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Feminspire | April 18, 2014

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This Method For Finding Your Bra Size Will Blow Your Freakin’ Mind

This Method For Finding Your Bra Size Will Blow Your Freakin’ Mind

| On 17, Jun 2013

Ladies, this is something you have to hear. Recently, like many women in the A Bra That Fits sub-reddit, I had an epiphany. It was a revelation that dramatically changed my life. I’ve been living my life in general discomfort because I was told by lingerie companies like Victoria’s Secret and La Senza that I was actually a size 32A or 34B, depending who measured me, when in reality I’m a size 28D. My entire bra-clad life up to this point has been one huge lie. It started from the age of 12 when I donned my first brassiere, and continued so long I just thought the way my bra felt and fitted was normal. IT’S NOT. Every woman needs to try this system, especially those of us suffering from back problems and other muscle pains related to your breasts.

My epiphany began when I got sick of twisting my bras in the middle because the cups were never close enough together for my boobs. I was looking for a company who made bras fitted for what I thought was my bizarrely misshapen breasts, and instead found this blog. I gave it a shot and was astounded. It now literally feels like I am not wearing a bra, and I am lounging in comfort on a daily basis. I have never felt so comfortable, and it looks great to boot. I didn’t even understand the discomfort I was in until I experienced the supreme luxury and look this new system provided.

So, without further ado, here is the advice from Thin and Curvy and A Bra That Fits that might change your life as astronomically it has changed mine:

What you need: A fabric measuring tape (or even a string that you can later measure in inches with a ruler, although this is less accurate) and, of course, your breasts!

1. Ignore all measurements that you’ve been given in the past. It doesn’t matter who told you or where you went, just try this and see what all the fuss is about. Even if you get a bra from a website or store that tells you not to measure in this way, just completely disregard their bra measurement advice; they only know what they’re told to tell you.

2. A Bra That Fits recommends you don’t wear a bra when measuring, but Thin and Curvy urges you to wear a completely non-padded bra and measure – use your judgement here. If the bra is squishing your breasts at all, take it off, but if you think you can get an accurate measurement wearing your most comfortable non-padded bra (this is what I did) then go for it.

3. Bend over (make sure you do this), upper body parallel to the floor, and measure first around your nipples and back. Check that the measuring tape is completely straight, not angled at all, so you’ll need to either look in a mirror or get someone else to tell you if it’s straight all around, and adjust where needed. I can’t stress enough that the tape must not be angled at all; it should be in the exact same point on your back as it is around your nipples. Think of an imaginary straight line going through your body that aligns the part around your back to the part around your breasts. Write this measurement down as Measurement A.

4. Next, measure directly under your breasts. This time, you can be standing upright, and the tape should be parallel to the floor. Again, make sure that the imaginary straight line going through your body would align the part of the tape around your front to the part of the tape around your back. This measurement should be snug but not snug enough to inhibit your breathing, because you need that to live. Write this measurement down as Measurement B.

5. Now break out the calculators! Subtract Measurement B from Measurement A, so that’s subtracting your under-breast measurement from your breast measurement. You will get a number, it can be 0 or it could be 6 or higher. If you get a negative number you either have concave boobs (????) or did the calculations in reverse, so try again. Each number starting from 0 is a cup size. It generally goes: A,B,C,D,DD,E,F,FF,G,GG, H,HH,J,JJ,K,KK, etc. However, it can change depending on the company and country you are purchasing from, so it doesn’t hurt to double check their sizing system – the company could list your potential size as either DDD or E for example. This, combined with your band measurement, is your new and improved, ACCURATE bra size.

STOP! DON’T PANIC!

