Everything you know about bras is wrong. - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-26-2012, 03:26 PM
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I typed this up after 'seeing the light' a couple days ago. My world has forever changed, and I need to change the worlds of everyone else. grin.gif Especially since there were many complaints about uncomfortable bras in the "Do you wear a bra" thread.

You often hear that anywhere from 75% to 80% or even 90% of woman are wearing the wrong bra size. I know I have several times, but never looking into it or thought about it. It was just something I heard and didn't really care about.

So, just out of the blue yesterday, I decided to look online about measuring your bra size. The way I found my current size was basically trial and error at the store about 6 years ago. Since then, I have had periods of time where my back would hurt for no apparent reason. On occasion, I will also get this real uncomfortable feeling that's hard to explain around my chest area and back, which I had come to attribute to wearing my bra too long. Whether or not this is actually the case, I do not know, but since my world has been turned upside-down about bras and bra sizes, I'm now thinking it has more to do with an improperly fitting bra.

If you've spent lots of time on the internet, you've probably seen pictures like this that perpetuate the idea that the larger the cup size, the larger amount of breast tissue. This is wrong. You need to erase that from your mind right now. Do it and your boobs will thank you.

An analogy: When looking for a pair of pants, would you just use the inseam size to find a properly fitting pair? Or would you use both the inseam and the waist size? That is quite like bras. The band size and cup size are two separate 'numbers', but together, they inform you of what size bra will fit you properly.

The cup size is relative to the band size.

Say it again with me: The Cup Size Is Relative To The Band Size. Write it on a piece of paper. Ten times. And then eat the paper. Drill this into your brain. Draw this on your brain.


Click to expand

For example: 40A, 38B, 36C, 34D, 32DD(US)/32E(UK), 30DDD/E(US)/30F(UK), 28F(US)/28FF(UK), and so on, are all the same cup size in terms of volume. The only difference here is the band size. The band size is reliant on how narrow or wide your rib cage is. The band size can only properly be measured by taking a soft measuring tape, and wrapping it snugly around your torso at the base of where your breast stops and the skin on your stomach area begins.(aka, the underbust) No adding 4 inches, or wrapping the measuring tape diagonally, or vertically, or finding the square root of the number you get and multiplying it by 8 or any other ridiculous ways you'll see people telling you do to. Just take the tape measure, wrap it around your underbust so it's even across your body (and snug, remember!), and record that number. If it isn't an exact, round to the closest even number. If it's equally in the middle, round down first.
The reason you want to round down is because, when you get a new bra, you want to have it fit while hooked on the very first set of hooks. Through use, the band will begin to loosen and therefore lack proper support, and when that happens, you want to be able to hook it closer and closer as needed.

*Note* If you have a bra that only fits tight enough when hooked on the furthest set of hooks, you need to go down a band size, or possibly even two or three or more. You should not be able to stretch the band out more than an inch. If you can fit a basketball between the band and your back, it is way too big for you. A good way to test this is to put the bra on backwards. If it can be stretched out further than an inch, go down band sizes until you find one that's snug.
Same goes for if the band rides upwards on your back, instead of laying even with the front. And if you go down in band size, you usually need to go up in cup size as well to compensate for the change.
Refer to the "Sister Sizes" chart.

Another symptom of a too-large band size, is keeping the straps tight on your body. The straps should only support about 10-20% of the weight of your breasts. The band should provide upwards of 80-90% of the support. Your straps should only bee tight enough to keep them from falling off your shoulders. If they're digging into the skin on your shoulder, you have them too tight.

Now, for some reason, most bra manufacturers in the United States seem to not want anyone to be above a D cup. While international sizing has a DD at most, you will see DDD and DDDD cups. Maybe even a DDDDD. Not only that, there is no standard for sizing bras, particularly bras over a D, so manufacturers can pretty much name them whatever they feel like, assuming they make bras large than a D in the first place. A large number of chains will only carry up to D cups, and anything beyond that, you usually have to check stores that cater to plus-sized women, or specialty lingerie stores. Or, if they do carry cups above D, they're not always very flattering (if you're going for that), or don't offer the kind of support and shape you are looking for in a bra. Thankfully, some manufacturers seem to be going the way of the UK, as the bra sizes there almost always follow the same standard, instead of the free-for-all in naming sizes that is from US brands. Unfortunately, they are highly outnumbered, so many NA woman take to buying bras from UK brands instead. (Which, if you poke around 'properly fitting bra communities', you'll see the mindset "Any bra worth a damn uses UK sizing". tongue3.gif

