What Is a Full-Figure Bra?

Overview

A full-figure bra offers comfort and support to women who have a breast size larger than a C cup. More than 60 percent of women wear full-figure bras and celebrate their curves instead of hiding them. These bras feature wider straps to add comfort and a supportive cup so you don't droop.

Finding the Perfect Fit

According to Lauren Blankenship, owner of New York lingerie boutique Bodyhints, you should start to fit a bra by bending your arm at the elbow so it forms a right angle, and lay that arm across your middle. If your bra's offering proper support, your breasts will fall at the halfway point between your shoulder and elbow. A bra that fits properly should lie flat to the breast without wrinkling or sagging, have cups that hug the breasts without squashing, have a band that's tight without leaving red marks and have straps that hug the shoulders without digging in or falling down. In addition, underwire should encircle the breast but not poke or pinch.

Support Panels

Tomima Edmark of Her Room, an online lingerie site, says a fuller-figure bra needs support panels, which are additional fabric that the maker inserts into the bra. Side panels move the breast tissue out from under the arms toward the center of the chest. Bottom panels provide better lift for more pendulous breasts, and edge panels that encircle the cup bring the breasts forward to provide definition. Bras can have more than one support panel. A good support bra has a center panel that is triangular in shape and falls above and below the apex or center line of the bra. As breasts increase in size, they also come closer together, so a center panel decreases in width while increasing in height.

Bands

"A band acts as the bra's frame," says Edmark. The band encircles the rib cage and must carry the weight of the breasts while providing support. Fuller figures may find the best support from bands made of Powernet, a two-way stretch, compressive, nylon fabric. This fabric may roll on heavier or petite women, so a heavier-gauge fabric is a good substitute.

Bra Backs

Edmark says to pay special attention to the bra's back; it's the backbone. Fabric and closure are important. A sturdy fabric like Powernet is the difference between a cheap bra and a quality one. Shapewear-like fabric won't stretch out, so the bra will provide optimal support for years. The size of the closure determines how a bra sits across your back. A single-hook bra has to be tight to provide support, but a tighter fit can cause bulges above and below the bra line. In addition, the thin strap on a one-hook bra rarely stays straight. A two-hook closure is better, but for the best support and the smoothest look, go with a three-hook closure.

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