Fitting: the Brassiere Part 2

Back again, and starting with announcements first! Since the first discussion post went disastrously badly, I think I will limit discussion questions to the weekly posts. I will still be answering questions (That is in the “Contact” page on the bar up ^there^) and taking post suggestions.

Moving right along!

Measuring for a Bra: Recipe for Comfort

Self measurement really isn’t as scary as it sounds, I promise. But the very first thing that you must do before you go shopping for a bra is measure. It is, though, a bit time-consuming. (I highly recommend doing this first!)

You will need: A soft measuring tape, like the one in the sewing kit no one ever uses anymore. For these purposes, we measure in inches. Also it is best that you start bare, or in the thinnest and least restrictive tank top you own. You won’t usually wear anything beneath your bra anyways.

Step one: Measure underneath your breasts. The tape should be right under where your breast tissue ends on you ribcage and parallel to the ground. Be careful not to measure over any part of your breast at this point! Pull the tape VERY snug, just loose enough that you can still breathe. If you get a flat, even number (28, 30, 32) you don’t have to do anything else! Otherwise, round to the nearest even number, up or down as you see fit. This is your starting underbust measurement. If you need to, write it down.

Note: You want a snug measurement because the band of the bra should be doing most of the work supporting those girls. A house has to be built with a strong foundation, and so does a good fit.

Step Two: Measure over your breasts. Pull the tape over the widest part of your breasts, which will usually be over the nipples. You don’t want to pull too tightly here, because your breasts are much squishier than your ribs, and the measurement won’t be as accurate if the tape is too tight. Bend over to make sure you account for all the breast tissue. If you want to be super accurate down to the micron, take this measurement bent over, standing up, and lying on your back. Add up those three numbers and divide by three. Whichever method you used, round up to the nearest inch. The number you get is your starting bust measurement. Again, write it down if you have to.

Step Three: You are going to subtract your underbust measurement from the bust measurement. The difference between the two determines your cup size.

Something important before we move on. You can get fitted at any place that sells bras, really. But a lot of those places are not actually going to do it right. Part of the reason is that bras used to be made out of very, very sturdy fabrics with absolutely zero “give”. In order to wear a bra comfortably, it was generally advised that you add 4-5 inches to your underbust measurement and go from there. DO NOT DO THIS WITH YOUR SELF MEASUREMENT. Bras nowadays are made from much softer, stretchier and more comfortable materials, so there is no reason to add any inches when you start. I don’t know why the stores haven’t switched over yet, but hopefully soon they will.

And now…

The Chart of DOOM

This handy-dandy table tells you your cup size. Find the difference in your measurements and voila. I personally prefer the UK sizing, because fewer D’s are easier for me to understand. (With EU sizing, you will have to use centimeters. This calculator should help.)

Bust minus underbust US UK EU
>  1″ AA AA AA
1 A A A
2 B B B
3 C C C
4 D D D
9 H G I
10 I GG J
11 J H K
12 K HH L
13 J M
14 JJ
15 K
16 KK

Your starting size will be the starting underbust measurement and the cup letter.

Don’t get Sticker Shock!!!

There are a lot of normal reactions to discovering your starting size. Most of them are negative.(Mine was shocked silence, and re-measuring.) Go ahead, take your time to process this. Enjoy this comic by rampaige while you do. Even if you don’t relate.


Are you still there? Awesome!

If you ever heard the so clever adage “A is for average, B is for busty, C is for can’t complain…” and so on, get it out of your head. Right now. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. You are not your cup size. In reality, a 30D and a 32D are not the same cup size. The volume is different because both of the measurements increased. If you remember math class ( I know it’s summer folks, bear with me), a rectangle that is 30 inches by five inches is smaller than the 32 by 5 is smaller than the 34 by 5. That’s the way scaled sizing works for you.

It also works by something called sister sizing. If you find the band of the bra you are trying on is too tight, but the cups feel about right, you would go up a size in the band, and also in the cup. A 34C has the same volume as a 36D as a 32B. A UK sized 28HH has the same cup volume as a 46C! No matter what your measured size is, it is best to go and try this size on first. It may end up being too big or small. (Follow the guide on how a bra is supposed to fit here.)  From there, you sister size your way into the most comfortable fit for you!

You may find that your can’t find your size in your favorite store. This is especially true for girls with an underbust of 32 inches or less, regardless of cup size.  In that case, you may want to try another store. Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack do stock slightly harder to find sizes, but your best bet will be online. (More on that soon!)

Any and all questions are accepted and will be answered in the comments! Next week, Knickers! (as the Brits call them)



PS: For more information, please visit these pages! (Warning: Pictures of women in their bras. Proceed with caution. The information is invaluable though!) 

They also make up the bulk of my sources this week 🙂 The chart was an integration of the Bravissimo calculator (already linked too), Sophisticated Pair and Sameatschildren tumblr bra guides (wonderfully accurate, but I will not provide a link due to graphic language.)



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