BRA SIZING AND FITTING FOR THE BEST FIT
Most women love pretty lingerie, and while beautifully made bras and panties might be part of someone’s fashion statement, the bra is meant to provide support and to create an enhanced overall profile. This means that choosing the best bra size for the individual form is vitally important, and even more significant than selecting one simply because it is pretty, elegant, or made by a favorite designer.
So, how do you fit yourself for the appropriate bra? There are many pieces in a modern bra, with some designs using up to forty independent pieces to create them. There is also a large number of styles, such as a push-up, racer back, strapless or shelf bra, and not all will work for every woman’s figure. If you are unable to try a bra on in person, which is the case for most women who shop online, you will need to first identify those styles of bra that work best for your figure. You can then head to choosing the appropriate size.
Sizing can also vary according to the manufacturer as well, and as bras head into the 40-inch band or the D-cup "plus size" category the sizing gets even more complex. Fortunately, there are some simple facts that can help every woman of every size to understand which bras will fit them the best and give them the look that they want.
It all begins with a few measurements, and these are:
The Band Measurement: This is the numeric part of any bra size such as 34, 36, 42, etc. It is taken with the use of a standard measuring tape and requires the individual to wear their most comfortable bra, expel their breath, and hold the measuring tape firmly around the region directly under the bust. The tape must be parallel with the floor, and many women will use a mirror in order to ensure that they are holding the tape properly. This measurement should be rounded to the closest whole inch using standard rounding procedures, but the numbers on band sizes are even and this means that someone who has a 31" measurement would have to round up or down accordingly to a 30 or a 32 inch band. Most bra experts would suggest the 32" band as the most likely to feel comfortable in such a case.
The Cup Measurement: This determines the alphabetical cup size worn, such as A, B, DD, etc. It is taken using a standard measuring tape and requires the individual to wear their most comfortable bra, and to stand with their arms at their side. They must then use the tape to measure around the body at the fullest area of the bust and to allow the tape to just touch, without tugging or pulling, to read the measurement. Rounding up or down is going to again be required, and the rules above would apply. The individual will then subtract their band size from their bust size to determine the most appropriate cup measurement. For example, if we use the example of the 32-inch band size above, with a bust measurement of 36 inches as well, the individual would usually require a D-cup bra.
There are, however, many situations in which this system for measurement might not provide the best fit. Additionally, there are usually some significant differences between cup size definitions in the United States and in Europe. For example, American manufacturers consider sizes above D to include DD, DDD, and so on. In European designs, however, the sizes above D might include E, F, G, etc.
What can someone do to overcome the confusion and choose the best bra? It helps to understand cup volume and how it can be used to select the right bra. For instance, the D-sized cup on a 30-inch bra will actually hold less volume than the 32D bra. This is because the cup size (as demonstrated in the measuring process above) looks at the amount of space that the breasts project from the body. With every inch of projection comes an increase in cup size, and this translates to some simple rules that can be used in the bra selection process, and they are:
- Going down in band size means that the individual will have to increase the cup size by a single measurement. For example, a 32C would transition to a 30D.
- Cup size increases are universal regardless of what labels are applied by the manufacturer. This means that a cup called DDD in the United States, or one called F in Europe have all been increased by the standard one-inch in circumference as they have gone up in size. What this means for the bra shopper is that knowing how many cup sizes larger they are over the standard D measurement will make it easy to count the sizes above D required for the best fit. For example, if your measurements imply that you are around three sizes higher than the D cup measurements then you can simply use this to select the right cup size in almost any bra.
This leads to the final factor - which is choosing the style and the size to work best for your figure. While there are many well-constructed bras by design houses such as Wacoal, Elle Macpherson, Chantelle, Huit and Calvin Klein, not all of their styles will work with every type of figure.
If we divide styles into those suitable for larger busts and those for smaller we could easily categorize the most appropriate styles for such body types. For example:
- Women who wear a 40D or larger would be best served by a balconette, full cup, minimizer, long line, and many wire-free or non-wired full cup bra styles as these are guaranteed to deliver the kind of comfort and control required for those dealing with more volume in their breasts.
- Women with a band size smaller than 40 and a cup size at C, or less, would be able to easily use the bandeau, bralette, convertible, demi, front closure, molded cups, plunge, racer back, strapless, and table bra styles without any concerns associated with support or spillage.
One final tip from many fashion and lingerie experts is to stick with a brand if it seems to deliver the shaping, support, and design that work best with your needs. For example, if you find that several Le Mystere or Felina bras are the ones you repeatedly use, then you may want to rely on these brands when first scouting out a few new bras.
Last Updated: March 17, 2010