Hey out there! I'm really excited to be talking about the next topic in my blog series, "Bra Guide". My first post was about How Bras Should and Shouldn't Fit and received an overwhelming amount of response from ladies around the world asking me their bra questions, concerns, and issues. It was so exciting! I've had a lot of questions asked about bra sizing and so that is what I'm going to be talking about today! Yahoo!
In this post I'm going to cover what the numbers and letters mean and corresponding sizes. Once you understand how bra sizing works, it will make finding a bra that fits so much easier! This topic is SO IMPORTANT! Make sure you sit back, grab a Diet Coke, and hang on. This is going to change your world!
I'm going to use myself as an example. My bra size is a 32C. Now what the heck does that mean? The measurement of my ribcase is 28" which means I wear a 32 band. There is a chart below that shows you the different rib cage measurements and the corresponding band size with that measurement.
Finding your band size is really easy, all you have to do is take a measuring tape and measure the very top of your rib cage. You want the tape to be snug and not loose when measuring. Once you have your measurement find the corresponding size on the chart above.
If you measure smaller than a 27 inches or bigger then a 53 inches, no worries! There's band sizes that go down to a 28 and there's bra band sizes that go up to 58. What you see on this chart are "average" band sizes.
Bra Band Facts
Here are some important facts about your band. Your band is where 90% of your support comes from. So it's VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT that your band is fitting correctly. What I mean by fitting "correctly" is that it should be very snug on the loosest set of hooks when you first try it on. The reason why you want the band to be snug on the loosest set of hooks is so you can tighten the band as it stretches. The other reason is so the bra will last you longer.
When you buy a correct fitting bra it's going to be really really snug at first, don't worry it won't be like that forever. It will take a couple of days of wear for the band to ease a bit. When trying on bras, if you have to hook the back to the tightest set of hooks for it to be snug, you need to go down a band size (don't forget to up a cup size when you do this, I'll explain this later on in the post).
There's two tests you can do to see if your band is fitting correctly.
The first is to put the bra on and move your arms around and jump up and down. When you're done and if your bra hasn't moved or if you don't have to adjust the girls or pull it down, it's snug enough.
The second test requires you have a partner on hand. Have your child, husband, friend, or bra fitter try to slide their hand between the band and your back. If they struggle to do this, then your band is snug enough.
Every woman is different. But I like my bras really snug and there's a couple reasons why:
First, because I like my bras to last me longer (if I'm going to spend my hard earn cash on a bra, I want it to last me as long as it can).
Second, I like the extra support.
Third, I love the feeling that my bra doesn't move when I move. I HATE the feeling of having to adjust my bra throughout the day. I don't have the time or the energy to worry if I'm going to be falling out of my bra. I want my bras to do the work of supporting me and holding me in place. I measure a 32C but I prefer going down a band size in some bras so I can get more use out of the bra. The equivalent size to that is a 30D. When you go down a cup size you HAVE to go up a cup size to compensate the difference. I'll explain this more in detail in the cup size portion of this post. I wouldn't recommend this to every woman. Some women might not find this comfortable or feel like they need to. Depending on the person, their needs, what size they are. I sometimes recommend this to busty gals when they're in need of more support. sometimes I recommend this to busty gals because this give them more selection in bras and will give them more support.
This model has hardly any "back fat", but I wanted to show you an example.
My thoughts on this.
99% of women have some type of "back fat" even very thin and athletic women have it. Men and especially women are not going to be looking at your back. People are going to be looking at your front. I'd rather have a little "back fat" then not have my boobs supported and therefore not look as put together and heavier.
If you want to look slimmer, thinner, and supported, the key is wearing the correct band size and making sure it's snug because the band is the foundation of the bra and that is where you get your support from. I like to compare your bra band to the foundation of a house. If the foundation of your house isn't strong, or in the case of a bra, if your band isn't snug, the foundation won't be able to support the rest of the house, which in this case the rest of the house is your boobs.
I found a some great examples of how wearing a correct fitting bra can make you look slimmer in the front.
Look at what a difference not wearing the right bra size looks like on the left compared to the correct fitting one on the right. You can tell a huge difference! She looks like she lost 10 pounds at least on the right side picture. Wearing the correct band size is really crucial for all women. Having a large bust can make you look heavier if you're not wearing the correct bra size. Like I said above, I'd rather have "back fat" than have my boobs not look supported and therefore making me look heavier.
The second part to bra sizing is the cup size. For my humble 32C size, the "C" is my cup size. To be honest, cup size is the trickiest part of bra fitting. It takes the most time to figure out. But if you follow my tips, you'll be able to do it without any problems.
Cup sizes range from AA to a JJ. Some cup sizes have alternate names. For an example, the cup size DD can also be called an E, DDD can be called a F, DDDD a G, DDDDD a H, DDDDDD a I, and DDDDDDD a J, and so on.
