Bra Sizing and Fit

Approximately 75% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. While this figure may seam outstanding, it becomes plausible when you consider the complexity of each women’s shape and the variations in bra shape from style to style and manufacturer to manufacturer. Furthermore, provided the continuing change in a woman’s shape due to water retention, dieting, exercise and the natural aging process, a bra that once fit properly will likely continue being worn beyond its proper fit.

A properly fitted bra is comfortable to wear and, ultimately, will feel as if you are not wearing a bra. A woman should visit her favorite lingerie store at least twice a year and, ideally, each quarter to ensure her bra fits properly.

While the guidelines below will help a woman achieve a general idea of her bra size, the actual bra size purchased may vary because of the lack of true standardization among bra manufacturers. For this reason, a woman should always be willing to focus more on fit and comfort than her historical or projected bra size based upon measurements with a tape measure.

Follow these four steps to achieve your bra size:

1) Measure under your bust line. Put on your best-fitting, unpadded, under wire bra. Measure underneath the bust line and make sure to measure tightly. Be sure the tape measure is straight across your back. The general rule of thumb for all measuring is: less than 1/2″, round DOWN, more than a 1/2″, round UP. So if your measurement is 32 1/4, call it 32.

Calculate your band size. If measurement 1 is UNDER 33 inches, add 5 inches. If this number is odd, round up to the next EVEN number. If measurement 1 is OVER 33 inches, add 3 inches. If this number is odd, round up to the next EVEN number. Write this EVEN number down.

2) Measure over the largest point of your bust line. Make sure the tape measure is straight. Then calculate you cup size. First subtract measurement number 1 from measurement number 2. Then consult the following chart to find your cup size.

If measurement 2 is: Your cup size is:

0″ larger than measurement 1 AA
1″ larger than measurement 1 A
2″ larger than measurement 1 B
3″ larger than measurement 1 C
4″ larger than measurement 1 D
5″ larger than measurement 1 DD/E
6″ larger than measurement 1 F

Please see below for a list of common
bra fitting problems and their simple solutions.

Problem: – The band at the back of the bra rides up.
Explanation: – The band of the bra is too big
Solution: – You need a bra with a smaller back size.

Problem: – Under wire digging in under the armpit.
Explanation: – Your cup is too small, the underwire should encase the breast not dig into it.
Solution: – You need a bra with a bigger cup size.

Problem: – Indents in the shoulder where the straps have dug in.
Explanation: – Your bra is too big in the back and not big enough in the cup, this is causing you to pull the straps up too tight for support.
Solution: – You need a bra, which is smaller in the back & bigger in the cup.

Problem: – Breasts falling out of the bottom of under wire.
Explanation: – The band of your bra is too big and the Cup is too small.
Solution: – You need a bra which is smaller in the back and bigger in the cup.

Problem: – Bumpy silhouette under clothes
Explanation: – Cup encasing breast is too small and so causes breast to overspill.
Solution: – You need to increase your cup size, until you have a smooth silhouette.

Other Helpful Hints

Proper Fitting:

The backstrap (band) and cups should provide most of the support, rather than the shoulder straps. When viewed from the side, the strap that runs around the body should be horizontal, should not ride up the back, and should be firm but comfortable. The underwires at the front should lie flat against the rib cage (not the breast), along the infra-mammary fold, and should not dig in to the chest or breast, rub or poke out at the front. (Please note that it is better for your breast health to wear bras with NO underwire.) The breasts should be enclosed by the cups and there should be a smooth line where the fabric at the top of the cup ends. There should not be a ridge or any bulging over the top or sides of the cups, even with a low-cut style such as the balconette bra.

Measurement Systems:

The size of a bra is commonly described by two values. The first is the band size (underband), a number based on the circumference of the chest under the bust, excluding the breasts. The second is the cup size given by a letter of the alphabet, and relating to the volume of the breasts themselves. For example, a 30D bra is for a 30-size band and a D-size cup. Cup sizes start with A, the smallest, and increase alphabetically. While there is some general agreement about the meaning of A-D, which includes the vast majority of women, cup sizes greater than D become increasingly unreliable. A double lettering system may also be used, e.g. DDD for F or AA for a size smaller than A.

Band size is usually determined by measuring body circumference either under or above the breasts and then adding a specified amount to account for the fact that the ribcage is generally wider at the height of the breasts than at the point at which one measures. A second measurement is then taken of the chest circumference over the fullest part of the breasts (overbust).

The cup size can then be calculated with tables or a conversion tool from the difference between these two measurements, as shown here.

A common mistake is to take the overbust measurement with a bra on, instead of braless, with the breasts held at the desired position.[11] The mean underband circumference in the UK is 34 inches (86 cm). For the overbust measurement, this is 40 inches (101 cm), for women 18–64 years.