finding the right bra size and best fit
May 31, 2012 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Bratabase is a crowdsourced "bra database" made to help women find the right bra (interview with the creator). According to many studies, over 80% of women aren't wearing the correct bra size: "there's a lot of misinformation about bras out there". For instance, D cups just aren't that big ("Clearly there are a whole lot more D+ cups out there than people assume") and not all D cups are the same size ("from left to right 30D, 32D, 34D, 36D, 38D. Five different band lengths, five different cup volumes. All D Cups"). Most of these links contain photos and therefore may be NSFWish for some.

Boosaurus - Me and my mythical bra size: "This is why I do what I do. If I show everyone that a girl with a 28-band isn't just some mythical, twig-like creature, maybe some girls will realize that bands below 32 do exist, and they're not freakish for feeling like bands are always too big for them. If I tell everyone over and over that I wear a GG (or sometimes G, or H, or HH) cup, then maybe a few people will realize that the alphabet doesn't stop at D, that there are lots of options out there, that well-fitting bras do exist, that wearing a D cup or above isn't some strange, shameful thing."

Bra Fitting Cicade - G and GG cups - do they always stand for "get a reduction"? "Generally these stereotypes force women to wear bras with D or DD cups (which are considered “normal”) and much too wide bands. Even if any of these women who wear bad sizes happens to enter a store with a real bra-fitting, she’s often shocked to hear that she should wear a 34FF or 34G instead of 38D that she always used to wear, what’s more she may get hysterical saying – I can’t/don’t have such big breasts. And refuse to wear a correct size because of that. This is what we call a “letterphobia” – this fear of wearing DD+ cups." (Why are women afraid to break the D-cup barrier?)

*Breakout Bras Fitting Guide
*Invest In Your Chest - DIY: Measure Yourself At Home
*Butterfly Collection - Don't hate on the tape measure; the 5 fit checks plus a size calculator that suggests brands
*Five signs of a poor fit
*How to put your bra on correctly: The ‘Scoop and Grab’ or the ‘Scoop and Jiggle’
*The dark side of sister sizes: "So what’s the down side of this cute little phrase? Simply put, if your band size is wrong then the bra DOES NOT FIT. The band is by far the most important part of any bra because it provides 90% of the support."
*It's your band size, and your choice: "Only you can decide what feels most comfortable for you. Just be informed about the right and wrong reasons to wear a band size slightly bigger than your measurements... Upsizing just so you can find something in shops, when you wouldn’t do so otherwise, means you are being bullied by the companies and inadvertently voting for the wrong sizes with your wallet."
*StackDD+ - When and why to get fitted
*Linda's extensive bra problems/solutions guide
*Bratabase's troubleshooting section (submitted photos receive members' advice)

The Itty Bitty Bra Guide by Amanda of

Underbust Survey by Braless in Brasil -
Part 1: Data Range & Underbusts
Part 2: Sample Bias & Methodology
Part 3: Bust Sizes
Part 4: Bust Variation
Part 5: Clothing Sizes

*Breast Shapes (with a visual chart)
*What Exactly is a "Good" Shape? & How to Figure Out The Shape Of Your Boobs
*Soft vs. Firm Breasts

Clothing and Bra Sizes for the D Cup and Up: The Fit Factor vs. the Risk Factor: "When manufacturers and stores say there isn’t enough demand for clothing or bras in our size, it’s easy to feel incredulous because we’re connected via the internet to full-busted women all over the world who share our frustrations with fit. Are these businesses blind? Not necessarily. They just want to stay in business. For many companies this means doing what has always worked and avoiding risk. Women have been forcing themselves into their size ranges for years. What’s the big deal now?"

Attack of the Killer DDDDDDDs!!
"Here are the FOUR big bra problems I encountered:
1. The use of multiple Ds is keeping North American women away from embracing larger cup letters
2. Not enough brands understand the difference between Full Bust and Plus Size bras
3. Sizing for Full Bust women is still wildly inaccurate
4. Online boutiques are massively overlooked by brands and women alike"

Why We Need 28 and 30 Bands and GG+ Cups: "As more women in the US market in particular become aware of sub-32 band sizes in their quest for good-fitting bras, those who need to move down in band size will likely have to move up in cup size, and for some of them, that means crossing the GG+ cup line."

The Bra Band Project on Flickr: "We first started this project after a few big-name, full-busted (DD+ cups) lingerie companies asserted that there was "no market" for 30 and under bands, and that "30 and under bands are for juniors." We wholeheartedly disagreed! We knew that there were plenty of us out there struggling to find bras in these sizes. To illustrate our point, we've collected photos of women who wear sizes 24-30 band bras in sizes DD-KK (using UK sizing), ranging from ages 18-50+. As the photos show, we are women of a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and ages, and we need and deserve bras that fit." (photo sets)

USA Money - HerRoom's universal sizing chart demystifies larger bras; Bratabase responds: "Me and many bra enthusiasts on Twitter worry if adding one more standard will create more confusion... PS: I hate that they're using the letter D, just perpetuates the "D is huge" myth."

Jezebel - A new online bra shop helps you figure out your "real" bra size via an algorithm: "The former Microsoft employees who founded True & Co, Aarthi Ramamurthy and Michelle Lam, say they want to make the bra-shopping process entertaining and stress-free: "The whole idea is to wrap some really complicated technology into a very simple online quiz to make it fun for women," Lam told the NY Daily News."

(previously on MeFi: Busty Girl Problems)
posted by flex (120 comments total) 619 users marked this as a favorite

Thank you SO MUCH for putting this information together. Brava!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:48 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bravo, wonderful post!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:50 PM on May 31, 2012

For a second, I thought it was a database of brats.
posted by vidur at 6:52 PM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]

Fantastic! This is really great info.
posted by gemmy at 6:57 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Flex, I love you so much right now. So. Much.
posted by dejah420 at 7:00 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know that I'd be comfortable in a properly fitting bra, because according to the signs of a poor fit, I'm not sure I've ever worn one that did fit right.
posted by immlass at 7:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?

(My girlfriend's already put me on notice that if we ever get back out to L.A., we're stopping by one of her shops.)
posted by radwolf76 at 7:03 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just this year, someone's Ask led me to bras that fit fairly well for the first time ever. I have learned more about how to find bras from Metafilter in the past year than I had in my entire life before, and I am a 39 year old woman. This is wonderful.

