Why find your perfect fit?
A good fitting bra will really make all the difference: you will be much more comfortable, your posture will be drastically improved, your breasts should appear more “perky” due to the better support, and you will honestly revel in your appearance in your appearance and the associated confidence.
Most women don’t know what a good fitting bra feels like, or even looks like. Some symptoms that you are wearing the wrong sized bra are:
- A band that slides up your back,
- Straps that fall down or dig into your shoulders,
- Underwire that digs into your armpit,
- Bulging above the cups or at your armpits, and
- A painful lower back.
Finding your perfect fit means that you can live in comfort and not rush home to take that bra off. Since every woman has breasts, one would think that it should be so easy to get the correct measurement, right? Unfortunately, not.
Let’s introduce a real world example: me. As I write this post, I am wearing a size 32E bra. It took me years to find out my correct size, and no doubt within 6 months to a year that size could easily change to something completely different.
So why is it so hard to find your correct bra size?
It’s very common for sales staff in lingerie stores to not be correctly trained, even if they claim to have done the “courses”. Trust me I know how bad sales staff can be: the number of times I have had sales staff tell me just to try a B cup (and just be in complete disbelief at the misfit as my breasts fall over the top and out the sides), and then a C cup, and then a D… It’s so frustrating!
Not long ago I treated my mum to a set of beautiful new bras for her birthday; she firmly believed that she was a DD cup, and ended up measuring as a G cup! And to think I had been begging her to go get sized up with me for nearly a year! Even now I still vividly remember her surprise and shock at her correct size, and just how amazed, happy and comfortable she felt.
|If The Difference Is:||Your Cup Size:|
|0″ to ½” (1.3 cm)||AA|
|½” to 1″ (2.6 cm)||A|
|2″ (5.1 cm)||B|
|3″ (7.6 cm)||C|
|4″ (10.2 cm)||D|
|5″ (12.7 cm)||DD or E|
|6″ (15.2 cm)||DDD or F|
|7″ (17.8 cm)||G|
|8″ (20.3 cm)||H|
|9″ (22.9 cm)||I|
|10″ (25.4 cm)||J|
Now before you grab your tape measure, there are a few important things you need to know.
Breasts Have Different Shapes
You need to realize that breasts have different shapes, and these shapes will effect how your breasts will look in different bras (and of course how you are fitted).
Maybe this chart from Invest In Your Chest shows a better diagram of how breasts can come in many different shapes (these are just a few):
Generally the fashion industry considers that breasts have only one shape; it would be really hard to cater for every shape out there.
Since I lost weight (about 40Kgs) over the last few years, my breast shape has changed dramatically. They don’t sag, per say, they just don’t jut outwards as would be expected for a size 32E. I have what is known as “shallow breasts”; the breast tissue is evenly spread over a wider area with less projection. My breasts also definitely fit under the category of “full on the bottom”, meaning that I am lacking breast tissue or fullness at the top of my chest.
Here’s another little helpful diagram that I stole from reddit user gusset25, explaining the difference between shallow, fuller on top and fuller on bottom (article is being discussed here):
When I wear a standard bra, the most volume is held low down. If you regularly look at models’ breasts in magazines – often photo shopped – then you may think that your breasts are sagging and “ugly”. For a long time I thought this; I was even told a number of times that I needed a breast lift at the age of 20 (without going through pregnancy).
And this is why I mention why breasts have shape; if you find out your correct band and cup size, and know your breast shape, then you can select the correct shaped bra to get your ideal shape. If you want to have all-over volume rather than the full-on-bottom-look that I (and many women) have, then simply wearing a balconnet bra can achieve that look. Meanwhile, you might find that wearing a full cup bra may leave a slight gape after a day’s wear due to the natural shape of your breasts.
I also want to point out that some people have relatively large rib cages, and this may effect the measurements that you get.
How To Put On A Bra
Majority of women don’t know how to put on a bra. You want to make sure that the cup is holding all of your breast tissue. Even if you think you have small breasts, you should use the following swoop and scoop technique. The BustyResources website has picture guides on how to do this.
- When you get dressed, you should lean forward at a 90-degree angle. This causes your breast tissue to droop forwards.
- Then angle your bra cups underneath your breasts, and pull them upwards to your chest.
