Buying guides

Lingerie buying guide

CHOOSING LINGERIE

Finding the right bra or shapewear can be tricky. We’ve put together a guide offering hints and tips to help you find lingerie that looks great, feels comfortable and is the perfect fit for you.

Measuring and fitting your bra

We generally say that your clothing size in tops roughly equates to your band size. Therefore, if you wear a size 10 top,  try a size 30 back in the first instance. There can be exceptions here, for example if you have a very large bust. 

T-SHIRTS SIZE 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
BRA SIZE 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42

The best way to determine cup size is to assess the fit of the bra you’re currently wearing to see whether it's too big or too small. 


The below diagram can be used as a guide to what cup size you might be. 

Small average full fuller Voluptious
A-C D-DD E-F FF-G GG-K

How should your bra fit?

Underband: This should feel firm, sit flush against the rib cage and sit parallel all the way around your body. If you lift up your arms and the band rides up, consider going down a back size. If the band digs in and feels tight, consider going up a back size. You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers under the band.

Cups: The breast should sit perfectly in the cup and not “spill” over the top or under the arms. If you are spilling over at the front, we suggest going up one cup size, if you are spilling over at the front and at the sides, then we suggest going up two cup sizes. The cup should look smooth with no bumps, ridges or flat spots. If you find the cup has excess fabric you may want to consider going down a cup size.

Wires: The wires should fully encompass the breast tissue and sit flat against the rib cage. If you lift your arms and your bust drops underneath the wires, then we suggest going down a back size. The wires should not dig in at any point, so if you find the wire digging into the breast tissue under the arm consider going up a cup size. The centre of the bra should not stand away from the breastbone or dig in. If it does, consider a different style of bra.

Straps: These should sit snugly against the shoulder but shouldn’t dig in or slide off. You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers under the straps.

Using the current bra you are wearing you should be able to tell if you need to go up or down a band size, and if you need to go up or down a cup size.

For example, if you are wearing a 36C and it appears two back sizes too large and the cup looks fine, go down to a 32 and increase the cup size to a DD.  Likewise, if  you are wearing a 32F and the back is too tight, go up to a 34 back and down to an E cup. 

You can use this size matrix to help you. Read across from left to right to find your size.

28E 30DD 32D 34C 368  
28F 30E 32DD 34D 36C 38B
28FF 30F 32E 34DD 36D 38C
28G 30FF 32F 34E 36DD 38D
  30G 32FF 34F 36E 38DD
  30GG 32G 34FF 3GF 38E
  30H 32GG 34G 36FF 38F
  30HH 32H 34GG 36G 38FF

Bra styles

T-SHIRT BRA

This is a smooth cup bra which can be padded, non-padded or moulded. A classic everyday bra, good if you want smooth contours and minimal detailing.

BALCONY BRA

This bra has wider set straps and a lower profile, good for low or sweetheart necklines. It offers uplift without cleavage and is a great choice if you have broader shoulders and a fuller bust.

FULL CUP BRA

Offering all over coverage and full support, this type of bra is really versatile and suits all bust shapes, especially larger busts.

PUSH UP BRA

With angled padded cups to push the bust together, this type of bra is good for creating uplift and a cleavage.

PLUNGE BRA

This bra has a low centre front and the cup profile is a V-shape, good for low cut and V-neck tops as it gives subtle uplift and cleavage. It’s also a great choice if you have a narrower frame and close cleavage.

NON-WIRED BRA

This bra style contains no wires and can be padded or non-padded. These bras are good for comfort, first bras, nursing or post surgery.

MULTIWAY BRA

This style has removable or changeable straps, good for wearing under strapless or one shoulder tops and dresses.
Bra fitting service
Bra fitting service
Specialist bras

SPECIALIST BRAS

Maternity and nursing bras

During pregnancy you’ll need extra support as your breasts and ribcage grow and expand. We advise having a fitting each trimester as your body shape changes.

We then recommend you come for a final fitting at around week 30, when we can fit you for a nursing bra, if needed, and offer guidance for the months ahead.

Nursing bras have clips on each strap that are easy to open with one hand and allow quick access when breastfeeding. The cup is more spacious to allow for fluctuations in breast size and to allow room for breast pads.
 
We also offer a range of non-wired bras which offer comfort and support during the night or in between feeds. 

