A wellfitting bra is almost unnoticeable. It doesn’t restrict breathing, doesn’t poke, scrub, pinch, doesn’t move around the body. One does not have to sort breast tissue back every other minute. In a wellfittig bra, the wires exactly follow the underbust curve, the band sits tight, but not constricting, like a hug. A fitting bra allows one to run down stairs or after a bus without holding ones boobs.
There are many different ways to calculate ones bra size. The most common one, using tape measure and a size chart interestingly is also the worst. It be mentioned here ayway.
For this method one measures two circumferences with a tape measure:
- the underbust circumferende, horizontally around the ribcage rigtht under the boobs.
- the bust circumference, horizontally around the widest part of the boobs.
Now one has two values, whose meaning one can either read from a size chart, or put it into a bra size- formula.
*here follows a short untranslated German part, because transferring all the size charts and formulas takes a while, sorry*
Nun hat man zwei Werte, deren Bedeutung man wahlweise aus einer BH-Größentabelle ablesen oder sie in eine BH-Größenformel einsetzen kann.
- (Unterbrustumfang in Zentimeter + 2,5) : 5 = Zahl vor dem Komma * 5 = Weite des Unterbrustbandes
- (Brustumfang – Unterbrustumfang – 11) : 2 = aufgerundete Körbchengröße
Das Ergebnis entspricht der Stelle des zugehörigen Buchstabens im Alphabet.
Eine Frau misst 62cm Unterbrustumfang und 85cm Brustumfang. Die Formel sähe dann so aus:
(62 + 2,5) : 5= 12,9 Zahl vor dem Komma = 12 12 * 5 = 60
Unterbrustweite = 60
(85 – 62 – 11) : 2 = 6 6. Buchstabe = F
Or one can alternatively look for the measured values in a size chart.
A woman measuring 85cm and 62cm should wear a 60F according to this size chart.
This size will however not necessarily fit a woman, because:
- A body can’t be sufficiently described in two measurements. Maybe the special boob shape of a women requires a different size.
- The way of measureing is not standardized. Should she measure while wearing a bra, and if yes, what kind? Should she measure while breathing in our out? This changes the results dramatically.
- The size charts historically recommend too wide underbands.
- Bra sizes often get mistakenly converted from one size system to another.
- The size charts are too small. It can happen to many women, that their measurements won’t show up in the size charts.
Luckily there are some methods to improve the imprecise results of this method at least somewhat. The main one is taking some additional measurements.
Here one measures the underbust circumference with empty lungs, braless, as tight as possible, like trying to rip the tape. This measurement shows the compressibility of the ribcage. This measurement, if taken correctly, will usually be at least 4cm (1.6 inches) smaller than normal underbust circumference.
This super tight underbust circumference is a good hint for the actually neeed underband width. Of course noone wants to wear an underband so tight one cannot breath anymore. Opposed to a tape measure, bras are super stretch though. An underband in relaxed state must not be longer than this measurement, otherwise it would slide down when exhaling.
Women whose boobs are attached to a rather small surface area of their ribcage, often get too small values from the ordinary method. That’s why it is recommended to take the same measurement again, with torso bent forward, boobs haning down freely. The tape should not deform the boobs, pertruding nipples should not be included.
This measurement fulfills a similar purpose. Here one measures bust circumference while laying ones back, braless and allows the to go wherever they want. One should still aim to not deform the natural shape. Those additional values should also be looked for in the chart/ used in the formular. Like this, one gets a general size range, wich is a good starting point for trying on bras.
Online there are a many bra size calculators available. Unfortunately, most are completely useless. Many just give one size chart values, including all the methods faults.
Many calculators even produce error texts that imply entered values to be impossible or wrong. In those cases it would be necessary to stress that the problem is the calculator or the available size range, but not the womans body.
But there are excepitons. The bra size calculator on “A sophisticated pair” gives decent recommendations. It has three options for prefferd underband width. Here it’s recomended to choose the widest option “looser but still supportive” since the other two options ted to suggest too tight underbands. Very large ladies can also select the second option, since their bodies tend to be more compressible. The calculators results should still only be used as a starting point for trying on bras, since neither the individual breat shape nor differences in bra models can be considered. Another calculator that often leads to accurate results is sizemapp.com.