Now, a bust measurement. It is very possible to get a very inaccurate measurement as there is so much bad information out there, in addition to everyone's breasts being different. Basically, you do not want to measure them with a bra on, since you're most likely wearing a wrong size anyway, and therefore would be measuring the bra and not your breasts. Also, don't wear a shirt or tank top; You want nothing on your top-half. Follow the directions in this post to very closely find what your true size is. It can be spot on, or off a little, but it will put you in the correct area to start looking and trying on bras. Remember, the cup size is relative to the band size! Turns out what you believed were a B cup are actually an E? Don't go and dismiss it like many women do because of the preconceived notion of anything large than a D cup is Pamela Anderson boobs. It's not, because the cup size is relative to the band size, remember? Of course you do; You just finished eating a piece of paper that had that written down 10 times.

The bra size calculator on A Sophisticated Pair's website is an excellent as online calculators go. Use it as a tool to find your proper size. As far as I'm concerned, this is the only calculator you should ever use should you choose to use one. It is the only one out of nearly two dozen calculators that told me I was anywhere near my actual size, and my experience echos a ton of ladies in the 'properly fitting bra communities'. But, nothing can compare from going into a store (or ordering online) and trying on sizes until you find the one that doesn't fit "good", or "ok", or "the best so far", or "pretty good", but one that fits AMAZINGLY.

Websites you should check out:
*Note, pictures of women in bras grace most of these pages. Some sections may have illustrations of bare chests or actual photos. The subreddit and quiz will have them marked.
Bra Size Troubleshooting:

Problem: The underwire digs into my breasts.
Solution: Go up a cup size.

Problem: I have to have the bra straps on the shortest length possible.
Solution: Go down a band size.

Problem: My breast tissue spills over the top/sides of my bra like a muffin top.
Solution: Go up a cup size.

Problem: The skin under the band is sore and red.
Solution: Go up a band size.

Problem: The bra digs into my armpit.
Solution: Go up a cup size, possibly band size as well depending.

Problem: I have to hook my new bra on the furthest set of hooks.
Solution: Go down a band size.

Problem: The bra cups puff out and pucker.
Solution: Go down a cup size.

Problem: The back band rides up my back.
Solution: Go down a band size.

Problem: The bra cups are wrinkly.
Solution: Go down a cup size.

Problem: My bra straps keep sliding off.
Solution: Go down a band size, or try a different style of bra.

Problem: My bra goes up when I raise my arms.
Solution: Go down a band size.

And remember!

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#2 Old 11-26-2012, 03:26 PM
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Examples of women in ill-fitting bras. If your bra looks like any of these on you, chances are you are wearing the wrong size. Warning: Contains pictures of women in bras. tongue3.gifWarning: Covered bewbs! (Click to show)




More examples of ill-fitting bras:

And a video showing how a proper fitting bra should and should not look:

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#3 Old 11-26-2012, 03:32 PM
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This should be stickied :-D

"You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”
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#4 Old 11-26-2012, 05:57 PM
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Most lingerie stores will measure you properly and suggest bras that fit your size well. Believe me, I did it to hundreds of women when I worked at Victoria Secret and Nordstroms.

You are right about how many women are wearing the wrong size, almost all the people I measured were choosing the wrong size.
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#5 Old 11-26-2012, 06:03 PM
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What a great resource! I was actually measured at a department store a few years ago, so I'm pretty sure I'm wearing the correct size (but what a weird experience!!! laugh.gif).

It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities. ~A. Dumbledore
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#6 Old 11-26-2012, 11:01 PM
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Thanks, PuppetMaster.

Anytime I think I'm perfect, I remember that my cousin lives on an island, and I've never walked over to visit her.
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#7 Old 11-28-2012, 02:40 AM
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Ha ha, this took me back to the time I bought my first bra.


My mum MADE the woman measure me and I've been harassing sales staff ever since! :P Though there was one girl who could pick my size, just by looking at me. (She still measured, as she was professional).

This is a great resource. Thanks!

