My blog has and never will be about bra fitting. Numerous blogs and the Reddit subforum cover this topic extensively with much more enthusiasm than I could ever muster. However, after seeing a slew of misinformation and obnoxious judgement, I wanted to dust off all these half-written drafts and talk about sizing.
Now, I’m just going to come out and say it: just because you’ve read “A Bra That Fits,” it doesn’t make you an expert in bra fitting. Nor does this mean that you have the magical skills to look at a picture of someone, tell them that they are 100% wrong about their size, and a bra in [this size] will fix all of their problems. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Let me be clear: I think A Bra That Fits is a GREAT resource. It offers excellent information to people who have never really understood how bras should fit, but it is not the end-all be-all guide to bra fit. Your measurements may not correspond correctly with how brands are sizing their bras, or you may prefer a particular type of fit.
When it comes to bras, there is no standard across the industry. Yes, this is totally frustrating, so in my opinion, contacting a brand for their input on sizing is critical. I always prefer to purchase based off of a brand’s detailed size chart and adjusting from there. I know that this can be expensive and a huge pain in the ass especially if stores do not stock your size or preferred brands, but until the lingerie market gains some traction and people don’t freak out at paying more than $50 for a bra, that’s just the world we live in. And believe me, I hate dealing with international returns as much as the next person. Ideally, once you figure out your size, it should hold constant, but unfortunately, don’t hold your breath. Brands can and do adjust their fit over time. (I’m crying in a corner weeping over Bordelle’s latest fit.)
My underbust measurement is 32″/81.28cm. My full bust measurement is 36″/91.44cm. Most resources would have me at a 32D.
When I was looking to place an order with La Lilouche, I got into a discussion with Liya about what size I should take. At the time, I had purchased quite a few bras in the US tagged with 32D, so I was convinced that this would be the correct size. However, after we started talking, this was clearly turning out to be the wrong size for me in her brand. According to her measurement chart, I would be wearing a 36 band since my underbust measurement fell between 78-82cm. Using my calculated band size, I would find out my cup size by looking at the chart and finding my corresponding full bust measurement. Instead of the 32D that I had thought about purchasing, I was sized into a 36A.
Liya has worked for many designers including those on the high street before she launched her own gorgeous line. She informed me that the bra underbust/full bust measurements was typical, if not standard, for UK sized lingerie. Moreover, the band size did not correspond directly to the tape measurement.
This method of sizing is commonly referred to as the band + 4″ method, but IMO, it’s a lot more complicated than that (and honestly, gets more convoluted to the nth degree, especially if you have larger breasts). What actually IS the band size? Is it solely the underbust measurement? Or is it underbust +2″? No? +4″ or +5″? Or is band size determined using another method or a corresponding chart? For instance, what makes my underbust equivalent to a EU 75 band? Or a French 95? Google will bring up the most varied responses. If anything, there is no set definition, which you already knew. ;)
For this very reason, I ALWAYS recommend inquiring with the designer or brand for more information. For what it’s worth, I am convinced that most UK brands size their lingerie similarly to La Lilouche (or vice versa), which is why some British 32Ds appear extremely tiny: it’s because they are; they’re meant to fit an underbust of 26-28″, not 32″. For US or French brands, I’ve noticed that the band measurement usually corresponds more closely to the underbust measurement, but again, nothing is standard, so your mileage will vary! (womp womp)
So back to my 32D bras. This size was working for me in brands such as Chantelle, Victoria’s Secret, and Le Mystere, but I’ll be frank: I really, really, really dislike having a new bra that feels excruciatingly uncomfortable until I “break it in.” While a bra’s band should be firm (since it supports your breasts), it shouldn’t make you utterly miserable. I don’t like when my bra leaves deep imprints on my body, and there is no chance in hell that I will ever wear a bra that does that to me again.
General bra fitting guidelines recommend being able to stick no more than 1 finger under your band, but for me, this isn’t remotely enough. (That said, you shouldn’t be able to pull the bra band 10″ off your back.) I also dislike with the passion of a thousand suns a band that has been stretched out, especially on more delicate fabrics like silk and lace. Once you hit the point where your band is so strained that the fabrics can no longer recover or “bounce back,” you end up with a stretched out, misshapen band.
If you prefer a looser fit, go for it – you can always have the bra altered if the band is too big as you wear your bra over time. If you like a tighter fit, great! You know your body the best: wear what feels good on you and what makes you feel good.
Remember those 32D bras I purchased? They work, but I honestly find myself a lot more comfortable in a 34C. This is usually always the size I take in US/French brands. If the 34C fits a bit odd on me because of the bra style (plunge, balconette, etc.), I play with the sizing by sizing up or down in band/cup. Please don’t ever feel that there’s something wrong with your breasts – they are perfectly fine and awesome! Like jeans, not all styles work on every single body. Brands who can afford to do this usually offer multiple bra styles in one collection: long line, plunge, unlined, molded, etc. The same goes for things like knickers: tanga, thong, brief, high cut.
Hi, my name is Marionette Mew, and I wear a 32D, 34C, 34D, 36A, and 36C. Sizing is not constant, nor is it rigid. Try on bras, look for things that makes a bra supportive, and find out what works best for you. Also, please let the “80% of women wear the incorrect bra size” phrase die already. Thanks! ;)