And really sad.
posted by dilettante at 7:03 PM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

This is awesome in every respect, a work of art, thank you flex!
posted by biscotti at 7:04 PM on May 31, 2012

Fantastic post. Thank you so much!
posted by rtha at 7:06 PM on May 31, 2012

That True & Co site looks great but I keep getting some sort of error when I try to look at the bras they've selected for me. Frustrating! The questions they asked while trying to figure out my fit seemed very smart.
posted by peacheater at 7:08 PM on May 31, 2012

Part of me wishes you waited until December for the Best Post contest, but a bigger part of me is like YAY BRA FIT EVANGELISM because seriously, so many people out there are wearing the wrong size bra and it really is awful. I know, because I used to be one of them. Still am, sometimes.

Thanks for the great post!
posted by k8lin at 7:09 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is little in the world more frustrating than bra shopping.

I went and bought my first new bra in several years (there was a significant moneyless period in my life a while back, that's how come so long) a few months ago. I knew that my chest had changed size (thanks, HBC!), so I did a LOT of reading on proper bra fit before hitting the stores and knew what I wanted and was supposed to be looking for. THOSE THINGS WERE SO HARD TO FIND.

These are the things I learned:

1) If you're larger than a D cup, you're screwed at "normal" stores (I was at the flagship Macy's in Chicago where they have approximately eleventy billion bras). I figured out, much to my surprise (since we're conditioned to think D=huge), that I'm a D cup. This severely limited my choices.

2) If you don't want anything with padding or push-up, you're screwed. (Seriously, what is UP with that!?) Nearly every bra there had filler in the bottom half of the cup. These things are big enough as it is. I DO NOT CARE FOR ANY MORE. THANK YOU.

3) If you want something that fits comfortably and you want to pay less than 50 bucks a pop, you're screwed.

4) If you want something that's both cute and practical, you're screwed.

5) Even if the 34D in Brand A Style X fits you like a dream, there is no guarantee that Brand A Style Y will fit you the same way. Brand B Style X won't fit the same way either, sorry.

What made it infinitely worse was that after the hours-long (yes, plural), arduous shopping experience I came home and asked my very large-busted roommate where she manages to find bras (since I was shocked at how limited a selection I had at a department store (where, back in my B and C days I had done just fine)), and related my D-cup-now-what experience to her. She, incredulous that I was a D cup, informed me that I was wrong, and that I was probably a B or something, and that she knows she's a D cup because she went to Victoria's Secret and they measured her and told her she was a D or maybe a DD. (Hmm, I wonder what the largest size bra is that Victoria's Secret carries...)

posted by phunniemee at 7:14 PM on May 31, 2012 [41 favorites]

My daughter went to buy a bra to go with her prom dress earlier this year, and she and her mother were SHOCKED at what they found when they bought a bra from a knowledgeable person (at Victoria's Secret, of all places) as opposed to off the shelf at Target. As it turns out, she'd been wearing a bra 2 band sizes too large and a cup three sizes too small for the last few years.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:20 PM on May 31, 2012

I wish I could flag this as fantastic twice. Once for each boob.

I was one of those people who was all "psht, no way I'm wearing the wrong size bra" until I got fitted and someone actually explained how bras are sized and how they should fit. It's not common knowledge.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:21 PM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Last week when I went to see "Cabin In The Woods," I was distracted by the "Piranha 3DD" trailer, because I kept thinking, "Those probably are not actually DD, and what is up with everybody thinking DD is RIDICULOUSLY LARGE?" I am a sad, literal, beanplating person, and I am not the target audience for this movie.

My sister once came in to Victoria's Secret for a bra fitting. The clerk asked her what size she was wearing, and my sister said, and the clerk said, "Yeah, that seems about right!"

It was way off. And Victoria's Secret didn't even carry her size.
posted by Jeanne at 7:22 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

peacheater: "That True & Co site looks great but I keep getting some sort of error when I try to look at the bras they've selected for me. Frustrating! The questions they asked while trying to figure out my fit seemed very smart."

I only got to the part where the largest size they had in the "pick your favorite bra" part was a 38. I'm going to guess that I am not their target demographic.
posted by dejah420 at 7:26 PM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

I can't get my wife to get a 'real' bra fitting. I've tried a couple times, but she's just...some combination of too modest and scared of what it will say about her. Normally I'd do something like this as a gift for a trial, it's not something I can just impose on her. "Here, be uncomfortable with a stranger for a time!"
posted by persona at 7:31 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

so why can't stores regularly carry AA and nearly A cup bra sizes for adult women?

This a MILLION (x 2) times. Target is routinely the only place with multiple options, and even still half of mine come from lines that are, delicately, aimed at children. I have money, Bra Industry! I love lace! I just have, like, zero boobs. Help me give you more money!
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:32 PM on May 31, 2012 [12 favorites]

This is an effort I would like to support.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 7:35 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

My own personal internet (interboobs)!

Flagged as fantastic.
posted by rumposinc at 7:44 PM on May 31, 2012

Fantastic post.

As a weird, hard to fit size I have long interpreted the "sister size" idea to mean "we don't have your actual size, but we'd still like to sell you something, so try this."

Life is so much better with a properly fitting bra.
posted by ambrosia at 7:48 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Jesus. Every time I learn more about women's clothing sizing, the more I think it's 100% bullshit.
posted by mhoye at 7:50 PM on May 31, 2012 [17 favorites]

persona: let her know that if she goes to a specialist store, she doesn't have to bare all for them to measure. The sales people are very good at preserving modesty for their customers.

I'm a huge fan of Diane's lingerie in Vancouver. I've never had a bad experience there. It's the only store on the South Granville strip I can't sneer at.

I don't bother with Victoria's Secret or La Senza-type stores. The bras are too small and more importantly, the straps are too narrow. They simply wouldn't be comfortable. I've read in other places that for large breasted women who need cheaper alternatives, Frederick's of Hollywood has some good options. I won't buy anything I can't try on so I don't know if that's the case.
posted by Salmonberry at 7:51 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

A couple years back, whilst searching for a well fitting bra to wear under a bellydance costume, I found myself at Dillard's, wandering about in frustration and ready to tear all of my hair out. I'm pretty zaftig, and it's just a righteous pain to find things that fit well to begin with - and doubly so when you need to hoist the Girls into a backless (!!!) costume.

