Bra Size

How to measure bra size?


You are well aware that the bra sizes labeling differs from country to country and manufacturer to manufacturer. How to measure bra size is big question. If you want to know more about the bra sizes and the variations, you can go here and read. Not finding a perfectly fitting bra is a major problem for most of the women, especially women with the larger breasts because not many companies produce bra of larger size.

Anyway it is difficult to find properly fitted bra, for smaller or the larger breasted women. Most of the women do not know their bra size. And the variation in the labeling of the bra sizes of different brands is making the choices even more complicated. Same labeled bra size can give different measurements.

Also Read: Bra Sizes

Different countries have different standards of bra size measurement systems. Also different manufacturers within the same country have different set of measurement system. Some measure under the bust, some over the bust. The others take measures in inches while some take in centimeters. While, some even base the bra size upon the dress size.

The reason behind all these variations is the lack of one International Standard of bra size measurements. There are various factors to be considered to calculate the correct bra size which is complicated because the shape, size, position, symmetry, spacing, firmness vary considerably in every individual woman. The manufacturers produce bras that fit for majority of the women.

The cup sizes were invented in 1930s and the band sizes became popular only in 1940s.

The bra size is determined by the two factors; band size and cup size. There are various ways to measure band and cup size. The primary methods of measuring are either under the bust or over the bust. The variety of factors complicates the calculation of the correct bra size.

A bra measurement is considered as an art and a science.

bra size measurement
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Methods of Band size measurement

There are various methods possible for the bust measurement.

Underbust +0

Put the measuring tape around the torso at the inframammary fold or the base of the breast. The tape should be parallel to the floor. The measurement in inches is then rounded to the closest even number of the band size.

Underbust +4

This method is same as Underbust +0, a measuring tape is pulled tight around the torso under the bust and parallel to the floor. If the measurement is even, 4 is added and if the measurement is odd, 5 is added to calculate the band size.

Sizing chart

Many stores in US determine the band size by above mentioned, Underbust +0 and Underbust +4 methods. A sizing chart then uses this measurement to determine the band size. The badn sizes calculated this way differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, though the result generally lie between the measurements taken from Underbust +0 and Underbust +4 methods.

Above the breasts

A measuring tape is pulled around the torso under the armpit and above the bust and the measurements are taken. Since the band sizes are mostly manufactured in even numbers, the measurement taken is rounded to the closest even number. Victoria’s Secret uses this method for the band size measurement.

Also Read: Bra Size Calculator

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Methods of Cup size measurement

The difference between the bust size and the band size determines the cup size. The bust size or the bust line measure or over-bust measure is the measurement around the torso over the fullest part of the breasts, usually over the nipples. We have discussed the ways to take the measurement of the band size above. The cup size measurements are made in the same units as the band size, either inches or centimeters. The cup size is calculated by subtracting the band size from the bust size or over-bust measurement.

Cup size = Bust size – Band size

Measuring cup size without a bra

This is the method adopted by the plastic surgeons. Use a flexible tape, position the tape outside the chest, under the arm, where the breast tissue begins. Measure across the fullest part of the breast, usually across the nipple, to where the breast tissue stops at the breast bone. This approach assumes that the breasts are not so large and pendulous. Only women whose breasts are firm and spherical can measure without a bra.

Below is the measurement of cup size conversion:

Measurement Cup size
inch cm
7.0 17.8 A
7.5 19.1 A
8.0 20.3 B
8.5 21.6 B
9.0 22.9 C
9.5 24.1 C
10.0 25.4 D
10.5 26.7 D
11.0 27.9 DD

The above cup measurements are correct only for a 34-inch band because cup size is relative to band size. Though the shape of each cup may differ, the volume of the cup is the same for 30D, 32C, 34B and 36A. These related bra sizes are called sister sizes.

The research by plastic surgeons suggested that the current popular system of determining the bra size is inaccurate so often as to be useless. Add to this the many different  styles of bras and the lack of standardization between brands, and one can see why finding a comfortable, well-fitting bra is more a matter of educated guesswork, trial, and error than of precise measurements. (Pechter, 1998)

Also Read: Bra Fitting and its difficulties

Measuring band size. Image Source.
Measuring bust size. Image Source

How to measure your bra size at home?

You can follow the following measurement system to measure your bra size at home:

  1. Basics for Sizing
  • Remember that the cup size varies depending on the band sizes.
  • Understand the signs of perfectly fitting bra; snug band, side coverage, flat gore, smooth curve.
  • Don’t forget the different breasts shapes; shallow, pendulous, firm, so on.
  • Don’t forget about the sister sizes.
  • Know different fitting styles.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask a professional to measure your size.
  1. Modern Sizing
  • Measure your band size.
  • Determine your cup size.
  1. Check for the fit
  • Try on a bra with the measurements you have obtained.
  • Put on the bra correctly.
  • Check the band size (snug and not too tight).
  • Confirm the cup size (breasts fully encompassed, no wrinkly cups).
  • See the bra with your top on (no bulges, breasts at halfway between shoulders and elbows).

Besides the above methods, there are many online bra size calculator tools. Most of the lingerie websites have their own bra size calculator. But the sizes vary according to the brands. So make sure to take the measurements when switching various brands.

If you are confused with the different bra sizes check out the bra size conversion chart.

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