Does it Fit?
Bra sizes consist of two parts: the band size and the cup size. Band size is a number and will usually be listed first. Cup size is next, indicated by a letter or two. If the tag on your best fitting bra says 32C, then the band size is 32, and the cup size is C. Just like clothing sizes, bra sizes vary slightly by brand, or even within a brand depending on the fabric. Because there are so many facets to finding your perfect fit, we always recommend getting a professional fitting, but we understand that for some people that may not be possible. Measuring yourself will give you a base size to work with and then you should follow our top ten fit tips to make sure that all your bras — whether dainty, daily, or mega push–up — fit and flatter as intended.
To measure yourself in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else!), you will need just two things: a fabric measuring tape and your best fitting unpadded bra. You will then take two measurements while wearing this bra. You can also be wearing a thin top, just don’t measure over a thick sweater.
1. Band Size Measurement:
To measure your band size, place the measuring tape around the top of your chest, under your arms, high on your back. Pull snug but not so tight that your skin bulges over the tape. This number will approximate your band measurement. For example, if the tape says 34" your band size is a 34. If the measurement is an odd number, like 33", you will usually size down to the next round number, and your band size will be 32.
This is a good starting place, but it is important to note that many manufacturers recommend their own methods for measuring your band size. Additionally, every woman’s rib cage is shaped differently resulting in a number of fit variances. For example, if your rib cage angles in dramatically, your band size measurement will be smaller than estimated using the above measurement system. Always consult a professional fitter (or contact us) with any questions you may have.
2. Cup Size Measurement:
To determine your cup size, place the measuring tape around the fullest part of the bust, usually aligned with your nipples. Keep the tape snug and make sure it is straight around your body, not sagging or raised across your back. Subtract the number of your band size from this new measurement. So if your cup size measurement is 37" and your band size measurement is 34" you would calculate 37" - 34" = 3". Each inch of difference is a cup size (see the chart below). In this example, your final bra size would be 34C.
- 1" = A
- 2" = B
- 3" = C
- 4" = D
- 5" = DD
Our Top Ten Fit Tips
1. Size Is Negotiable
Yes, your recent encounter with the measuring tape has determined that your ideal bra size is a 34C, but don’t expect every 34C bra to fit you. Not only is bra sizing not standardized (meaning that different makers may adhere to different measurements to manufacture the same size) but also these sizes were developed over 70 years ago! A lot has changed since then about what we find to be a desirable fit. Because one brand’s 34C may fit like another brand’s 36B, it’s important that you keep yourself open to trying on different sizes. Also, if your properly measured band size is 33", while you would normally size down to a 32, you should try on a 34 as well and then choose the best fit for your body.
2. Fill Your Cups (…But Not Too Much!)
If your bra fits correctly, each cup will be entirely filled out by your breasts, and your breasts will not bulge out of the bra in any way. Is the nipple area puckering? Try going down a cup size. Are the tops of the cups gaping? You may need to go down a cup size or try a demi bra instead of a full cup. Are your breasts spilling over the top or the sides of the cup? While you might be flattered by seeming so busty, this is a bad fit; you need to try the next larger cup size. Some companies, particularly French ones, have a deeper cup that will require you to buy a smaller cup size than usual while other companies, like some Italian brands, may have more shallow cups and that demand you size up. Don’t take it personally; get used to this variation and use it to your best advantage!
3. Don’t Strain Your Straps
Your straps are meant to provide only about 10% of the total support built into your bra; a bra’s main source of support is actually the band. Your bra should stay in place even if you pull the straps off of your shoulders. If your straps are digging into your shoulders, your band is probably too big, forcing the straps to take the weight of your breasts. This will also pull the back of your bra up. Try tightening your band or sizing down. (P.S. Your straps are too loose if they can be pulled more than an inch up off the shoulder.)
4. Watch Your Back
If the band of your bra is riding up in the back, you are wearing a size that is too large for you. This can have serious consequences — including poor posture and unsightly upper back bulges — as well as force your underwire to poke into the skin under your arms. Try the next smallest band size. You won’t need to size down in the cups, in fact you will most likely have to size up because when the band size gets smaller, the cups do too!
5. Not Too Tight!
You also don’t want your bra to be too tight around your ribcage. That’s not going to be comfortable at all, and it won’t fit smoothly under a t–shirt. The band of your bra should feel snug, but with enough space to insert two fingers under the back band, and one under the center gore (the small area of fabric in between the cups).
6. Always Start On The Loosest Hook
This tip will help you significantly lengthen the life of your bra collection. When you buy a new bra, it should fit properly on the loosest hook. This is so you will be able to tighten the fit by securing it on the other hooks as time goes by and the fabric stretches out. A bra can stretch out 4" due to wash and wear. Think about it this way, if you buy a bra that fits properly on the tightest hook, how will you tighten it when it stretches out?
7. Keep Your Underwire Close
If you are wearing an underwire bra, you need to make sure that the underwires follow the natural creases under your breasts and sit flat against your rib cage, not on your breast tissue. It should lie flat in the front against the breastbone. If the front center of your bra is pulling away from your body, it is trying to tell you to go up a cup size.
8. Try, Try Again
All breasts are not created equal. You and your best friend may have the same bra size, but that does not mean that you can wear the same bras. Some breasts are higher set on the body than others, some may be spaced farther apart, and some may be weighted differently. So maybe you can’t get the same lacy pink bra that your pal has, but cheer up buttercup, there are bra features (and fabulous bras!) to fit almost every shape variation. For example, if your breasts carry more weight on the bottom, they will be pear–shaped and lend themselves to narrower, shallower cups like those often manufactured by Italian brands. If your breasts have an all over fullness, they may require more circular, wider shaped cups characteristic of a French bra. The important lesson here is not to be discouraged by a poorly fitting bra even if it is the right size! You will find something amazing if you just keep trying.
9. Oldies Are Not Goodies
Unfortunately, very few things are meant to last forever. Bras require a very precise fit, and a good fit will be ruined over time as the fabric stretches out due to wear. Most bras are intended to last for about 3 to 6 months of everyday wear. You can maximize the life of your bra by caring for it properly, but once a bra is uncomfortable, sagging, riding up, or poking you, it’s time to throw it out.
10. Give Yourself Options
Your life has variety. Your bra drawer should, too. Wearing the right, well–fitting bra for any occassion can improve the way you carry yourself, increase your confidence, and generally make you feel like a rockstar. Your needs will depend largely on your wardrobe, but here is a short list we recommend for everyone:
- A T–shirt bra in your particular shade of nude is great to have on hand, perfectly invisible under white shirts and other slightly sheer fabrics.
- A strapless bra, also in your skin tone, with detachable straps for versatility.
- A black bra, lacy or smooth, makes an impact and is very flattering on almost everyone.
- A pretty white bra is great under blouses, with just a hint of lace or a pretty strap peeking out.
- A racerback bra is necessary to have in the summer to wear beneath tank tops with the same cut.
- A softcup (if you’re a C cup or smaller) in a fun color is a nice option for lazy days when you just want to be comfortable.
- And last, but certainly not least, you need at minimum one very pretty matching bra and panty set that fits beautifully and makes you feel fabulous, even if you’re wearing a potato sack!
Ta–da! You are now well on your way to becoming a bra fit expert. As they say, knowledge is power, and we recommend that you take it to the streets. Well, maybe not the streets, but help your mom, your best friend, your sister, your coworker, anyone you know with unsightly bra issues and complaints. If they’re anything like our customers, they’ll be thanking you for years to come!