If you’re like me, you were dragged to a bra shop with your mom at some semi-post-pubescent age where you were measured (or in my case, not measured at all) and then forced to try on and purchase a couple of bras. For the remainder of your life, you’ve either stuck with that size, or gone down/up a bit to accomodate weight gain, birth control acquisition, or just further development. My bra size has always been a game of trying on a shit ton of bras and then just picking whichever one made them look sorta kinda nice. When I was around 200 pounds, and my boobs were significantly larger, I wore a size 36C. So, in my inexperienced brain, it made sense to me to drop to a 34B when I lost over 60 pounds. I have been wearing a 34B for about two years now. It wasn’t until I read a post on Reddit (land of the neckbeards, of all places), that I realized something just wasn’t right.
For starters, a lot of the bras I own have these little issues about them that I tolerate for the sake of having decent-looking boobs. The bras that make my cleavage look awesome in the front make my side boob/side fat spill out of the side of the cup underneath my armpit. The bras that seem to fit well around the band and straps make my boobs resemble the floppy, shapeless breasts of a lady manatee. The bras that seem to do my tatas justice all around also have to have the straps tightened to their maximum capacity and therefore not only hurt my shoulders and leave welts, but show some seriously awkward underboob. And embarrassingly enough, the list goes on. I always convinced myself that these bras were how bras were supposed to be. My only real and affordable options in most stores were A-DD and so through the process of elimination, these 34B bras, despite their issues like tissues, fit me the best.
Boy, was I ever out of my gourd. Today I went to get a proper, professional measurement at E Lingerie in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The owner, a snarky, NYC native with fun anecdotes about drag queens in the 1980s East Village, assisted me in my official measurement and buying some beautiful bras. I loved her general ‘tude and the experience so much that I even created a Yelp account specifically to write about her pervasive awesomeness. I also suggest that if you’re in the NYC area, you give her a visit if you’re interested in eternal comfort. She started by measuring underneath my boobs (at the “root” or right where your boob ends) and then was able to figure out my cup size just by checking me out a bit. “34D probably,” she casually said. I gasped and clutched my proverbial pearls, “WHAT?!”
Apparently, according to the Reddit post, this isn’t uncommon. In fact, many women out there feeling a bit crunchy in their 36Cs and 34DDs are in fact, 32Fs and 30Js, per se. This is because we have this idea in our heads that what is made readily available to us (the A-DDs) is what must fit us best. We stuff our unhappy boobies into ill-fitting cups and over-elasticized bands and straps in order to get a semi-decent appearance from a bra that is just not our size. Bras CAN be comfortable. Granted, these “specialty sizes” are much harder to find, but not impossible. You can find them in most lingerie boutiques and for even lower prices at sites like brastop.com (which has bras in sizes all the way up to 44K). Today I was able to find three bras in my new, true size and wearing them is like having my boobs cupped by cherubs who frequently moisturize. I almost want to go into my garden and burn all of my smoshy, scratchy, slidey bras in effigy.
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have hundreds of dollars to buy fancy bullshit boutique bras. I don’t either. The bras that I purchased today were each around $50 and while I understand that that’s not cheap, $58 for a bra, the standard at Victoria’s Secret, isn’t any cheaper. Also, women-owned boutique bras have the added benefit of not having been created so that men can feel comfortable (like some other aforementioned company – no joke).
For the most part, the bigger your size is, the more expensive your bra is. Unfortunately, this is the case in bra boutiques as well. However, brastop.com not only has many sizes, it’s affordable. One of the 44FFs listed on the site is only $21 and it’s PRETTY. These boutique and brastop.com bras aren’t the typical sex-repellant grandma bras you usually see for bigger sizes and that’s probably one of the most important details. Huge boobs and big girls are freaking sexy as hell too and some companies do pay attention to that.
In order to determine your bra size at home, redditor MyWifesBusty (how fitting) suggests being completely naked from the waist up and armed with a measuring tape and then doing the following (paraphrased and consolidated for her pleasure):
1. Lean forward so that your back is parallel with the floor. This is important. You want gravity the help pull all your breast tissue forward, even the breast tissue that your previously ill-fitting bra squished back under your arms (and even around onto your back). You may even want to take a moment to reach back and massage your sides, kind of pushing the breast tissue forward with a sweeping motion. Measure around your torso with the tape passing over the fullest part of your hanging breasts. Keep the tape as straight as possible (essentially perpendicular to the floor if you’ve done your best to make your body parallel to it.) This measurement should be loose. Tighten the tape just tight enough that it doesn’t easily slide off the skin if nudged, but not tight enough to begin to deform the breast tissue. Note: If you have pendulous breasts you may wish to take two measurements and average them. You can measure yourself once in the hanging position, then once in the standing position and average the two numbers. For the sake of this example, let’s say 42 inches.
2. Next we measure for the band. Wrap the tape around your torso, directly under the root of your breast.Wherever your breast tissue terminates into the torso, that’s where the band should be sitting. Even if it seems high (because you’re used to wearing poor fitting bras or you have breasts with a high root but significant slope) you want the band to sit at the root of the breast so that the breast tissue is laying nicely in the cups. You want this measurement to be very snug. Pull the tape tight enough that it feels really snug but not so tight as to be a corset or a that it leaves a red mark in your skin. For the sake of this example, let’s say the measurement was 34 inches.
3. Armed with those numbers: 42 inches over the fullest point of the bust and 34 inches snug around the rib cage, it’s time to do some very minor calculating. You can do it manually or you can use a bra fit calculator. The big caveat is that 99% of bra fit calculators are absolute garbage; they’re so bad as to be completely useless. That said, as of this writing (3/29/12) the bra fit calculator at Sophisticated Pair is excellent. If you’d like to calculate your bra size manually you need the band size and the difference between the bust size and the band size. In the case of our example the band size is 34 inches and the different is 8 inches. The cup size is determined by the difference (8 inches, in this case).
This website seems to have a good chart for what difference number corresponds to which cup size. The thing about measuring boobs that nobody ever tells you is that cup size is dependent on BOTH your bust measurement and your underboob/rib measurement. More importantly, that the cup measurement itself is directly related to your band size. Think about it this way: you have a petite girl and a plus-sized girl who measure around the largest part of their boobs and both get the number 42. Then, they measure at the root of their boob and the petite girl gets a measurement of 32 while the plus-sized girls gets a measurement of 40. Subtracting this band number from the first, bust number is basically like saying “How much of this bust measurement is actual boob and how much is ribs and heart and shit?” While they both have the same bust measurement, the petite girl will have a larger cup size because her bust measurement was comprised more of boob and less of body while for the plus-sized girl, it was more body and less actual boob. The petite girl would be a 32J and the plus-sized girl would be a 40B.
Just to shirk any responsibility at all for this article’s legit-ness, I am not an expert. BUT I have done some research and went through the journey myself to see what happened. If you’re lazy, like I am, you can go to a lingerie boutique and have someone measure your bubbies for you without having to worry about online calculators, your roommates walking in on you struggling, naked and alone, with measuring tape, or the risk of not doing it properly. Also, if you have time, the original Reddit post and even a lot of the response comments in the thread are truly eye-opening and insightful. I wish you all the best of luck in the “Game of Boobs” (which could pretty much describe “Game of Thrones” too, let’s be real). As always, if you have any questions or thoughts, hit me up in the comment section below.