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How to Find the Perfect Bra: Sizes, Types, and More
Much like jeans, bras can be tricky, but finding the right one does wonders. It can flatter our figure and give us a boost of confidence. On the other hand, a badly fitted bra can feel awkward and uncomfortable.
Most women are taught that bra sizes are straightforward: if you’ve got small boobies, then you’re probably an A cup, and the bigger your chest is, the farther up you go in cup size. The misconception has resulted in many women donning ill-fitting bras, causing mild discomfort at best and breast pain at worst.
The ideal bra is supportive and comfortable. It doesn’t leave your ribcage feeling sore or breasts in danger of spilling out. A great bra stays put, has the perfect amount of cup volume, and makes you feel comfortable to wear. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to find the right one. Read on to know how!
Am I Wearing the Wrong Bra Size?
First things first: how do you know if you’re wearing the right bra size?
As it turns out, there’s more to it than just picking a cup and number according to how large or small you deem your bust to be.
Imagine you’re going bra shopping, and you’ve always been used to wearing a 34B — not because you’ve measured your chest, but because you have medium-sized breasts. So you shuffle around the underwear section until you find a cute little 34B bra. You try it on, and after a few minor adjustments, you get it to fit okay. The cups feel a little too big, but it’s better than spilling. The band is just right — as long as it’s on the tightest setting, that is.
Spoiler alert: you might not be wearing the correct size.
The telltale signs are there: straps that keep falling off, an ill fit on the loosest hook, unclear bust measurement — the list goes on. The thing is, you’re not alone.
According to this Cosmopolitan article, many women believe themselves to be 34B’s. As it turns out, most of them are wearing the wrong size.
This is largely due to two things: the fact that bra sizes aren’t static, and that companies have varied sizing methods. There’s also a ton of little things that go into it, like breast shape, placement, projection, and so on. Two women could have the same bra size, yet fit the same bra differently.
So don’t sweat it. We’re here to make the process of finding the right supportive bra fun and easy. Plus, now you have an excuse to buy yourselves new bras. It’s a win-win!
How to Find the Perfect Bra
1. Calculate Your Bra Size
To measure bra size, first you’ll need a soft measuring tape and a mirror. It’s best to do this without a shirt or a bra on for accuracy. Here’s what you need to get measurements on:
Bust size is the fullest part of your breast, and this is how you get the most accurate cup measurement. Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your chest. Try to keep your body in a neutral position — neither breathe in nor out. This will ensure that your bra isn’t too tight or too loose. Take note of the measurement, because this will determine your cup size.
Band Size Measurement
Next, take the measuring tape and wrap it around the underside of your breasts, where your bra band usually sits. Again, keep your torso neutral and the tape snug but not too tight. Think of how you would like the band to fit your ribcage.
Often, people underestimate band size and tolerate a tight or larger band, but that can later on contribute to breast pain or your straps digging too harshly into your skin. The correct band size is integral to the right bra fit — in fact, it’s responsible for most of the support for your breasts. Not the cups or the straps. That’s why strapless bras work.
How to Compute for Your Bra Size
To get your cup size, simply subtract the band size from your bust size. For example, if your bust measures 34 inches and your band measures 30, that would be 34-30 = 4. The ratio is as follows:
- >1 inch = AA
- 1 in. = A
- 2 in. = B
- 3 in. = C
- 4 in. = D
- 5 in. = F
And so on. With a bust-to-band difference of 4 inches, that means your ideal bra size would be 30D.
This also means A-cups and D-cups aren’t determined by how large or small one’s breasts are, but how they’re positioned in conjunction with one’s torso. So if you’ve constantly thought you were an A-cup just because you have a modest chest, you might be surprised to find you could actually fit a C-cup size bra.
If this is how you’ve been measuring your bra size and find that you’re still wearing the wrong kind, then try a more detailed bra size calculator such as the one on A Bra That Fits. Their method is a lot more meticulous — it accounts for variations in breast shape, projection, your size when you lay flat, and so on.
