking bust.

When do I wear it?

T-shirt bras are perfect for – you guessed it – t-shirts (and every other type of top). They are middle ground between very structured bras and no bra: you will be comfortable, but still lightly lifted.

Is it right for me?

These bras are great for all breast shapes and sizes, but they work best for women who do not need a lot of chest support.

8. Bralette

Why is it special?

Bralettes do not have defined cups, and are made without wire or molded supports. Bralettes can have padding or padded inserts, but typically are very light coverage. They come in a variety of styles: strapless, lace, embellished, etc.

When do I wear it?

Bralettes can be worn underneath tops or can be worn as a top on their own. They are great for warm weather, festivals, and going to the beach.

Is it right for me?

Bralettes offer very little support, so smaller-chested ladies will be most comfortable in them.

9. Sports Bra

Illustration of a sports bra

Why is it special?

At its most basic definition, sports bras are designed to restrict the movement of your breasts during physical activity. They have straps and are commonly made of stretch performance fabrics.

When do I wear it?

Sports bras are designed for exercising, but the recent athleisure trend has made sports bras acceptable for all activities of daily life. They can be worn under any garment, but are typically worn under tank tops or t-shirts for working out.

Is it right for me?

Yes, the sports bra is adored by ladies of all breast shapes and sizes. If you have a large chest, we recommend high impact sports bras, which offer the most support and movement restriction.

10. Unlined Bra

Illustration of an unlined bra

Why is it special?

Unlined bras do not have padding or wires – they are simply one piece of fabric.

When do I wear it?

They can be worn under t-shirts and loungewear for ultimate comfort. The absence of padding and structure means they are not bulky underneath clothing.

Is it right for me?

Unlined bras show the natural breast shape and can show nipples, which is not for everyone, but they are very comfortable.

11. Longline Bra

Illustration of a longline bra

Why is it special?

Longline bras are a mix between crop tops and bras. They cover more of the body than typical bras, sometimes even extending down to the hips for body-shaping.

When do I wear it?

Longline bras can be worn on their own, or underneath form-fitting clothing, or as everyday bras. They come in a large variety of styles.

Is it right for me?

Longline bras offer high coverage and support. If you have a large chest, you may be interested in longline bras.

Hidden Secrets: Discreet Bra Styles for Indiscreet Outfits

Raise your hand if you have envisioned the perfect outfit for a date, wedding, or GNO, only to find that once you got dressed, your bra peeked out of your clothes. We’ve all been there. The following bra styles are our secret sidekicks and we thank them for their humble service in helping us look great.

12. Strapless Bra

Illustration of a strapless bra

Why is it special?

Strapless bras are, surprise!, strapless. They are often half-cups with underwires and silicone lining to keep the bra from slipping down.

When do I wear it?

Strapless bras are designed to be worn under strapless dresses or shirts. They can also be worn with one-shoulder, wide-shoulder, or off-the-shoulder tops.

Is it right for me?

Strapless bras exist for all breast shapes and sizes, but a perfect fit is tricky to find. Take our fit quiz to learn more about how to find the right one for you.

13. Stick-On (Backless) Bra

Illustration of a stick-on, backless bra

Why is it special?

A stick-on bra is adhesive and sometimes resembles chicken cutlets. Some are made of fabric, some are made of silicone, and some come in the form of two sticky circles to cover your nipples.

When do I wear it?

Stick-on bras are perfect for backless and strapless garments.

Is it right for me?

Stick-on bras come in a variety of styles that fit all body types. The adhesive can be uncomfortable for some, so we recommend a test-wear before you commit to wearing one for an event.

14. Plunge Bra

Illustration of a plunge bra

Why is it special?

Plunge bras have two cups that connect at a very low center.

When do I wear it?

Plunge bras are designed to be worn under deep V-necks or low-cut tops and dresses, but they can be worn under anything. They offer medium support and are sold in an assortment of styles.

Is it right for me?

If your breasts are touching or very close, you may find plunge bras less likely to poke you in between your breasts. Also, the deep plunge of the bra creates great cleavage, if you’re in the mood for showing off!

