How Do You Know a Bra Will Fit if Purchased Online

Ah, yes, the “How Do You Know a Bra Will Fit if Purchased Online” argument. This is one of the biggest difficulties that those who don’t fit into the “typical” 32-38 A-DD size range face, but it’s certainly not a reason to never buy bras online! 🙂 (For a lot of us, it’s our only choice if we want a bra that fits us.)

How Do You Know a Bra Will Fit if Purchased Online

The truth is that yes, there are size variations between styles and brands. I personally have about 5 different sizes of bras in my bra drawer, and they all fit me.

HOWEVER. Almost everyone in the full-bust/small-back/bra-fitting community buys at least some of their bras online, if not all of them. We’ve all figured out how to make it work for ourselves; it’s really not as big of a roadblock as many would think.

So first off, here are some things we do to avoid making mistakes when ordering online:

Read lots of reviews before buying.

  • These are pretty easy to find these days, because the full-bust blogging community is bigger than ever.
  • You can even find a blogger with a similar shape and/or size to you, and see what bras worked out well for her.
  • Take note of the shape of the bra, whether or not she ordered her “usual” size, what problems she had, and what she felt worked well.

Look at measurements on Bratabase.

  • is a website where women can measure their bras and enter the measurements on a page, helping others who are trying to figure out which size they need.
  • If you want to know the stretched band length of a 30F Freya deco, you can find it there, among other measurements.
  • This really helps if you’re not sure how tight the band is, how long the wires are, or even how tall the gore is.
  • There are also even more reviews (although they may be a bit shorter) on here, in case you couldn’t find any blog reviews or wanted a second opinion.

Learn about the different bra constructions/styles and brands and how they apply to you.

  • Certain cuts/constructions or brands usually have a certain shape they fit well, and this can be very helpful when determining which bras are likely to work out.
  • For example, I know that half-cups will work best for me because I have shallow breasts.
  • I also know that plunges are usually a disaster because I’m full-on top, and I have to be careful with balconettes for the same reason.
  • I know that Cleo balconettes are likely to be okay because they suit my shape, but to steer clear of Freya and Fantasia balconettes because they will cut in on top and wrinkle in the middle.
  • It sounds like you already know a little bit about this, so you’re on the right track!

However, even with taking these precautions, it’s true that sometimes the bras just don’t work out the way you thought they would. This is completely okay!

The problem here is that sometimes people view buying a bra online as being similar to grabbing a bra off the store rack without going to a fitting room first and expecting it to fit after you cut the tags off.

However, usually ordering a bra online is more like having it sent to your house to try on and having 30 days (or whatever the return policy is) to decide whether you want to keep it.

Most online stores accept returns (and will give you a refund) as long as the tags are still on, and you send it back within a certain time frame.

Most people who are first starting out with online bra shopping will want to make the experience closer to a “trying on” session. Generally, I will recommend the following to first-time online-bra-shoppers:

Find a site with a great return policy. 

  • Asos and Nordstrom both have free shipping and returns, so it would be a great idea to order from them if you fit close to their size range. Try your best to find a website with free shipping, so at least you’ll only have to pay shipping back.
  • If you can’t find one, at least make sure you order from somewhere that’ll accept returns and make note of how long you have before you need to return it.

Or find a site with cheap prices. 

  • If you can’t afford the bras from the sites with free shipping and/or returns, or if you don’t fit into their size range, try to find a good deal if you can.
  • Brastop have some great deals; it’s also worth it to check if other sites have sales.

Order a batch of bras.

  • Try getting a few different sizes and a few different styles/brands if you can the first time.
  • Return all the ones that don’t fit, and you now know what works and what doesn’t! 🙂 A lot of online shopping is trial and error—I used to mess up a lot when I was first figuring out what worked for me (we all did at first!), but now I can order something with a pretty good idea of how it fits.

Don’t cut the tags off until you are completely sure you are keeping it.

  • Some people get so excited when they receive their first full-bust bra that they’ll cut off the tags as soon as they put it on, without thoroughly checking the fit first.
  • They sometimes end up noticing a glaring fit issue within a few hours and then feel bummed that they can’t return it.
  • Before you cut the tags off, examine it to make sure it’s a good fit. Post fit checks on Bratabase and /r/abrathatfits.
  • Bounce around in it and see how it holds up. Sit in it, bend over, walk around, and see if there is any discomfort.
  • It’s okay to keep a bra that has a few fit issues, but make sure you know what those fit issues are first.

And remember to check out some of the bra-selling/swapping communities too, because sometimes you can find super cheap bras on there, and if something doesn’t work out you can always re-sell it there.

(Continuing the shopping-in-person analogy, these places are more like garage sales or thrift stores. Some new items, some used.) Some of these places will also allow you to “swap” bras, which is helpful if you’ve spent all your money on bras that don’t fit. 😉

Online bra shopping has its difficulties, but in the end, it’s worth it to have a bra that fits you well. Be sure to minimize the risk, learn from your mistakes, and you’ll be buying the right bras in no time.

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