Bra Sizing: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Anyone who has ever worn the wrong bra size or a bra that doesn't fit properly knows how much of a downer it can be. There's no laughing matter when it comes to large breasts and the accompanying breast pain and backaches. Finding and purchasing a set of underwear that is the right cut, fit, and size is the solution, but this is easier said than done.

The sizing of bras is notoriously inconsistent across lingerie lines; a bra labeled as a "C-cup" at one store may be labeled as a "D-cup" at another. It's best to know your bra size by taking bust measurements according to these easy measuring instructions because some bra sizes can expand and contract (especially in band size) over the course of a day or between washes. which will make sure that both the band and the cup fit you perfectly and can help you find the right amount of support for you.

The process of learning how to measure for a bra can be awkward, but having your measurements on hand will make shopping for a new bra a breeze, especially if you prefer to do your shopping online. All you need is a tape measure and a few minutes of your time to determine your correct bra size and you'll avoid a lot of frustration at the store. To top it all off, learning how to take a bust measurement will make it much easier to accommodate changes in your bust (due to weight gain or loss, hormonal changes, aging, pregnancy, and other factors).

Choosing a bra size shouldn't be a hunch. Sore, achy breasts from ill-fitting bras will be a thing of the past with this guide, as will the hassle of dealing with irregular bra cup sizes (even for sports bras).

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Here are some warning signs that you might not be wearing the correct bra size, as described by Sandi Simon, a fit consultant at Bra Smyth in New York City.

  • Cups with wrinkles
  • Sharp underwire protruding from the side of your bra
  • A group that plays atop a
  • Broken cup
  • Belts slipping
  • The push-up bra, or arm-lift bra,

Visit a professional bra fitter if you experience any of the aforementioned problems, or measure yourself at home using the guidelines provided. (But keep in mind that a variety of factors, including weight gain or loss, a new exercise routine, pregnancy, and dietary changes, can cause you to require a different bra size. )

Jason Lee

Take your measurements without a bra on or while wearing a non-padded bra, right under your bust, where a bra band would sit. It's important that the tape is even and secure. Numbers are rounded up to the nearest whole. If it's an even number, add 4 inches. Add 5 if it's an odd number. The final result of this equation is your band size. You would be a size 36 in the band if your waist measurement was 32 inches. With a waist measurement of 33 inches, a band size of 38 will fit you. )

Jason Lee

Measure around the fullest part of your chest (around the nipple) with the tape loosely wrapped. Numbers are rounded up to the nearest whole.

Yeji Kim

If you want to find your bra cup size, subtract your bust size from the band size you calculated in Step 1. In order to determine your bra size, you must know both your band and cup sizes. In this case, the difference between the bust (37 inches) and the waist (34 inches) is 3 inches. In other words, that's a 34C

Yeji Kim

If you find that you need to go down a cup size for comfort, you should go up a band size, and vice versa. If a 34C cup size is too large for you, try a 36B. Make sure you're not skipping a size by using this bra size chart, and keep in mind that your bra size may vary slightly from one brand or style of bra to another. Finding the right one may require some experimentation.

Getty Images/Toby Maudsley
  • To put on a bra, one must bend forward at the waist, slip it on, and then hook it. Your breasts will be fully contained in the cups if you do this.
  • Just tweak the sliders Bras should sit flat in the back and front.
  • Check to see if the bra is too big. Only one finger should fit underneath the band.
  • Replace frayed straps Put the band through its paces before you even think about shortening the straps.
  • Over the bra, wear a snug-fitting shirt. You are not wearing the right size bra if the cups pucker or your breasts protrude.
  • Try a lateral mirror selfie. Your bust line should fall somewhere between your shoulder blades and elbows. If you don't, try switching to a bra with more support and a better fit.
  • You should pick a bra that fits perfectly when fastened on the farthest hook. Make the band taut by working toward the tightest hook as the bra loosens over time.

Gaping cups are a sign that your bra is too big for your breasts and that you may need to go down a cup size. And if you're having leakage problems, it's probably because your bra is too small. ThirdLove co-founder and chief operating officer Ra'el Cohen recommends filling your cups to the brim without dripping.

Cohen offers two explanations for why women's bra straps keep slipping:

  1. When the bra is too big, the straps can become loose. If the straps are slipping even when you've tightened them to their maximum, you may need to go down a size.
  2. Time for a new bra if the elastic has stretched and loosened up after a long period of use.

To get the best, most flattering fit, Cohen advises women to replace their bras every six months to a year.

There is a wide variety of bras available to accommodate a variety of breast sizes, shapes, and symmetries. Only the right bra can bring out your best curves. Cohen suggests the best bras for six different types of breasts.

  • About 40 percent of women who use ThirdLove's Virtual Fitting Room describe themselves as having an asymmetrical breast shape, according to Cohen. She suggests a bra with removable inserts that can be used to accentuate your smaller breast.
  • More muscle and less tissue in wider breasts can lead to a gaping problem in bra cups. Because of this, Cohen advises women to wear bras in the shape of a t-shirt.
  • The East West bra size is characterized by wide, asymmetrical breasts with asymmetrical nipples that face both east and west. To get that cleavage in certain tops, a full-coverage bra can help lift and compress the breasts so they look more proportional.
  • Breasts that are "bell shaped" are smaller up top and larger down low. Overflow is a common problem in lower-coverage bra styles, such as balconette and demi, and is typically associated with women with larger cup sizes. Wearing a full-coverage bra with memory foam straps that are wide enough to support you without digging in is a better option.
  • Lax breast tissue and drooping nips characterize breasts in the relaxed state. If your breasts are longer and sag, you may want to try a balconette bra, which has a slightly shorter cup for more upper-cup fullness.
  • It's possible that any bra style will work for you, but if you want to try something new, try a wireless bra for days when you just need a little extra support, or a balconette bra for a more figure-hugging look.

The best way to determine your bra size is with a measuring tape, but you can also do it yourself at home if you don't have one. As outlined by ThirdLove, the process consists of just two basic steps:

  1. Use a power cord, rope, or string to make a set of measurements.
  2. Your bust and underbust sizes can be determined by laying it flat and using a rigid tape measure or ruler.

ThirdLove also provides a virtual Fitting Room, which employs real customer data and the knowledge of professional bra fitters in the event that you don't have access to the aforementioned options.

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