Monday, July 14, 2014

Sternum Shape and Bra Fit

Cora over at The Lingerie Addict asked me why the gores tack on her 34C bras but only tack at the top but not the bottom on her 32Ds and don't tack at all on her 30DD/E bras. This sounds counter-intuitive to most fit information because we learn that when your band is too big the gore stands away from your breast bone so why would Cora's gores tack in big bands but not smaller band sister sizes? The answer lies in ribcage and sternum shape.

Band Size and Ribcage Shape
Let's start with the band. When we measure around our ribcage (the parallel line directly below your breast root) it tells us the circumference of only part of our ribcage. Bra bands are several inches deep and wrap around a greater depth than the single ribcage measurement we can take with a measuring tape. I want to make it clear that the underbust measurement is well worth taking because it's a great starting point but for lots of women it needs to be taken in conjunction with other bra fit factors.

If you have a broad back or a flared ribcage (it's worth reading my article on torso shape and bra fit) then your band has to stretch around large and small circumferences simultaneously. The measuring tape measurement probably tells you the smallest circumference that your bra band will stretch around which is why someone like Cora can measure a 30 around but find her best fit in a 34 band because her ribcage might flare out into a broader back or acute angle which is better suited to a larger band.
Cora, The Lingerie Addict, in a shoot by Old School Pinups wearing Kiss Me Deadly Sirena Corset
In a 30 band Cora's bra is staining over a wider part of her ribcage which lifts the gore away from her sternum at the front. In a 32 band the strain is less so the gore is tilted and fits either at the top and not the bottom of vice versa. In a 34 band the strain is relieved and the gore can sit flush against the sternum. Women with flared ribcages sometimes find that they get some hollow space just below their gore where they can fit several fingers underneath their gore - the is quite normal and in general doesn't detrimentally affect fit.

Breast Bone Shape
The other fit factor to consider when a larger band fits you better than a smaller one is the angle and shape of your breast bone. When you measure around your ribcage it cannot take into account the shape of your breast bone (sternum). When your sternum is acutely angled or protruding you often find that you need either a very short gore than sits below your sternum or you need a larger band to accommodate the shape of the breast bone. You may find that your breast bone hollows where your gore is meant to tack, or that it protrudes more at the top than the bottom. This shaping of your sternum affects which band size and gore height will work best for you.

The band number and cup letters are far less important than finding a fit that feels right to you so don't worry if you measure a 28GG but find that a 30G or 32FF fits you better, it could very well be that other aspects of your torso are affecting your fit. xx


  1. An additional factor could be that her breast tissue prefers to go sideways rather than spill out the middle under the gore. If the outfit in the photo is 34C, it doesn't look like her ideal cup volume (there seems to be a bit of tissue under the wire at the sides), so could be that in 34C the band is loose enough to allow breast tissue to escape sideways, allowing the gore to tack. In a tighter band, that can't happen, so tissue gets pushed under the gore. Trying a 32DD or E would be interesting.

    My boobs (32FF in most bras) are splayed and always go sideways if they can, so I end up being able to get a tacking gore in 36C but not 32F.

    1. It's so useful to hear individual experiences. This is something I haven't encountered so I'm glad to have your experience included xx