How to Measure

Seeing as how there is an abysmal amount of women wearing the wrong bra size (approximately eighty percent!!), I think a proper fitting lesson is long overdue. If, like me, you are not near a lingerie boutique that will fit you properly (but instead  crams you into whatever size they carry in order to make a sale), or live in an area where “uncommon sizes” are hard to come by, and spend hours scouring websites like Bratabase and other lingerie blogs in order to get fit advice, you have come to the right place. Obviously, nothing can take the place of a proper fitting by an experienced  fitter. However, if you do not have access to such a luxury, the best thing you can do is take a soft measuring tape and measure yourself for a starting point size. It’s also best to have a friend or someone you’re comfortable with measure you, as I find measuring yourself sometimes isn’t always as accurate as it could be. Removing your bra will give you the best results, because wearing a bra can skew the measurement.

  1. To begin, you want to get your band measurement. To do this, take the measuring tape and wrap it snugly around your ribcage, just under your breasts, where the band will go. Pull tightly, but not so much that you can’t breathe. Do not exhale or inhale, stand normally, and be sure to check that the tape measure is parallel to the floor (not slanted upwards or downwards, as this will skew the measurement). You want this measurement to be as accurate as possible, as the band provides between eighty and ninety percent of the support of the bra (not the straps!!). If you get an odd number, like 29, this means that you can try both a 30 band and a 28 band, and choose which tightness you prefer. Record this measurement.  And whatever you do, never add 4-5 inches. Ever. Just don’t do it. It’s wrong, it’s bad, it’s the biggest shame to ever affect lingerie. You will never get the correct measurement if you add extra inches to any of your measurements. This medieval technique was used in a dark, sepia-tinted time when Lycra hadn’t been invent yet. It’s that old. And now that bras have proper stretch to them, there’s no need to add extra inches. Ever.
  2. Next, you want your bust measurement. Leaning forward (so that your breast tissue all comes forward) gently wrap the tape measurer around the fullest point of your bust. Don’t pull tightly; you don’t want the measurement to be smaller than it should be, because you’ll just end up in a smaller cup size than what you need. Record this measurement.
  3. Next, you want the difference between your band measurement and bust measurement. To get this, take the bust measurement and subtract it from the band measurement. The difference between these two numbers indicates the cup size starting point for you. Let’s say your ribcage measurement was 32 inches, and your bust measurement was 39 inches. The difference between these two numbers is seven inches. The general rule for cup sizing (using UK cup sizing) is that for every inch, you go up a cup size.
  4.  Now that you have these numbers in front of you, the fun part comes- calculating your size. The band measurement – a 32 in this case – indicates the band size you should be wearing.  Take that band size and pair it with the cup size. So, the bust-band difference was 7 inches, and for each inch, you go up a cup size. UK sizing goes A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K… and so on. This puts our imaginary fitee at a 32F. For another example, let’s say our imaginary fitee measures at 33 inches around her ribcage and 37 inches around her bust. With four inches of difference, this puts her at either a 34D, or a 32DD, depending on how tight she prefers her band.

Hopefully, you’ve read through this, measured yourself, and come out with something that closely resembles a bra size. However, this is just the beginning. You’re going to discover on your magical bra journey that different bras will fit you…well, differently. You’ll also learn that everybody’s breasts are different, which is why what worked for someone else may not work for you. As well, a lot of bra fitting is more than just numbers; it’s trial and error. You’re going to have to try a few styles in a few different sizes to find what works for you, and for your body. But what’s important right now is that you have a starting point size, the very first step in the journey of finding The Perfect Bra(s).

I hope this post was helpful, and please leave comments/questions/concerns below!

7 thoughts on “How to Measure

  1. my back is 29 and my bust 41.5 i wear in panache sports bra 30H i think iam 30HH but because i like all the cleo range i should buy 32H what do you think?

      1. thanks i have both maddies the red from bravissimo and the candy pink and i didnt find any differents between them they fits me the same both ,i have the neve too and its very good bra,

  2. After wearing 36Cs in bras from places like Target, after ordering a bullet bra from Secrets in Lace and finding that the 36C was something like 4″ too large for me, I began to peruse information on sizing of bras and found your site! I have a 28″ under bust, and a 36″ bust measurement which I believe would put me in a 28FF? I did notice that you have a 26″ ribcage and go with 28 bands though, so I’m wondering if I should start with a 30F instead? Thanks! It all seems so overwhelming when all bras seem to be sized differently haha

    1. Hey there! First of all, welcome!! So I take a 28 in some brands mostly because some brands run quite small in the band (ie Ewa Michalak, Cleo by Panache). As well, for a lot of companies, if they made 26 bands, I would definitely order those. It really is personal preference for bands. You might have a bonier rib cage and prefer looser bands, or may find snug bands more comfortable. My recommendation is to find out which brands run small or loose in the band and then go from there. So for a Cleo bra, you might find a 30 more comfortable but for Freya, you may find a 28 to be the best fit. Order a wide range of sizes (28FF, 30F, and maybe even 28F and 30Es or 28G/30FF) in a wide range of styles to get the best fit. Return what doesn’t fit and keep what does 🙂 It’s definitely overwhelming to start with, but it’s a trial and error process and you’ll quickly learn what does and doesn’t work for you. Let me know if you have any other questions 😀

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