Posts tagged bra fit
Posts tagged bra fit
I am someone who has to add inches to my underbust measurement to have a comfortable bra (mesomorph, hi there!), and last year, I became well and truly tired of all the “bra fit experts” who insisted they knew my body better than I did because they were unfamiliar with my body type.
There are no rules that work for everyone all the time. You know your body. Listen to it.
I mentioned in the starting point size section (Part 1) of this guide that there are many different reasons why someone may need to make a few tweaks to their starting point size before they find a bra that fits them. Bra fitting is often pretty hit-or-miss, especially when one is unsure of their size: one could need any number of adjustments before they finally “get it right.” However, there are certain ways to predict which tweaks will need to be made: body type, breast shape, age, and comfort levels often factor in a person’s bra size. Ultimately, it’s up to you what bra size you want to wear, so keep that in mind while reading all the parts of this fitting guide. :)
So, here are the most common tweaks! Keep in mind, some people may be a combination of quite a few of these, and may need a few different adjustments.
Thin/Bony or Muscular Ribcage: Those who are thin or athletic/muscular sometimes find that their starting point size is too small in the band for them, especially if they also have small breasts. This is because the band stretches to fit your underbust, just like how a hair tie stretches to hold your hair up. For someone whose ribcage isn’t very squishy, that elasticity can be uncomfortable!
- The band leaves deep, painful marks
- The band leaves bruises (careful: this might be from the underwires if the cup is too small.)
- The band feels unbearable when you inhale
Example: Bras I Hate measures as a 28 band, but prefers to wear a 30 band because she has these symptoms when wearing a 28 band.
Squishy/Soft Torso: Those who have a squishy torso/underbust (especially combined with large breasts) sometimes find that they need a band size down from their starting point size. A good way to test this is to take two different underbust measurements: the main “snug” measurement, and a “break-the-tape” (acting like you’re trying to break the tape) measurement. If there is a large difference, and you have these symptoms, going down a band size may help.
- Chafing around the area the band rubs into
- Band slides around all day, needing to readjust constantly
- Back pain
- Breasts don’t feel supported
Example: Braless in Brasil has a squishy back from major weight loss and having kids, and prefers to size down when between sizes.
I don’t have a very big difference between my snug measurement and my “break-the-tape” measurement (1.5 inches), so I’m more likely to benefit from using +0 or +2 for my band size. (Or, in my case, +1 or +3.) This is true for me: I generally wear a 28 band, but can sometimes wear a 30 if the band is tight. (The bra in this picture is a 30 band.)
Small or Wide Set/Shallow Breasts: Those with small or wide-set/shallow breasts sometimes find that they feel comfortable in a variety of band sizes (or just larger ones), and don’t necessarily need the extra support that comes with a smaller band size. Those who are in that in-between size range (where they can fit into both full-bust and straight-sized bras) may also prefer to wear a more commonly-produced size, especially if they don’t benefit from a tighter band. Some also find that their breast shape is more suited to the construction a larger band provides, particularly if their breasts are wide-set or shallow. If you’re comfortable in a size that’s very different from your starting size, then by all means, wear the size you want to wear! I do recommend at least trying the starting point size if you have a chance, just so that you have the knowledge of what it does for you, but ultimately it is up to you what size you want to wear.
- You’ve tried your starting point size, but it just didn’t “wow” you like you (or others) thought it would.
- You don’t get any pain or discomfort from wearing a larger band.
- You feel that you look/feel better (or the same) in a larger band size.
- You find that the cups only fit your shape if you wear a larger band size.
Example: The Lingerie Lesbian measures as a 30 band, but prefers to wear a 34 band because the construction of a straight-size 34 band suits her shape better, and she doesn’t feel the need for more band support.
Shallow breasts on a broad base: Those with shallow breasts (not necessarily small breasts) may find that the starting point size underestimates their cup size. This is because shallow breasts don’t project very much (lack depth in the middle), so measuring around the largest point will not account for the rest of the breast tissue. It may help to try a cupsize or two up from your starting point size instead. (It may help to look at the breast shape vs bra shape (part 5) (link coming soon) part of this fitting guide.)
- Your bras often have extra room in the middle, even if they cut in on top.
- Your starting point size’s wires dig in to your breast tissue, even though the cup gapes/wrinkles.
- Fitters often recommend a laughably small cup size. (careful: since most stores don’t carry above a DD or DDD/F US (E UK), it’s quite common for fitters to bring a size that’s miles too small. However, if even the fitter notices that you need 1-3 cup sizes above what she originally thought, this can be an indicator of shallow breasts.)
