Friday, March 11, 2011

Pro tips for finding your perfect bra... ;-)

My bra size measuring guide will usually get you pretty close to your perfect size. But everybody's body is a little bit different, and just a few measurements can't account for each of these little differences. Therefore, the size you get with that guide is a great starting point, and for many people that will be the size you need. However, here are a few things that can affect what size you need.


Cup size: First of all, it can be really hard to measure around your bustline accurately. If your current bra fits badly enough, that can affect the size you measure no matter what. In addition, breasts are... soft, and so it's hard to hold the measuring tape at the right looseness so that it doesn't fall but isn't cutting in at least a little bit. Also, what cup size you need changes based on the shape of your breasts. The basic rule of thumb is that your breasts are very full (like if you are young and have never had kids) you will need to go up a cup size or even a few cup sizes. If they are less full, you may need to go down in size.

Here's the rule of thumb for what cup size is right for you: You want the biggest cup size that you can fill out when putting the bra on correctly and scooping into it. This size will probably seem a little empty at the top when you first put it on, until you scoop into it. This is your correct bra cup size.


Band size: My measuring guide will probably be accurate for your band size. But if you have more padding on your ribcage, that will be more "compressible" and you might prefer a smaller band size than the measuring guide tells you. This is especially true if you are plus sized. Also, if you wear a bigger band size, there will be more stretch to the actual bra band, and so it will make sense to wear a slightly smaller band size because of that, too.

And conversely, if you have an especially bony ribcage, you may wish to size up the band a little bit, so the underwires are not digging into your ribcage. Be careful not to do it too much, though, because you still need the band to support you and you don't want to trade underwire digging in for straps digging in! I have a theory, though, that if only bra manufacturers would put a little extra padding or something under the underwire, then those of us on the bony side wouldn't need to do this.

I'm not going to specify any particular band sizes here, because how bony or not your ribcage is probably is going to depend more on your height, frame size, and body type than and particular band size.


Generally, make sure to try on different styles, brands, and materials, as well. You might be surprised at what you end up liking! If you must order things online, try to buy from a store that has a generous return policy and then try lots of brands, styles and sizes and just return what doesn't fit!

Above all, wear what feels comfortable to you. Be open minded and try things on, but use your judgement and don't force yourself into a size that feels uncomfortable just because you think you ought to, or because it's the size me or anybody else suggests.

19 comments:

  1. Good to see you posting again.

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  2. Oh hey there C:

    You know, I've found that sometimes, you're in the right cup size, but it may look too large due to a gap in the bottom of the cup, which is sometimes due to the band being too big, so it rides up and the cups go down from where it's supposed to be...more illusions (sigh).

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  3. Sometimes your band size can vary from style to style depending on how stretchy the band is in that particular style. In most bras I am 32F but in some bras, especially the some very stretchy freya bands, I am a 30FF.

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  4. I have a question about finding the right band size. I tried to follow your measuring directions and it seems that I should be a 38GG rather than a 42D. I tried buying two bras to try online, and they fit OK but the problem I'm finding is that the top of the underwire between my breasts seems to push in really hard. Everything else seems to fit well. Do you have any recommendations about what styles/mods in size I should try?

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  5. Jasmine,

    This isn't an uncommon problem. It may be that you need to experiment with different styles or brands. It might help to try a balcony or plunge style as opposed to a full cup style, if you haven't already, because the wires will come up less far. I can't really recommend something *too* specific, though, because everybody's body is different and what style is best for one person will be different from what's best for another.

    Sometimes, though, even a bra that fits perfectly otherwise, will have this problem. You could try the directions here: http://venusianglow.blogspot.com/2010/03/simple-fix-for-underwires-that-pinch.html

    I hope that helps!

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  6. Yeah, the bony ribcage is an important comment. Even though I am petite, however I try, I don't measure less than 70-71 cm tightly measured under the bust (even a fitter in a shop was recently surprised), because my ribs stick out. This is why I can sometimes wear tighter 32'' bands, and most 30'' are OK for me. With a more fleshy underbust, however, it would be different.

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  7. I saw your post on Twitter about the too-big Carissa Rose shirt. I hope you'll take some pictures before returning it and post them on the blog? It would be helpful for others considering a purchase.

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  8. Fiona, I am definitely planning on that! :-)

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  9. I find it hilarious that while my underbust measures 'big' for someone my size, I still get told by the unenlightened I can't honestly be thinking of stuffing myself into a 32/30 band size.

    Something I noticed myself: while my underbust measures 29.5", I need a 32 band in some brands (and 30 in the loose ones) because my back is very v-shaped. Apparently a bony (and wide) ribcage + wide lats from weightlifting want a bigger size.

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  10. Ida, it seems like we have very similar fit in terms of band size. I also measure 29.5" underbust and often take a 32 band. I, too, have a bony ribcage, V-shaped back and some prominent lats from lifting weights.

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  11. say you put on a bra correctly, in what is supposedly your correct size, and you still don't fill out the top of the cup, yet your 'armpit fat' keeps spilling out...what's going on here? any suggestions?

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  12. If you're armbit fat still spills out you either have a too smaill cup or a to narrow wire. I would go up a cupsize. If that doesn't fit, try another brand. Panache has wider wires than Freya.

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  13. Interesting observation about a plus-size woman possibly preferring a smaller band. I'm 200 pounds :O post-pregnancy and quite comfortable with a 32" or 34" band (I am quite small through the ribs and shoulders, but not the breasts!) BAH! Add 4 inches and go down 4 cup sizes there will be a lot more selection but you will look and feel like crud. While I am not THIN and curvy anymore I really am enjoying your blog so much!

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  14. I am a 28H and I find it quite a bother to find bras, since only a few styles cater for this size. If any of you are having problems getting a bra to fit, I recommend going to Bravissimo or another specialist shop to get fitted and they can check the bras you try on so they can make sure the bras you buy from them fit properly. I have quite a bit of back fat, so I find I need this size, even though my back is not quite that small. I find the band is slightly too loose in some instances. I am a petite UK size 6 on my top half and I find a lot of tops are baggy at the back due to my small back/big boobs combo. I hate this and so I always wear tight tops. Does anyone else find this?

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  15. Hi I measure 28.5 and 34.5 for underbust and full bust. My waist is 23-24 inches (I'm very hourglass shaped).

    What's my size? I'm wearing 34C but it's a bit saggy and the 32D seems too small (4-boob)... thanks!

    The bra calculators tell me 34A that's a joke! (I'm not huge, but I'm not flat!)

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    1. based on the information on this site, i'd guess a 28-30DD or so? your underbust measurement is between the 28 and 30 band sizes, so i'd try both.

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  16. I measure 25.5 underbust and 38-38.5 bust, so propably I should be wearing something like 26HH-J, but I hope it would be possible for me to wear 28-band, much easier to find.

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  17. I need help! My bust is 29 in and underbust is a 26 in I wear a 32B and it fits alright but the top gaps alittie so there another size that will fit better? Thank you so much! Holly

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  18. hello, what if im 27inches in underbust and 32inches inches in bust?

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