You might be thinking something like “How can I be a D? I hardly have any boobs!” or “Does K even exist?” This revelation is also going to point out a huge bra-related misconception we have even as women who may wear the things every single day of our lives:

Cup size has nothing to do with the size of your breasts. The size of your breasts is actually relative to both your cup size and band sized combined. So for example, the cups in a 32A are the EXACT SAME SIZE as a 28C. 32A and 36AAA would also have the exact same cups. So this whole double D = big breasts thing is one big lie. The difference between bras with the same cups lies in the way the cups are proportioned and how large the band is, which was where it made a huge difference for me, because in my new bra the band is much smaller so the cups are made closer together.

bravissimo

Now that you’re basking in the light of this discovery, the next thing you’re probably thinking is where you can get a bra in your new size? There’s a few suggestions on Reddit, but all I did was google my bra size and found the best, most affordable options and pretty much violently threw my money at them. Depending on which end of the spectrum your measurement goes will dictate the best place for you to shop for a bra. Some companies don’t carry below C or D cups, and some companies don’t carry above C or D cups. It also helps to read reviews to see if the particular brand you’re buying comes in a small or large make. If people review it to be extremely large make, maybe it’s best to size down, and with a small make you would be wise to size up.

This new system that seems to be helping so many people has left me with a lot of unanswered questions. I found that I never inquired what these stores told me my size was and just assumed they were the experts, but my eyes have been completely opened after reading other women’s positive experiences with this method and then trying it myself. Why is it that when we get measured for a bra, they add 4-6 inches to our band measurements? Underneath my breasts I measure 28 inches, so WHY a I getting a size 32 or 34 band on my bra?

The answer is relatively unclear. The current system is extremely outdated and is apparently still going off of the mid-1900s system when bras were made with non-stretchy material, and hasn’t been updated since, because apparently nobody cares to do any in-depth research on something that would increase comfort and alleviate pain and back problems for millions of women. And did I mention breast reductions and augmentations? What if someone realized they didn’t need to go to those lengths just by wearing a bra that fits? This is when I got mad. Why is it that women are resorting to surgeries because companies like La Senza and Victoria’s Secret are refusing to change their system, despite the overwhelmingly positive response to this new method of measurement, not to mention armies of women complaining about back problems and other related muscle issues caused by breast size? The only reason I can think of is it would be much easier to force women into making decisions about invasive and expensive procedures like breast reductions and augmentations – or expensive specialists, medication, acupuncture and massage therapy – that are funded by anyone’s pocket besides theirs.

sketch-bra-fit-checkpoints-328x246

There are other more standard and obvious signs of an ill-fitting bra of course, as shown in the above image, but sometimes the signs are not so obvious. My cup alignment problem is one example, and an additional unmentioned sign is fat gathered underneath your armpit near where your bra usually begins which is actually the fat from your boobs being pushed under your arms from years of wearing the wrong sized bra. Mine is starting to shift back where it belongs since I revamped my bra-life. Another good tip that won’t go astray is how to put on a bra properly – even though you’d think after years or decades of wearing a bra you would know, you might be surprised!

You may not find your current bra particularly uncomfortable, but I didn’t think mine was either until I bought one measured under this more logical system. Most people don’t have a point of comparison, so they may have just adjusted to the discomfort over time and became accustomed to it. Other women just live their lives in obvious pain and discomfort because of their breast size and the lack of support a band 4 inches too big gives them. I urge every bra-wearing woman reading this to at the very least give it a shot – it’s something your body will probably thank you for.

Written by McKayla Reilly
Eat with her, tweet with her, or contact her!

  • Natalie

    Just did this…. measured myself and got a 29 C….then measured my current bra, size 34A and the band width was 27 inches! What do I do???

    • Wamber_the_Panda

      You’ll want a 30C, odd number bands don’t exist.

      Also, consider that your bra is elasticized! Take your bra and hold up one end to the end of the measuring tape, and then grasp the bra at the other end, and then take the other end with your fingers and have your hands wrapped around the tape gently, and then stretch it as far as it’ll go before the underwires -if it has any- torques out and starts getting bent out of shape. Depending on the age of your bra, it’ll stretch to 34″ or even more. Elastic is not supportive unless it’s getting stretched.. it’s like when you make a pony tail and twist it to get a tight fit. You’ll want the elastic stretch almost to absolutely can’t stretch anymore to give you the proper support. Or, you can look it like it’s a pair of elasticized pants.. the waist band relaxed measures way smaller than where it hits you, they have to stretch to stay up.. the same works for a bra band.. it’s gotta stretch to support you!