15. Halter Bra

Illustration of a halter bra

Why is it special?

A halter bra has straps that connect at the base of your neck.

When do I wear it?

Halter bras work well underneath garments with halter necklines, as well as regular tops and t-shirts.

Is it right for me?

While a halter top offers more support than a bandeau or a strapless bra, they can be straining on your neck if you have larger breasts. We do not recommend wearing them as everyday bras.

16. Racerback Bra

Why is it special?

Racerback bras have straps that meet in a Y- or V-shape on your back. They can come in bralette styles, or more traditional bra shapes.

When do I wear it?

Racerback bras can be worn under tank tops or sleeveless shirts, and under regular tops as well. The placement of the straps distributes the weight of your breasts throughout your core, so they can be more comfortable and supportive than a strapless bra.

Is it right for me?

We recommend racerback bras to women of all breast sizes, but women with larger breasts will find them especially comfortable, because of their weight distributing qualities and supportive structure.

Showing Off: Bra Styles for Enhancement

If you’ve got it (and you do), flaunt it! The following bra styles will define, shape, boost, and highlight your twins. If you have grapes, melons, or something in between, and want to show them off, these are the bras for you!

17. Bandeau Bra

Illustration of a bandeau bra

Why is it special?

A bandeau bra is a tube of fabric that you pull on. It doesn’t have clasps or straps. They can be sold padded or unpadded.

When do I wear it?

Bandeaus are worn under strapless or sleeveless tops and dresses, or they can also be worn on their own.

Is it right for me?

Bandeaus have very little support, so they are most comfortable for small-chested ladies.

18. Push-Up Bra

Illustration of a push-up bra

Why is it special?

Push-up bras feature angled and padded cups that push and lift your breasts, giving you maximum cleavage and good support.

When do I wear it?

Some women wear push-up bras under all of their clothes, so they always look full and lifted. If you are wearing low-cut and form-fitting clothing, a push-up bra will make your girls look great while still offering support.

Is it right for me?

Push-up bras come in a variety of “boosts” – from minimal padding to cups equipped with air pumps – so you will always be able to find one that offers the amount of lift that you want. They work for ladies of all breast shapes and sizes.

19. Cage Bra

Illustration of a cage bra

Why is it special?

Cage bras have elastic or fabric straps connecting around the cups to create a sexy stylistic element.

When do I wear it?

You can wear cage bras subtly underneath regular tops and dresses as a fashionable element, or as lingerie.

Is it right for me?

Cage bras come in many different styles so they work for all body types and shapes.

20. Embellished Bra

Illustration of an embellished bra

Why is it special?

Embellished bras are any style of bra that features details such as appliques, rhinestones, studs, or lace.

When do I wear it?

Embellished bras work great as lingerie. You can wear them under tank tops, backless tops, or strapless tops – anything that shows them off!

Is it right for me?

If you are a “my eyes are up here” type, embellished bras may not be the right bra for you.

21. Balconette/Half Cup Bra

Illustration of a balconette/half cup bra

Why is it special?

The word “balconette” is French for “little balcony” – how cute is that? It has wide-set straps and a half-cup to give a boost to your breasts.

When do I wear it?

Balconette bras are a perfect match for wide-neck or and low-cut tops, because they produce great-looking cleavage and sit low on the bust. They will make you feel super sexy!

Is it right for me?

Balconette/half-cup bra does not offer as much coverage and support as other bras, so if you are larger chested, you may be uncomfortable in this style. Women with wide shoulders will find this a good fit, as the straps are typically wider-set than other bras.

Ephemeral Bra Styles: We’re Going Through a Phase

These bra styles support us in defining moments of our lives: when we become women for the first time, when we enter motherhood, and when we are faced with the unimaginable. They are only worn for a relatively short period of time, but we are grateful for them because they help us in ways that other bras cannot.

22. Training Bra

Illustration of a training bra

Why is it special?

Training bras are lightly padded or lightly lined bras that come in smaller sizes than standard women’s bras. They resemble a sports bra or crop top, and often feature thin straps and an elastic bottom.

When do I wear it?

