Big or small, high or low, the fit of our bras has been an issue plaguing most women since junior high school. Between trying to figure out cup sizes to band lengths, math has never been less appealing (or felt more complicated) than when it comes to determining what size you should be wearing. Recent studies indicate nearly 80 per cent of us are wearing the wrong size — including me! Fortunately, in my teens, I was employed by a major lingerie retailer, where I was promptly re-sized and re-educated on exactly how to fit myself – and others – correctly.
Keep in mind, women’s breasts vary widely and change over time. Their size, shape, position, symmetry, spacing and firmness ultimately contribute to the overall fit of the bra. If your circumstances leave you feeling frustrated at the end of a shopping excursion, consider having your bra custom made for comfort. To work with current manufacturers available in the marketplace, use these helpful tips to fit your next bra.
Let’s start with an example and some basic math: 34B. In this ta-ta-tastic equation, the number represents your band size (the size of your under-bust), and the letter represents your cup size (the volume of your “girls”). The first mistake often occurs with the band size: when most women look at this number, they believe the “34” represents 34 inches, meaning a woman who measures 34 inches under her bust must have a 34-band size. Not so. Someone with a band size of 34, likely measures about 29 inches under her bust. The standard rule of thumb is this: if the number you measure under your bust is even, add four inches to calculate your band size. If it’s odd, add five.
Of course, to get this number, it’s important to measure correctly in the first place (another common mistake). While wearing a non-padded bra with underwire (pick your favourite), get a tape measure and wrap it directly under where your breast tissue ends, making sure it is parallel to the floor. Important to note here that it should be very, very snug to your body — we want the smallest number possible because over time, the band material relaxes and we don’t want a sloppy fit. If the number you get is a fraction, round up to the nearest whole number.
So now that we have our band sizes, it’s time to move on to our cups. This is often the most confusing part of any fitting, and half the battle is simply knowing how (and what) to measure. With your measuring tape, measure your bust at the fullest point, again making sure you aren’t accidentally twisting the tape higher than it needs to be. Unlike before, where you pulled the measuring tape tight against your skin, in this measurement, you want it just resting on your skin. It shouldn’t be loose, but it also shouldn’t be cutting into you.
Once you have this number, determine your cup size by using the following equation: Band Size – Bust Measurement = Cup Size.
Here’s how it works: each one-inch difference is represented by letters in the alphabet. One inch is A; 2 inches is B; 3 inches is C; and so on.
If by using this equation, I determine my band size is 34 and my bust size is 36, I get a difference of two inches, which means I would be a B cup, bringing my bra size to 34B. If my bust had been 35 inches (meaning there would be only one inch between my band and bust sizes), I would be a 34A. Should there have been three inches difference, I would be a 34C. It’s that simple.
Now that you know your correct bra size, shop confidentially knowing that whatever your size, your “girls” may be confined, but they will no longer be imprisoned. And remember, like shoes and cars, you should always try before you buy to make sure you’ve found the perfect fit for you!