By now it should be pretty obvious that buying bras without trying them on is not goin to happen. When done correctly, trying on is the best way to ensure a bra will be worn long and happy. This is a topic responsible for many of the illfitting bras out there. Most important part is to sccop all the tissue inside the cups. Here the most important steps:
One should be able to comfortably close new bras in the widest set of hooks and eyes, not in the middle one like one sometimes hears. The undeband will widen from body warmth and friction, so one should be able to tighten it later on. If one gins weight, one will likely need a completely different sie, especially regarding the cups, anyway.
The wires should in their full lenght follow the underbust fold, not lay next to it, under it, or worst, on the brea tissue. If one of thete happens, the bra does not fit.
The strap lenght should be controlled when bought, but also regularly ater that. Size fluctuation during the hormonaly cycle can be compensated by adusting starp lenght.
Bending forward and letting boobs sink into the cups. Scooping skin and tissue from the back into the cups. This step is very important. If illfitting bras were worn for an extended period of time, breast tissue often wanders toards the armpits and shows as armpit flabs. Also see boob migration.
This may feel unfamiliar, because the straps sit further apart than what many women are used to. It prevents the straps digging into sensitive shoulder tissue. If a bra is put on correctly, it should stay in place over the whole day without the need to readjust. If it shifts around or becomes uncomfortable, that is (surprise!) a sign for the bra to be illfitting.
- Does the center gore tack?
- Do two fingers fit between undeband and body?
- Are the cups completely filled and free of folds?
- Does the cup edge lay flat against the boob?
- Do the straps lay gently on the outer end of the collar bones?
Once the bra is on one should try jumping, lifting the arms, sitting down, bending over. If everything stays in it’s place, great! If not, away with that one.
Finally one can try on a thin bright coloured shirt over the bra. This way it’s easier to determine wether the breas shape is nice, or if any lace, seams or colour show through the material. Satisfied? Then it’s yours.
The quickest way to finding a wellfitting bra is through professional consultation, ideally a brafiting. Since that can be pretty hard to find, many women have no other option than relying on the internet.
For the english speakers among us there is a helpful reddit threat: a bra that fits. Anyone capable of the German language may chack out „Busenfreundinnen.net“.
Even though there are some good online consultion options, it never compares to the live thing, since photots or self descriptions never show the complete truth. Many malls with lingerie departments employ consulting staff. The quality of such offers (atleast in Germany) differs wildly. It’s very rare to find employees who actually know about brafitting. Some however work there long enough to have grasped a good deal of what works and what doesn’t anyway. Some malls even offer a decent size range. Sizes like 28 undebands or G cups can still be rarely found.
Another very helpful adress is the online forum bratabase. It includes a huge collection around bra measurements, reviews and a bra-search engine. It also has a bra consultion area, that is however publicly visible for anyone.
Some companies offer bra fit consultaton via skype.
The best to happen bra-wise is an actual brafitting at a specialized studio. In difference to many lingerie departments real brafitters know in detail about the perfect fit and have access to the necessary size range to do a real consultation. Here one can find even rare sizes.
Unfortunately not every so called brafitting is a real consultation. Some companies just pretend to care about comfort and health of their customers for marketing reasons. Real consultation is expensive and time-consuming. A company needs to invest in education of their employees and offer a way broader size range.
If worn for a long time, an illfitting bra can have serious health consequences. For ones one health it is therefore important to be able to distinguish a good consultation.
There are some aspects that help to figure out if a brafitting is any good. Most importantly, one should always feel respected and taken seriously. A serious brafitter would never try to negate fit problems. If a customer sais she doesn’t feel right in a bra, she will look for alternatives.