An older woman approached me, asked what she could help me find, and remarked that I really should have a proper fitting before I plunked down so much money. Well, OK. She's a pro and looks at tits all day, so it's not like I had anything to be embarrassed about, right? I was quite astounded with the results, and taking that time has saved me a lot of sanity when replacing Vital Infrastructure.
posted by MissySedai at 7:52 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Man I'd like to get a fancy bra fitting, but I have no clue where to go for such a thing where they won't just tell me I'm [size their store carries].
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:57 PM on May 31, 2012

showbiz_liz: some expensive mall store, probably (see below). But I am the only person on the planet who hated her bra size fitting and results with a passion.

God, I hate bra shopping. To the point where I wear tank tops with bras inside them every day, even though I know that's not good, they're too big for that, blah blah blah. I hate almost all of my bras, and I hated getting Properly Fitted At Nordstrom's by some 19-year-old who yes, gave me letterphobia. I also despised the super expensive bras they had in My Proper Size (oh, wait, they had ONE in My Right And Proper Size, I had to go up a band size after that), which flat out hurt. She told me they would "stretch." No, that didn't happen and didn't make it any better. I hate that I can only shop at super expensive stores because My Right And Proper Size is usually not made by anyone, and I hate that my options for bra color are usually some shade of creamy brown and that's it.

So yeah, still usually buying "wrong" size (my band size plus cup size is usually just plain not manufactured and I go up a band) and I just don't care. I'm too old and fugly to attract someone with them anyway and who cares about making them Perky! under those circumstances. Though oddly enough, I did find one at Victoria's Secret once in an actual color and workable size. Go figure. But most of the time I'm required to spend tons of money on something that fits approximately right and looks like something my grandma would wear, and that sucks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:00 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

God, I hate bra shopping.

Vasquez will fix you up.

Tell her I sent you.
posted by Trurl at 8:06 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

If I ever go to LA, sure. But until then....
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:21 PM on May 31, 2012

But most of the time I'm required to spend tons of money on something that fits approximately right and looks like something my grandma would wear, and that sucks.

Amen. I am a Big Girl (bigger when I am working out - my band size just went up a notch, which actually helps, proportionately) and my options are black, "flesh-toned" (I am sorry, that is not the color of any flesh I have seen that wasn't on a chicken thigh) and white, in one style. I am fortunate to live in a city with a specialized lingerie store, so I'm good with fittings and all that, but man, the options are sparse.

(Don't get me started about sports bras. I don't need a bag to hold them in, lady, I'm going JOGGING. I need support. Like, talk to an industrial engineer about he stresses involved and then get back to me.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:22 PM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]

I can't get my wife to get a 'real' bra fitting.

Persona, I haven't gone through all the links in this post, but there are sites on line that give very clear instructions on how to properly measure oneself to get an accurate or at least pretty accurate fit. I'm betting that there are one or two links in this post or within the sites that are linked that cover this.

I remember reading some article where a women was describing trying to talk a friend out of getting breast enhancement surgery. She warned her friend that she would have a hard time finding bras in her size and the ones that she did find would be a) very expensive and b) generally not very attractive. Go just one or two sizes up from the "normal" band sizes (32-36( or cup size (A-C and sometimes D), and bras that fit become increasingly rare and exponentially more expensive, especially if you don't want to settle for the bra equivalent of "granny pants." I would imagine that people on the opposite end of the spectrum (smaller than normal band/cup size or the even more elusive small band/bigger than D cup size) don't have it any easier.

One tip I've heard is always get a new bra so that the band fits on the last set of hooks. Even if always hand washed, bras tend to stretch over time.
posted by kaybdc at 8:23 PM on May 31, 2012

I am fortunate to live in a city with a specialized lingerie store

Things I did not know about Austin. This is good news because I'm in dire need of a refit.
posted by immlass at 8:25 PM on May 31, 2012

Thanks for a wonderful post and just in time!

It's time to replace all my rags bras again.

I will be reading and absorbing every link, and will be trying out the True&Co website with fingers crossed.

With a little luck, I can find something that's supportive, comfortable, and doesn't look too industrial. Although the first two are the most important, IMHO. I'm an active girl, and I want support, dammit.

Wearing an uncomfortable bra at any time is the pits, but especially in the summer. Ugh!

This post is relevant to the girls' interests, and I will be forwarding the links to ALL of my sisters and near sisters.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:27 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

What an excellent post! BRA-vo!
posted by xingcat at 8:48 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

This kind of thing stresses me out. I don't have that much on my plate relatively speaking, but the apparently monumental effort involved in finding a proper bra as outlined in this post is just too much for me to handle. You know what, the crappy misshapen piece of crap I bought 4 years ago for $50 keeps my nipples from showing and my boobs look relatively normal. Thinking about the vast expanses of time, energy and money I apparently need to get the right bra is making me so tired. I don't know how you other ladies do it all and smiling. Hats off to you. Or bras I guess.
posted by bleep at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I too, am in need of a refit - I just ran my numbers through the Bra Calculator and I came up with numbers that looked like they came from a license plate.

My current bra collection consists of assorted frilly torture devices and Wacoal sports bras, so maybe I should run those plate numbers. There doesn't seem to be anywhere I can try them on, though.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:58 PM on May 31, 2012

With a little luck, I can find something that's supportive, comfortable, and doesn't look too industrial


I'm just going to wheel mine around on a funny cart. Maybe with some Salvador Dali style supports.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [8 favorites]

I opened this post for the topic but I'm wanting to favorite this a thousand times as a resource.
-THANK YOU- so very, very much.

Also, a very fitting quote, not just about bras but women's clothing overall:
'There is good reason for the small sample sizes. It comes down to business and logistics. The wonderful thing about women is their curves - but the bigger the size, the more curves, and the less easy it is to fit them in a way that's flattering to the clothes, which ultimately you're trying to sell.'

posted by DisreputableDog at 9:02 PM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

For a time, once upon a time, I had the ability to purchase some rather good clothes so I went to the best shop I could find with exclusive designer clothes where I consulted with a stylist. They absolutely gave value for my bit of money as I quickly learned that fit was everything. I was first directed to a fitter who produced from her shelves a truly magical French brassiere that cost almost as much as I had ever spent on a dress prior to that time. She advised me to get two of them to try, told me how to care for them and assured me she could send me more after I saw how I liked it.

