Have you ever wondered about those strange-sounding sizes listed on your bra tag? Have you ever been stumped by an online bra listing that says it’s available in EU sizes? Today we’re going to clear up some of the confusion about international bra sizing between countries. That way you'll be free to buy bras from anywhere in the world (as long as you can do some math).
1. UK and US band sizes are always the same.
The most effortless international bra sizing conversion is between US and UK sizing. I’m betting that many of you reading this already know your size in both systems! These systems share a band size range (28 to 52), so you’ll generally be the same band size in both countries. Once you have that down, you can usually calculate off what you know. The UK uses double letter sizes (past the DD mark) while the US doesn’t. So if you see a bra that is an FF–it's a UK bra. If you see an I cup, it’s a US bra.
2. Learn the sizing system for your body type.
As a general rule, most sizing systems tend to deal with different body types. If you’re full-busted, learning the French sizing system is probably a mostly wasted effort. Learning the UK-based system is not! If you’re full-busted, you’ll find lots of bras to wear in EU sizing (Poland and Germany), UK sizing, and US sizing. If you wear a smaller cup size, you can have fun exploring the offerings of French and Italian retailers.
3. EU and French sizes are not the same.
EU sizing uses a 60 to 120 range for their band sizes, and the French system uses a 75 to 135 range of theirs. The brands that use these size ranges are often mixed up within the lingerie market, but you will be different sizes in Chantelle than in Prima Donna.The Bra Zone Appendix Prima Donna Twist Deep Plunge Longline Available in Bands 32-40, Cups C-G via Rigby & Peller
4. Assume that going up one cup sizes = one inch of space.
While this isn’t always true (in part because bras can be inconsistently sized from brand to brand), it’s a decent place to start your search. If you measure the difference between your bust and underbust measurements, you can roughly guess at your cup size in any sizing system.
5. You can cheat by checking your bra tag.
Most bra tags now have the sizing printed on them in almost all sizing systems. So you can see what the international bra size equivalent of your favorite bra would be across countries! This info is useful when you’re scoping out new lingerie online from another country.La Perla Anastasia Balconnet Available in FR Bands 85-95, Cups B-D via Glamuse
6. Size conversions aren’t exact, so buy from a place with a good return policy.
With some basic knowledge, you can buy some great bras online! Since sizing isn’t exact, though, make sure you do it from a place where you can make returns. Figleaves carries a ton of different overseas brands and has US-based returns, for example.
7. Not all sizing systems offer a wide range of cup sizes.
The reality is that even if you learn to convert from one size system to another, those brands might not make your size. It is almost certainly the situation if you wear a cup size over a UK G cup. There’s a reason all of those fancy French lingerie sites also import bras from the UK. Learning what brands are likely to fit will make your life easier and make it more fun to experiment with buying lingerie.
Another useful way to figure this all out is something that Elisabeth wrote about in her fantastic book. Her concept of knowing your ‘bra zone’ is a great one to learn about and keep in mind when you’re shopping for international lingerie. (And the book includes an international conversion chart to get you started.)
What about you? Do you have any other tips for converting your size into international bra sizing?