Second: A brafitter explains. Why a thing has to sit a certain way, why a certain bra might cause problems later on, how to put it on correctly. A brafitters goal is to help a customer to help herself. Consultation is also expensive and time consuming for specialized stores, because not every consulted customer buys something. Therefore such stores have bigger interest in actually educating their customers.
Third, a good brafitter always admits if ther is just no fitting bra to offer. In fake fittings there tends to be the custom of talking customers into the existing (tiny) size range. Even with the bigger size ranges specialized lingerie stores offer, it is just impossible to accommodate every customer. If that is the case, a brafitter can often give tips where to look further.
After one encountered a brafitting studio close by, one asks for a fitting. Sometimes appointments have to be made in advance, it is more common to just walk in during opening ties though. The brafitter will show the changing room and ask for wishes. What kind of bra should it be? Occasion, colour, style?
In the changing room she will often take measurements. Most commonly this will be done just with a bra on, but there are big differences. Sometimes several measurements will be taken, commonly bust- and underbust measurement. Sometimes only the latter one, sometimes neither. No measurement being taken does not indicate a bad consultation. The measurements only work as a very rough staring point anyway, an experienced fitter can guess a good starting point without taking measurements.
In the next step, the brafitter will bring one or several bras to the changing room. If nothing else was agreed upon, she will always knock or ask before entering the changing room. If its ones first time in a fitting studio, the right technique for putting a bra on will be explained. The first few bras will probably not fit. This is completely normal. Many brafitters have certain reference models. By how thse fit, they can conclude boob characteristics of the customer and choose fitting models accordingly.
The fitter will look at the out on bras and often see any fit issues right away, if there are any. If she sees no problems, she will ask how the customer likes the feel and look of the bra. If necessary, the search goes on.
It is completely normal for several tries to be necessary until a really wellfitting bra is found, possibly the last model. It is also normal that not all offered bras will have the same size. A good fitter will know her sortiment and know, if a special model runs bigger or smaller for example. In a proper consultation there will be no comments on a customers body. Nobody has to feel ashamed of their body shapes or boobs.
German bra strartup sugar shape offers the service of “very-important-boobs-box”. After filling in a questionaire over boob characteristics and bra preferences, the customer gets a box with different models sent to their adress. She can then try on everything on at home, pays only what she likes and returns the rest. Since the bras are chosen by professionaly, it can be easier for inexperienced bra shoppers to achieve a good fit this way. Up to now (December 2019) the offer is only available in Germany, they do plan to expand though. Also, size range is limited.
After having discussed the criteria for a good fitting, a whole bunch of cases who miss those come to mind. Two rather well known examples unfortunately are Hunkemöller and Victoria’s Secret. Both companies embrace the “fitting expert” image as part of their marketing strategy. Hunkemöller offers a size range of 30-44 A-H , Victoria’s Secret 30-40 AA-DDD. This size range is not sufficient to offer a fitting bra to almost every customer.
At the same time one rarely sees customers getting sent to other companies. Caused by insufficent knowledge of “fitters” or maximizing profits, here one gets talked into the offered size range. A first glimps as how important those companies treat a correct fit, one does not need to look further than their online stores (September 2019). Both offer bad bra size calculators and product pictures of women in illfitting bras.
Those cups are not too big.
They fold because they do net get pulled towards the boob properly. A fitting underband would lift the boobs up, causing a bigger amount of upper breast tissue to fill the cup.
The underband is four or five sizes wide.
Illfitting bras are not always easyly recognizeable. This bra dies not seem too bad on first glance.
But it does not do what it should. Here one can see what this bra should do. It does not provide any lift since the underband is slightly too wide.
This underband is too wide. One can tell by the vertical folds, that it is not stretched whatsoever. It doesn’t ride up much, but that is only because the cupa are also just laying on the boobs loosely and therefore do not push the bra down in general.
This bras cups are too small. It is visible because it was put on correctly. Its shape works for these boobs pretty well, one or two sizes larger and it would probably fit fine.
This bras cups are to large. One can not see, but feel the empty spaces in the cups. This is especially bad since this is a sports bra. It will not function properly that way.
From below one can see the folds in the cup where the boobs end. The wire lays way besides it.
