How to Measure Bra Size

How to Measure Bra Size

Many women are surprised to learn that they’ve been wearing the wrong bra size. There’s lots of reasons why women wear the wrong bra size–poor measuring skills, changes in body size, and changes in wardrobe all lead to bra faux pas. Here are some tips for measuring your bra size and wearing the right size bra.

What Is the Average Bra Size?

You may have heard that 36C is the “average bra size” in America. The problem is, most women have never had a proper bra measurement, and with the little changes that happen to our bodies these measurements change all the time.

It turns out that most women who wear a 36C should actually wear something in a D or even DD. Most women wear bras that are much too small.

How to Measure Bra Size

The true average bra size is more like 34DD. It is worth remembering that your cup size (the letter part of the bra size) is in direct proportion to the band size. A 32D bra is actually the same size as a 34C or 36B; the only difference is the size of the frame of the person wearing the bra.

This creates some interesting paradoxes in terms of brassiere size. In bra terms, a size of 28F is actually two full cup sizes smaller than a 38D bra. Notice the big difference in band sizes.

Slim women probably need a larger cup size even though their chest may not “look” like a D cup. Smaller band sizes tend to require larger cup sizes.

What Causes Bra Size to Change?

Small changes in weight make a big difference in your proper bra size. Losing or gaining just a couple of pounds (or changes in your body due to bloating) can change your bra size drastically. What happens is most women go so long wearing the wrong size bra that they don’t notice how uncomfortable it is.

If you learn to use a measuring tape properly and understand a few rules about measuring bra size, you’ll never have to wear the wrong size bra again.

Determining Bra Size

Unfortunately, to measure your own bra size you need at least one comfortable bra. You want to wear a very basic bra, one that doesn’t “hold down” or amplify the size of your breasts. Your everyday lying around the house bra should work fine.

If you don’t have a measuring tape (the soft kind used by clothing designers) you can use a piece of string that you can make marks on with a pencil. After you’re finished measuring with the string, you can just measure the marks on the string. Make sure the measuring tape or string you’re using wraps easily around your body.

Measuring Band Size

The first number on a bra size is known as the band size.

To measure your band size, measure the distance across the top of your breasts from armpit to armpit. This means stretching the measuring tape between your armpits high on your back and around across the top of your chest. Your band size is the number of inches you measured.

But that’s only true if you get an even number. If your band size measurement is odd, you’ll have to add one inch to get your band size. This is because bra manufacturers only make even-numbered band size bras.

For example, if your band size measurement is a 35, you should add one to get your final band size of 36.

Cup Size

The second part of a bra size (the part that is represented by a letter) is your cup size. To get a cup size measurement, you should measure loosely around the largest part of your breasts. Whereas the band size measurement was high on your breasts, your cup size measurement should be much lower on the breast.

Make sure you keep the measuring tape level, as a crooked measuring system could throw off your cup size measurement and lead you to wear the wrong size of brassiere. You also have to keep the measuring tape a little bit loose. The band size measurement needs to be very precise, but the cup size measurement requires a loose measuring tape.

Calculating Your Cup Size

Your cup size measurement will be larger than your band size measurement. To get the final cup size number, you simply subtract the band size measurement from the cup size number. Your cup size depends on this difference in sizes, and each difference in inches is represented by a different cup size.

Using the above example, let’s say your band measurement is 34 inches and your cup measurement is 36 inches. The difference between the two is 2 inches. Looking at the cup size chart below, we see that a difference on 2 inches means your cup size is B. That would mean a final bra size of 34B.

Cup Size Difference Chart

Less than 1” = AA

1” = A

2” = B

3” = C

4” = D

5” = DD

6” = E

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