Monday, January 28, 2013

How Your Age Affects Your Bra Fit

I fit women of all ages from young teens through to women who have seen lots of bras and lots of life. Larger breasts aren't the proclivity of the young, there are many older women who use our online bra fitting services because they have all the same problems finding D-K cup bras in regular stores coupled with the challenges of changing breast tissue and skin.

First of all a quick explanation of the difference between breast tissue and breast skin. Your breast tissue goes deep down and comprises glands, fatty tissue and ligaments. Your breast skin is the epidermis layer covering your breasts. The changes in your breast skin as you age can affect the way your bra fits, which styles will work for you as well as some other fit factors to take into account. Here's my simple guide to how your skin affects your bra fit through different decades.

Related Article: How to look after the ligaments in your breasts

Teens to Twenties
From the time you develop breasts and throughout your twenties your breast tissue and breast skin stays pretty much the same (unless you've experienced pregnancy, significant weight gain, weight loss or illness). Some women will find that their breast tissue is very bouncy and firm so they need bra styles that accommodate fullness all the way around the breast. Some styles may fit really well at the bottom and sides of the bra but cut too tightly across the top of the breast where the tissue is still full and firm. Balconette styles as well as cups with a fine edge (like the lace top panel on the Marcie bra above) are ideal for full, young breasts.

Scarlett Johansson has naturally full breast tissue at the top of her breasts. This is very common for lots of young women.

Aside from common skin complaints like acne, during the early decades your skin has a lot of natural collagen so it stays firm and smooth so you don't have to think about your skin when choosing a style. Only women with allergies will find that they need to think about their skin as well as tissue when choosing a bra.

Related Article: What difference the material of your bra makes to your skin

Thirties and Forties
During these two decades our skin begins to change as we produce less collagen (the naturally occurring protein that gives the skin strength) and less elastin (the protein that allows our skin to bounce back into place after stretching). The reduced amounts of these two proteins means that skin can start to look a little duller (as new skin tissue isn't being replaced as quickly) and you may notice some decrease in volume.
You can see here that with the right support you can have full cleavage but you may have naturally lost some volume at the top of your breasts over time.
If you've had children the gradual change may not be as apparent because the significant breast changes of pregnancy can reduce the volume of your breasts more obviously than the effects of reduced protein production.

If you've been wearing well-fitting bras through most of your life then your Cooper's ligaments (the ligaments behind your breasts) can still be in good shape so many women won't see pronounced drooping. However, lots of women notice that they are shallower through the upper part of your chest than they were in their 20s. This is completely normal. You may find that some molded cups leave you with a gap at the top of your breasts, this can sometimes be corrected by coming down a cup size. Otherwise, it's a good idea to look for non-molded 3-part bras that shape to the body (unlike a rigid molded cup that your breast has to fill).

Fifties and Sixties
The changes to your breasts during these decades can be as sudden and confusing as those we experience during puberty. There are two main things that happen to change your breast tissue and skin during this time. The Lymphatic System changes and slows down the rate at which your body can flush out toxins. This means that your skin can't get rid of the debris in the cells as easily (this is why you may notice more cellulite during this time as fat and toxin deposit settle under your skin.

The second big shift is the changes in estrogen production which reduces the plumpness of your skin and contributes to the skin on your chest and breasts starting to sag and wrinkle. While this doesn't sound like the most fun you can have on a Wednesday, it's also not the end of the world. With the right bra you can still have great shape and comfort.

Related Article: What life can do to your breasts and bra size

To counteract any loss of tension you should look for bras with vertical seams that will support a lifted look. When your breasts lose tension they tend to spread east and west. To corral your breast tissue back into a forward position you need a seamed bra with a supportive side panel which moves the breast tissue forward like the Lucy bra above.

As we get older the skin over our breasts becomes less plump and softer.
As the skin on your breasts begins to wrinkle it's important to put your bras on correctly. Women of every age ought to sweep their hands over each breast when it's inside the cup to ensure that no tissue is trapped against the wire and the tissue is settled comfortably in the cup. In addition to this movement you may also find that you need to smooth the skin away from the gore and into the cups. Press against your gore with your left hand then with your right hand smooth the skin of your left breast away from the gore and into the left cup. Repeat on the opposite side.

Seventies onwards
Many women experience changes to their bone density in later life and this can affect your bra fit if your ribs and shoulders become painful. Because bone changes (like osteoporosis) can affect your flexibility it can become more difficult to put on your bra. Ideally you want a front-fastening bra so that it's easier to put on, however, there simply aren't enough front fastening bras for women with large breasts. I hope this is something we see changing in coming seasons.

Look for bras with wide bands and wide straps so that the weight of your bust is dispersed over a wider area. This will relieve tension. Wire-free bras can also reduce the pressure and even though the shape will be different from a wired bra the support is equal.

I have lots of customers who rely on the Enell sports bra for support and comfort as it's front-fastening, wire-free and incredibly supportive.

I hope some of this information helps you understand your bra fit better. Your breasts will inevitably change over time but by understanding what's happening to our bodies and knowing how it affects our bra fit will keep us in great bras at every age. The bras that suit you best may change with time but you can have lift and comfort throughout your life. xx


  1. Really great post! I've found with major weight loss and pregnancy it's definitely bumped up my breasts some years. I can't remember every having the full on top/firms breasts that so many celebs boast. I definitely agree with finding 3 part padded bras with vertical seams (when possible), the uplift makes a tremendous difference!

  2. Such an interesting post and so helpful, it's really good that you have included style suggestions for different age groups.

    1. Glad you found it helpful Mara, thank you for reading xx

  3. I'd say with good quality bras nobody has to give up pretty bras, except of course problems with fastening, I agree there could be more front-fastening bras on the market.

    When properly fitted, even women who thought 'pretty bras' are not for them, often find that deeper cut or delicate looking bras give them enough support and comfort.

    1. So true! Fit and 'pretty' are not mutually exclusive xx

  4. Great Post! What I am wondering is how to counteract the "fold" that occurs in the breast tissue when I try to wear a push-up bra. (45, several pregnancies and breastfeeding)

    1. You may find that using a 'chicken fillet' under the breast prevents the fold as it will bolster the soft breast tissue. It's also worth trying a true balconette style to give you lift rather than a plunge as the shape might suit your breast tissue better xx