Many of us developed strategies to put on illfitting bras in a way that conceals the most obvious fit issues. Especially well-loved are the following versions:
This combination is especially mean, because both probleams conceal each others most obvious signs. Boobs do not necessarily spill over too small cups if the the undeband is too wide to pull the cups properly against the ribcage in the first place. And a too wide underband will not show if the excessive fabric is just used to wrap up parts of boob tissue escaped from the too small cups as well.
This fit issue causes the cup to fold while actually being too small. This causes many women to mistakelny size down even further.
Imangine a womans boob as an orange and her bras cup as a drinking glass with a rather small diameter. We can put the orange on top of the glass, a lot of air will stay inside the glass. This is however not caused by the orange being too small. Instead, it is a shape mismatch. This happens to many bras, especially in small sizes. They stay empty, not because of the boobs being too small, but too large for the cup.
This can happen to women who just learned they wore too small cups and too wide underbands their whole life. It is easy to slip into the opposite extreme at this point. This is not always recognized instantly, because this is often still a lot more comfortable than the other wrong option. This hinders a bra to properly support the boobs though.
By shortening or extending bra straps to their most extreme settings it is often tried to conceal too large or small cups or create the support a too wide underband fails to provide. This is a warning sign.
To avoid tissue spilling over too small cups, some women push the tissue out of the cups themselvs– into direction of the armpits, where it is less visible. Now the cup only contains half a boob, while the rest gets pressed under the wire. Uncomfortable and unhealthy!
The left bra fits fine, the right one is to small. One can tell because the center gore does not tack with the sternum.
- In a properly fitted bra, the center gore will tack. If there is a gap, the cups are too small.
- Trying on the bra without the straps and cups turned to the back. If it slides down like this, the underband is too wide. The band should support 80-90% of boob weight from underneath. The straps are mainly there to prevent the bra slipping down with movement, and shape.
- After wearing a bra for a longer time, it will often leave some pressure marks on the skin. Those are a good indicator to control if the wires follow the underbust fold properly.
If one wears too small cups for a long time, one often does not even know the true size of ones boobs. By wearing such bras, the constant pressure of the wire seperates the boob tissue. Parts migrate towards underneath the armpits. Some women talk about their armpit fat, while this is in fact displaced breast tissue.
If a corecctly fitted bra gets put on correctly for a longer period of time, sometimes boob migration takes places. The displaced tissue returns to the breast, making the newly purchased bra too small again. The boobs can get bigger or firmer.
Just taking a few simple measurements and getting a size would be way too easy. To avoid boredom, there are quite a few size systems.
The continental european one consists of the underbustcircumference, rounded to the next number ending on 0 or 5. The cups are named strictly alphabetical, with the exception of size AA, wich is one smaller than A. The cup size gets determined by substracting underbust- from bustcircumferece, like in the british system. The systems meet at “D”, wich has about the same volume, but since there are two- centimetre- steps between the cup sizes instead of inches and no double letters, the systems drift apart the farther away from the letter “D” they get.
Japan uses the European system, but shows the number befor the letter. A 75B would become a B75.
France for mysterious reasons add 15 to the underband width. A 75B in all other European contries would be labeled 90B in France.
The british system is intersting because Britain is besides Poland one of the main sources for bra brands with good size ranges. But the system offers a few advantages besides that. By using double letters, more sizes can be properly named. The British producers also tend to stick closer to size norms.
A bra size in the British system consists of a value indicating underband width in Inches and one or two letters indicating cup size, e. g. 34DD. Important: The lenght in inches does not strictly translate into underbust circumference. Anyone used to European system can remamber 26 = 55, 28 = 60, 30 = 65, 32 = 70, 34 = 75, 36 = 80, 38 = 85, 40 = 90, 42 = 95, 44 = 100 etc. Especially on very long underbands tiny differences in fabric accumlate, so that it gets technically super difficult to produce true to size. Only solution: trying on before buying.
