Most women walk out of the house wearing at least two things every day: underwear and a bra. Now our underwear usually always fits...but what about our bra? It's reported that 85% of us wear the wrong size bra, which simply doesn't make sense when it's the foundation of our upper torso. Everything we wear on top depends on it, and in many cases the comfort of our back, shoulders and chest does as well.
As I've written in my book, you need to get a bra tune up every six months and even sooner if you've had any change of hormone (puberty, pregnancy, nursing, menopause or other) or a weight fluctuation of plus or minus 10 percent.
So why do we skip these bra checkups? Honestly, a lot of women would probably rather get their tires rotated (which also should happen every 6 months) than go get half naked before a stranger in the lingerie department, hand over her boobs and say, 'Help!' It's arguably a very intimate part of our body that we wish to handle ourselves, and in doing so, we often leave it last on our to-do list--if we even get to it.
Another complaint I hear, is that even if you work up the courage to go see a bra expert, there can be a lack of consistency in the advice offered. A friend says one fitter told her she was a certain size, and the next time she went to the SAME store, someone else measured her two sizes differently! This process can be frustrating especially when you are trying to do the right thing.
The below is an attempt to end all that and give you the tools you need to measure yourself accurately at home.
- measuring tape
- standing mirror
- bra without padding
- pad and pencil to take notes
5 Steps to Finding Your Size:
1. The Formula: BUST -- BAND = CUP
2. To get your BUST measurement, wear one of your bras preferably without padding (though not a sports bra) as we really want your chest in as natural a state as possible in terms of volume. Wearing only this bra with the measuring tape parallel to the ground, measure around the fullest part of your chest: it doesn't need to be super tight. My measurement is 33 inches. If you happen to be in-between numbers, round to the nearest whole number: e.g., 33.6 would be rounded to 34. *For demo purposes above, I am pictured wearing a thin shirt.
3. To get your BAND measurement, drop the measuring tape to just under your bust, where the breast tissue connects to the rib cage. If your bra has an underwire, it's right where the underwire is resting. Keeping the measuring tape parallel to the ground and pulling the tape taut, make note of the measurement. Round up any measurements to the nearest whole number that is even, as band measurements in bras are always even: e.g., 32, 34, 36, 38, etc. Mine is 30 inches.
4. Following the formula, make your calculation.
Here's mine: BUST 33 inches -- BAND 30 inches = CUP 3 inches
5. Now to find your cup letter: for every inch difference you have, that equals to one cup size. So one inch equals an "A" cup and so on and so forth. Refer to the list below to find your cup size.
0 - .5" - AA cup
1" - A cup
2" - B cup
3" - C cup
4" - D cup
5" - DD or E cup
6" - DDD or F cup
7" - G cup
8" - H cup
9" - I cup
10" - J cup
Now put your BAND and CUP size together and your have your BRA SIZE! I am a 30C.
This measurement will at the very least give you a starting place, so that the next time you enter a shop, store or order online, you're armed with a measurement and a place on the rack to go: from there you can work up and down in sizes depending on how things fit. It's important to note that we are all made differently, uniquely and beautifully and often times even our breasts are asymmetrical too.
- going down a band and up a cup size
- going up a band and down a cup size
- Looking in the mirror, your bra should lift and center you, bringing everything front and center.
- The cups should contain you. Your breast flesh shouldn't be spilling out the top or squeezing out the sides.
- Your straps should neither be slipping off your shoulders nor digging into your flesh.
- The band should be parallel to the floor, not riding high or sinking down too low.
- The piece of fabric that connects the two cups on your chest called the "gore" should lie flat on your body and not be suspended in the air.
The Biggest Misconception of Them All:
A lot of people think the straps do all of the work, but actually it's the band that does the heavy "lifting" and supporting of a bra, and we generally have a tendency to wear our bands way too loosely. Why? Because we think if our band is too tight, it will create the dreaded back fat. Even I subscribed to this theory. But get this: if your band is loose, it will ride up your back and this will in fact, create even MORE back fat than you ever wished for, not to mention leave your bust lacking support! A properly and tightly fitting band is the secret to a great bra fit, and when it stays in place, parallel to the ground and in the middle of the back it actually smoothes out your back. Who knew?