Everything you need to know about Bra Size

A brassiere normally offered as a bra refers to an undergarment that is worn by women to cover or support their breasts. Typically, bras gained their popularity in the early 1950s as garments for breast coverage and support. Over the years, the bras have gained more importance over their mere functionality as a garment to de-emphasize the practical bust line of women to fashion items of enhancing the user’s breast size, creation of cleavage, and other aesthetical and practical considerations. This culture change has been steered by the continuous change in body shapes of women and social perceptions. Those factors have consciously and unconsciously affected the kind and type of bras the modern women choose to wear. They have driven the bras to become fashion and cultural items as purposefully revealed by the wearer.

The History of the Bra


The invention of the modern Bra is accredited to a French inventor known as Herminie Cardolle. The aches of a lifetime of pain drove Cardolle to invent a garment that appropriates for functionality over appearance. This was based on discomfort, the series of medical implications that included the deformation of ribs and misalignment of the women’s spines. Her “Corselete gorge” that refers to ‘Corset divided into two” in English was first presented in 1910 at a fashion exhibition in France. She again refined her garment her invention a presented it in 1900 and when she, later on, presented it in 1905 the bra was already marketing itself across France.


The World War forced the United States War Industry Board to ask the American women to stop buying the corsets that were used to push up the breasts and bring in waits since a lot of metal was used in their manufacture.

Around this particular time, a New York socialite known as Mary Phelps Jacobs formed the first modern bra by sewing two pocket-handkerchiefs together with a pink ribbon to help her move freely in her gown to dance. This new invention was the talk of the party and later it’s believed that she sold her patent to the Warner Brothers for around $1500.

Her Invention was further developed by the flapper fashion with most Americans begging to tape down their breasts to give out a boyish look.


This year marks the beginning of the introduction of cup sizes. There is a roaming controversy up to date on who developed the measuring system. Some believe it was a company known as S.H. Camp and Company and others believe it’s William and Ida Rosenthal of Maidenform.


1940 marks the beginning of the invention of the Bullet bras. It’s believed that the Second Great War was the main factor that steered its production as women were required to work on the production lines while their husbands went off to fight in the war and those points were a source of extra protection for their breasts.


The 1950s can also be referred to as ‘The age of sweater girl glamour”. The bullet bras of this time have borrowed the designs of the early 1940s but made some changes of stitching the long line to conical thus giving more of silhouette support to women to look exactly like the leading ladies of their time.


In the late 1960s, a designer from the Canadian Company Canadelle invented the Wonderbra. This new bra provided the wearer with a sexy and form of busts to their breasts.


In the year 1977 Lisa Lindahl invented the “jock bra” which later came to be famously known as the sports bra. Her invention was driven by the discomfort she experienced from her breasts during running.


This decade experienced a lot of bra fashioned experiments with marketing campaigns and models embracing healthy lifestyles with softer brassieres mostly popularized with Madonna’s aforementioned bullet bra.


This is the year when the Wonderbra skyrocket into popularity almost 30years after it was first created. It further popularized the push-up which is often won by most women to date.


2000 marked the beginning of a new era whereby the bras began getting very expensive. New designs were invented thus leading to a continued push in prices of the bras. For example, in 2006 a designer known as Susan Rosen designed a new bra that was worth $20 million.


The bra industry has evolved to form bras that offer their users both comfort and sexiness. Designers use memory foam and a wire to shape the breasts of the women while still maintaining comfort.

Also Read: The Bullet Bra History

What does bra sizes mean?

Bra sizes normally known as brassiere measurement refer to the size characteristics of a bra. Even though there are numerous sizing systems of bras across the globe (due to the inexistence of a similar international standard) the bra are usually indicated by a number which is used as an indication of the size of the bra’s band that revolves around the torso and a letter which indicates the bra’s breast cup size. It’s key to note that the cup sizes were invented in early 1932 and on the other hand, the band sizes became renowned in the late 1940s and till today there have been no proper convenient dimensions of determining the volumes of the bra cup or size.

bra sizes

What is ABCD in bra size? And how they work?

The letters in the bra sizes are not as complicated as they look. The A, B, C, D simply stand for the sizes of the cups, and on the other hand, the numbers that come with those letters like 32,34,36, and 38 are simply used to refer to the band size that covers your torso. Therefore, a letter combined with a number such as 34A means that the size of your breasts is A cup and 34 inches round.

