Is it really true? Facts and fiction about bras

3 Dec 2021 8:00 AM
Annica Svensson

Is it really true that 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size? Will your breasts get saggy if you don’t wear a bra, or is the opposite the case and wearing a bra makes them less firm? There are many enduring myths and rumours about this much-loved but misunderstood garment. We take a closer look to separate fact from fiction.

Fact or fiction – 80% of all women wear the wrong bra size

You’ve probably heard many times that 80% of all women wear the wrong bra size. It’s a statistic that’s frequently quoted by bra brands as well as the media. The source is a study by Kanhai and Hagg from 1999, and it has since been confirmed in studies by Greenbaum, Heslop, Morris and Dunn from 2002 and by Cameron and Fitzgerald from 2008. The latter survey also concluded that 70% of women wear too small a size and 10% too large. However, these studies were conducted with a small sample of women. It’s unlikely that so many women are really wearing the wrong bra size nowadays, as there’s more information available and it’s easier to find a wide selection of sizes in shops and online.

Fact or Fiction: Fact once upon a time

Many are unsure of their bra size, but the number is probably not as high as 80%. The women in this picture on the other hand are all wearing the right size.

Fact or fiction – D or DD cups are for very large breasts

Until the 90s, most large-breasted women wore cup sizes that were too small as it was difficult to find bras in cup sizes larger than a D. Therefore, most people assumed that a D cup was for a very large bust simply because it was the largest size available. Today, there are significantly larger cup sizes, but it’s not the case that women’s (natural) breasts have got bigger in the last 30 years. The cup size alone says very little because it’s proportional to the band size. The volume of a 100F cup is significantly larger than that of a 75F. 80D is as big as 90B. Read more about the relationship between cup and band sizes here.

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

The model on the left wears an 85E, while the model on the right wears a 75C. Both are wearing unpadded cups.

Fact or fiction – Your bust looks larger if you wear padded cups

Padded cups shouldn’t be confused with a push-up bra, which has pads in the cups to push the bust up and increase its size. Standard padding in most bras on the market today is about 3 mm thick, and this also applies at Miss Mary. The padding is not designed to make the bust bigger, but rather to reshape it. If you have padded cups, or a so-called contour bra, their shape is maintained even if you lie on your back. For those with large breasts, it can even be that padded cups give the feeling of a smaller size because the padding is not elastic and the cup gathers the bust. If you have a shallower bust or different sized breasts, padded cups can give the feeling of a larger size because they retain their shape even with empty space.

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Padded cups don’t increase the size of your breasts. In the picture, McCallah wears our bra JOY.

Fact or fiction – A white bra is the least visible under white clothes

White, beige and black underwear sells best. White gives the impression of freshness, but it’s more visible under light clothes than, for example, cerise or blue underwear. If you don’t have very light skin, beige and brown (or colours close to your own skin tone) are more discreet under white thin clothes because they create less contrast. What many people don’t know is that red underwear becomes almost completely invisible under a white shirt, regardless of skin colour.

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

The secret: The colour red is least visible under white clothes, irrespective of skin colour. In the picture, Armanda wears the bra ROSE.

Fact or fiction – Underwired bras are uncomfortable

This is neither true nor false. Your preferences are completely individual, but generally those who don’t like underwired bras are wearing the wrong size. If you wear an underwired bra, it is even more important to have the right size. A non-wired bra provides more flexibility because the underwire is not elastic. If the cup is too small, the underwire will pinch the breast tissue. If you wear a bra with too small a circumference, the underwire can push into the ribs under the bust. If you wear too large a circumference, the bra could move and allow the breast tissue to slip under the underwire and cause discomfort. Depending on the shape of your chest, a high underwire can push into it. If this is the case, choose a bra with a lower underwire. Read more about how to get an underwired bra to fit comfortably here.

Fact or Fiction: Depends on if you’re wearing the right size

A well-fitting underwired bra should allow you to move freely and not pinch anywhere.

Fact or fiction – A minimizer bra is only for those with large breasts

Shirts usually don’t account for if you have a large bust or narrow waist and can therefore cause gaps between the buttons over the bust, in which case a minimizer is the perfect garment to wear underneath. A minimizer has wide shallow cups that distribute breast tissue over a larger area so that the bust doesn’t stick out as far (in other words, it looks smaller in profile). When you think of minimizers, you often think of women with large breasts, but the truth is that minimizers are also ideal if you have naturally wide and shallow breasts, even if you ‘only’ wear a B cup. Minimizers are about shape not size.

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Fact or fiction – Bras made from synthetic fibres are hot and uncomfortable

It’s generally well known that natural cotton fabric is breathable and feels cool. It’s a popular material for underwear and ideal thanks to its durability, soft feel and breathability. Most people love wearing cotton panties. The downside of cotton is that it’s not very elastic and does not keep its shape (for example, you can’t mould cotton into a T-shirt bra), therefore cotton bras always need a certain amount of synthetic fibres. Cotton also absorbs moisture, which means that if you sweat in a cotton garment, it feels wet. That’s why sports bras, for example, are not made from cotton.

Alexandra wears the bra STAY FRESH with cups made from the technical fabric Keep Fresh, a specially developed synthetic material that’s moisture wicking and breathable so doesn’t feel as warm as other fabrics.

The most suitable fabrics if it is hot and you sweat a lot, for example during exercise or the menopause, are those made from the synthetic fibre polyamide. Polyamide is the strongest of all raw textile fibres and is much more elastic than cotton and other natural fibres. Like cotton, polyamide is breathable and soft against the skin, but unlike cotton, it’s resistant to moisture and sebum, does not shrink, rarely wrinkles and keeps its colour.

WinCool and Keep Fresh, which we use on several of our bestsellers at Miss Mary, are two different material compositions that use polyamide fibres as a base. Keep Fresh, which we use in the sports bra Exhale and our bestseller Stay Fresh , amongst others, is breathable and feels like a second skin.

When developing the material WinCool from our Cool Sensation series , we mixed cooling minerals into the textile fibres before knitting the fabric itself. This results in a moisture-repellent and supple material that cools the skin by 1-2 degrees.

So no, not all synthetic fibres are hot and uncomfortable. There are many exceptions. Feel free to read our detailed product descriptions if you’re wondering if a particular garment is right for you. Learn more in our material guide for underwear.

Fact or Fiction: Depends on which synthetic fibres you use

McCallah wears COOL SENSATION panties and camisole in the technical fabric WinCool.

Fact or fiction – Your breasts become saggy if you always wear a bra

Breast ptosis, i.e. sagging of the breasts, among women is very common and completely natural. Ptosis simply means that the nipple and most of the mammary gland tissue is located lower than the lower breast line (the place where the underwire on a bra sits under the breast). The shape and size of your breasts is determined by genetics. A bra does not affect the firmness, size or shape of your breasts. When you go through the menopause, your breasts will become softer as the breast tissue is replaced with fat, but this has nothing to do with your bra and happens whether you’ve gone without a bra your whole life or used one every day since you were 12. The purpose of a bra is to increase comfort. Many women don’t like when their breasts ‘jog about' when they move and aren’t wearing a bra. If you have a large bust, a bra makes a big difference by relieving your shoulders and back. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to wear a bra or not.

Fact or Fiction: FICTION

As you can see, there are many claims made about bras and their use, and these are just a few of them. If there’s something you’ve heard about bras but are unsure if it’s true or not, feel free to comment below and we’ll do a deep dive into the subject in a future article.

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