- Hook your bra up at the back, but don’t stand up straight yet!
- Using one hand, gently pull your bra band (and strap) away from your chest. Using your other hand, gently move your breast tissue (and migrated breast tissue under your armpits) into your bra cups.
- Stand up to settle your breasts in place.
Don’t think this is the best way to put on your bra? Anna on Bras and Body Image has an amazing post Putting On Your Bra Properly that shows how women using the correct dressing technique actually discover they have more breast tissue – and can actually go up a few cup sizes!
How to Measure Your Bra Size
Before you begin your hunt for the perfect bra, you should probably get a better estimate of what your bra size actually is. Knowing where to start – even roughly – can save you hours of fitting.
There are several techniques to measure your bra size, but one that I have found to be fairly successful for the majority of women – and it takes into account all the different breast shapes. Thousands of people recommend this technique on Reddit (/r/ABraThatFits).
The website ABraThatFits (maintained by reddit user /u/irisflame), will automatically calculate your ideal bra size based upon five measurements.
Breathing and Posture Can Effect Your Measuring
Breathing and posture can have a significant impact upon measuring. Between breaths, your rib cage can vary between two to three inches. When measuring, a lot of women will hold their breath – often uncomfortable “displaying” themselves so personally. By standing straighter, with your shoulders back, your breasts will actually protrude a bit more as well.
When measuring yourself, try to breath normally. Also don’t try to stand up extra straight or stick out your chest more than normal; stick to your normal posture as this is how you will stand and sit the majority of the time.
My best advice is if you are measuring someone else, try to relax yourself – if you relax, chances are that your model will relax too.
Measure Your Snug Underbust
Take off your bra. Stand up. Measure underneath your bust, horizontally around your rib cage. If you have larger breasts, you may need to slide the measuring tape beneath your breasts to the crease. Whatever your result, in inches, will be your band size in US and UK sizing. Don’t measure too tightly; essentially allow enough comfort to be able to breathe in and out without the tape measurer getting too loose or too tight.
This measurement will be used to calculate your band size. Understand that a bra should be ideally hooked on the outermost hook. Bra’s tend to stretch with age, so you may find after a few months that you might need to start using the middle hooks.
I measured 31 inches. I don’t want a bra band that’s too small for me, so I am better going to a 32” bra and using the middle hook.
Measure Your Tight Underbust
Using the same location as the snug underbust, pull the tape as tight as you can (without breaking it). Exhale as much as possible.
This measurement is to calculate your smallest possible band size.
I measured 29 inches. This doesn’t mean that I am going to go out and buy a bra with a band size of 30; it just means that this is the smallest size my bra will need to potentially support.
Measure Your Standing Bust
Measure around your bust, going behind your back and generally across your shoulder blades. Don’t make the tape measurer too tight. Don’t worry if your breasts “sag” or aren’t as full as you would like; the next steps will account for your breast shape.
Using this method, I get a result of 36 inches.
If I was to use the common method for measuring bust size (full bust – underbust) I would get a difference of 5 inches. This implies that I am a DD/E cup. However this might not take into account the extra tissue that was higher up on my chest.
Measure Your Leaning Bust
Now lean forward at a 90-degree angle. Measure around the fullest part of your breasts, even if they droop low. This way you are measuring all of your breast tissue, not just the part that protrudes forward.
When I lean forward the fullest part of my breast measures 39 inches. This would imply that I am a G cup. Of course, putting on a G cup bra would just leave my breasts swamped in excess fabric since not all my breast tissue is located in my “breasts” (due to my breast shape).
Measure Your Lying Bust
Finally, lie down on your back. Let your breasts naturally rest – and even droop sideways if they do. Measure around your back and over your breasts, careful not to effect how they naturally rest on your body.
This method is great for calculating the amount of volume that you have at the roots of your breasts. This is easily noticed on larger breasts where one might have the underneath and side creases more prominently seen. The roots are essentially where your breast tissue connects to your chest.
Using this method, my breasts measured 38 inches. This would imply that my breasts were an H cup.
If you missed the link above, the website ABraThatFits will calculate your ideal bra size for you (so much easier!).
If you rather do it by yourself…
Your band size is almost always your snug Underbust measurement; if you are an uneven measurement then go up a size.
