Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Measure Your Bra Fit at Home

We are getting right back to basics today and talking about how to measure yourself for a bra. Knowing how to measure yourself is a really handy skill and for many women it's essential. If you live a long way from a lingerie store that has skilled staff or if you find it physically or emotionally difficult to be fitted at a store then measuring yourself at home is necessary.

I'm going to keep this really simple today but I want you to remember that the numbers are only a starting point in finding your fit. The shape, density and position of your breasts can all play a part in the size that's best for you.

Once you're familiar with the basics of measuring yourself for a bra then it's worth checking out these blog posts:

Soft Breast Tissue and Bra Fit
Shallow Breasts and Bra Fit (you can see our shallow friendly bras here)
Torso Shape and Bra Fit
Breast Roots and Bra fit (you can see our high set breast friendly bras here)
How Height Can Affect Bra Fit (you can see our short torso friendly bras here)

Here are a few things you might have read elsewhere that you won't find in our measuring advice:
  • We don't recommend measuring without wearing a bra because the density of your breasts can affect the measurements.
  • We don't recommend adding inches to your measurement results.
  • We don't recommend exhaling and pulling the tape measure tightly (you usually find this advice in techniques that add inches)
  • We don't recommend measuring with clothes over the top of your bra because this skews the results.

So having said all of that let's get started on how to measure yourself at home for a bra.

Standing in front of a mirror put on your best fitting bra (avoid padded, sports, minimizer and molded bras). The mirror is to help you see your bra fit around your body.

Don't worry if you know the bra doesn't fit you correctly you can adjust it so that it fits you better for the duration of the measuring. Adjust the band so that it's as firm as possible and level with the ground while you do the measurements. Scoop as much of your breast tissue into the cups as possible then take your measurements.

Measure around your ribcage using a fabric tape measure. The tape measure should lie flat against your body. There's no need to pull the tape measure tightly or to exhale.

Make sure the tape measure is level with the floor all the way around your ribcage because this is where the band should sit on your body when your bra fits you correctly. Write down your first measurement in inches. No need to round up or down.

Pass the tape measure around the fullest part of your breasts (over your nipples), again ensuring that it is level all the way around. Write down the size in inches. Don't round up or down.

Now that you've done all the measuring it's time to work out your best starting bra size.

Let's start with your band size. Your ribcage measurement is your band size. If you measure an uneven number round up one inch to get your band size. For example if you measured 31 then your band size would be a 32.

You don't need to round up your ribcage measurement when working out your cup size below; use the exact ribcage measurement.

Now to find your cup size. Subtract your first measurement (the one around your ribcage) from the second measurement (the one around the fullest part of your bust). For example:

Step 3 Measurement (fullest part of your bust) = 39


Step 2 Measurement (around your ribcage) = 31

DIFFERENCE = 8 inches

Compare your Difference Number to this table to find your cup size (we recommend knowing your UK size as most full bust brands are British):

Difference in Inches 4 5 6 7  8 9  10   11  12  13  14
UK Sizes DD E F  FF  G  GG  H  HH  J JJ K
North American Sizes D DD DDD G  H I J K  L M N

NB: Lots of charts show a UK DD to be the same as a North American DD and a UK E to be the same as a US DDD but we simply haven't found this to be true. Of the styles we carry a UK DD cup is the same as a North American D cup.

A Difference Number of 8 equals a UK G cup (the equivalent of a North American brand's H cup). Put your band size and cup size together, in this example a 32G. You now have your best starting bra size!

For many women this process will give them a bra size that works for them in most styles and brands. However, you know your comfort best and so you might find that you prefer a looser or a tighter band. You can use our cup volume blog post to work out how to adjust your bra size for a tighter or looser fit.

I hope this post helps you get a good start on your bra fit for this year. Our Free Size Consultation is a great follow up to knowing your measurements. Great bra fit means you can get on with life more comfortably and confidently! xx

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  1. Could you comment on why so many women and bra-fit guides recommend taking a tight underbust measurement and a "break the tape" underbust measurement, then using the latter for sizing? I've seen this a lot in the last few years on blogs, and it seems the smaller the underbust size, the better in the bra-fitting community now. There have also been many blog comments to the effect that only obese women ever need more than a 32 band size. I've tried the method, and I have less than 1" difference between my snug and my super-tight measurement, while other women report a three or four inch difference. As well, a 32 band would be too small for me, though I am not obese. (I am tall and large-framed with high-set breasts.) I am an odd measurement, and I often prefer to add an inch rather than subtracting one so that I will not get an imprint from my bra, but according to many sources, I am undermining the support of my bra.

    1. We've never recommended taking a really tight measurement because generally this is followed by adding inches to the tight measurement which, to me, just defeats the object. Your best bet is always to take your normal breathing ribcage measurement and use this as your baseline for band size. I can't explain why some stores recommend the tight measurement but I know we'd never recommend it.

      The comments about obese women and bands over 32 are very simplistic and ultimately wrong. While it's true that women who carry a lot of body fat around their torsos tend to need smaller bands than their ribcage measurement, it's not true that all women who wear a 34+ band are obese. Your band size is affected by things like torso shape, body fat density and medical conditions like asthma, osteoporosis and arthritis. The ribcage shape is also why some women get a more dramatic difference between their tight and regular ribcage measurements.

      In regards to you not wanting to get an imprint from your bra; it depends on what size you wear as well as the physical elements I mention above, but generally a well fitting bra will be noticeable on your skin after you take it off. Just like socks can leave an elastic mark around your ankles, the elastic of your bra will leave a pattern on your body. These marks should not be painful, they shouldn't break the skin and they should fade after an hour or so of not wearing your bra. If your bra leaves no trace on your skin then there's a good chance it's not supporting you. If you find that your straps dig into your shoulders or slip off your shoulders then I would suggest that you need a firmer band.

      Ultimately though your bra fit is your choice. If you are comfortable and happy with your fit then there's no need to change it for another person's opinion xx

  2. Buying a bra that fits is life changing! Seriously. I was WAY off before being properly fitted.