For quite a while I continued to wear and buy those bras. I wish I could remember the name. They were based on a well padded and patented underwire, extremely good taffeta-like fabric and double-sided special elasticized back closures that kept the band in the correct place. The straps were fitted and sewn to my measurement--not adjustable. This bra truly minimized my silhouette so I looked less buxom and much more suited to haute couture. It was also extremely comfortable.

I loved those bras. I think it was more important to my appearance than any clothing I bought to wear over it and after I couldn't afford the designer dresses anymore, I kept getting the bras as long as I could. If they are still made, and you can afford the investment, I hope you can repeat my discovery or go to Paris and find them there!
posted by Anitanola at 9:16 PM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

dude, I could have written this post! I just went through the whole "get a professional bra fitting at Nordstrom, then buy a whole new wardrobe while wearing said bra" routine, and afterwards did tons of research and found all these same awesome blogs.

I went from wearing stretched out old 34B's to 30DD! I rarely go bra shopping but it is totally true that only seeing 32-38 band sizes on the shelves warped my perception. I had no idea I could be a size smaller than 32. My Nordstrom did carry some 30 bands, but I didn't see them on display. If you suspect you need a smaller size, talk to one of the bra ladies, they are helpful and can get you odd sizes from the backroom!

Hopefully this post will get the word out to more people!
posted by astrid at 9:34 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some of the Ds with small band sizes pictured in a few of the links here are shockingly small. I have been hearing this "average women should wear larger than a D for many band sizes" for a while, but still very surprised by some of those pics. Wow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:41 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good god, it's like you knew what I wrote on my to-do list yesterday. 1. Get sized, buy new bras, and burn old bras with the shot elastic and missing hooks.

This is seriously fantastic.
posted by book 'em dano at 10:12 PM on May 31, 2012

*need sidebar flag*

This. I will be sharing this post with my partner ASAP -- I have sat through more bra shopping trips than I can count, and sharing the misery doesn't make it better.
posted by Forktine at 10:13 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Today I had to return a Change bra for being too stretchy. They lure you in with their 30G tags but they fit small and wide. Then to Tryst on Queen where I almost found a strapless or bustier. Tomorrow I'll hit Tryst on Eglinton where they're holding a 28 for me and the bridal section might hold a bustier in my size. I'm afraid to get my hopes up but I so want to wear strapless things. But even the most expensive bra is cheaper than surgery, and there's no surgery to make your ribcage bigger.
posted by sgrass at 10:14 PM on May 31, 2012

Also, every Victoria's Secret bra I've seen has so much padding there's no room for actual breast tissue.
posted by sgrass at 10:17 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Okay, so this post and some measuring tape tells me my bra size should be 30C or 30D and this shit is blowing my mind. Every fitting I've ever had has put me in a 36A or 34B and they were all so damned uncomfortable I'm wearing a girls size medium sport bra because it fit.

seriously my world has been rocked unless I measured wrong? is that possible?
posted by zennish at 10:26 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

And here I've been contemplating a trip to Jenette.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:29 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I ask this not out of prurient motives: 30 years ago, when in high school, it was not uncommon to see my female friends "poking" through their bra on odd occasions (much like the male half of the class were perpetual candidates for an appearance on, had it existed at the time).

I cannot recall the last time I saw anyone's nipples trying to escape their clothes, not that I'm out and about all that much, especially somewhere like a school. But, still...has something happened in bra tech that has eliminated this, such as most bras are now made of "x" instead of "y", or most bras are now slightly padded, or...?

Again, I'm not saying "wah, my objectification focus went away!" I'm just idly curious. My wife only wears sports bras and always has, as far as I know, so she probably wouldn't be able to give me an answer.
posted by maxwelton at 10:29 PM on May 31, 2012

Ugh, I wear a 28C. If I want to find a bra that is even close to fitting me, I'm ordering off of eBay from China. Most of the online size conversion sites don't even do the math for that size. I didn't even have much luck through the links provided. I will, however, be submitting a photo for the 'mythical bra size' flicker feed. Maybe, just maybe, one of the U.S. based bra makers will enhance their offerings when they learn that not all under-32s are children.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:36 PM on May 31, 2012

So I can never figure out how much breath I should be holding in during these measurements. Should I be emptying my lungs as much as possible? Should I breathe deeply? Should I try for something in between?

I mean, yes, I get that the tape measure should be horizontal. Every bra fitting guide tells me that much. But what about the breathing?
posted by asperity at 11:11 PM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

So, I've looked at a number of the articles and none seems to have a conclusive answer to why most retailers stop at DD. When my previously DD-wearing fiancee found out she should be wearing something several letters higher--and which can't be found in most stores--she was shocked.

Somehow, DD became "that's the hugest size of boobs! Those are porno boobs!" when, as one of the FPP links says: D isn't actually that large.

How did this happen? Is there a definitive answer?

Is it really just lazy retailing? Apparently, a number of my female friends need to buy specialty bras because they're in the larger-than-DD zone, and none of them seem to be unusually shaped women with particularly huge breasts. Lazy retailing does seem to be the answer, but if so many women are in need of larger bras, why isn't the market meeting the demand?
posted by asnider at 11:11 PM on May 31, 2012

maxwelton, it's definitely gotten more difficult to find non-padded bras nowadays, which explains the change you've seen. Even those of us who don't like padding (it's hot!) find that it is not comfortable to be the only girl on the block whose nipples are occasionally visible through her clothes. It's so rare to see nowadays that people tend to stare. Awkward all round.

I've definitely just worn a 32B for my entire adult life. I know it's not my size, but it's easily findable in stores, and my breasts aren't large enough to be burdensome if my back is bearing more of the weight than it strictly needs to. I guess that makes me part of the problem, but man, I really can't be arsed to make this a Life Quest.
posted by town of cats at 11:16 PM on May 31, 2012

Ahhhh thank you for this post! I wear a 36DD generally but with differences in sizing for different styles even within brands trying to find a bra that isn't a) a boat or b) subject to quadraboob seepage is super ridiculous, and all my old well-fitting bras have died a death recently.
posted by clavier at 12:05 AM on June 1, 2012

Yeah, maxwelton, I haven't worn a non-padded bra in years, and I don't necessarily need a bra at all times, but now when I wear one it's specifically for support + nipple coverage. I remember in high school some guy being like (to another guy), "dude, check out Bailey, she's totally nipping out," and being like, "why on earth would her nipples ever be visible." To be honest I kind of miss the nipple look, I think I'm going to go braless more often.