The letters do get determined like in the European system, by the difference between bust- and underbust circumference. They follwow the order AA, A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K, KK, L, LL, M, MM and N. N is also the biggest cup (volume wise) one can buy from the rack. Why some letters and double letters are missing from the system, may remain a mystery forever. It is important to notice though, that double letters are no in-between sizes. If they are missing, there are gaps in stock.
“The American sytstem” does not exist. Most bigger sized cups get imported rom Europe anyway. While there is no unified system used acrossed the states, ther is a commonality: extreme letter phobia. D and DD are often followed by absurd quintuple-D and double- or triple E constructions, to not have to use any of those horrifying higher letters.
This does not work. While Bust circumference plays a part in constructing dress size, the underbust measuremet is not included. Therefore, both sizes cannot be converted into another.
This bra does not fit the boob shape. The cups are caved inwards shortly abouve the wires. The wires do not lie in the underboob fold, but lower und the ribcage. The cups are too shallow for the boobs.
|boob volume||This determines the cup size needed. Small boobs need small cups, big boobs big cups. |
|ribcage circumference||Ribcage circumference determines lenght of the underband and its stretchyness. A small ribgace needs a short band, a big one a long band. This correlation is not proportional, since with increasing weigth, body texture changes. Very small underbust circumferences are usually part of a slim woman. Larger women often need shorter bands than what their measurements would suggest, to ensure proper support on a softer body.|
|boob basis positon horizontally||Boob basis is the area on a ribcage that the boob is grown on. The horizontal position determines the distance between the boobs. This is important for choosing the correct gore height and width. Women with very little space between the boobs can go for overlapping wires (can be found in Comexims or Ewa Michalks bras) or super low gores, like in many plunge styles. Plunges with only a band of fabric connecting the cups are nit suited for close set boobs.|
|boob basis position vertically||The height of the boob basis on the ribcage influences the required underbadn width, because the torso tends to get slimmer towards the waist. Women with low sitting breasts often need short underbands. The lenght of starps can also be an issue. Women with very high or very low boob basis position should look out for completely adjustable straps. Third thing to consider is height of bra in the armpit area. Women with high set boobs might get an issue with wires poking into armpits with some models.|
|boob basis shape horizontally||The boob basis width does directly correlate with the required wire width.|
|boob basis shape vertically||This means how high does the breast tissue reach under the clavicles.|
|volume distribution horizontally||Boob volume can lay towards the armpits, centerd, or towards the sternum.|
|boob volume vertically||The boob volume can be in the upper half, centered, or the lower half of the boob. This is important for choosing a cup style (half cup, full cup etc.)|
|boob volume third axis||The boob volume can either sit close to the ribcage, or with some distance. If one bends over topless, one can observe if the boobs keep a more or less hemispherical shape (indicates the nessecity for wide wires) or the volume sinks down like in a bag (indicates the need for narrow wires).|
|Most women do not have symmetrical boobs. If there is a big difference, it can be challenging to find fitting bras. One should aim for fitting the bigger side, adjusting the emptier cup via strap lentgh or, if desired, additional padding. German company Bravaria makes bras for asymmetrical boobs, they only deliver to Germany and Austria so far.|
Anne-Louise of BH-Lounge made a woderful map for great bra fitting adresses in Germany and surroundings:
If you know of any good places not yet on the map, make sure to let me know.
If one just noticed to be wearing illfitting bras, might want to take a test order. One can narrow down possible sizes with a good bra size calculator and order the same model in several neighbouring sizes. If one does not have any idea cut wise yet, the following four reference models are a good options since they are widely available in a good size range, fit many women well and help figuring out boob traits.
|bras in different skin colours||Nubian Skin|
|bras for very large boobs||Ewa Michalak, Jeunique, Optifit|
|bras for very small boobs||Dainty Lady|
|bras for very big ribcages||Ewa Michalak, Glamorise,|
|bras for very small ribcages||Bosom Galore, Comexim|
|narrow wires||Comexim, Freya|
|eco friendly||Aikyou, …|
|rare sizes:||Look at bratabase.com, they list that shit|