    • see

      Odd sizes don’t exist, so you’ll probably want a 30B or 30C. Your current bra measures 27 inches because you’re not stretching it! It needs to stretch around your body so it can support you properly.

    • Sara

      If your underbust measures 29″, you can round up or down depending on your ribcage squishiness, general comfort, and the bra brand. Personally, I’d round up in your band size. Based on measurements alone (guessing 29″ underbust and 32″ bust?), I’d reckon you wear around a 30B/C. However, if your current 34As fit you well in the cup, I’d definitely start out trying a 30C (because in terms of cup volume, 34A = 32B = 30C) and 30D.

      The reason that your 34A’s band is 27″ is because it stretches. Most bras stretch 20-25%, so in order to get a bra that fits you properly, it’s going to be several inches smaller than your ribcage measurement! For example, my ribcage is 27″ but most of my bras are 22 or 23″ unstretched and around 29″ stretched to the absolute max.

      Hope that helps. :) Definitely post in the A Bra that Fits subreddit linked above if you have more questions.

    • QAHJ

      You probably measured the unstretched length of your 34A. If you measure while stretching the band, it will probably measure at least 35 inches. I have bras with 32 bands that measure around 25 inches unstretched but are closer to 35 inches stretched.

      If you measure 29, it’s probably a good idea to try both 28 and 30 bands.

    • Mothr Nght

      If you measured a 29 you could go with either a 28 or a 30 band. Usually bra sizes round up from uneven numbers so go with a 30C first – although some people like to buy both and keep the one that fits best, returning the other. If you’re going to try 28, go with 28D, because remember as you reduce the band size you must increase the cup size by 1.

      Also pay attention to where you buy the bra.. You could go to http://www.thelittlebracompany.com/ and because their bras are a small make a 30C would probably be an amazing fit for you! However you can’t get any D cups from the little bra company, so you also might want to google other companies that may sell BOTH sizes you want to try for simplicity’s sake, and return the one that you like the least. :)

    • Mothr Nght

      It’s confusing at first but after I got my two bras I was ecstatic with the difference in look and comfort. Well worth the effort!

    • ir ir

      Check how much the band stretches. As with any other stretchy piece of garment you don’t expect it to fit you unstretched. Would you buy underpants that are the same measurement as your hips, unstretched?

      A bra should stretch to an inch or two more than your underbust measurement. Any more and it won’t be supportive enough.

      Try 30B/C and 28C/D bra sizes. 34A has the same cup volume as 32B, 30C and 28D so if you fill it out try 30C or 28D.

    • otterhugs

      the band is 27 inches unstretched right? If you measure it stretched it will probably stretch to 34 or more inches, which is the important measurement. you want your bra to hug you, not hang on you like a shirt which is why you want a bra that stretches to 29 or 30, you’ll want to look for 30Bs and 30Cs =) band sizes only come in even numbers, since you’re small and in between you’ll probably want to round up to 30 instead of down to 28.

    • Amy

      Since bra bands don’t come in odd numbers, I’d recommend trying a 30C. You may get lucky and find some 30 bands in stores like Aerie, but Nordstrom is known to have a good selection of bras of all sizes. Time to ditch your 34As!

  • Emily Vrotsos

    My partner is a dedicated Redditer, and, knowing the discomfort my bras have always caused me, he came to me one day proposing that we re-measure ourselves according to this sub-reddit. This method worked like a charm!!

  • ir ir

    I want to point out that the leaning over method overestimates cup size for large busts in band sizes 36 and over. If you measure above a UK G cup I suggest also taking a standing bust measurement and averaging the two. Another measurement you can take for comparison is a laying down bust measurement and comparing it to the averaged measurement, cup size is often close to that one.

    If anyone is confused about their measurements or which bras to buy or where to buy them A Bra That Fits is there to help.

    Join the Bravolution!

    • Mothr Nght

      I think this is why Brittany from Thin and Curvy suggests wearing your best fitting bra. She apparently has larger-than-average breasts and this is why she measures with her bra on, but this can easily hijack the measurement if the bra is too small and squishes the breasts back for example.