Sports bras

Whether it's yoga at home or a high impact HIIT class, you’ll need a more supportive bra to wear when active, so you can move freely without damaging or stretching the delicate breast tissue.

We can advise which bra is best for your size and level of activity. 

Larger cup sizes

Bras for larger cup sizes have enhanced features to support the bust. 
 
Most of your bra’s support comes from the underband and so this is usually wider, with a deeper hook and eye to reduce the pressure on your shoulders.
 
The straps tend to be slightly wider to distribute weight on the shoulder and to feel comfortable. The underwire will feel firmer and the cup can be made of three or four panels for better support.
 
We also offer a range of non-wired bras in larger cup sizes which give the wearer a more relaxed fit, but still give a good level of support. 

 

First bras

We offer a selection of soft, non-wired bras which are recommended for younger customers to protect their delicate breast tissue as it grows.

 
As the bust can develop quickly at this age, regular fittings are recommended. Our professional fitters can measure you over your T-shirt and you are welcome to bring a female family member or friend with you. 
 

 

POST SURGERY BRAS

If you’ve recently had breast surgery, you may have sensitive scar tissue, swelling and tenderness so it’s important to find a correctly fitting bra that offers both comfort and support.

Our skilled fitters are specially trained to understand the needs of women who have undergone breast surgery. Please book an appointment before you visit to ensure a specialist fitter is available.

We aim to put you at ease and can offer you empathetic assistance during this time. Whether you have had a mastectomy or you are wearing a prosthesis, we can help you find the right bra to make you feel comfortable and confident.

Pre- and post-op

Immediately after treatment you may experience reduced movement and swelling, meaning a well-fitting bra is essential to your comfort immediately after treatment.

We suggest bras that are seam free and non wired to avoid rubbing on sensitive areas. Front fastening bras or bras with drop cups allow you to get in and out of the bra easily.

Stretchy, supportive and breathable fabrics can assist with your healing. We advise styles that are come up high under the arm and deep below the bust to provide a secure and comfortable fit.

Following surgery: prostheses and reconstruction

The effects of surgery and treatment can take some time to settle. Initially, you might be given a temporary cotton prosthesis until you’re ready for a permanent one.

Permanent prostheses are measured by weight rather than cup size and are available in a range of shapes and weights. You can also get specialist prostheses for strapless bras and swimwear.

When being fitted for a prosthesis, we suggest wearing a non-padded bra to allow your consultant to accurately assess your shape.

After your operation it is recommended that you continue to wear non-wired, soft bras, preferably without seams, until any swelling and scarring has healed.

We offer a range of post-surgery bras from Royce that are specially adapted. They have pockets, deep under bands and wings and wider straps. 

If you prefer to have a regular bra adapted to hold a prosthesis we also offer a pocketing service in store. Pockets can be added to most bras and swimwear.

If you’re a DD or larger we recommend you request a flat pocket, as it offers a better fit for a larger bust.

Long-term recovery and beyond

Even into your long-term recovery, once the scarring had healed and swelling has reduced, you may want to continue wearing non wired or specialist bras.

Everyone is different and as long as your natural breast and prosthesis are well supported there is no reason why you can’t wear whatever style you like.

  • Full cup bras can help cover any scarring
  • Bras that have stretch lace are great at supporting a prosthesis
  • Cups with stretch elastic or trims on the edge are also good at holding a prosthesis in place

If you feel ready to wear an underwired bra, here are some tips to ensure it is as supportive and comfortable as possible:

  • Soft wires are more flexible and move with the body
  • Be aware of seams or joins that can be firm and rub on sensitive scar tissue
  • Ensure you choose a bra that is fitted to the natural breast
  • Be confident that the bra offers complete comfort and support before you buy

Post-surgery fitting: what to expect

Being fitted following surgery is similar to other fittings and we offer this service in all of our shops (except John Lewis at home shops).  Our expert Fitters are specially trained to put you at ease. We’ll start by asking what type of surgery you’ve had and what advice you have been given by your breast cancer nurse. We will then measure you and assess your size to help you find a bra that is supportive and comfortable. You can book an appointment online, via the phone or drop into store and one of our experienced fitting Partners will be happy to assist you.

How long will it take?
The fitting may take a little longer than normal as we are committed to finding the right bra for you.

When can you fit me?
We can fit you for a bra immediately after surgery and in the first few months of your recovery, before you’re fitted for a prosthesis.

