Bras are one of life’s essentials for most women. If you’re going to wear one, be sure you know the correct way to size yourself!
The most basic way to figure out your starting size is as follows:
Do not wear a bra for this! Measure under your bust, right up against where your breasts meet your chest wall. This is called the Inframmary Fold, and is often abbreviated IMF. You can find an illustration here. Be sure you keep the measuring tape parallel to the floor – use a mirror or helper if you need to. Pull as snugly as you’d want a bra band to fit. Read the number. This is your bra band size. Do not add anything to it.
Next, lean over at about a 45-90 degree angle measure around your naked bust at the fullest part. Do not pull the tape tight as to distort your breast tissue. Read the number. Now, subtract your underbust measurement from your overbust measurement to find what your cup size should be. I, along with the majority of the well-fitted bra world, use UK cup sizing. It is more consistent across brands and the UK brands offer the greatest variety of bra sizes, whereas American brands are really lagging behind the times and focus more on “bra matrix” sizes – more on that later.
So, here’s an example. Your underbust measured 30″ and your overbust measured 36.” That’s a band size of 30 and a difference of 6.” UK cup sizes go as follows: A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, and so on. If you count up 6 cups, this brings you to a size of 30E. Go ahead, try it…
Shocked? So was I, at first. But in American society, women have all been trained to believe that A cups are tiny boobs and D cups are as big as they get, and most American brands offer bands 32-38 and cups A-DD – referred to as the “size matrix.” In reality, “common” sizes such as 34B or 34C are very uncommon sizes in the properly-fitted world. The vast majority of women I’ve met need to go smaller in the band, often by several sizes, and larger in the cup, again often by several sizes. In fact, a 30F is a very common size, and D-DD cups are some of the smallest well-fitted bra sizes available. Many UK brands don’t offer cups smaller than a D or DD. What a lot of people don’t realize is cup size is relative to band size. Not all D’s are the same. A 28D holds MUCH less volume than a 34D.
Let me show you some examples:
This woman is wearing a properly fitted size 28DD bra.
This woman is wearing a properly fitted size 34DD bra.
Can you see the difference in volume? Let’s show one more:
This woman is wearing a properly sized 30F bra, one of the most common well-fitted sizes.
You can see that an “F” cup is not the enormous “fake” bust many of us have mentally assumed it is. All of the above pictures come from the wonderful resource The Bra Band Project – www.thebrabandproject.com
If you’re suffering from sticker shock due to your new, unfathomable size, please look up your new size on the project website. Hopefully seeing how your size actually looks on real women will help undo the inaccurate perception of breasts many of us believe. Bras are not meant to be uncomfortable, or require adjustments multiple times a day. A proper fitting bra will enclose your entire breast comfortably and support it so you feel your best all day!