There's two ways you can figure out your cup size. I prefer one over the other, but I'm going to go through how to do both of them so you can get an idea of what size you are. By having an idea as to what size you are, you'll be able to spend less time hunting down a bra that fits. You'll be able to tell the bra fitter lady at the department store what size you measure so you can give her a good starting point. If you get a really good bra fitter (like myself), I can tell what bra size you should be wearing just by looking at you.
The first way to find your cup size is to measure your band size (the top part of your rib cage) and measure the fullest part of the bust (with your bra on and without a top on). Minus your band measurement from your cup measurement. For each inch in difference, the cup goes up by one size. Take that difference and check the chart below.
My band size measurement is 28" inches which equals to a 32 sized band. My bust measurement is 34" inches. I'm going to minus my bust measurement 34"- from my band size 32= 2". If you look at the chart above it says I should be wearing a B cup. This isn't the correct cup size for me. The reason why is because of my breast shape. When measuring your cup size you have to take into consideration that your breast shape impacts your cup size. Your shape determines what type of bras are going to fit you best. I'm going to do another post in a couple weeks about this, so make sure to come back and check it out.
This is why I'm not a huge fan of finding your cup size by measuring. It's not 100% accurate. It's a great starting point, but I wouldn't rely heavily on it.
The second way to find your cup size is going to a department store or lingerie boutique that specializes in bra fitting. This is the most precise way to get a good fit. If you're not sure where to go I would Google some local places, call them up and ask them the following: what range of sizes do they carry, are their fitters certified, do they specialize in fitting, and what bra brands do they carry? It's also good to ask what their return policy is, just in case you don't end up liking the bra. A good place should carry band or have access to sizes from a 28-52 and cup sizes from AA-J. The brands I like the most are Anita International, Chantelle, Calvin Klein, Elle Mcpherson, Elomi, Felina, Freya, Le Mystere, Natori, La Perla, Panache, and Wacoal.
I'm going to get a lot of hate mail from this, but I like to be honest with ya'll. I'm not a huge fan of Victoria's Secret (DUN, DUN, DUN). The reason, they don't carry a wide selection of sizes. They have band sizes that range from 30-40 and cup sizes from A-DDD. I would say the average cup size of women I helped over the past six years ranges from a DD to a DDD. I can't tell you how many women who wear a cup size larger than a DDD. If you fit between the 30-40 band size and a A-DDD cup size, Victoria's Secret can be a good option for you.
It's worth it to invest in your bras. Invest the time and energy to getting fitted correctly and buying the correct fitting bra. You wear your bra EVERYDAY. It will make you look thinner, your clothes will fit you better, and you will feel more comfortable.
The last thing I'm going to go over in this post is really important. I think everything on this post is important, but this will help you to manipulate the sizing chart and therefore, make you feel like a rock star because you understand what happens to your size when you go up and down cup and band sizes. Also, by understanding this part, this can help you determine your size.
So let's pretend you wear a 34C and you gained weight and your 34 band is too tight and is uncomfortable. Your cup size hasn't changed, so you want to go up a band size, because you went up a band size you need to go down a cup size. Or you could look at the chart below and see that the corresponding size to the 34C is a 36B.
Now we're ready to start putting our new bra knowledge to work. This is "Friend A" below.
Let me repeat that one more time. Whenever you go down a band size you HAVE to go up one cup size to compensate the difference. If you go up a band size you HAVE to go down a cup size to compensate the difference. Without trying anything on "Friend A," I estimated she should be wearing a 32D. I grabbed bras in that size and had her try them on. The 32D wasn't fitting her because her breast tissue was coming out of the top of the cup still. So I went up one more cup size to a 32DD.
Back to "Friend A" in her 32DD and look what a difference! She is wearing the Natori Demi Bra #133001. What a hot mama.
Here is the before and after. You can tell she's being covered correctly, the underwire isn't sitting on top of her breast, the center of the bra is lying completely flat against her skin, and the band is low and snug in the back.
"Friend B" was wearing a 34C in the picture below. You can see from the arrows this bra was way too small in the cup size. From the arrows you can tell her breast tissue is hanging out at the top and side of her bra. After measuring her around the top of her ribs she measured 27" around. The 27" means she should be wearing a 32 band size. Because we need to go down a band size we had to go down a band size we have to go up a cup size.
I had her try on 32D and it fit her perfectly! See how much better she looks in a correct fitting bra! She's wearing the Calvin Klein Women's Seductive Comfort Customized Lift Bra. I personally wear this bra and love it. It's reasonably priced, comfortable, and gives a subtle uplift.
Here is the before and after up close. The reason why the Calvin Klein bra fits her so well is because it's covering on the sides and front, the underwire isn't laying on top of her breast tissue, the band is low and snug in the back, and she looks great.
I hope this post was helpful to about how bra sizing works. It can be confusing so hopefully you were able to get a better understanding. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Make sure to check out my first post in the series, Bra Guide: How They Should and Shouldn't Fit. It's a great way see how bras should and shouldn't fit.
If you want to learn more about bras and how I can help you find your perfect fitting bra, go to my Bra Guide page for more information!