How will it feel? 
The non-wired post surgery bras will feel firmer than wired styles because the material used to make them needs to provide you with robust support. You may be a different cup or band size than you're used to as each bra style and brand fits slightly differently to the next.

How will you measure me?
We will always fit the bra to your natural breast to ensure you’re well supported. If you’ve had a double mastectomy we’ll fit the bra to your underband measurement and the prosthesis. 

If you’ve had reconstruction surgery we will fit to the larger breast. We can measure and assess your size with your bra on or off - our priority is to make you feel as comfortable as possible. If you have limited mobility due to the type of surgery you’ve had, our Partners are there to help.

Do you have private changing rooms?
Our shops have individual, private fitting rooms, with some shops having discreet and larger fitting rooms specifically for post-surgery appointments. Please ask one of our Lingerie Partners in your local shop about the fitting facilities.

VAT exemption and pocketing service

As part of our lingerie service, we provide pocketing on bras and swimsuits for women who’ve had breast surgery. You can choose from any suitable bra or swimsuit in our range and have one or two pockets added. This service usually takes around one week and the completed bras are returned directly to you. Our Partners will be happy to give you further advice.

If you’ve had a mastectomy or partial mastectomy, you’re eligible for VAT exemption on the cost of any product specifically manufactured as mastectomy wear.
 

  • All pocketed post-surgery bras, such as the Royce range, are automatically exempt from VAT
  • If you choose a standard bra and have a pocket fitted for a prosthesis, you can claim back VAT by completing a VAT Exemption form
  • The cost of having a pocket created is also exempt from VAT
  • Please note that if you choose to buy a standard non-wired bra and do not have it altered in any way, the product will not be exempt from VAT
     

If you purchase a bra from us in store, our Partners can guide you through the process of claiming VAT back. If you buy from us online, please contact our Customer Services team on 08456 049 049.

Shapewear

SHAPEWEAR

Whatever the outfit our expert fitters and Personal Stylists will find the right solution for you to streamline your look under figure-hugging clothes. 

We offer a range of control levels and garments to support your shape while looking invisible under clothing.

Shapewear comes in different levels of support:


EXTRA FIRM 

This level of control is the most transformative and is great for that extra special occasion or shorter events


FIRM

This level of control is supportive and sculpting and is great for a night out or all day events


LIGHT

This level of control is gently smoothing and great for everyday shaping

SLIPS & BODIES

Slips and bodies are designed to shape the tummy and hips. They smooth the silhouette from bust to hips or knee, shaping the entire body. These can come with padded or underwired cups or are cut to enable you to wear your own bra. These are perfect under figure-hugging dresses to transform your silhouette and boost your confidence.

Briefs & Waist Cinchers

Shaping briefs and waist cinchers smooth your waist and hips. They support and flatten your tummy as well as emphasising your waist for an hourglass figure. These are great for wearing under tailored outfits, skirts, trousers and dresses.

THIGH SLIMMERS

Shorts support from the waist down to the mid thigh/knee. These smooth your tummy, hips and thighs and can shape your rear. These styles are versatile and work well under trousers, skirts and dresses.

How to get the most out of your shapewear

Always “step into” your shapewear as this helps to keep the control panels and seams in the correct position on the body.

Always buy your dress size and don’t be tempted to go down a size. If the shapewear is too small it will roll up or dig in, whereas the correct size will flatter and sculpt your figure.

Different outfits or problem areas require different styles of shapewear and/or varying levels of control to ensure a smooth finish under clothing.

Build up your shapewear options to ensure you have the right piece for every outfit or occasion. It is really important that you follow wash care instructions and do not tumble dry your shapewear.

OWNING

Tips to look after your lingerie

    Dos

  • Always wash according to the garment care label
  • Close all fastenings before washing to avoid snagging
  • If you can machine wash, do so on a low temperature and a delicate cycle. We also advise using a lingerie bag when washing by machine
  • Dry bras flat so they don’t stretch and they retain their shape

    Don'ts

  • Don’t put your bras or shapewear in a tumble dryer or use an iron on them
  • Don’t twist or wring your bras when drying as this could damage the cups and underwires
  • Don’t use clothes pegs on the bra cup as this can distort the foam
  • Don’t dry lingerie on a radiator
  • Try to alternate your bras and avoid wearing a bra for more than two days in a row