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6 Ways Breasts Change With Age and How to Deal With It

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

Every woman knows that her breasts change. That’s what boobs do—fluctuate in size and shape over time or under certain circumstances, like pregnancy.

My boobs have had their share of (get ready for it) ups and downs—together with some sideways movement—over the past 45 years. Now that I’m officially post-menopausal, and enjoying the many benefits of not having to deal with monthly changes, I feel settled and more secure in my body. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t had to adjust my bra buying habits over the past few years. My foundations don’t fit me the same way, even though my boobs are (again) the same 34DD size that they were back in high school.

It’s not all bad news. Although there are no intimate apparel brands explicitly designing for older women (and very few using models over 30), that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of choices. And, thankfully, I know exactly where to look.

Here are my tips on how to deal with some of the ways breasts change with age, and how to adjust your bra wardrobe for the best fit and comfort.

Back Fat & Loss of Muscle Tone

Ugh. I hate the term “back fat.” There’s no such thing. It’s just skin. And as we age, we lose elasticity and firmness. It doesn’t happen to everyone at the same rate, depending on genetics or ethnicity. It is, however, a consistent gripe about bra wear by women of all ages. And you’ll see a more significant difference with menopause. Combine this with the natural loss of muscle tone, and it adds another bra wearing problem: straps not staying up on now slopping shoulders.

If this is your issue, choose “back smoothing” bras. By design, they have wider wings and bands made of seamless fabrics. If you’re dealing with falling straps, avoid bras with straps set further apart. Instead, look for “U” shape or leotard backs. You might also try racerback or front-closing bra styles. Still, some of your favorite brands may naturally push into the less firm back skin. But if you like everything else about the bra, why worry about what you–or others– don’t see?

breasts change

Wacoal Ultimate Side Smoother Contour Bra
Available in 4 Colors
Fits Bands 30 – 42, Cups C – G
via HerRoom
 
breast changes
 
Montelle Essentials Pure Plus Ultimate Back Smoothing Bra 
Front Closure
Available in 2 Colors
Fits Bands 32 – 40, Cups C – G
via HerRoom
 
breast changes
 
breast changes
 
Chantelle Intimates Saint Michael Underwire Back Smoothing Bra
Available in 2 Colors
Fits Bands 32 – 40, Cups B – E
via Nordstrom

Gravity Catches Up

We can’t fight gravity. At some point, our breasts will become saggier or more shallow on top than they were in our youth. Plus breast sag is subjective. One person’s ptosis is another’s perkiness. Only you decide how much lift you want or need.

If you still want ’em up high, you can choose push-up bras. But softer flesh may spill over the top of padded cups. Plus, those of us who wear larger cups don’t like all that extra padding. But, again, it depends on how much and where it is located (off to the side or graduated and under the boob). You’ll have to try a few to decide what works for you.

Another option is to switch to demi or balconette bras, or cups with vertical seams for uplift. These styles are engineered to provide maximum lift, without squishing boobs together.

breast changes

Panache Etta Underwire Balconette Bra
Fits Bands 32 – 38, Cups D – G
via Nordstrom

breast changes

Calvin Klein Lift Balconette Underwire Bra
Fits Bands 32 – 38, Cups B – DD
via Nordstrom

breast changes

Simone Perele Eden Underwire Demi Bra
Available in 3 Colors
Fits Bands 30 – 38, Cups DD – G
via Nordstrom 

Heavier Breast Weight

It wasn’t until I turned 60 that the word “matronly” crossed my mind. It’s not because I see myself that way. No, it’s because my boobs weigh more. I’ve been this size before, but my breasts were firm and dense. With age comes less density and more fat. My solution is to buy supportive, underwire, multi-seamed or seamless bras (like the Empreinte below).

breast changes

Parfait Carole 3-Part Cup Underwire Bra
Available in 3 Colors
Fits Bands 30 – 40, Cups D – G
via HerRoom
 
breast changes
 
 Empreinte Cassiopee Seamless Full Cup Bra
Available in 5 Colors
Fits Bands 30 – 42, Cups C – G
via HerRoom

Bigger Boobs

Yes, one in five women will find that their breasts get bigger when they hit menopause. But you don’t have to sacrifice beauty and comfort because there are plenty of bra brands specializing in full cups. I’ve included many in this post, as well. Yes, you may have to pay a bit more for quality and engineering (especially above G cups). But, by our age, we know we’re worth it–or we know where to find quality brands on sale.

Increased Skin Sensitivities

Strappy details and extra bits of lace around bands now irritate. I’ve never had a problem with fabrics, but again, my thinner skin means extra sensitivity. Others might find that they can no longer wear bras made with low-quality metal hooks or strap sliders. Thankfully, if you start to hate the pressure of underwires against your chest, there are way more wire-free bras on the market. There are also a few brands specializing in latex-free designs or made without hooks or elastic.

Finally, a word about proper bra fit for those of my generation: ignore it if you want. Do you prefer to wear a bigger (but incorrect) band size because it feels better? Go for it. Maybe you want to ditch wearing bras altogether as my mother did in her 90s. The good news about aging is that you can write the fashion and lingerie rules.

Did you find these tips on how breasts change helpful? Do you have any of your own?

Featured image: Nicola Griffin wearing Harlow & Fox, for Slink Magazine, Photo by Roberto Aguilar

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Breast and bra expert, author, and founder of TheBreastLife.com. My latest book, The Bra Zone: How to Find Your Ideal Style, Size, and Support, busts common bra fitting myths and helps consumers navigate the confusing world of bra styles and sizes.