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Lingerie Buying Guide

Introduction

Buying and wearing great fitting lingerie should be one of life's little pleasures, but often there are so many sizes, shapes and styles it can be difficult to know where to start!

Our lingerie guide will show you how to measure yourself and determine your bra size and provides a fitting checklist to make sure your bra fits comfortably. It also covers the different bra shapes and where you might wear them as well as information on brief and knicker styles, shapewear solutions and advice on buying lingerie as a gift. 

Click the tabs above to explore, and buy with confidence with BHS. 

 

Intro Image

 

How to Measure 

When you have a bra that fits you walk taller, your clothes fit better and you feel more confident than ever. To measure yourself you'll need the following:  A tape measure, pen and paper and a size chart below. 

 

In order to calculate your bra size you need to take 2 measurements, your Under Bust measurement and your Over Bust measurement- please note, these are not the same as your band size and cup size. 

 

Under Bust Measurement: Run the tape measure firmly round your rib cage just under the bust (A on the chart) and note down the number, for example 30". 

 

Over Bust Measurement: Measure loosely around the fullest part of your bust (B on the chart) and note down the number, for example 36"

 

Now you have your 2 measurements you can calculate your bra size, for this you need to calculate the Band Size and the Cup Size. Follow the instructions below and then use the chart to double check. 

 

Band Size If your Under Bust measurement was an even number add 4" and if it was an odd number add 5" to give you your band size, for example if the Under Bust measurement was 30" then the band size would be 34"

 

Cup Size The cup size is calculated by working out the difference between the Under Bust measurement and the Over Bust measurement that you have noted down. In the above example the under bust measurement is 30" and the over bust measurement is 36", using the table below you can see this would be a C Cup. 

Difference between under bust and over bust in inches Cup Size 
4" AA
5" A
6" B
7"  C
8" D
9" DD
10" E
11" F
12" G
13" GG
14" H

 

Size Chart 

Size Chart

 

In our example an under bust measurement of 30" and an over bust measurement of 36" inches gives us a bra size of 34C as you can see by looking at the sizing table above. 

 

Checking for a good fit 

 

Now you know your bra size, you need to check for a good fit and know how to solve some common problems, read on to find out how to check your bra is both supportive and comfortable to wear. 

 

Check that the... 

Bra: Is fastened on the loosest hook; that way, as the fabric stretches you can move the hooks in, thus extending the life of your bra.  

Underwire: Sits flat against the chest at the front and at the sides of the ribs. 
Underwire not sitting flat
Band Underneath: Sits level all the way around the back.  Correct at the back

Straps: Are tight, but not digging in.                                              

Bust: Should be fully contained within the cup. 

Well fitted bra




 

Problems and Solutions 


Problem      

 Solution
Bust not fully contained within the cup    Try a larger cup size or a style with more coverage
The underwire digs in at front and/or sides and is sat on top on the breast tissue or if the wires stand away from the chest.                                                                    Try a larger cup size
Band rides up at the back  Try a smaller back size 
Wrinkling around the nipple area and excess fabric in the cup Try a smaller cup size 
Band too tight  Try a larger band size with the same cup fitting, you may also need to try a larger band size with a smaller cup fitting
Fullness at the top of the cup or overspill Try a larger cup size


Types of Bra

With so many bra styles out there it can be hard to know which is best for you and your needs, listed below are the ways that different bras can help you achieve your desired look and level of support. 

Best for... 

Uplift: A balcony bra offers good support, uplift and separation and is great for wearing under scoop neck tops.

 

Balcony Bra

Cleavage: A plunge or push up  bra will enhance your curves by pushing the breasts up and together, this kind of bra works well with low or V neck tops. 

push up

Smooth Lines: A t-shirt bra with a smooth moulded cup will look almost invisible under tight fitting tops or t-shirts

t-shirt bra

Events and Occasions:  Whatever the occasion a strapless/ multi-way bra will ensure you look fabulous. Made for wearing with strapless, halterneck or cross-back tops or dresses.


Strapless multiway bra

Comfort: Our collection of non-wired bras offer all the support you need without underwire or padding. 


non wired bra

Extra Support: A full cup bra encases the entire bust for greater support 

Full cup bra

Sport With a range of support options from light to firm you can find a sports bra for whatever kind of exercise you get involved in.


Sports Bra

DD +: We offer a dedicated DD+ collection that features wider straps and enhanced support for those with a larger bust. Our back smoothing range is specially designed not to dig in at the back for a smoother, more comfortable fit. 