2. Know Your Sister Size
Now that you know your bra size, it’s time to expand the family. We mentioned earlier that not all bras are made the same: you can have two bras with the exact same size but one with a full cup and another with a low-cut cup. (There are also padded bras, non-padded ones, push-up bras, sports bras, t-shirt bras, and so on, but we’ll get to that later.) Lingerie brands also have different sizing methods. A good practice is checking the bra fit guide for each brand.
But this inconsistency is why sister sizes are extremely helpful. If your true size doesn’t work, or is hard to find when you’re bra shopping (as is the case for the largest as well as the smallest size bras), your sister size might. To find the best bra in your sister size, simply go down a cup while increasing band size or vice versa.
Let’s take our earlier example. If 30D is your true bra size, then your sister sizes would be 32C, 34B, or 36A. Same goes for others: if you find that your regular 32A doesn’t properly cover your chest or slipping straps become an issue, try looking for a 30B, 28C, 26D, and so on.
Remember that cup sizes and band sizes can vary from brand to brand, so don’t get discouraged if something isn’t the perfect fit. What matters most when you’re bra fitting is finding a comfortable bra with the best support for any outfit.
3. Ask For A Professional Bra Fit
Sometimes, the best way to measure bra size is to have someone else do it for you. The next time you’re out shopping for a new bra, why not get a professional bra fitting session? It’s going to save you a lot of aimless wandering at the lingerie store, and might help if the brand has a different bra size chart.
4. Check Different Bra Styles
While we’re on the topic of bra fitting, it’s important to remember that there is no one right bra. Obviously, wearing the wrong bra size can make you feel uncomfortable; the straps could be in danger of falling any time, your boobs might spill out of no-coverage cups, or there might be an annoying, empty space between your breasts and the cups.
The great thing about having plenty of bra options is that the perfect fit can look different depending on what you need or prefer. For example, many women prefer wearing a t-shirt bra or full-coverage bras when they’re wearing thin clothing to avoid an obvious smooth line. A non-padded bra may be the preference for tighter fitting clothes or low-cut tops, while some may find a padded bra to have more support, or simply look better.
In the Cosmopolitan article we mentioned earlier, it became clear that the right bra size and bra style varies from person to person. Others find that the perfect bra size has extra room in between the cups and comfortable support, while others like to wear a flattering low-cup cut. These differences are only natural, because our bodies are different.
5. Know Your Breast Shape
Here’s the real kicker: knowing your band size and cup size might not even guarantee a perfect fit. We know, it’s tiring. Why can’t bras just magically fit our breasts all the time? In the same way one top will fit two people differently, so will the same bra size. In the world of clothing, there are two general shapes: shallow (which are more spread out over the torso) and projected (closer together and generally pointed outwards), although there are many breast shape variations.
Apart from having to measure bra size, band size, cup sizes, and so on, it’s helpful to know their shape to figure out the right style of bra to wear. There are ones with triangular cups, others with a wider bust, and padded ones.
You’ll hear a lot of talk about how there are certain shapes that flatter certain types the most, but in our opinion, you should wear what you feel the most confident and comfortable in! That’s the best part of having bodies that are completely unique!
6. Strap It In
Finally, take a look at your straps. Are they too loose or too tight? Either issue might be a symptom of an incorrect band size or ill-fitting cups. The correct bra size should have a supportive band and cups that fit snugly over your boobies — the straps are there as an added measure. However, if you’re already wearing the correct size and don’t feel that it’s the best fit, adjusting your straps might help.
To summarize, here are our main tips for finding the right size bra:
- Measure your bust and underbust in a neutral position
- Know the “sister” or equivalent sizes of your true size
- Ask professional assistance to account for differences in a brand’s bra size chart
- Try out different styles, cuts, and material
- Get to know your shape
- Adjust the straps
And that’s about it! We hope this article has been beneficial. Remember that your comfort and confidence is what matters at the end of the day, so don’t sacrifice them for ill-fitting garments. Finding the right-fitting bra can do wonders!
Got any tips and tricks of your own? Share them with us!
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.