To best know your bra size, you really need to have a professional fitting. It is also important to have regular fittings because our bodies change so much over time. Our breasts change in size and shape throughout our lives for a variety of reasons – puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, hormones, and weight changes. It’s a good idea to get fitted every two years whenever you gain or lose weight, during and after pregnancy, and during and after breastfeeding.
A good fitting session will help you identify the bra styles and brands that fit you and your shape best. It will also help you find your size in those brands and styles. This is important because your bra size is only a starting point as it may vary between brands and styles. So with it being said that a personalised fitting is ideal if for whatever reason that is not possible, the following guidelines will help you estimate your size as best as possible without an actual proffessional fitting. It is worth the effort becasue you will be amazed just how wonderful a well fitting bra feels compared to the alternative.
The band is supposed to provide 80-90% of the support, so it should be firm (not stretchy) and stay in place during the day – if it doesn’t, it’s too large. To test it out, put on your best, least stretched and worn, non-padded bra. Gently pull the band out at the back. If it easily pulls out more than about 3cm, you need to go to the next step. If you can only pull it easily less than the 3cm, stick with the band size you already have because that’s about right.
Next, to measure your underbust, place a flexible tape measure under your arms and around your ribcage immediately beneath your breasts. Make sure the measuring tape is horizontal all the way around your body. Take the measurement immediately after you have breathed out, and make sure you don’t pull the tape measure too tight against your skin as you do it.
Find your band size by looking up the measurement in the table below.
Next step is to measure your full bust. Place a flexible tape measure across the fullest part of your breast and around you back. Make sure the tape measure forms a horizontal line around your body. It is useful to have a helpful friend assist in making sure the tape is horizontal around your back. The difference between this measurement and your band measurement will give you an indication of your cup size. See the table below.
|Difference (cm)||Difference (inches)||Cup Size|
|Less than 2.5cm||Less than 1″||AA|
Please note that this measurement will only give an indication of your cup size – it is not exact. Cup size is dependent on the shape and position of your breasts and varies between manufacturers. For more information on size and fit, see below for our Fitting Tips.
Another way to get an idea of the cup size you need on the smaller side is to use the following table. In this method, you don’t need to do any mathematics – just lookup the numbers.
|Band Size||Underbust Measurement |
|AAAAA cup||AAAA cup||AAA cup||AA cup||A cup||B cup|
Band And Cup Size Adjustments.
You should be aware that when you change your band size, you will need to adjust your cup size as well. If your band size decreases, your cup size will increase. For example, if you wear a 12A bra but decide you need to wear a size 10 band, you will need to try a 10B bra. Move up or down a band size, and the chart below indicates the equivalent sizing.
To help you decide if a bra really fits, here are some tips you can use when doing a fitting.
It is important to get this part right. About 80% of the support you get from your bra should come from the band. The majority of people are wearing bands that are too big. The band should fit firmly around your torso and not move during the day – you shouldn’t have to constantly adjust your bra. It should stay put.
To tell if your band fits properly check that:
- The bottom of the band sits in a horizontal line, parallel to the floor – if you look in the mirror, it shouldn’t angle up or down at the sides or back.
- If you pull on the back of the band, it should only pull out an inch or so easily.
- When you move your arms up and down (stretch them above your head a few times) or jump around, the band should stay in place.
- Of course, you do need to be able to breath and move, so don’t go to the opposite extreme of wearing a ridiculously tight band. A firm band may leave a slight imprint on your skin, but it shouldn’t dig or cut in and definitely shouldn’t be leaving bruises.
- If you are concerned about the dreaded “back fat” or “wings” under your arms, try opting for a wider band, not a larger size. The thinner the band the more it will appear to dig in.
Once you have your band size, you can start looking at cup size. This can be a little trickier than the band because the shape of the cup influences how it fits. The bra cup should enclose all of the breast tissue under the arms without digging in or gaping at the top of the cup. It’s really important when trying on a bra to ensure you scoop all of the breast tissue into the bra. Once you have the bra on, lean forward and place your hand into the cup. Gently lift the breast tissue up towards the centre of your body. Then stand up and let the breast tissue settle into the cups. Many women end up wearing a cup size that is too small for them because they reduce the cup size in an attempt to prevent gaping at the top of the cup. Often a better solution is a different style/brand bra.Another issue for most of us is that one breast is larger than the other. Always fit the larger breast and, if need be, consider adding extra padding to the smaller side to even things up. You don’t want to be cutting into the breast tissue of the larger breast by wearing underwires that are too small.
To tell if the cups of your bra fit properly check that:
- All of the breast tissue is enclosed within the cup/wire. If you feel along the outside of the wire, your flesh should feel the same all the way along. If there are softer bits under the arms, this is probably breast tissue which means the cups are too small. If there are softer bits under the centre front of the breast the band may be too large, allowing it to move up over your breast.
- The underwire should not dig into the flesh under your arm. If this is happening, the cups are either too small, and some of your breast tissue is not sitting inside them, or too large, and the wire is coming around too high under your arm.
- The top of the cup should ideally sit nicely along the skin of the breast. (Let’s face it, you don’t want it digging in, putting pressure on the breast tissue and giving a strange “quadra-boob” appearance through your clothes. Equally, a gaping bra that everyone can see down when you bend over isn’t much use.)
- If the underwire is sitting flush against your body and enclosing all of your breast tissue, but the top is digging in or gaping, consider a different style of bra rather than reducing or increasing the cup size. Check our style guide for ideas on which styles may suit you best.
- If gaping is a problem, look for bras that have a soft, lace trim along the top. This will often sit into the breast better than a hard-edged cup.
The Gore (centre front)
The gore of your bra is the central panel at the front that sits between the cups. This section of the bra should sit flat against your ribcage. (Note. In non-wired bras this will often not sit this way, due the decreased structure allowing the cups to come into your chest.) If you are slightly concave it can be a challenge to find a bra that will sit properly here, but we promise you (from personal experience) it can be done!
If the gore doesn’t sit flat it may be because:
- The gore is too wide – try a style with the cups situated more closely together in the centre.
- Your band may be too tight which will pull the gore away from the body.
- Wire-free bras tend to sit out from the body slightly.
Your bra straps should only be contributing between 10-20% of the support from your bra. Always check the adjustment of your straps when you put your bra on in the morning, as they may have moved when you last wore or washed the bra.
Things to check are:
- You should be able to just run a finger between the straps and your shoulder. If they pull away from the shoulder more than this they are too loose. Any tighter and you could be putting unnecessary strain on your neck and shoulders (a great way to cause headaches!)
- Your straps shouldn’t be digging into your shoulders. If they are, you’ve either over-tightened them (see above) or your band may be too loose. If the band is too loose it’s not giving as much support as it should and the straps are taking up the slack.
- If your straps are constantly falling off your shoulders they may simply be too loose. Otherwise, it may be that your band is too large. This could lead to it riding up at the back which in turn loosens the straps.