  • Saramk

    Your size is only half the battle! Different cups/styles of bras work differently on people, depending on what their shape is. Don’t get discouraged if you try a bra on in your new size, and it doesn’t work. A Bra That Fits has good info for different types of breast. Once you have figured out what your size and shape are, it will be ALOT easier to know what will work for you.

    I went from a flat 34A to a 28E and actual boobs, so I know from experience. :)

  • CL

    I think the stores won’t change because they would have to admit that they’d been doing it wrong, and their customers would be angry. Imagine if Victoria’s Secret announced that they were switching to a new measurement system that meant almost nobody is a 34-36 A, B or C. That’s like 80% of the bras in their store. People would be furious. I know I was angry when I realized I had been sold hundreds of dollars worth of ill-fitting, painful bras over the years while they didn’t even stock my real size. I’m sure this problem has been brought to their attention, but there is just no graceful way to transition.

    • IIP

      I think it depends on the calculator. I tried all kinds of online calculators and most of them were incorrect. I got all kinds of measurements. Funny thing for me, the Victoria’s Secret calculator was the closest one out of all of them. I got 36D, 38B, 38A, 34G, 32I, etc. Finally, I just scrapped most of the calculators and did it my way. Got my rib measurement under my breasts and did it 4 times. Stood in the mirror to make sure the tape was not twisted or drooping. Then since bra advice says that you should only be able to stick two fingers in the band for the best support, I added an inch to that measurement since I got an odd number. Then I took my bust measurement upright and bending over. After that, I went to the store and just did everything by trial and error fitting.

      I tried on a 32F, and found it was too big, so that automatically told me the calculators that said I was a “g” or an “h” were wrong. They say that after 4″ the cup size calculations fall apart anyway. So with my band measurement being a sure 34, I was able to just play with the cup sizes until I found one that fit correctly. No gaps, no wrinkles, no poking, no spillover, no back fat, no underarm side fat, and no band traveling up the backside, etc.

  • LA

    The Australian company Fine Lines is now sold in the US @ Dillard’s and it is super comfy and comes in all the bigger cups that most people don’t carry.

    • QAHJ

      It looks like Fine Lines starts at a 32 band and only goes up to a US H-cup (FF-cup in UK sizing). It’s great that they have more sizes than, say, Victoria’s Secret, but that’s far from “all the bigger cups”. I need a UK 28JJ/K (something like a 28N/O in US sizing; 60Q/R in European sizing, I think). My size might not be popular but it’s more common than you’d think and stupidly difficult to find in the US. I only know of a few British and Polish companies that make bras in this size range, as far as I know no American companies make anything close.

  • Jen

    It’s funny, reading this, and remembering the fights I would have with every bra store about my band size. They always measure me as 36, but I insist on getting a 32 because the band always slides down. They tell me that I’m doing something wrong (washing in the washing machine stretching it out, adjusting the straps after they set them or just ‘wearing it wrong’!). In their minds 32 is too tight and would be uncomfortable, despite me telling them that I am comfortable in that size. I have actually had people refuse to sell me a bra because I wouldn’t buy the size they want me in. Amazing… I thought these were my breasts, and that I would know what feels good. Apparently not. :)

  • Em

    It’s true! Found this measuring system on r/abrathatfits and went from an uncomfortable lifelong 38DD to a 34HH!

  • Vivid Sammy

    Ok, I thought I had an A cup, according to this measurement it’s E (WHUT?!) I tried it, and even tough it was way to big, it did actually feel a lot better than my normal A cup, There was just a little to much excess fabric on the top, but from the bottom it actually fit pretty well. I now wear a C/D cup triangle shaped bra so it fits the bottom part and I don’t have to worry about the top part. What really bothers me, is that the lingerie shops mainly sell fitted and filled bras but I really like my natural shape.
    Thank you for this article, I may not have found the perfect bra yet, but it already feels a whole lot better and the bra marks on my body are slightly less. :)

    • Kaitlyn

      I know what you mean. I recently went into Victoria’s Secret (never again!) and asked for a bra that wasn’t a push-up. It was hard to find, and I could tell they thought I was weird. Sorry I’m not ashamed of my shape and want to keep it natural!