Training bras are designed to be used by girls going through puberty who are developing breasts. Training bras help you get used to how a bra feels.

Is it right for me?

If you have not worn bras yet and you think you would like to, a training bra is a perfect first bra. They are inexpensive, they come in fun colors, and they fit every body type.

23. Mastectomy Bra

Illustration of a mastectomy bra


Why is it special?

Mastectomy bras feature cup pockets that can be used to hold breast prostheses.

When do I wear it?

If you recently underwent a mastectomy or double-mastectomy, a mastectomy bra and inserts can be worn to give the appearance of two breasts. Some women who have not had mastectomies choose to wear these bras because they are ultra-comfortable and made for sensitive skin.

Is it right for me?

Mastectomy bras should only be worn when recommended by your physician.

24. Maternity/Nursing Bra

Illustration of a nursing bra

Why is it special?

Maternity bras are worn during and after pregnancy, when a woman’s breasts grow and begin producing milk. They are stretchy and very adjustable, and nursing bras have a clipped cup that can be opened so a mother can breastfeed.

When do I wear it?

Pregnant women typically begin wearing maternity bras during the first trimester of pregnancy, and continue to wear nursing bras until their child stops breastfeeding.

Is it right for me?

While they are usually not the sexiest or most fashionable bras, maternity and nursing bras offer utility value. We recommend trying them out if you are pregnant or a new mom.

Head over to our Fit Quiz to learn more about your own breast shapes and identify which bra styles are best for you.

To know if your bra fits you correctly, check out The Ultimate Bra-Fitting Guide.

What are your go-to bra styles? Let us know in the comments!



What is the Fit Quiz all about?

THE STORY

Missfits, the idea, has been in the making for almost two years now. In 2017 I was an aspiring lingerie designer, hoping to create bras that women loved to wear. Ironically, the moment I shared my dream with other women, the response I got was remarkably consistent: “I hate my bra.” There was no good reason for me to believe that producing more bras would resolve this issue, which led me to investigate further: Why was it that the first thing we put on nearly every morning, was so often a source of pain and discomfort? Why was it, given that lingerie sizes are so unstandardized, are they the only tool we have to search for bras? Was there a way to bring efficiency to this process?

Over the past several months, together with an amazing team of designers and engineers we’ve intensively studied what’s broken about bra shopping today, and brainstormed how we might reimagine the experience. Thus was born Version 1.0 of the Fit Profile, which you now have if you’ve completed the Fit Quiz . The Fit Profile is your personal key to identify the brands, models, and sizes of bras in the market that were made to fit you. It’s like a personal bra shopper, but you can update it any time to reflect the changes in your body.



THE MISSION

We’re working hard to populate your Fit Profile with real products so you know where to find the kinds of bras that we’re recommending you. That’s coming next month. But beyond bra shopping, there’s a deeper mission underlying the movement that we’re creating around the Missfits Fit Quiz and the #knowyourboobs campaign.

At the basis of this mission is empowerment through education, personalization, and confidence that comes with wearing clothes that actually support you. This can go in a lot of possible directions, but with a critical mass of women creating Fit Profiles, the following become possible:



WHAT’S NEXT

  1. We can tell brands what’s missing. There are big gaps in the market between the bra shapes and sizes that brands offer, and what women actually need throughout the different stages of our lives. The more women who have created Fit Profiles, the more clearly we can identify these needs, and the more justification we have for brands to create products that meet our needs, exactly as we are.
  2. We can deliver education and knowledge. By assigning correct vocabulary to describe and understand our breasts, we can speak about our bodies with greater confidence. Besides being a means of discovery to the bras that will fit, it’s also a tool for understanding your own body better.
  3. We can stop normalizing discomfort. Bra fit is as much as an art as it is a science, and we’d be lying if we said that we knew everything there is to know about it. But one thing is for sure: the more women who have completed the Fit Quiz, the more we know about which bras are fitting which breasts, and the better we’re able to draw new correlations between breast shape and bra fit.

So for those of you who’ve created a Fit Profile already, thank you for putting your trust in us–you’re already part of the solution. If you haven’t done so already, give us a shot and let us know what you think!