Example: I have this breast type. I measure as a 28F, but in reality I need something between a 28FF and a 28G (and 30-band sister sizes). Bras are often too deep for me in the middle even when they cut in on top, and narrow wires often rest on my breast tissue.
This bra is a sister size of my starting point size, 28F = 30E = 32DD. Even with the extra band length, it’s too small for me!
Deep, Pendulous Breasts: For pendulous or very deep breasts, the starting point size may overestimate the cup size, because they have a lot of projection while leaning over. Generally, these women may find that it’s more helpful to take a few different overbust measurements (such as standing (with or without a bra, whichever one is bigger) and bending over) and average them out to get a better idea of what size they should try first. This is highly recommended if the difference between the standing and bending over measurements is greater than 4” or so.
- Your starting point size seems a lot bigger than it should be. (be careful: if you’ve spent years in the mindset of “DD = big boobs,” anything above that might seem huge! Before deciding that the measuring tape overshot your cup size, be sure to visit the Bra Band project to see breasts the same size as the one you got (don’t worry, they have bras on!) and /r/ABraThatFits’s “Before/After sizes” thread. You may find that the size you measure as is not so absurd after all.)
- You tried your starting point size and it was way too big (be careful: did you properly scoop yourself into the bra when you tried it on?)
Asymmetrical Breasts: I often get questions from women with asymmetrical breasts who are confused about which boob the starting point size will fit, or if it’ll fit at all. And generally speaking, the starting point size should work well even for those with slightly asymmetrical breasts (it just may fit one boob better than the other). However, for those with very asymmetric breasts (at least a cup size difference), it may help to try measuring the perimeter of the larger breast instead (It’s best to fit to the larger breast and pad the smaller one if desired), and compare the perimeter to cup depths for different bras on Bratabase. Here is a good guide to measuring breast perimeter (skip down to the “breast perimeter” section). For example, if you get 30 for your band size and 9.5” for your perimeter, and you notice that most 30F bras have a 9.5” depth, it would be a good idea to try a 30F.
Disabilities/Health Problems/Skin Sensitivity: Some people’s comfort levels just don’t allow for a tight band, due to skin sensitivities or other health problems or disabilities. This can also apply to elderly women (over 60 or so). In the case of illness or injury, it’s sometimes a temporary problem, but it may be wise to get an extender or larger band to wear until you get better, especially if you’ll be injured/sick for a while.
- Rib cage injury
- Back spasms
- Highly sensitive skin
- Old age
- Respiratory illness such as Pneumonia
- Recovery from some type of surgery
Be sure to read the other parts of this fitting guide so that you can get a well-rounded (pardon the pun) view of how a bra should fit!
- Finding your starting point size
- Exceptions to the starting point size
- How to put on a bra correctly [Link coming soon]
- Signs of a poor fit [Link coming soon]
- What shape am I, and why does it matter? [Link coming soon]
Bra info. For your boobs.
Thanks to Frilly Fusion for all this great info!!
I just thought some of this information might be helpful.
Bra Fit Resources
Bra Calculators are meant to give you a good starting point, you should still try on different band and cups to see what works best. These are the two most accurate I could find.
What do sizes really look like?
Blogs with good information:
VenusianGlow.com All kinds of fitting information. Links to befores and afters.
BrasIhate I’ve linked to her helpful alteration tips.
Butterfly Collection also has an online story for D-K cup sizes.
Invest in Your Chest Bra reviews, will show upcoming styles
Bratabase A database of bras, reviews, and bra measurements so you can determine what size you might want to buy online. Record how your own bra fits and get suggestions from other users.
Small Bust Big Heart (blog)
When adding inches helps:
Small Band Project:
Brands for Full Bust / Plus Size
Cup size is determined by the band. A 36C will have a bigger cup than a 34C. 34C and 36 B will have the same cup volume.
Unfortunately I can’t find a link to an easy guide to how sizing differs between US/UK/Europe/Aus because the systems are such a mess. If anyone has any accurate recommendations, please link and I’ll add.
Where to buy (in progress)
And yes, uncommon bra sizes will cost more, but if you’re savvy you can find them on sale. They’ll earn their value in comfort, looks and longevity.
Once you’re pretty sure of your bra size in a certain brand check ebay for some really good deals.
Nordstrom’s and Nordstom’s Rack
Macy’s carries Wacoal up to G, don’t expect much selection
My favorite conversion chart is the one on Barenecessities’s website! It’s the most accurate, simple conversion I’ve found to date.
How many of us have had this happen? It’s a shock, but I bet her new bra is much more comfortable.
Your question isn’t dim at all. I’m glad you asked.
Unfortunately, bra fit isn’t my area of expertise, and I’m a firm believer in directing people to the resources that are best able to help them.
I hope this helps!