Also, I'm horribly disappointed that ISN'T REAL. I checked. :'(
posted by stoneandstar at 12:17 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I finally figured out my real size - with the help of a German message board dedicated entirely to bra-fitting - about two years ago, after wearing ill-fitting, non-supportive bras for almost 15 years (like most women, I needed a smaller band and a larger cup size). And it makes *such* a difference!

After that revelation, I keep noticing others wearing the wrong size and it's so tempting to evangelize, but it has never felt appropriate to comment. So yay for your post, and hopefully lots of women benefit from it :-)
posted by Skybly at 12:59 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Holy crap. According to the measurements I should go up 2 cups. As a 34A I'm not sure I believe that I could ever be a C. I guess I'll be investigating this. Thanks so much for this post!
posted by litlnemo at 1:02 AM on June 1, 2012

(Oh, and it's weird, but apparently I had the right band size all along, unlike most people. I sew, which probably helped a bit -- I know my measurements. But I had somehow figured out the bra size wrong years and years ago, I guess.)
posted by litlnemo at 1:03 AM on June 1, 2012

Historical fashion footnote: I can't remember the name of the bra but the name of the shop was LaClede's, described by this customer as '. . . like a very glamorous cocoon . . . all done in dove gray, with satin sofas and satin draperies. They had a doorman to take you in, and there were no racks of clothing. They brought you dresses that they had chosen with you in mind. It was ultra luxe.' The time I'm remembering is the sixties, early seventies.
posted by Anitanola at 1:36 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

My sister once came in to Victoria's Secret for a bra fitting. The clerk asked her what size she was wearing, and my sister said, and the clerk said, "Yeah, that seems about right!"

It was way off. And Victoria's Secret didn't even carry her size.

I am the sister! And frustrated by bras for a number of reasons. I am not a particularly tiny person (I am rather tall and wear around a size 6-10 in clothes) so I am always perplexed that the bra size I wear is the smallest size that can be easily found (though, yes, excluded from Victoria's Secret, though they'll tell you a 34C is the same as a 32D)

I run a lot, and when I had been having some chafing problems in the band area, some people online told me to try going down a band size. If I decided to go that route (for now I have a single sports bra model that I can choose from in my size that doesn't chafe) I'm kind of SOL. There is one manufacturer I know of that makes high support bras in a 30 band, and they're only available online so I can't even try them on first. And yes, I hate complaining about this because I know people with large band or cup sizes have even fewer options when it comes to sports bras-- but how is it that one of the larger members of my local running club can barely find something with a small enough band? It makes me wonder how the truly tiny people manage.
posted by matcha action at 3:26 AM on June 1, 2012

Having spent a few months looking for a bra that'll fit me as a trans woman with a huge ribcage and small breasts with no success, it seems I got my hopes up about this post for nothing. I suppose my issue is probably an uncommon one, but I literally can't get a 38 band round my chest, and a 40A (the smallest cup size for a 40 band I've been able to find) leaves a laughable amount of slack in the cups. My breasts are small, but not smaller than so many other girls' - if I could wear a 32 or 34 or something, I'd probably be a B cup, if not C (40B to 42C is what various calculators suggest based on my measurements, except that one that suggested a 36 band, which would involve breaking some ribs) but it seems the sizing schemes just don't allow for big chests and small breasts - I suspect a 40AA (if such a thing even exists - I've heard tell of it, but never seen one) would still be too large a cup, and there isn't anything smaller than that, is there?
posted by Dysk at 3:48 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

This whole post reminds me of the question I have never seen answered, which is why in Jesu's name you can't buy bands and cups separately and have them attach? Because finding the Perfect Combination is 90 percent of the problem; you can find one, but not the other, and clearly there is a lot of variation. And this would allow for padded v nonpadded, etc issues to be addressed. And you could swap out w nursing cups when you're breastfeeding!

Maybe it's not possible to make them that way so they're structurally sound but it seems like it's a solvable problem. It would certainly make my life easier.
posted by emjaybee at 4:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Dysk, I'm sure you've no doubt looked around, but have you looked at Chrysalis Lingerie? I happened upon an article that says their bras are designed specifically for trans women.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:36 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dysk, I've seen bra extenders sold in department stores that let out the band at the closure. Might be just what you need.
posted by pajamazon at 5:04 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

For large band/small cup sizes, I see them online at Lauren Silva and Woman Within. I realize that means buying online, however, but if you've exhausted your IRL options, it's there.

For instance right away I saw this Woman Within bra available up to 52 B & C (so yes it's in 46 & 48 B & C as well as 40B and 42 C). It's not high quality (some of the reviews complain the underwires spring out easily) but it's highly rated and it's cheap for an off-size, especially one you're trying sight-unseen by buying it online. Also, it's not beige!

And here's 40AA bras at Lauren Silva - sorry, just in white. Their size finder on the front page goes up to 52AA and then beyond from there, so it looks like they stock plenty of range in large band/small cup.
posted by flex at 5:08 AM on June 1, 2012

Even if the 34D in Brand A Style X fits you like a dream, there is no guarantee that Brand A Style Y will fit you the same way. Brand B Style X won't fit the same way either, sorry.

And, the minute you find Brand A Style X, they stop making it.
posted by JanetLand at 5:22 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Holy crap. According to the measurements I should go up 2 cups. As a 34A I'm not sure I believe that I could ever be a C. I guess I'll be investigating this.

Yes but our whole idea about what a C or a D etc fits and looks like is so very wrong. Here's an F! Here's a G! I was shocked to find out I was not a B but a D.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:25 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

> I cannot recall the last time I saw anyone's nipples trying to escape their clothes, not that I'm out and about all that much, especially somewhere like a school. But, still...has something happened in bra tech that has eliminated this, such as most bras are now made of "x" instead of "y", or most bras are now slightly padded, or...?

