Say whhhaaatt??? Gain a cup size overnight?
Yeah gurl. It?s true. I just bought a whole plethora of B-cup bras.
Did you get breast implants??!
Well, I figured out my proper bra size, that?s what happened!
Let me first address one big misconception here. A bra?s cup size ?letter? does NOT always correlate with breast volume. In other words, a B-cup is not necessarily bigger than an A-cup. For instance, a 30B cup is actually very similar to a 32A cup. Crazy, right??
If you have small boobs, you may have never thought you?d need a B or C-cup bra. But, chances are your current A-cup bras don?t fit well because they aren?t the right size for you.
Let me tell you a little more about what I?ve learned over the years.
We Got It All Wrong
Studies show that 85% of women wear the wrong bra size. How absurd is that??
Why does this happen?? Part of it has to do with the fact that we unknowingly let brands dictate our size.
Just because you try the smallest size a brand makes doesn?t mean that it?s your correct bra size. For example, I always assumed that I was a 32A simply because it was the smallest size I found in stores. And, of course, anything above size 32A was too big.
While I have experimented with size 32AA and 30A bras, they suffocated me and made me feel even flatter. So I always ended up back with the 32A.
It also doesn?t help that some brands only sell small sizes, like 32A, online (ahem?Victoria?s Secret). This led me to assume that this size was ?uncommon enough? as it is, and that I shouldn?t bother looking for anything more specialized.
What about bra fitters, you ask? Sadly, many retail store bra fitters don?t know what they?re doing. Or, they?re reps hired by brands, so it can be difficult to rely on them for unbiased advice.
Small Boob Struggles
While a size 32A bra does fit me in some brands (e.g. Calvin Klein, Natori), oftentimes I struggle with ill-fitting cups or a loose band. And it?s never consistent. Some 32A styles fit, but other styles don?t (even though it?s the same brand).
Even more frustrating is when I buy a bra one season, then I return a year later to repurchase it only to find that the same style doesn?t fit!! Every now and then I?ll find a great-fitting 32A. . . and be overjoyed that I had snagged the last one on the rack (you know the feeling). Yet, more often than not, I end up settling for a sub-par fit.
But what else is there to do??
A small gape in the cup? Oh I?ll just wear a tighter shirt.
Band too loose? Whatever, I?ll just have to tug it down all day.
This was my reality. And I accepted it. Until now.
Recently this all changed when I discovered the magic of ?sister sizes.?
Sister Sizes Explained
?Sister sizes? refers to bras that all share the same cup volume but have different band lengths. For instance, size 30B is a sister size of 32A. In fact, 28C is also a sister size of 32A. I never thought someone with my breast volume could fit into a C-cup. But that just exemplifies the vast misconceptions we have about what cup size means.
The other issue is that because we never see sizes like 28C and 30B in stores, many women don?t even know they exist. That was definitely my situation.
How to Find Your Sister Sizes
You should always have a list of two or three bra sizes that fit you when you go bra shopping. Every brand is different. Brands all use different fit models and design patterns, so it?s helpful to have backup sizes to try.
Tighter band sizes decrease the width and depth of the cup. So to find your sister sister size, remember this one little trick: up a band size, down a cup size (or vice versa).
For example: 28C = 30B = 32A = 34AA. Refer to this nifty chart:
Gain a Cup Size
This is very different from how I used to think about bra size. I used to think that being an A-cup was static. I would never be anything but an A or smaller (AA).
I thought that the only way I could achieve a better fit was to adjust the band, or try different brands/styles. But, as I mentioned before, this did not fix my problems.
When I tried a 32AA bra, it squished my breasts because I had too much breast volume for that size cup. And when I tried a 34A, the bra didn?t stay put because the band was far too big.
My problem with the 32A bras I was wearing was that the cups gaped. What I didn?t realize is that this happens because the 32 band is slightly too big. I thought that by trying a 30A I?d fix my problem, but this didn?t work because a 30A is actually more like a 32AA.
What I should have tried was a 30B, which is actually most similar in cup volume to a 32A. But because I had an aversion to trying B cups, I never knew about this!
A Whole New World
Once I learned this, I started seeking out 30B bras. I can only find them online, but because they fit me most of the time, it?s not as much of a hassle as you might think.
Gone are the days where I would try on twenty bras and walk away with two that ?kinda fit.?
When I try on a 30B, more often than not it fits. No gaping, no riding up of the band, and the length of the underwire and position of the cups on my chest are proportional to my body.
