More Bra Fitting Tips

Monday, 9 March 2009 | Tags: , ,

Most women don't realize that getting a good bra fit isn't just about taking measurements. We find out what you really need to know to ensure your girls are sitting comfortably and are well-supported.


Since up to 85% of women wear a badly-fitting bra, we want to share some easy-to-follow guidelines.

Step 1: Measurements

Measurements are just a starting point. Like most clothes, different brands fit differently: a 34B in one style will fit completely different than a 34B in another style, so it’s important to always try a bra on.

Band size

Start with the band size (also referred to as frame size), which is measured in inches:

  • Measure snug around your rib cage, directly under your bust. (Get help with this to make sure your measuring tape is straight and parallel to the floor.)
  • If your measurement is:

    • an even number under 38″, add 4″ to get your band size. (E.g. if your rib cage is 32″, your band size is 36″)

    • an odd number under 38″, add 5″ to get your band size. (E.g. if your rib cage is 33″, your band size is 38″)

    • 38″ or more around your rib cage, add 2-3″ inches (even, add 2″; odd, add 3″) to get your band size. (E.g. a 41″ rib cage = 44″ band size)

Cup size

There are two ways to measure cup size. 

  • Method 1: Wrap the measuring tape around your chest at the fullest part of your breasts while wearing a well-fitting, non-padded bra, or no bra at all. Be careful not to flatten your breasts with the tape. Subtract the frame measurement from this measurement and note the number below as it corresponds to cup size.
  • Method 2: Place the end of your measuring tape at the band directly below the nipple, and then measure up (i.e. perpendicular to the band or floor) to the centre of your nipple (the fullest part of your breast. Match this number to the cup size chart below.

To calculate cup size, match the number you got from method 1 or 2 above to the letter in the chart below.

Measurement (inches): 
 < 1  1   2  3  4  5  6
 Cup size:
 AA  B  C  D  DD or E  DDD or F DDDD or G 


Fine-tuning your measurements

Keep in mind that cup size may change as you go up or down a band size. For example, if you take a 34C, you may need to try a 36B if you’re going up, or 32D if you’re going down.  


While measurements are a good starting point, trying a bra on is the only way you’ll know it fits. Always take a snug-fitting t-shirt with you to try on over your bra so you can get a good idea of how it will look.

Here are some tips on getting the right fit:

  • Visually, the fullest part of your breasts should be level with the middle point between your elbow and your underarm.

  • Fit to the loosest or middle hook. As bras age, you will be able to adjust the tightness as the elastic wears.

  • If you tend to put on a few pounds every so often, having a little extra room in the band is helpful. You may also want to buy a bra with a bigger cup and band size for those periods.

  • Take the opposite hand and adjust each breast so it sits comfortably within the cup.

  • When you look at yourself in the mirror, the bra band should be level, parallel (more or less) to the floor. Many women wear their bands too high or slanted, which throws off the measurements and cup size.

  • Make sure your bra band is tight enough. It should feel firm and secure. You should be able to slip two fingers easily under it in the back, and one finger in the center at teh front. If you can’t, it’s too tight. You should loosen the band, or possibly go up a cup size.

  • Bra straps aren’t meant to take much of the weight, which is why it’s important that your band size is correct. That’s where the bra provides the most support. Straps shouldn’t dig into your shoulders. If they are, try tightening the band, or going down one band size.

  • The centre front of the bra should lie flat between your breasts, right up against the skin.

  • If there is underwire, it should lay flat against your rib cage.

Fitting a strapless bra

The band is the primary support in a strapless bra. It should look like a regular bra does, but it may not be the same size. Try a smaller band size, which will provide more lift and support. You may also need a larger cup. Make sure the bra lifts and separates in order to avoid the “uniboob” look.  

Fit Troubleshooting

  • If the cups are dimpled or wrinkling, try one cup size down.

  • If your straps fall down, the bra band is riding up your back. You may need to go down a band size, or tighten it up.

  • If you have plump rolls on your back, your band is too high. Loosen your straps and bring the band down to give your back a smoother look.

  • If your breasts are spilling out the top or bottom, your cup size is too small. You can also try a smaller band size.

  • If there is a big gap between your breastbone and the centre front of the bra, you need a bigger cup size. 

  • If the underwire is digging into your breasts, go up a cup size. If it’s digging into your underarms, go down a cup size. Also try different styles.

  • Don’t wear the same bra two days in a row. Give your bras a day or two of rest to help the elastic support last longer.

Bra Care

  • Try to handwash your bras. If you don’t have time, machinewash on delicate using a lingerie bag (or a pillow case tied closed ifyou’re in a pinch).

  • Never put your bras in the dryer! Always hang to dry.


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