How to measure bra size?

There have been numerous methods of measuring the cup sizes and bands recommended by retailers over the years. But it’s important to note that all those methods are based on two primary methods which include over the bust or under the bust and in some other cases it includes both. According to the American National Standards Institute, a voluntary consensus size of bras exists but the major confusion is brought about by the true sizing of their clothing hence the bra sizes can be considered to be both a science and an art. Below are the steps of one of the best methods of measuring your bra size that includes both the under the bust and over the bust methods of measurement:

You can conduct bra measurements even at home by first ensuring that you have the following materials:

  • the soft measuring tape used to measure the sizes of clothes
  • material to record your numbers and conduct calculation

The measurement method involves the following steps:

Step 1. Measuring the band size:

  • You should ensure that you’re completely topless and your breast measurement is natural
  • Pull your tape measure around the whole front part of your chest just below your arms to ensure that the tape is completely parallel to the ground.
  • Also ensure that the tape measure is firm against your body but not squeezing you by putting a finger under the measuring tape. This is meant to ensure that you don’t get a bra that is too tight thus ending up being uncomfortable.
  • The measurement you get at the end of your tape measure is your band size. If you happen to get an odd number, you’re at liberty to round it off.

With this method, you can even measure your bra size from home.

perfect fit bra

Step 2. Measuring the bust line:

  • Using your tape measure loosely measure the size of the fullest size of your bust line because this is where your bust tends to project more from your body.

Note: Also ensure that your tape measure is parallel to the ground.

Step 3. Determining your cup size:

You can determine the size of your cup size by subtracting your band size from the measurement of your bust line. Match your answer with the bra size chart to determine the size of your bra cups.

Note: The size of your bra can change over time due to several factors such as pregnancy, weight gain, and loss, lack of exercise, and above all the aging process therefore you’re advised to pick a month of measuring your bra size each year.

What is the largest bra size?

The largest bra size in the world currently is 52 and is worn by Annie Hawkins from the USA. Annie has the largest natural breasts who are actually under breast measurements are 109.22 cm and around the chest over nipple measurements of 177.8cm.

What is the smallest size for a bra?

Most of the women are mostly confused about the smallest size of a bra. According to numerous researches size, A cup is the smallest size of bra in most shops but it’s key to note that this may not be the smallest size.

The most popular Bra types for small bra sizes:

There are several types of bras of small sizes but it’s key to note that some common types of bras ate mostly chosen by small breast women based on the effectivity and support they offer women with small boobs.

Some of the most popular types include:

The Push-up bra

This type of bra is popular among most women basically because of its effectivity in creating an attractive cleavage. The push-up bra pushes the boobs of the user upwards while still keeping them close together thus creating a fuller appearance of the boobs than they are.

The Padded Bra

With the right fit, you will never go wrong with the padded bra in increasing the appearance of your breast sizes. This type of bra even offers an extra port and can also hide the nipples thus increasing the bust appearance of your boobs.

The Underwire bra

Especially for saggy small breasts, the underwire bra is the best type of bra to hide that saggy appearance. The bra has a wire at the bottom which is used to support the bra thus preventing the breasts from sagging hence giving the user an alluring and attractive appearance.

Strapless bra

This is one of the top choices for most stylish women with small boobs. This type of bra gives them an opportunity of showing their upper neck and chest. It mostly matches a strapless sexy dress hence you can purchase a strapless dress or if you understand the art of removing the straps, you can also purchase those that have them.

Sports bra

Most women with small boobs believe that they don’t need to wear bras, especially when doing exercises. Even though your breast sizes are small it’s never a guarantee that doesn’t need support. Wearing a sports bra is a precautionary measure to prevent rough movements and bounce.

What is the normal breast size? (In USA)

The current average American bra size is 34DD which is a high leap from the 34B of 20years ago. Some of the reasons which led to this leap involve rampant plastic surgeries, inflated cup sizes, and the rising rate of obesity cases.

Does bra size change with age?

Yes. The changes in size due to age are caused by the differences in the reproductive hormone levels which is caused by the process of aging. This difference in hormones makes the breast lose their fullness and firmness thus a size reduction.

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