      I’m not necessarily saying you’re ashamed of your shape if you wear padded bras, of course. A lot of people like the look; it’s just not for me.

  • Kaitlyn

    My friend used to be a lingerie specialist at a Dillard’s in the U.S., and they use this method there! She’s the one who taught to me how to measure my breasts properly. If you need help, they can probably help you there!

    I’m sure there are other stores who are hip to this new method; I just don’t know of any. If you know of any others, please reply to this comment!

  • Mandy

    Wow! This say a big difference for me. Right now I wear a 34B and this says 30DD! I’m gonna have to start trying on some bras and playing around and checking fit better. I have definitely been having some annoyance with my underwire bras lately. The area under my ribcage has been sore after a while (I’m assuming it’s a combo of pore posture and being poked with uncomfortable underwire) so I’ve been sticking to sports/sleep bras, but I’d be interested to see if I can find a more comfortable fit with a difference size bra.

  • TS28

    Interesting. I’ve been wearing a 34D and by this it says I should be wearing a 32E. I’ll have to try it out!

  • Cyndi

    I’ll have to give this a try, considering EVERY DAMN BRA I’ve ever had fits me annoyingly and painfully. I think it’s amazing how I can be a 36 DDD, and a 38 D (not DD!) in aerie and Victoria’s Secret. I was measured in the same day, so I don’t believe the sales associates there. Most of them are teens who don’t know what they’re doing, to be honest. And if I wear a 38, It’s too loose and 36 it fits better, but I still have an annoying gap under my breasts and it shoves the underwire into my ribs which is painful. The woes.

  • Miranda

    According to this I should be a 26 FF but I am only 14 and cannot afford very expensive bras even if I could find any in this size. Any advice?

    • Mothr Nght

      You’re right, they are very expensive! Try out Ebay or Etsy they may have cheaper bras there in your size! Also remember at 14 you’ll be doing lots of growing so I wouldn’t throw down a lot of money on a bra that won’t fit you in 6 months. :)

  • JessC

    Just measured and am still not sure if I got the right size. Breast was 36 band was 30. So would that put me at a 30F? There’s no way that’s right…

    • Mothr Nght

      30DDD/E!

  • Carol

    Can someone help me here?! I am a fairly small 18 year old girl and even 32A bras DONT fit, I gap even the slightest,even with tons of pushup. I need help finding a bra that can give me pushup without the gap!!

  • Jewles

    I get anywhere between at A). 38-40 and B). 34-33 Right now doing this as stated above I got for A I got 39 and for b I got 33. Confused about the A,AAA/ B,BBB/C,CCC/D,DDD/E,EEE/F, FFF category. So I am a ? I usually wear a 36-38 C-D. Depending on the brand I choose. What is my measurements I listed above exactly? Sorry to be seemly ignorant here.

  • Emily

    So I measured a 27C. That isnt in existence I know, but I need MAJOR HELP trying to find a 28B. (That’s its sister size right?) Is there anywhere to get those?

  • Robin Stach

    Ladys do not forget the benefit of a bra extender if you are in between sizes. They will extend by one inch and can be very benefiicial if you are an odd number. I am a 27 so its no big deal since even in britian they do not make a 26 band so I get a 28 and bring it in on the sides and sew a seam but this can only be done if it is 1-2 sizes off since it changes the structure of it slightly.

  • Manda Jane

    Help me out here… I measure 28 around my ribcage and 35 around my bust when I’m at a 90 degree angle… I’ve wore a B 32 my whole life. By this measuring, I’m an F. AN EFFFFFFFFFF. I’m very teensy, and I’m kind of wary to order a bra I’m almost positive isn’t going to fit me. Can anyone show me and before/after pictures (With your bra on of course!!!) of the bra size you thought you wore and the bra you need according to this? I really can’t wrap my mind around it.

  • Manda Jane

    DARN I also forgot to mention I’m breastfeeding and I have AWFUL reoccurring mastitis. Could this be related to the bra I’m wearing?