DD plus bra

Pregnancy: Our maternity bras are designed to offer comfort and support throughout your pregnancy and nursing. 

maternity bra

Teen Bras: A selection of non-wired bras and crop tops in fun fabrics, available in smaller sizes, that are perfect for your teen's first bra 

First Bra


 

 

Underwear Shapes 

There are a range of brief shapes to choose from- and you'll probably need a few different styles to work underneath different outfits. Discover more about the styles of brief we offer below: 

Brazilian This style sits low on the hips and has a slight cut away at the back. 

Shop Brazilian briefs >> 

Brazilian underwear

Full Briefs Full coverage over the bum, hip and tummy and rise to just underneath the belly button. 

Shop Full briefs >> 

Full brief

Midis The same full coverage over the bum as our full brief, midis rise halfway up the tummy, a few inches below the belly button.

Shop Midis >>

midi brief

High legs Offering good coverage on the bum with a flattering high cut on the leg with a high waist. 

Shop High legs >> 

High leg briefs

Minis Sitting lower on the hip than the high leg with a good coverage across the bum 

Shop Minis >> 

mini briefs

Shorts A comfortable and sporty style that rise low on the hip and covering the thigh and bum. 

 

Shop Shorts >> 

short briefs

Thongs A skimpy style that is fully cut away at the back, great for avoiding VPL 

Shop Thongs >> 

thongs


 

Shapewear Solutions 

Whether you're going to an event and need some extra support underneath that dress, or just want smoother lines everyday we have the shapewear to suit you. 

Our shapewear slims and smoothes to create a more streamlined silhouette and clever fabric innovations give control without feeling constricting. With a variety of styles designed to target different areas, we've got a shapewear solution for you. 

You would like...

A flatter stomach? Our selection of waist cinching underwear really pulls you in for a smooth and cinched in look, with a choice of cuts, shapes and colours so you'll feel as fabulous as you look  

Shop shaping knickers >> 


Tummy control underwear

Slimmer thighs? Shaping shorts that end mid thigh will eliminate VPL and smooth the waist, hip and inner and outer thigh, great for wearing under pencil skirts or dresses.  

See all thigh shaping shorts >> 

Slimming shorts

More shapely legs? Our control tights are available in light to firm and slim and shape the thighs, hip and bum while allowing ease of movement and everyday comfort.

Browse control tights >> 

Control tights

An hour glass figure? Try a smoothing, lifting and shaping body that will support you all day long.

Shop bodies >> 

Shaping body suit

All over smoothing? Perfect for wearing under event dresses and creating an hourglass silhouette, we also have slips that allow you to wear your own bra.

Shop slips and vests >> 


Smoothing slip


 

Buying Lingerie as a Gift 

Lingerie makes a great gift for birthdays, Christmas and Valentine's day, but it can be difficult to decide what style or shape to buy. Follow our 5 tips for lingerie buying success, and get it right every time:

1. Size Matters: Have a sneaky look through her underwear drawer. The label is usually by the fastening, make sure you check a few to make double sure you have the right size.

2. Style and Shape: Think about her style, does she like lots of lace, pattern and details or chic and simple styles? 

3. Colour and Detail: Black and white are timeless and great for everyday, or choose a bra in her favourite colour to match an outfit you know she loves.

4. Get the set: Most bras have co-ordinating knickers as well,  your prior research should mean you know which shape she wears most and the all important size.

5. Request a gift receipt: Buying bras is tricky at the best of times, even if the size is correct the fit may not be quite right, she'll appreciate all the time and effort all the same!

And now you're all set to shop! See our matching lingerie sets here>> 

Or, browse our lingerie department by category here >> 

Lingerie Set

Care and Storage

Keep your lingerie feeling fresh and lasting longer by following some simple care guidelines. 

1. Follow the washing instructions given, if your bra is machine washable it's always best to set the machine to a low heat and use a laundry bag as they are such delicate items.  

2  When hand washing always use cold water and a detergent designed for delicates and leave to drip dry. 

3. Never tumble dry. The heat can damage the padding and shape of the cups. 

4. Store your bras flat or folded cup to cup. T-shirt bras can be stacked one inside the other to save space. Using drawer dividers keeps your lingerie looking good and easy to find. 

5. Try not to wear the same bra for more than 2 days in a row, a break in wear will allow the fabric to recover and help to prevent stretching.

Lingerie care