For those who don't need the extra padding from padded bras, there are "nipple covers" (one example).
posted by needled at 5:31 AM on June 1, 2012

A lot of women wear the wrong bra size because of the whole arcane add (x) inches to (y) measurement thing. It hasn't been necessary for years and years, yet shop assistants and even manufacturers still tell people that's how you figure your size. And it leads to loose bands and small cups.

And agreed to the whole sister sizes exist as a way to sell bras. Victoria's Secret is notorious for it. Back when I was too big to even step into a VS the salespeople would swear up and down that they could find me something. Now that I've had a reduction I still won't go in there.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:35 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

> Thinking about the vast expanses of time, energy and money I apparently need to get the right bra is making me so tired.

It's actually not as much effort as a post like this makes it appear. There might be some initial large investment of time, energy, and money to obtain some bras that fit right, and learn how a correctly fitting bra should feel and look on one's body, but after that, it becomes a more efficient process as one narrows down the brands and retailers worth one's time. Of course there will still be some size ranges for which shopping will be difficult, and they have my sympathies.

Personally, these days I only check out one or two brands of bras when shopping online, and only the general styles I know have worked for me in the past. So bra shopping is fairly quick for me. It probably helps that I am shopping for bras that will make me look good in my clothes, and don't particularly care for the actual appearance of the bra.
posted by needled at 5:50 AM on June 1, 2012

I guess I know what I am doing this weekend. I have wanted to get new bras, and though I think I am sized right, I might as well recheck too.
posted by jeather at 5:51 AM on June 1, 2012

emjaybee: "This whole post reminds me of the question I have never seen answered, which is why in Jesu's name you can't buy bands and cups separately and have them attach? Because finding the Perfect Combination is 90 percent of the problem; you can find one, but not the other, and clearly there is a lot of variation."

Part of the problem is that cup size is not fixed, but in proportion to band size. (That's why they claim a 34C is the same as a 32D - theoretically the cups are the same.) There would need to be pretty thorough revamp of the sizing system.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:04 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

When the "Pick Your Perfect Pair" concept came out a couple years ago (half-bras - one cup and band - that you mix and match for breasts of different sizes) I thought it was an idea in the right direction, as in, why hadn't anyone thought of this before? Because it's all too common to have breasts of different sizes! However, that line is super limited in sizes - only 34A, and 34-38 B & C (though they do offer "just about" sizing).

And of course that's not as drilled-down as "pick your cup volume per breast then attach it to your band size" mix-and-match would be. With cheaper custom jeans now available (à la MakeYourOwnJeans) I wonder if someone might create a similar business for bras to fit this niche? Bras are complicated, but jeans aren't easy, and every time I look at that jeans site their offerings have expanded so maybe there's more money in it than people think. Again, though, the business risk...

There is the "make your own bra" route (here's a tutorial from Instructables and one from Threads magazine). But I assume you'd have to be somewhat skilled and fairly fed up (and the sort of person who likes to take on projects) to try it.
posted by flex at 6:39 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The biggest problem underlying all of this is that even though women come in a variety of sizes, there still seems to be such a small range of bra sizes, especially when you limit your search to what's available in the typical (ie non-specialty) store. From going into a Victoria's Secret, you would come away with the impression that the vast majority of women are somewhere between a 34-38 band and between a B and D cup. A woman who considers herself a 'pretty average' size might think (often does, I would say) that there's no way she can be outside that size range, she's 'pretty average'. So she buys the size she's always worn, not necessarily aware of the fit issues, because she might not be aware of how a bra is supposed to fit. This sends the message to the bra manufacturers that the sizes that women buy are between 34-38 in band size, and between B to D in cup size. So they only create bras in those sizes, etc. etc. etc.

Women who are outside of that size range (especially, I think, with cups larger than D) get the message that they are unusual for having that size (when it's really very, very common!) and it doesn't help that in our society (at least in the US) personality traits are assumed from physical traits which we have no control over.
posted by matcha action at 7:26 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just want to give a big shout out to Freya, who make some of the nicest, most comfortable large cup bras around. My 34Hs are perky and no longer causing me loads of back pain. I also like the larger end of the Triumph bra line, much cheaper than Freya and almost as good.
posted by Jilder at 7:59 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

flex: And here's 40AA bras at Lauren Silva - sorry, just in white. Their size finder on the front page goes up to 52AA and then beyond from there, so it looks like they stock plenty of range in large band/small cup.

Thing is, I don't need the band size to go up from 40AA - I need the band size to stay the same, and the cup size to come down to something more like a B on a 32.

Wuggie Norgle: Dysk, I'm sure you've no doubt looked around, but have you looked at Chrysalis Lingerie? I happened upon an article that says their bras are designed specifically for trans women.

Their website seems to suggest that they aren't really in business yet? They list no retailers, and their own webshop isn't open yet... The website also suggests US-based, and expensive, both of which kinda rule it out as an option for me.
posted by Dysk at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2012

So I guess that I'm the only person in the world who finds that wearing my "correct" size (36C) rather than the size I actually buy (38B) digs into my back so hard that it looks like I have a pair of back boobs to deal with as well...
posted by DSime at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2012

Dysk: Sorry for misunderstanding what you were asking! Dainty Lady is a UK site offering AAA, AA, A and B cup bras from band sizes 28-44. Maybe they can help? The site says "designed and handmade in the UK" so looks like they offer a custom fit. Here's what they have in a 40AAA... the pricing looks reasonable.
posted by flex at 8:15 AM on June 1, 2012

showbiz_liz: Man I'd like to get a fancy bra fitting, but I have no clue where to go for such a thing where they won't just tell me I'm [size their store carries].

You go to a reputable department store - Dillard's, Macy's, Nordstrom's, NeimanMarcus, and suchlike. DO NOT go to Victoria's Secret or Aerie, they're useless.

If your city has a shop that specializes in mastectomy supplies, you'll get a great fitting there, too.
posted by MissySedai at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2012

Dysk, since cup size is relative (i.e. the cup on a 36A is smaller than the cup on a 40A), going down in band size and then using a bra extender may indeeded help you!
posted by peep at 9:53 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

what the hell - indeed, not indeeded.
posted by peep at 9:54 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

The problem for people with band sizes under 34 can also be solved by just cutting a few inches off of the band in the back of a 'normal' size and then sewing it back together. It is pretty easy as long as it is not mesh or lace, and worth it if you don't have money/time to go to a specialty store.
posted by steinwald at 10:44 AM on June 1, 2012

I'm a rocking a purple lacy Curvy Kate bra right now and it's a size 30E (aka DD.)

