How to Determine Your Bra Size

How to Determine Your Bra Size

Women breasts are in innumerably varying shapes, sizes, symmetry and positioning, spacing, compactness and even the extent of sagging.

So much so that developing a standard bra measuring system proves elusive both locally and internationally.

As a result, several studies show that across the nations of the world, the proportion of women who have to contend with an incorrectly fitting bra is in the range of 80 to 85 percent.

In this post you will learn about how to figure out your bra size from the existing standard sizes.


How to determine bra size

The measurement challenge notwithstanding, measuring of bras has been around since the 1930s, when the S.H. Camp and Company introduced the alphabet letters A, B, C, and D to describe varying cup shapes.

Two measures are used to describe bra size; band length and cup size. The band length is the difference in length between the bustline and the under-bust, measured when a woman is standing upright. When it comes to the bra cup, it’s impossible to practically measure the cup volume and thus the cup size is assumed to be proportionate to the band length.

Like most women, the most common mistake you might be making when shopping for your brassiere is ending up with a mismatch of the band length and cup size; either a fitting band and small cups or vice versa.

The problem is more pronounced if you have a large bust: due to first, the lack of standardization of cup and band sizes by the manufacturers. Secondly, as a heavier woman, you may want a tighter band so that the bra doesn’t slip under the weight of your girls, but this means finding the best strapless bra for large breasts (as reviewed here – with the right fitting cups become difficult.

Different countries have different bra size labeling systems. In America, the label includes the band length in inches and the cup size represented by the letters AA to O.

List of bra sizes (US)

List of bra sizes (US)

How to know if a bra fits

So you’ve decided to upgrade your closet and you want to make sure this time round your clothes feel good by fitting and looking good for you. We’ve seen how millions of shoppers get frustrated trying to find the right bra but here is the ultimate hack to ensuring you leave the retail store with the best bra for you.

The bra you are trying out is the right fit if;

  • The front underwire lies against the center breastbone and along the inframammary fold, not digging into the breasts. But you don’t have to force yourself into a wired bra. There are many amazing non underwired bras for large breasts that you can see in this review.
  • The breasts are fully enclosed by the cups (if they are full cups) and breast tissue doesn’t bulge or overflow out at the top or from the sides of the cups. The cups should not gape (suggesting they are too small) or have folds (suggesting they are too large)
  • Your nipples are exactly at the center of the cups. See a review of the best bras for covering nipples here
  • The shoulder straps are snuggly fitting without digging into your shoulders or slipping off.
  • The chest band snuggly fits without digging into the chest or sliding and remains parallel to the ground without riding up, when someone else views it from the back of your chest.
  • The weight of your breast is primarily supported by the band, and not by the straps

Another important suggestion is that the bra should fit you well when you are using the outermost hooks. This will allow you to shift to the tighter hooks as the brassiere gets looser with time.

A woman in a bra with cups that are smaller than her breasts. Shows the need to know what's my bra size
        Breast tissue overflowing out of bra cups

What to do when you can’t find your bra size

You must be aware of the embarrassment of having to constantly yank up a bra with too big a band but close fitting cups. You must also have experienced the skin irritation to your boobs when they are popping out of too small cups yet the band is fitting snuggly.

To avoid these frustrations, experts recommend choosing one size down in the band (also called one sister size down) and one size up in the cups (one sister size up). Thus if your bra size measures 34B, you may want to go for a 32C bra.

In fact, bras of varying band sizes can have the same cup volume. For instance, in the American system, the bras 30D, 32C, 34B, and 36A all have roughly the same cup volume.

How to know if your bra is too big or too small

Another important tip to note is that sometimes the chest band may feel too tight but the cause of this might be due to the cups’ volume being too small such that the breasts take up most of the bra.

Similarly, your bra might feel loose at the band due to the cups being too large.

To test whether the problem is with the cups you just need to reverse the bra so that you wear it with the cups at your back. Hook the band from the front and feel the difference in fitness compared to when the cups are over your boobs.

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