What You Need to Know About Bra Size and Fit

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

There are plenty of ways to figure out a woman’s correct bra size and fit. You can watch on-line instructional videos, read books, use apps, or follow any number of step-by-step bra size guides.

Some companies, like Jockey and OptiFit, have created their own unique bra fit kits. These new methods, though, are only useful in wearing their brands.

Women may be frustrated and confused by all these bra sizing and fit options. I asked Tomima Edmark, founder of on-line lingerie retailer, HerRoom, about current bra trends. She said, “[with bras] there is a curious occurrence in the market place. Though everyone is telling you to get the right size, there has been a significant increase in sales for bras that come in S, M, L sizes.  An Industry report confirms this.” It appears that some women are giving up on size formulas and choosing simplicity.

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Is this a good idea? Ali Cudby, author of Busted! and Fab Foundations bra fit expert, explained the challenge. “Ultimately, proper bra fit is somewhat of a moving target, since it involves unique bodies and varying cultural norms. It only helps women when they are connected to bras in which they look and feel their best.” The right bra size exists for every woman and it can change her life for the better. But how do we find this little slice of bra heaven?

To lighten up the bra size and fit conversation, here are my Ten Bra Commandments:

1.  Put no other breasts before your own. Yes, your breasts are constantly changing and can be a burden at times (for whatever reason). But they are also unique, wondrous, and yours alone. Check out the “Know Your Breasts” section on HerRoom or scroll through the photo galleries at to get a better idea of the variety in nature. No two boobs are alike, even on the same woman.

2.  Honor your breasts with a little bra curiosity. Discover the joys of wearing a bra you love. It’s not that complicated. Ask yourself what you don’t like about your current bra. There are many simple solutions to common bra problems. Schedule a proper bra fitting from a department store or specialty lingerie shop, or take some time to research specific issues and make bra size or style changes.

3.  You shall not judge your breasts by a letter, number, or combination thereof. No two brands are going to fit you the same way. Many women wear two different sizes in one month. Don’t think one letter is the only answer. HerRoom’s Edmark adds, “if you are larger than a D, your cup size could be called other letters.” Focus less on an arbitrary number and more on what makes you feel and look your best.

4.  You shall accept that bra cups aren't equal across band sizes. Moving up and down bra bands can be tricky. “When you go up a band size, you need to go down a cup size to maintain your same cup volume and the reverse: going down [band size] means up a cup size,” says Edmark.

5.   You shall praise unpredictable bra fit. Style, brand, and quality of materials make a difference in bra size and fit. Racer-back, sports, demi-cup, plunge, lace, and  t-shirt molded bras offer distinct breast profiles. Confused by the options? Don’t be. Focus less on size and more on how well it works under your clothes. And if the bra don't fit, don’t blame your...breasts.

6.  You shall rotate, replenish, and re-adjust your bras. Don’t wear the same bra each and every day. If you have two or three favorites, try to switch them out and allow them to return to their original shape between wears. Don't forget to take up bra straps or use inner band hooks as your bra ages. How many bras should you own? Enough to keep from getting frustrated by a lack of options.  And once your bras start to look all raggedy and worn, they should be replaced. This could be six months or one or two years, depending on how often you wear one particular bra.


My Bra Sins

7.  You shall set aside a proper place to store your bras. T-shirt and molded bras must be stacked to keep cups from getting crushed. Find a way to organize your bras that will ensure that that your investment of time and money pays off.

8.  You shall not murder your bras. Treat your delicate garments the way you’d want a partner to handle your own breasts, with gentleness and care. Can’t get around to hand-washing your bras? Invest in a lingerie laundry bag, and use gentle soap and the delicate cycle of the washing machine. Never, ever, ever put your bras in the dryer. High heat kills bras.

9.  You shall not covet another woman’s size, shape, or breast experience. Surveys show that women wear up to 8 different sizes of bras in their lifetime. (I wore that many in one pregnancy). Know that being a woman means facing these ups and downs, whether from weight changes, pregnancy, or age. Don’t let normal bra challenges defeat you. And that neighbor with the fabulous rack and perfect body? Believe me, she has her own issues.

10. You shall think outside the bra. Bra fit and size are only a small part of the bra wear experience. Lifestyle, income, age, and body size are other factors to consider. You might need to customize your bra experience to get the best fit under certain outfits or circumstances.

Do you have any bra rules that help you ease the burden of finding the best bra size and fit? Please share in the comments below!

Image: Fauve Longline Bra

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