It really pays to shop around. I've had very good fittings at Nordstrom and I've had horrible ones there as well (like when the fitter tried to put the bra on me with the band over my nipples rather than letting me to do the bend over 'n' shake em in method.) I've had good fittings at small specialized shops (shout out to The Pencil Test in Portland, Oregon! and bad fittings as well (not all mastectomy shops do big boobs well.)

The major problem with finally wearing the right size is that when you see a woman's bra riding up her back, you will have the urge to tell her her bra band is too big (and that's kinda rude even if it's helpful.)
posted by vespabelle at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

A couple months ago I went to Nordstrom's for a bra fitting and spent about $300 on bras. It was a tremendously uncomfortable experience (I'm an introvert and hate interacting with sales staff even when my boobs are not the focus of the interaction) And looking at the fitting sites, it looks like these new bras are still not fitting perfectly. I don't seem to get support from the bands without the shoulder straps, even when I fasten the bands uncomfortably tight.

They're way better than what I was wearing, and I'm in the process of losing weight, so I don't want to spend even more money on bras that are kind of a temporary size for me. But it's incredibly frustrating to spend a ridiculous amount of money and go through the fitting process and still end up with stuff that apparently doesn't fit properly.
posted by creepygirl at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2012

I'm working with a start-up who is using 3D weaving technology to make, among other things, sports bras. Restless Nomad is completely right, this is an engineering problem, and a lot if it is due to bras being made with stretch knit spandex material. knit fabrics are interconnected so stretching horizontally pulls in vertically, etc. we're using weaving to allow for independent horizontal (weft) stretch/compression without changing the vertical (warp) dimensions. This makes a sports bra that doesn't bounce when running. this is an area where real engineering can make a difference that traditional garment manufacturing doesn't account for.

I don't want to get in trouble by linking to the start-up's site, but I'm available on MeMail
posted by jrishel at 11:24 AM on June 1, 2012 [10 favorites]

Target no longer carries adult bras in band sizes smaller than 32, and even in 32s, does not carry bras with anything larger than a B cup. It's infuriating that I can't get a $25 bra anymore now that I know what I should be looking for...

None of my current bras fit me properly. Not a single one, because I'm too cheap to go get good ones. Every bra I have I wear on the smallest hooks, and even then have the gap at the sternum. This post (and my aging, slightly less perky boobs) may change my mind about that.
posted by misskaz at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Really great links---thanks so much for this. I was well over 30 before I stopped fighting the letterphobia and agreed that being a comfortably fitted F/G cup was so much better than trying to cram into whatever was the closest fit I could find. Such a difference. Such wasted years. :)

In addition to Macy's and Nordstrom, both of which at least carry reliable Wacoal in my size, I do a lot of online shopping through Bare Necessities. They've recently expanded their DD+ range, have regular sales, and have a good return policy, so I can order a bunch and send 'em back if they don't work.
posted by percolatrix at 12:58 PM on June 1, 2012

I haven't seen anyone mention my particular fit problem yet, so here goes:

I have a large ribcage, but it's deep. In order to get a bra that would go all the way around comfortably, I always had to choose a 36, but at that point, the cups would be encroaching on my underarms a bit at the sides. I could never figure out how my mother and girlfriends could wear underwires comfortably, because they poked me no matter what, but in the 90s that wasn't such an issue, because there were lots of non-underwires around (another thing, like padding, that's changed since then). It wasn't until much, much later that I discovered the ribcage depth issue entirely by accident.

What clued me into it was losing 15 lbs. (from 130 to 115) when I developed a chronic illness in 2004. I went down from a B to an AA almost overnight. I got a fitting at Nordstrom and the saleswoman clued me in to Wacoal Petites bras, which are narrower across the front. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, at age 28 and despite my weight loss, I had cleavage, something no bra had ever done for me! And an underwire that didn't poke!

And of course Wacoal promptly discontinued that bra.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:35 PM on June 1, 2012

As a 32 or 34HH, I'm sized right out of almost any store I can easily get to. Since I have to do mail order anyway, I've started to order from Bravissimo in England so I can get pretty colors with matching underwear. I'm wearing a plum colored set right now! It's a woefully expensive way to bra shop, but they take returns and have a much more extensive selection than any US on-line store I've found.

I think the soft vs. firm link helps explain the problems I have with balconette and demi-cup bras. The cups fit, theoretically, but instead of a nice mound above the cup, I get something way too wiggly and flat. But thanks to Bravissimo, I do have my first-ever plunge bra to wear with summer dresses!

Does anyone know of a specialty lingerie store, with large cup sizes, in the Bay area? My sister lives in Berkeley but I've never really been able to locate a store up in that are that looks worth visiting.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:10 PM on June 1, 2012

Does anyone know of a specialty lingerie store, with large cup sizes, in the Bay area? My sister lives in Berkeley but I've never really been able to locate a store up in that are that looks worth visiting.

I had a bra fitting a couple of years ago at a lingerie shop on Vine St. in Berkeley (Google tells me it's called Beauty and Attitude). You might call to see if they carry the sizes you want to try; I got some F cups there and I know they said they'd special order any size they didn't have.
posted by JenMarie at 2:46 PM on June 1, 2012

Ok, so I am just now being clued in to the new "true" band size fitting formula, after having known only the band size + 4 method all these years. I could never find bras that fit my itty bitty titty committee, in part because based on the band size + 4 calculation, I should be wearing the mythical beastie known as a 40AA (and when I was 40 lbs heavier, the old fashioned calculator would have told me to wear a 42AA).

My usual compromise was a 38B, which is reasonably findable. The problem with most 38Bs is that the cup is too large at the top (and yet underwires manage to poke me because they're shaped too narrow). I did manage to find a couple of 40As once, but they fit even worse than the 38Bs.

And so now, with the new-fangled modern sizing calculator, I'm being told I should wear a 36D? Color me skeptical, but regardless of the numbers, I don't see how if at 38B is too large in the cup, that a 36D is going to fit properly.
posted by drlith at 7:20 PM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ah, this post! Wonderful. I've read all the comments.

