First of all, let's dispel some myths:
Myth #1: I got sized at Victoria's Secret, so I already know what my correct size is.
Victoria's Secret and most department stores measure you using an outdated system of measurement, where they go around some part of your body (it varies widely) and then do some crazy math like adding 4 inches to get your band size. When I was "fitted" at Victoria's Secret, they measured me over my shirt and over the bra I was wearing. The thought occurred to me: "If you're just taking a measurement over my current bra, aren't you just going to tell me what size that bra is?" Sure enough, that was usually the outcome. Other times they would just seem to make up a random size, usually either 34B, 34C, 36B, or 36C.
The reason that they use this strange system of +4 inches is because bras used to be made with less elastic materials. Since the bands and cups wouldn't stretch as much as they do today, they would just add inches. Victoria's Secret likes to put women into band sizes that are too big, with cups that are too small. Sure, that gives some awesome looking cleavage. But it also hurts like heck.
|None of these bras fit. Good job Victoria's Secret.|
Myth #2: Most women fall within the A-C cup range, and D cup or larger is freakishly huge or implant size.
Do you know what a 32FF looks like? Probably like a porn star, right?
|Properly fitted 32FF. Image from brabandproject.com|
OK so that's not freakishly huge. What about a 34G? That's gotta be like Courtney Stodden level implants, right?
|A properly fitted 34G. Image from brabandproject.com|
Alright so maybe now you're seeing that these "big" letters aren't actually freakish at all. They look pretty normal. Let's go the other way.
32C...that's like the Victoria's Secret Gold Standard, right? Cleavage everywhere!
|Properly fitted 32C. Image from brabandproject.com|
Myth #3: There is a standard looking "B" cup or "C" cup or even "D" cup
Completely remove from your head the idea that there is such a thing as a "B" cup sized chest. Cup size cannot be separated from band size. They are intertwined.
Example: Here is a 28D:
|Image from brabandproject.com|
|Image from brabandproject.com|
The band size affects the cup size. This is why a 28D looks completely different than a 34D. So stop looking at yourself as a "C" or a "D." The letter cannot and should not define how you approach your breasts.
Myth #4: Bras are just uncomfortable, whether properly sized or not.
My shoulders used to hurt every.single.day. By about 2:00pm. Burning, aching pain. I would rush home to take my bra off. When I'd arrive home, screaming cats or need to use the restroom be damned! I needed to take the bra off before I did anything else. And oh the relief! The sweet relief of taking off a bra.
Now that I've figured out my actual size, this is all a thing of the past. No more "I'm home, now get this damn thing off of me." I don't even notice that I'm wearing one. I actually slept in one accidentally the other night. That would have been unthinkable in my old bras.
How do I figure out my bra size?
You've got to measure yourself! The process seems daunting written out, but it takes all of about 5 minutes.
You'll need a soft tape measure. If you don't have one, grab some ribbon or string that isn't stretchy and a hard measuring tape or a yardstick (you can lay the string against the measuring tape to get the numbers in inches). You'll also want a piece of paper and pen to jot down your numbers. It's best to do this in front of a mirror.
1) Remove your shirt and your bra.
2) Measure your underbust with the tape measure (or ribbon or string) comfortably snug against your skin, being sure to keep it parallel to the ground (hence, the mirror). Check out this picture if you aren't sure where to place the tape measure for this or any other measuring step. Write down the number.
3) Measure your snug underbust. This means that you want to pull the tape measure as tight as possible. Like you are trying to break the tape Incredible Hulk style. Be sure it's parallel to the floor. Write down the number.
4) Measure your bust while standing. This means you are placing the tape measure comfortably around the largest part of your chest. Be sure to keep the tape measure parallel to the floor. Write down the number.
5) Measure your bust while leaning over. Your face will be looking at the floor and your back should be parallel to the ground. Keep that tape measure straight! Write down the number.
6) Measure your bust while lying down. Lay down with your back on the floor. Keep the tape measure straight, and write down the number.
Now that you've got your measurements, time for a little bit of math.
If a) your snug underbust was larger than 36 inches or b) your snug underbust was greater than 32 and the difference between any of your bust numbers and any of your underbust numbers is greater than or equal to 9 inches, these calculations are not going to be accurate. Head over to reddit.com/r/abrathatfits and make a post with your measurements and ask for more specific advice.
If you don't fit into either of those categories, keep going.
First, let's figure out the band size. Round your snug underbust to the nearest even whole number. If your number is small (30 or less), round up. If your number is large (36+) round down. If you're in the middle, go whichever way is closer. My snug underbust was 26.5 inches. So I round up to 28. Boom, that's my band size. Done.
Now, cup size. If there is a difference of larger than 2 inches between your standing bust and your leaning over bust, average those two numbers (add them up, divide by two) and use this number to find the cup size. If the difference between standing bust and leaning over bust is 2 inches or less, use the leaning bust for the next part.
My standing bust is 33 inches. My leaning is 35 inches. Since that's a difference of 2, I use the leaning bust to figure out my cup size.
Subtract your snug underbust from the number you just found (for me, my leaning bust). So I'm going to subtract 26.5 inches from 35 inches. That's a difference of 8.5 inches.
Figure out your size from this chart:
Obviously, I'm in between an FF and a G with my 8.5 inch difference. That's ok. I just had to keep it in mind when I went to the store. My final size comes out to 28FF/G.
So how did I arrive at 30F?
28 band sizes are practically impossible to find on the ground. I used sister sizing to go from a 28FF to a 30F. These sizes have the same cup volume. Basically, when you want to move up a band size, you need to move down a cup size to keep the same cup volume. It's possible to find 30F's in stores. Nordstrom is good. Dillards is good. Some specialty local boutiques will also have them.
Now that you've passed algeBRA, you need to go try bras on. Don't be discouraged if you can't find the precise fit right away. You may want to check out how to determine your breast shape, because shape definitely can affect fit! And of course, you need to know where you can go to buy a bra in your new size, because Victoria's Secret probably doesn't carry it!
Pleaseeee let me know in the comments if you try this out! I would LOVE to hear stories from your gals about your bra journeys! Thanks for reading!