I am a woman in my early thirties. I’ve been a bona fide bra wearer since 6th grade. And only recently did I learn how a bra should actually fit. It is ridiculous that this essential part of womanly life is not more common knowledge. My first thought after upon this discovery was, “How have I been doing this wrong for so many years?” Secondly and maybe more important, “Why is a happenstance online video my best educator so far?”
I learned a few things that day, and as an everyday woman I think it’s important to share what I learned with the other everyday folks out there.
36C, 40DD, 32A, but what does it MEAN?
So I wasn’t completely clueless going into this whole deal. I already knew a little bit about the numbers and letters used in writing a bra size. When purchasing a bra, that is all one has to go on from the rack. Most women know that band size is the measurement of under the bust. The cup size is determined by measuring the bust at the fullest part, and every inch larger than the band size is the corresponding cup size- 1”= A, 2”= B, 3”= C, and so forth. I did already know that.
I also knew that American sizes in bras are pretty inconsistent. You could pick up one bra in a cheap retail store that fits great. Pick the exact same measurement in a high-end shop and it could be too small or too large. That means I could range anywhere from DD to F depending on the bra, style, or manufacturer.
UK sizing doesn’t have this problem. UK sizing is similar- same alphanumeric code. Except, every letter is one size. No double letters. No DD or DDD to confuse you in the middle there as you recite your alphabet and count inches. One letter. One size. Period. I definitely recommend finding your UK size on bras. Whatever happened to the American system derailed bra fit for everyone… Not to mention the brand inconsistencies don’t seem to be as prevalent either.
Bra Fitting 101
Let’s go into more detail on how you should measure bra fit, in case you have never measured yourself.
Band size: If you have ever been somewhere where they have measured your band size by going across the upper bust, this is wrong! This measurement should be the measurement of a snug, but not too tight, fit directly under your bust where the band of your bra actually sits.
Cup size: Determining the cup size is where it can get a little tricky. Something I picked up from the wonderful world of the internet was to measure your breasts at the fullest part, while naked, but while leaning over (say what?! I know!). This will pull all of the breast tissue back to the front and out from under your arms or possibly even from just around your back.
Once you have these two measurements, you have everything you need to determine your bra size. As I said earlier, 1” = 1 cup size.
I measured myself with my new information and got a band of 34” and a bust of 41”. Using UK sizing, that put me at a 34 G, which sounds ludicrous to me. I’ve been wearing a 36 D for so long with what I thought was no problem. The thought of trying to squeeze myself into a 34” band made me cringe a little. However, the right bra and the right size made all the difference in how much better about myself I felt. I even thought I looked like I weighed a bit less. I sure felt perkier.
Fit specifics and tips
- there should be no gap between your breastbone and band
- no spilling of breast tissue under your arms
- avoid multi-boob (this happens when cups are too small)
- the band should be parallel as it wraps around to your back
- set the band on the loosest setting (as the bra ages, you can tighten the band to continue to get great bra fit and extend bra life!)
- Scoop your breast tissue into the bra as you put it on (I mean the extra that’s used to used to hanging out under your arm or even around on your back. Fall in line boobies!)
Want another knowledge bomb? Sister sizes. Band and cup size go hand in hand, so for a sister size as the band size goes up, the cup size goes down. The same is true in reverse. For example, if I measure 34 G, then the sister sizes to that would be 36F as well as 32 H. Sister sizes exist in UK and American sizes.
At the end of the day, the biggest thing I’ve learned about bra fit is to try it on. Don’t commit to a bra, especially a quality bra that might set you back a few more dollars than a chain, without putting it on.