How to Measure for a Bra

bra size measuring

Most common measurement method for bra sizing

Proper bra measurement is crucial in ensuring that you have the best-fitting undergarments. Too many women spend money on purchasing well-fitting clothes but spend less attention and time on what they wear under them. Bras that are too small can cause back pains and shoulder aches, and bras that are too large will not provide enough support.

Measuring for Bra Size

There are a couple ways to measure your band size, but the most common is to measure under the bust to determine the band size, then to measure across the fullest part of the bust to calculate the cup size.

Measuring Under the Bust

Underbust +0: Place the measuring tape directly under your bust, parallel with the ground. Breathe normally, and measure after you’ve exhaled. Take your band size in inches, and round to the nearest even number. This is considered the most modern and effective way to measure for a well-fitting bra.

Determining Bra Cup Size

To measure your cup size, measure your bust at the fullest part of your bust, making sure that the measuring tape is parallel with the ground. Measuring your cup size is a little trickier because the size of your breasts can change depending on many factors, including bloating; pick a day where your they feel relatively true-to-size, or average out the measurements across different days.

Your cup size is proportional to band size, which means that your cup size is actually the difference (in inches) between your band size and the fullest part of your bust. 1” is an A cup, and each additional inch increases the cup size alphabetically.

Inch to Bra Cup Size Conversion

0 inch AA cup
1 inch A cup
2 inch B cup
3 inch C cup
4 inch D cup
5 inch DD cup
6 inch DDD cup, or F cup
7 inch G cup

Use the difference in inches between your band size and the fullest part of the bust.

Alternate Bra Measurement Method – Above the Bust

measure for bra size

Over-bust measurement method

Above the bust: Place the measuring tape directly over the bust (under the armpits). Breathe normally, and measure after you’ve exhaled. Take the measurement in inches, and round to the nearest even number. This method is used primarily by Victoria’s Secret. However, this method has been mentioned as a way to artificially add inches to the band size, compromising support. It has also been described as a way to “fit more women into fewer sizes.”

How to tell if It’s the Right Fit

Snug: the band should be snug, but not too tight. It is the band that mostly supports your breasts, not the straps. You should be able to put no more than 2 fingers under your band. If it’s too tight, go up one band size at a time; if too loose, go down.

Smooth: It should be lying straight across your back. If the bra is too small, it will squeeze the flesh on your back and front, making unsightly bulges. If your bra rides up, it’s too loose and you should go down a band size; if it cuts into your flesh, it’s too small and you should go up a band size.

bra size

Properly fitting bra

Cups should contain you: your breasts should not bulge outside your cups either in the front or to the side under your armpits. You can assess side coverage with the underwire in an underwire bra – it is correct if the end is pointing towards the middle of your armpit. If it’s too small, it will dig into your flesh and hurt, and you should size up a cup size.

Alignment:  The “gore” — the center of the bra, often where the underwires meet — should touch the sternum. When the gore is at the sternum, it makes for the best fit.

Sister Sizes

To correct for the variance in manufacturers’ sizing, “sister sizing” is a quick way to find a bra with a better fit. Sister sizes are the sizes that surround your current bra size.

To go down a sister size: reduce your band size by 2, but take your cup size up by one (e.g. 36C’s sister size is a 34D)

To go up a sister size: increase your band size by 2, but go down one cup size (e.g. 36C’s sister size is a 38B)

Outdated Measurement Method

If someone has ever told you to measure under your bust and then add four or five inches to get your band size, you may have been confused. This method was used in years past and is considered an outdated fitting method, leftover from a previous measurement system where your measurement from the fullest part of your bust correlated to your band size. Band sizes is now based solely on your underbust measurement.

Finding the Best Bra Fit

In sum, measuring for a well-fitting bra is not as difficult as it may seem, but the results will provide a lot more comfort to your everyday life. If ever in doubt, visit a bra measurement specialist to get yourself professionally fitted. Lingerie departments in most major department stores and specialty lingerie boutiques usually have a professional bra fitter on staff to assist you.

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