Measure for a Bra – The A B Cs of Finding a Bra That Fits!

Many women are wearing the wrong size bra, wrong style bra, or, at the very least, wearing the right size bra incorrectly. You'll know if you're one of them if you find yourself constantly readjusting, tugging to pull it down, bulging over the top or at sides, picking up fallen straps, and/or finding you can't wait to take it off!

When you're wearing the right bra and wearing it correctly, you'll find all of the above issues go away. Not only will the bra feel good, it will make your figure look better and will provide a more polished look.

First, you need to know your size. If you cannot have a professional fitting, measure yourself or have someone you feel comfortable with measure you.

Use a soft flexible cloth tape measure. All measurements should be done snuggly, but not tight.

To calculate band size: Measure around the ribcage immediately below the bust. Some say to add 4 inches to that number if even and 5 inches if odd, and that will be your band size. However, I don't find that to be accurate. If you have trouble with those calculations, a more accurate calculation for band size may be found below:

Measurement Band Size
27" to 29" 32
29" to 32" 34
33" to 34" 36
35" to 38" 38
39" to 41" 40
42" 42
43" to 45" 44
46" to 47" 46
48" to 49" 48

To calculate cup size: Measure around fullest part of bust. Subtract this number from the band size number above. Each inch denotes a cup size. For example, if your band size is 34" and this measurement is 37", you would wear a 34"C. If the difference is less than an inch, chances are an AA cup will provide the best fit.

Difference Cup Size
Less than 1" AA
1" A
2" B
3" C
4" D
5" DD or E*

*Will vary by manufacturer.

Don't be surprised if the size you come up with is much different than what you're used to wearing. It most likely will be. And, remember, cup sizes will vary depending on the band size. The cups of a 34C are smaller than those of a 36C. The cups of a 34C will be closer in size to a 36B as well as a 32D.

If you're between sizes and/or finding that the size you've calculated isn't fitting right (after trying several manufacturers), try on other sizes in that cup range. If you measured as a 36C, try a 38B and a 34D.

Always try a bra on before buying (unless the store accepts returns). You will find some variances between makers and different styles will fit differently. Make sure to put your shirt or dress on over it to see how it looks under clothing. A form-fitting t-shirt is perfect for this fit test.

Look for a bra with at least three clasp adjustments. Ideally, when you first buy it, it should fit properly on a middle setting in order to provide room for monthly fluctuations and adjustment down the road as the bra stretches and wears. If not the middle setting, it should fit best on the loosest setting so can you can adjust as it stretches.

Putting on the bra:
When putting on a bra, start by putting it around waist and fastening in back. Bend over at the waist and slip arms into straps, allowing the breasts to naturally fall into the cups. Manually adjust as needed, so that the cups envelop and encase the breasts.

Adjust the straps, but don't rely on them to do the heavy lifting. When you're wearing the right bra, the band and cups will provide the proper support and lift.

To further test the fit:

  • Reach your arms above your head…the bra should not hike up. If it moves up, try a smaller band size.
  • Bend over…you should not fall out.
  • Move your arms around…the bra should move with you and allow you to move while feeling supported.
  • The band of the bra should be level all the way around and parallel to the floor.
  • Look for a smooth fit…the cups should not be "gapping" or pucker. If they do, try a smaller cup.
  • You should be kept within the cups and not spilling over the tops, or bulging at the sides, creating the dreaded lumpy look. If your cups runneth over, try a larger cup or one with more coverage.
  • If underwire, the wire should cradle your breasts and lay flat against your breastbone, not poke into your underarms. If the wires dig into you, try a bigger cup size.
  • If the bra has a center panel, it should rest flat on your breast bone (in between your breasts).

If you find a brand and style that fits you perfectly (which won't be as hard once you know your size), consider buying more than one.

To extend the life of your bras and retain their proper shape, always use a lingerie bag when washing your bras and hang each bra to dry.

Replace your bras after year of continued wear. Measure again before purchasing another bra as your size can and will change due to fluctuations in weight and body structure.

If looking for international sizes, such as British / Europe / UK / GB, German, Italian, Australia, France as compared to US bra sizes, be sure to also see:
Charts for United States and International Bra Sizes

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