Hey girls, I'm talking to you! You know who you are, we're the ones who cannot find a bra that is comfortable, fits well, and can be worn all day long. Have you fallen victim to the ads on social claiming the most comfortable bra that fits everyone? I have. Mostly because I've been looking for a new bra.
The thing is, the brassiere was invented by a man. He never had to carry around bosoms'. So he doesn't know what it's like. We all deserve pretty, comfortable, well fit bras. And they are very hard to find if you are under an B Cup or over an F cup. Now to give the inventor his due, a bra is an engineered garment. It's meant to support a heavy object in a cantilever. The first modern bra was invented in France in 1889. It has not changed much. There are two models: wired or unwired. The wired bras we see today do not support the breast, but they do contain them. They prevent the fabric from stretching, and keep the breast inside the cup. The actual support comes from the band and the strap.
If you want to go the underwire route, I've got a perfect website for you: herroom.com. I've purchased many bras from them, some of my favorites in fact come from them. But they're mostly underwire. An underwire bra, if properly fit is not too bad for most of the day, but you still want to shuck it at 6:00 when you get home and let it all hang out.
Recently, I tried a new Canadian brand -- it was promising. The panties they sell are true size, that was something, so I took a flyer on their bra. Now I'm a big girl -- I am in my 60s, have a bum shoulder, and have big breasts. In fact they hang about 8" from my body. That's an important measurement. In the bra-makers language it's an H cup.
You see, bras are two measurements: the band and the cup. It doesn't help that the original cup was labeled with letters -- because no one understands what it means -- except bra-makers. Each letter means that your nipple is 1" further away from the chest wall. Ergo:
So here's another test: put your bra back on and stand in front of a mirror. Does the bridge (the triangle section between the cups) actually touch your rib cage? Check out the first photo -- that's a properly fit bra. Notice the bridge is snuggly against her breastbone and the entire breast is contained? That's how it's suppose to fit.
Is your bra resting against your body? No? You're not alone. That means the cup is too small. How much too small can be seen by the gap between the fabric and your body. A half-inch means your bra is too small by one cup size. One inch means you're wear a bra two cups too small.
Now the band. That is the fabric that holds the cups in place. All the structure, strength, and support comes from the band -- not the wires. If the band is not right the bra doesn't fit. So remove your bra again, and measure your body around under your breasts -- keep the tape straight. I'll wait.
If your band measurement is 38" or larger, then you do nothing. Your bra size will be 38+cup size. If your measurement is less than 38, then you have to do some math. Again because of a man, who though the "ideal" was 36, everything is based on 36.
If you're a very slim girl with a chest measurement of 28, you know you cannot find a bra with that number. You have to buy a 32. That's right, add 5" to your measurement if you have a chest of 28-33. So 28 becomes 32, 30 becomes 34. If your chest measurement is 33"-36" add 3" to get your band size.
That's just nuts! So a 28 becomes a 33 and a 29 becomes a 34. This is why there are three hooks on the bra. In this example, a 34 band will fit three sizes: 28, 29, 30. This, in my opinion is completely unnecessary. They could simply make band sizes that fit 28-30, and 31-33. If they sized them correctly they would only need one hook. But the nature of mass manufacturing is that they don't really want to make every size, so combining three sizes into one product suits them.
Most department stores only stock B-C-D, sometimes DD (E) or DDD (F). I'm still not sure why they do DD instead of E. Why someone decided to confuse the issue by using double and triple letters is unknown to me. According to the internet, some marketing firm thought that a DD sounds smaller than a E so women would buy that. Huh? All I know, is that not a single woman I have made a bra for has actually understood. If the cup fits, sort of, they buy the bra.
Let's throw another curve into the mix, shall we? All women have two sized breasts. We are not symmetrical creatures (unless they are artificial). Which means one of them will either be too small or too large for the bra you choose. The degree will affect the type of bra you choose to buy. In my case it's a whole cup size. So when I purchase an underwire it has to have an elastic cup -- stretchy lace for me.
Let's try to figure out a bra size. General knowledge says you measure your rib cage under your breasts, and they measure your bust at the fullest part of your breast.
You've measured your rib cage or band. You've measured the depth of your breast. Now let's do what they recommend: put your bra back on, and take the bust measurement. Got that? Now subtract your chest measurement from the bust measurement. That supposedly gives you your cup size. The image on the left is wrong by stating that 2" = a C cup. So if this is the advice online, no wonder women are buying the wrong bra!
Example: My chest measurement is 44". My breast depth is 9" and my "bust" measurement is 50". If I do the math, I end up with 6" -- three inches smaller than my breast. This is why: the bra I'm wearing is not correct. Therefore, the measurement is wrong too. But I would go shopping for a bra that is a 44F. No wonder my boobs explode out of the bra! And to top it all off, most bras are "push-up". Now if you have a breast that is as large as mine, you don't want to push it up anywhere!
So the actual way to measure yourself, is to take the depth of your breast while bent over, and use that as the cup measurement you need to find. Now, if you prefer a little cleavage, go one cup smaller, you'll automatically get that "push-up" effect.
Another concept I feel is over-used is "sister sizes". A sister size is usually listed on the packaging. It's based on the principle that as the band gets larger, the volume of the breast gets smaller. So you can buy a different sister-sized bra and it would fit. This is made for retailers. Would you buy a pair of jeans too big if the right size was unavailable? No. Would you buy shoes too big because they were out of your size?
The chart to the left is to be read across left to right. The band size is on the top. A DD=E, and DDD=F. Notice the cups only go as far as A-F. This logic breaks down seriously with large breasts. A woman with a 6"(F) breast and a 33" Chest, will not fit in a band that is 30" and a cup that fits a 2" (B) breast. The band may fit three sizes, but the cups will not.
Your size is your size, dictated by your body. See how much bad information there is? Look at the line for 34F -- under this rule, the same bra would fit a 44A - nope.
I took this explanation from a well-respected site: "34 is considered the baseline or “true cup” size, therefore cup volume is based off of the difference between this under bust measurement and that of ones chest. Taking a 34B for example and going down a band size to a 32, would require going up to a C cup, conversely, going up a band size to a 36 would require going down to an A cup." This is so sexist! The "True Cup" size? Really. So all us women who don't wear a 34B don't have true breasts? Com'on! We're almost in 2022!
Back to the bra I recently tried. They sold it as 4X - with a G cup. That was amazing. If it had actually fit a 4X and a G cup. G is the best (largest) cup size I've seen in a non-wired bra. Alas, it was not a G cup. At best it was a D, maybe it would stretch to an E, but my boobs were exploding up by my throat. NOT a good look.
The structure was comfortable, albeit, tight. They claimed it would stretch out. Their matching panty didn't have this problem the 4X was too big. (I purchased one each 2X, 3X, and 4X not knowing what would fit) Online size charts don't seem to correlate to actual body measurements. I should have fit a 3X according to their measurements, but I need a large cup, which is why I went with the 4X+.
They clearly subscribed to "sister sizes" to determine the cup size on their 4X+. But the bra didn't have enough fabric to support a breast that was a G cup at 7". It was a C cup or maybe a D cup. So my search for a comfortable, properly fit bra continues.