To calculate your bra cup, you should add the three remaining measurements together, and then find the average. For me that means (36+39+38)/3 = 37.6. This would imply an F cup, but if you remember I said that I wore an E cup.
The general rule is that if you go up a band size, your cup size goes down. When I had to go up a band size (since I measured 31” and not 32”), it meant that I had to reduce my cup size.
Most girls love this; going to buy all new sets of sexy lingerie. Personally, I hate it; I simply skip straight to asking if they sell 30G bras, and easily 90% of the time I will walk out of the store, and if they do sell them then I have to go through each step of try on a B cup, a C cup…
Now that you know your measurements, you need to try on some different bras. Reflect back to different breast shapes; not all bras are designed with the same shape in mind. For example, if you are full on the bottom, a full coverage bra will most likely end up gaping on your breasts, even if your in your correct size. Since not all bras are designed for the same shape, and not all breasts are the same shape, you really need to experiment to find the right fit. Don’t be shy! Go extreme and try something that you would never normally even touch; you might find yourself very happily surprised.
Vanusian Glow has a great guide to Half Cups, Full Cups, Balconettes And Plunge Bras. What To Choose ? She has a great little guide teaching you about the different bra shapes, and which one to pick based upon your size and shape.
What About The Other Measurement Techniques?
I only covered one bra cup measurement technique in this post, but there are many different types – keep in mind that each technique has it’s own benefits and detriments.
Full Bust and Underbust
One technique, partially covered above, is to calculate the difference between the full (standing) bust and the underbust. Personally I find this method to be misused regularly – particularly at lingerie stores. Often fitters will measure your full bust whilst you are wearing your current bra (in which many cases is the incorrect size).
Different bras can effect how your breasts will protrude; many bras may squish your tissue at the bottom in order to get “lift”. If you are wearing an incorrect fit when measuring – or just a certain style of bra, this “squish” may change your results dramatically. Different bras can effect how your breasts will protrude; many bras may squish your tissue at the bottom in order to get “lift”. If you are wearing an incorrect fit when measuring – or just a certain style of bra, this “squish” may change your results dramatically.
This method also does not take into account breast tissue that’s not located directly over the fullest part of the bust. If your breasts “sag”, then you are not counting the tissue above in your formula.
The formula used is full bust – underbust = cup size.
Upper Bust and Full Bust
I really dislike this measuring technique; I find it quite deceptive for anyone that don’t have the magazine-ideal perky breasts. To find your upper bust, measure from the crease of your armpit to the other crease. Keep your tape measure straight and don’t fold underneath your armpits.
Using this method, my upper bust measures 34.5 inches.
Use the formula full bust – upper bust = cup size. My result is only 1.5 inches, suggesting my cup size is A to B cup! Try to get me to wear a B cup, and honestly the bra would not even get close to covering my nipples, let alone the rest of my breast (sorry for the visual).
This measurement technique doesn’t take into account your band size or where any of your breast tissue is really located – assuming simply it’s all at your full bust.
It’s unfortunately the primary technique used by the fashion industry (that I have come across), and can cause numerous fitting issues.
Obsessed With Breasts is a great blog for anyone who measures DD+ in cup size; Robin writes a number of great articles that discuss fitting tips, bra styles and how they change the appearance of breasts, and much more. Definitely worth checking out.
Venusian Glow has a seriously great website with plenty of articles on how to fit a bra properly, how to check for a fix fitting problems, before and after pictures… and much more. Seriously, just check them out. Right now.
Here’s a link that really helps when trying to find your own bra size: Four Ways Measure Your Own Bra Size. It extends upon what I have written above, with diagrams and more measuring tips.
The website Bra Band Project is designed to raise awareness about what properly fitting bra sizes look like in “real life” – great considering most women end up seeing lingerie ads with heavily edited photos. Furthermore, it demonstrates the variety of shapes and body types. Note that most images are women topless, wearing bras.
I’ve been told that the website 007b is great. It’s a site where women submit pictures of their own breasts without a bra on in order to show that boobs are very diverse. Almost every woman has felt bad about how her boobs look; they are either the wrong shape, too saggy, too small, too big… Looking at realist, non-Photoshoped, breasts will make you realise that you are perfect just the way you are! Unfortunately, due to censorship, I am unable to view this site in Kuwait.