For instance, I just tried on a ton of bras from Adore Me and 90% of the 30Bs fit perfectly. Whereas only a few of Adore Me?s 32A bras fit me, and they didn?t even fit that well.
Tips for Finding Your Fit
I was recently sent a copy of Jene Luciani?s great bra fitting guide, aptly titled The Bra Book. I definitely recommend checking it out if this information is new to you.
Besides finding Jene?s bra fit tips useful, I think you?ll find her story inspiring. She shares her struggles with Tubular Breast Syndrome and how she overcame crippling insecurities.
?My breasts have been a part of my identity for a long time. They?ve been the source of so much of my anxiety and that?s a hard habit to break. But I?m willing to try? and sharing my story with others is part of that. There is not a woman on this earth who can?t identify with body image issues? and many of those revolve around breasts. How our breasts look and feel has the power, for good or for ill, to change how we look and feel. And bras are a big part of that. Wearing the right bra can provide a much-needed ?boost,? both in confidence and otherwise.?
Here?s a recap of some of the most useful tips from the book:
Signs You Are Wearing the Wrong Bra
- Shoulder straps fall down or dig in
- Band rides up or slides down
- Cups gape when you move (you may not notice this when looking at yourself in the mirror, but think about what people taller than you see from their view . . .)
- You constantly have to tug down the front of your bra or readjust the underwire
- Your bra cup line noticeably shows through your shirt (versus laying flat)
- The outer edges of the cups don?t align with the intersection of your shoulder and collar bone
How to Measure Yourself
Step 1: Determine Your Band Size
Exhale and measure around your ribcage just below your bust. Since bra sizes are even numbers, round up if you need to. Most bra fitters recommend adding 2 inches to this number, but that varies depending on the woman (e.g. depends on how high your breasts sit on your chest, if you?re straight or more hourglass shaped, etc.). Some women don?t need to add any inches, and some need to add up to 4.
General equation: Ribcage + 2 = BAND SIZE
Step 2: Measure Your Bust Size
Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust. This is your bust size measurement.
Step 3: Identify Your Cup Size
Subtract your band size from your bust size (note this is band size, not ribcage size). The difference between these numbers corresponds to your cup size. Refer to this chart:
For example, if the difference between your bust size and your band size is 1 inch, you?re an A-cup. Remember: band size reflects how much you added to your ribcage measurement. So the ?difference? (bust size minus band size) can vary, resulting in different cup size outcomes (case in point: my finding with 30B and 32A).
Do the Math
*Using my personal measurements
Ribcage measurement = 28?.
Band size = 30 (28? + 2)
Bust measurement = 32 (32? measurement)
Cup size = B (32?30=2; 2?>B)
BRA SIZE = 30B (band size + cup size)
But remember, measuring gives you an approximation of your bra size, but it?s not an exact science. That?s why sister sizes are so important!!
- Don?t assume your ribcage measurement correlates exactly with your band size. Your band size is an estimation based on the width of your ribcage.
- Cup size is calculated in relation to your band size. Thus, the size or ?volume? of an A-cup changes depending on the band size, i.e. a 32A holds less volume than a 34A. This is also why it can feel like a 30B holds similar volume to a 32A.
- Always try your bra on before you buy. And make sure you try it on with a few shirt styles (tank and t-shirt). A bra may give you great cleavage and lift, but when you put a shirt on you may notice it doesn?t provide the right shape.
The Moral of the Story
Wearing the correct bra size is an easy step you can take toward learning to embrace your breasts.
Not being able to find bras that fit me fueled my insecurity about my breast size and contributed to the feeling that I wasn?t ?normal.? I imagine that had I found a better bra size earlier on, I wouldn?t have felt such shame. Or such a strong urge to ?fix? myself with implants.
When you?re able to find bras that fit well and make your breasts look good, you no longer feel like your body is problematic. You begin to see your breasts in a new light. It?s all about the proper packaging. ?
In fact, one of my readers shared that something that really helped her accept her breasts was discovering Aerie bralettes. She loves that they fit properly, flatter her small shape, and come in a ton of cute styles. Simply having products that she loves to wear helped her shift her perspective and learn to embrace her body.
So if you?re struggling with bras that don?t fit, consider the fact that you might need to ?gain a cup size.? It could be just the trick you need!
Have you had a similar experience or your own ?bra fit epiphany?? Leave a comment and share your story!
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Originally published at www.yourbreastself.com on July 21, 2016.