Last month, I announced the new b.SUPPORT series.
So this month I figured it only made sense to start at square one, the basics, and talk about how to measure your bra size. A bra is the foundation piece to any outfit, so it’s important to get it right. As with anything, without a proper foundation, nothing else matters.
Of course, for us larger chested gals, this is a task that is easier said than done. I remember back in the day, when there weren’t really any options outside of Victoria’s Secret, or a bra past size DD. So, you either listened to the sales girls and went up 5 sizes in a band (Side note- you should never ever do this!)…orrrrr you finagled and haphazardly squashed everything into a bra, and then proceeded to walk around with your arms crossed at all times because you felt so uncomfortable (This makes me cringe just thinking about it!). As you can guess, or know from experience, both were winning options. NOT.
It wasn’t until post-college, when I got a job in a specialty bra store, that I realized there were actually bras bigger than DD, and even more fascinating, companies that specifically specialized in making bras for larger chested women. My mind was blown. What was this world of proper fitting bras and where had it been all my life?! And don’t even get me started on the first time I actually put on a bra that fit me correctly. At 22-years-old I felt like I could finally quote Shania Twain and mean it, “Man, I feel like a woman!”.
While I abhorred that job because I was treated miserably by the owner, I’ll always be grateful for it because it made such a difference in my life, as well as allowing me to make a difference in other’s. Throughout my time working at that store, I was able to help hundreds of women experience that same life-changing feeling of finally putting on a proper fitting bra for the first time. Women would breakdown in tears, hugging me and thanking me for making such an impact on their lives. What I thought would just be a job taking a few measurements and pulling some bras, turned into me helping so many women make a positive change, which is something I have never forgotten. It is a true testament to the impact a proper fitting bra can make for a woman’s self-esteem, and that memory has been a driving force as to why I wanted to start this B.SUPPORT series in the first place.
Of course, working at a bra store, also allowed me to pick up a thing or two about different bra brands (which I’ll be sharing more about next month) as well as how to measure your bra size correctly and how to find a proper fitting bra, skills I found useless and at one point struggled to hide on my resume, but now am so happy to have so I can share the knowledge with you. So without further ado, let’s help you find the right bra size and B(e) supported (See what I did there?!) properly.
P.S. I should mention that, even though this series is geared towards my gals with bigger boobs, this bra fit guide works for any woman who is trying to figure out her proper bra size.
YOU WILL NEED…
A TAPE MEASURE
A NON-PADDED BRA
Wrap the tape measure tightly and evenly around your rib cage, just below your bust line, keeping the tape measure parallel to the ground. In other words, basically along the bottom of your bra, or where the bottom of your bra should be. I find it best to wrap the tape measure around my back towards the front, meeting right in the center of my breasts (this is especially helpful if you’re measuring yourself). The number you get is your band number. FYI, if you’re in between sizes, round to the nearest whole number. For example, I measure 31” so I always round up to 32”, but if you’re 30.5”, I’d recommend going down to a 30”.
bust measurement - underbust measurement = cup size
a few questions To Ask while Trying on Bras:
*Is the band parallel and even around your rib cage?
*Is the band tightest on the last hook? (This is important as the band will stretch over time.)
*Does the center of the bra lie firmly flat on your chest between your breasts?
*Do your breasts fill the cups with nothing spilling out, or is the fabric gaping?
*Are the straps firmly centered on your shoulders, or are they falling down or digging into your skin?
If you answered “No.” to any of those questions, it means you don’t have a proper fitting bra, so you’ll need to continue trying and testing various sizes out. If you answered “Yes.” to all of the questions, move on to a few additional fit tests (below) to help you confirm that you have the correct bra size.
If the cups are gaping //
Your bra is too big. Go down a cup size.
If the cups have a muffin top //
Your bra is too small. Go up a cup size.
If the straps are digging into shoulders //
Your straps are too tight. Try loosening them slightly and if that doesn’t help, go up a cup size. You could also be compensating for a lack of support from a stretched out band, so tight straps could be a sign that you need a new bra.
If wires are poking //
Your bra is old and worn out and it’s time for a new one. Or your bra is too small. Go up a cup size first, and if that doesn’t fix things, go up a band size, too.
If the center of the bra is gaping out //
If the center of your bra is bending over, you need to go down a band size. If it’s gaping and not lying flat on your chest, you need to go up a cup size.
If the straps are falling down //
Your band is too big and you need to size down, or your bra is stretched too much and lost its elasticity so it’s time for a new one. If every other part of the bra fits well, it could also be the style of bra. Try something like a racerback style and see if the fit accommodates your shoulder style better.
If the band is falling down //
Your straps are too tight or the band is too big. Try loosening the straps first and if that doesn’t help, go down a band size.
Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below, or, if you prefer to ask in confidence, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And to get naked. J/K. J/K. But you will need to take your top off. Feel free to leave your (non-padded) bra on, but for the most accurate measurements, I’d suggest letting the girls go free. I’d also recommend asking a partner, or someone you’re comfortable with, to help with the band measurement, not because you can’t do it on your own, but because it does make it easier + faster to get the best measurement possible.
DID YOU KNOW…
In bra measurements, the number indicates the band size and the letter is the cup size.
Measure evenly across your bust (the widest point of your breasts), this time making sure to not pull too tightly. Round the measurement to the nearest whole number. Then, subtract your underbust number/band size (aka what you measured for first) from your bust number. The difference will equal your cup size. If the difference is only an inch, then that equates into an A cup. For every additional inch in difference, it’s another cup size up. Check out the sizing chart below.
Once you have those measurements down,
you can start trying on bras. It’s important to keep in mind that different brands and different styles will, obviously, fit differently. You may be your accurate size in one brand, but have to go up a cup size in another and down a band size in a separate brand. The key is to just try on a variety of brands, styles and fits to familiarize yourself and find what works best and is most comfortable for you. I’ll dive into further details on specific brands and styles in next month’s post, as well as some of my recommendations, but for this month I really just want you to focus on finding your proper fit.
THE BEND TEST //
Bend over, then stand back up. If you’re bra stayed in place, and nothing spilled out, straps didn't fall, etc, then you have the right size.
THE ARM LIFT TEST //
Raise your arms. Does everything stay in place? Good, because then you have the right fitting bra. If not, well, I think you know the answer.
THE DANCE TEST //
Yup, you have permission to dance in your bra. Again, if your bra and breasts stay in place while you’re moving, bending and stretching, then you know you have the right fit.
THE TWO-FINGER TEST //
To know if you have proper fitting straps or not, try placing two fingers under the straps. You want them to fit securely, so, if they don’t, the straps are either too tight or too loose.
THE REST TEST //
Place your arms by your sides and stand sideway. Your breasts should rest about halfway between your shoulders and elbows. If they don’t, you’ll need to either tighten the straps, or go down a band size.
THE T-SHIRT TEST //
Last but not least, put on a form fitting t-shirt to ensure that everything is smooth and seamless.