DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Shopping for bras can sometimes be overwhelming.
"You want something comfortable, at least I do, that I don't even have to think about that I'm wearing," says Lydia Lowe, a mother of two.
The comfort, the look, the cost -- and at the top of the list, the perfect fit -- are all important. But are you buying the right bra? Chances are you aren't.
According to research from The School of Science at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, more than 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra.
Lowe was shocked to hear about those statistics, and said she might be among those 80 percent who aren't wearing the right bra for their body. Lowe says she dreads going bra shopping and probably only does it every few years.
"I do a lot of guess work and I'm sending things back. It's just uncomfortable. Your shoulders can hurt," she said.
Shellie Graf has been a board certified fitter for more than 25 years. She also specializes in fitting breast cancer survivors at her Elegant Essentials Boutique. She says most women don't even realize they're wearing the wrong bra.
"The hardest part is if you're told that you are a 38 C you think you're always going to be a 38 C, and your body changes, your weight fluctuates up and down," Graf said.
Graf showed Lowe how to take the right measurements.
Yes, there's actually a formula for properly fitting a bra.
Graf says first, take a tight measurement for the bra band. It's the number of inches around your rib cage.
"So we're going to be right under the breast here where the band of a bra would typically be is most common," Graf said.
She said Lowe came out to a 32, an even number, so she said to add four. So 32 inches plus the number four is a 36-inch band.
If a person measures an odd band number, they'd add five inches to it.
Next, figure out a cup size by measuring the fullest part of the breast.
"Coming across the fullest part of the breast and she is just over 38," Graf said of Lowe.
A person wants to subtract the band size from that number. In Lowe's case, 38 minus 36 equals two, or a B cup.
(Two is a B, three is a C, four is a D, and so on.)
Graf said Lowe's size is 36 B.
"If you're going to wear one, at least get it fit properly or know how to fit yourself properly so you don't have to be miserable each and every day," said Graf.
Graf also says even if you've figured out your correct size, it's important to keep in mind that size and fit may vary with different designers, so it's always important to try that bra on.
Expert says it's a general formula. But this formula can vary based on size. Formula maybe altered by adding fewer inches or none at all based on measurements. This is why experts highly recommend you be measured in person by Professionally trained bra fitters.
And when it comes to bra care, she says you can hand wash or toss your bra in a garment bag in the washing machine on a delicate cycle, but make sure the bra is hooked and only air dry it.
Putting a bra in the dryer can ruin the shape.
So what about cost? You don't have to break the bank to buy the right bra. Graf suggest a $40 to $70 range.
You should have two to three at a time, and after 6 to 8 months, toss it out -- it's time to get new ones.
Bras lose their elasticity and support after awhile.
It was an eye-opening experience for Lowe, who now considers herself educated in Bra Fitting 101.
"Having the right fitting bra is like heaven," Lowe joked.