Let’s face it, there’s nothing more uncomfortable than incessantly pulling up a bra strap or fidgeting because your bra keeps digging into your ribs.  Stop having a love-hate relationship with your foundation garments and start learning how to love yourself and your bra by finding the right one to fit for your body. Ali Cudby, bra fit coach and author of Busted! The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras That Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic (Journey Grrrl Publishing) shares her expert tips on finding the most important piece of a woman’s wardrobe.

ESSENCE: Is it true that women who wear a 34C in one style may not wear the same size in another?
ALI CUDBY: The statistic we have all come to know and love is true — 70 to 85 percent of women are wearing the wrong bra size and there are a couple of reasons why. The biggest one is that there are no standards for sizing in the intimates industry and so it’s not like shoes where everyone agrees that a certain measurement is within a certain range. In the end, you must remember one thing; don’t think about the size. Learn some key fit factors and understand how a bra should fit your particular body.

ESSENCE: What are some of those key fit factors?
CUDBY: I like to call it the “fab fit formula” that will help you understand how a bra should fit on your body and what kind of bras you should be buying. Start by looking at all the components of a bra. The band is the most critical fit factor. It’s like the foundation of your house. When you don’t have a solid foundation, everything else sags. The band is supposed to be doing 80 to 90 percent of the work to support your breasts and it’s the element that most women get wrong. Then there’s the cup, which needs to capture all of your breast tissue no matter what the style of the bra. You want to make sure that the cup itself whether it has underwire or not, is in place and doing it’s job. The third factor is the bridge, which sits between your breasts and the two cups. You want to bridge the gap and make sure it’s lying right up against the skin of your body. Finally a lot of women rely on their straps to do the bulk of the work and end up with red marks and indentation. The straps should only be doing 10 to 20 percent of the work in supporting your breasts.

ESSENCE: What are some your best tips when going bra shopping?
CUDBY: Focus on the band first. When you get a sense of what a band should feel like that will help make a lot of your decisions. If possible, get a professional fitting at a higher end boutique near you. There are so many styles of bras so even when you have the right size the style still has to be right for your body. Conversely not every fitter is great. While a great fitter can be your best friend, you have to know what feels good for you and trust you instinct.

ESSENCE: Why do you believe finding the perfect bra can be such an emotional experience for some women?
CUDBY: I’m one of those women. I grew up never finding bras that fit me properly and thinking there must have been something wrong with me. It was really disheartening. Once I found a bra that fit, it changed my posture and my self-esteem and I see that in the fittings I have with other women. There is a tremendous connection between how a woman feels about herself and how she feels about her breasts and her bras by extension.

ESSENCE: According to industry marketing statistics, Black women tend to purchase higher end lingerie. Why do you think that is?
CUDBY: There are so many different women with various body types but in my experience I believe Black women are just more willing to try different shapes, colors, and patterns. I think because there is an understanding that this is as much a part of fashion as what you wear on the outside.

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