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#8 Old 11-28-2012, 05:04 AM
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So apparently I'm wearing the wrong size. I don't remember last time I was measured by a sales person, so I just did it myself. I currently wear a 36B - apparently I should be wearing a 32D! Yikes! :S
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#9 Old 11-28-2012, 09:39 AM
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i remember when our teacher measured us in high school (nothing creepy) and half the class wore the wrong size. i should measure myself again; it's been a while
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#10 Old 11-28-2012, 01:13 PM
Not such a Beginner ;)
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I can only find the metal tape measure, so I have to wait. tongue3.gif
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#11 Old 11-28-2012, 04:01 PM
Arrrg! Me mateys.
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grin.gif I'm glad this is helpful! smiley.gif

Another thing, Victoria's Secret in general is notoriously known for mis-sizing. They're definitely not the only one, not at all, but they're probably the largest bra presence in the US, so they hold a lot of power:

Edit: Another note, it seems the online Macy's calculator is actually good! http://social.macys.com/fitmatters/#/brasquiz

Also: Me and My Mythical Bra Size

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#12 Old 12-08-2012, 03:17 AM
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I appreciate this post. It sure was a helpful guide about bras.  many thanks hamster.gif

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#13 Old 05-09-2013, 06:11 PM
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according to my own measurements I am a 30D, not a 34C. But I feel that my bra strap is quite tight around my underbust and shaving off 4 inches would really cut into me. :(

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#14 Old 05-09-2013, 07:58 PM
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When I got my first bra my mom just took one look at me and grabbed one.... ended up fitting perfectly. grin.gif


I tried using a measuring calculator once when I was young, and it made no sense. They wanted to add 4 inches to your measurement under the bust. Yeah... I don't like my boobs falling out from underneath my bra. So I've always gone with what was comfortable. Go with the under the bust measurement without adding anything, then subtracting that from the bust size to get the cup size. I've found that it works pretty well in general, although every once in a while there will be a bra that fits a little weird but I blame the bra/brand for that, not the measurement. I do use a sister size though. Up in the band size and down in the cup as it's easier to find and it's still comfortable. Maybe that's why I have to adjust the straps to the shortest length lol.

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#15 Old 08-04-2013, 06:48 PM
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Wow, I've always believed I was a 34A.  Now I guess I'm a 32D.  That's a major difference.

I need to test this.

Not all who wander are lost.

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#16 Old 08-04-2013, 07:15 PM
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I am a 32 D ! WOW !!!! smiley.gif
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#17 Old 08-22-2013, 09:19 AM
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Hello,than i think i have the wrong size. its a little confusing!

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#18 Old 08-22-2013, 07:03 PM
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When I measure under my breasts it's 38". That's where the strap goes. 
When I measure a 38" bra strap, to the LAST hook, it measures more like 36"

My bra according to the charts is 38 B. But a 38 is way tight!


What's up with that?

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
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#19 Old 08-28-2013, 11:46 PM
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*head exploding* thanks for this! I have been wearing the wrong size. The lady at Victoria secret measured me and told me I was a 36C five years ago. According to these measurements I'm a 32DD :/
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#20 Old 09-11-2013, 12:47 AM
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I get myself regularly sized because I've changed bra sizes a couple of time.  Right now I'm a 28FF.  Ugh.

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#21 Old 11-20-2013, 09:44 AM
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I was hoping that the Macy's calculator would tell me something I didn't know. I've always felt my bra size was wrong since it never seems to fit well. I'm halfway between a 32A and a 32B (which the calculator came back as a 32B). If I wear the A cup I get the double boob thing going on but the B cup means I don't quite fit the full cup. I always go with the B cup but do have A cups in my collection.

Also side note to add. What's with A and B cups always coming with excessive padding? I know I'm small but I'm not ashamed. I like how lightly padded bras look on my figure! But I think I'm in the minority. Lol
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#22 Old 11-20-2013, 10:19 AM
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Very useful, thank you. I wore nursing bras for years (nursed two kids to natural duration which for some kids is a lot longer than you might think...) and I was so looking forward to having proper (pretty) bras again - but having read this I'm not convinced that the ones I've got now are quite right. I shall have to dig out a tapemeasure!

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#23 Old 11-20-2013, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Aniela View Post

I was hoping that the Macy's calculator would tell me something I didn't know. I've always felt my bra size was wrong since it never seems to fit well. I'm halfway between a 32A and a 32B (which the calculator came back as a 32B). If I wear the A cup I get the double boob thing going on but the B cup means I don't quite fit the full cup. I always go with the B cup but do have A cups in my collection.


I also get the double boob thing! And I've read time and again that it's only because I don't have the right size bra, but if I go any bigger, I don't come near filling the whole cup. I absolutely hate it. It's the one things on my body I absolutely hate. So I'm looking into a place that does liposuction and other fat/skin treatments for a free consultation.  Whenever I think about it, I just want to cry. How do you cope?

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#24 Old 11-20-2013, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by azerea_02 View Post

How do you cope?

I go with the size I'm closest to and have the other size as backup for weight fluctuations. Biggest thing about the bigger size is I need to be careful about the accidental flash. I have gotten in the habit of wearing higher necklines and sort of holding my neckline when I lean over to pick something up.
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