Here's one thing I think ought to be emphasized: If your band size is too big YOUR BRA WON'T PROBABLY WON'T LAST AS LONG. That's alluded to in the first post but I think it's a big enough deal to shout about.

I used to wear a 32 band because it was the smallest I could find, and I always had to fasten my bras on the last hook. After just a few months of wearing them, the support was gone, because bands stretch out over time. And I couldn't move to a tighter hook.

Now I wear the correct size and the last time I brought a bra was a year ago. And I only have three that I wear regularly. The one I the most regularly is due to be replaced, but the other two are still going strong.

I'm actually saving money on bras, even though the initial cost was high. I won't say that someone with larger breasts will get a whole year out of their bra... but if you can afford an $80 bra, it's really worth a try to see.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:58 PM on June 1, 2012

Squeak Attack: "Does anyone know of a specialty lingerie store, with large cup sizes, in the Bay area? My sister lives in Berkeley but I've never really been able to locate a store up in that are that looks worth visiting."

Carol Doda will fix you up!
posted by gingerbeer at 8:46 PM on June 1, 2012

Good lord, THIS cannot be true, can it? That my armpit fat and back fat are migrated breast tissue?!
posted by keep it under cover at 11:58 PM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've rethought bras as architecture: The vast majority of the work of support should be done by compression forces (the band), which is why it it so important to get an accurate measurement/assessment of the ribcage, and why I am (now) so suspicious of sister sizes. Most of the rest of the work is done by suspension forces (the straps). The cups also provide some compression, and the more seams, the better, as far as I'm concerned, because that means increased support through the cups. Once I started thinking about my upper torso as an architectural project with specific requirements, it became much easier to get over letterphobia shock.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:51 AM on June 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Has anyone in the So Cal area tried Wizard of Bras? I'm trying to decide if it's worth an hour drive. Also, I love that they sometimes sponsor our local public radio station. :-)

Oh, and thank you, flex, for a wonderful post.
posted by killy willy at 12:48 PM on June 2, 2012

I posted this on Facebook as a public service.

Today my sister responded:

M***** K*** - Walk into shop. See cute bras - they probably have polkadots or flowers and come in a rainbow of colors or jet black. Start digging and find out that they only come in cup sizes that are passing grades. Find the one bra that fits. It comes in either taupe or tan and looks like it might be an alternative form of straight jacket. Develop totally rational anger at whoever designs and manufactures bras, leading to targeted crime spree of spray painting big boobs on houses of members of the bra cartels.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:16 PM on June 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

Post of the year!
posted by cyndigo at 1:58 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My sister has life figured out.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:52 PM on June 2, 2012

I never really understood the 'support' thing. I feel the same with or without a bra (fine, or better without) I just fit conventional beauty standards better with one. So I get the ones that don't hurt and make my clothes look good. If the back band is up high or down low I don't really care. I don't think I have especially small breasts either. What does support mean?? No matter what, your body is doing the supporting.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:07 PM on June 2, 2012

I'd just like to thank you very, very much for this. I literally never knew there was so much to know about bras and boobs. (Nor that I would learn all that stuff through Metafilter!)

Maybe it's growing up in Asia, or with a non-shopping kind of mum, but in my experience, it's never so much been misinformation as it was a lack of information. What? So many bra styles? So many things to think about? And imagine, if a D or DD is huuuuuge in Western terms, what's it like in Asia? (IMHO+anecdata, I used to have the impression that a C cup is enormous. People with C/Ds were the stuff of perplexed admiration and bewilderment.) And bras here! It's like how you can never find ladies' shoes bigger than a 7 or 8 US.

Anyway, as mentioned, may I humbly suggest this post deserves a sidebra?
posted by undue influence at 3:27 AM on June 3, 2012

Anyway, as mentioned, may I humbly suggest this post deserves a sidebra?

undue influence: Best Of.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:03 AM on June 3, 2012

I don't think I have especially small breasts either. What does support mean?? No matter what, your body is doing the supporting.

I don't have huge breasts either (32D +/- a cup size, depending on the time of the month), but when walking fast or running or going down stairs sans bra (or with a crappy, flimsy bra) I have to do the hand-cups-on-boobs thing or else it hurts. I guess when your boobs reach a certain size threshold they develop too much momentum of their own.
posted by keep it under cover at 10:40 AM on June 3, 2012

Yeah "support" is all about fighting gravity. That's how your bra helps with the conventional beauty standards thing. Nobody wants to see droopy grandma boobs. (This is my understanding, not my opinion.)

I just tried that True&Co. "algorhythm" and it was very disappointing. It basically just says "Tell us what you don't like about your bra and we'll tell you not to buy bras like that anymore."
"Oh, your band size is too tight? Try going up a band size!"
"Are your cups too small? Get larger cups."

I don't think that's an algorithm or "really complicated technology". That's more like "A guy goes to a doctor and says "Dr! It hurts when I do this." The doctor says "Don't do this."
posted by bleep at 1:34 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry MonkeyToes, I must've missed that cos I don't use twitter! Thanks.
posted by undue influence at 4:49 PM on June 3, 2012

I wasn't that surprised to learn in an upscale store that I'm an E, not a D. But when my best friend was told she was a G, her exact words upon putting on her first properly fitted bra were, "you mean the middle is supposed to touch my chest?"

The rest of us were flabbergasted. OF COURSE IT IS. So many years, so uncomfortable, thinking that was just normal.

My best friend for bra shopping is eBay. I hate eBay for everything else, but if I can get the right bra for $20 instead of the $80 it costs retail, and I can there, I will.
posted by kostia at 5:27 PM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm also disappointed by the True & Co site. It was obvious that I need to go up a cup size at least, and the site said as much, but when it gave me a small selection of bras to try, all but 2 were for the smaller cup size, and the only two in my cup size run large in the band, which wouldn't work on me at all. Oh, and it suggested a bunch of bras in a band size much too large for me. There's no way to change the sizes before adding, so I can't even find three to pick that I think will fit me. Maybe my new band/cup size combo is hard to find.

The idea is fantastic, and if I'd been given suggestions better suited to my size, I'd have snatched it up in an instant.
posted by moira at 7:26 PM on June 3, 2012

"you mean the middle is supposed to touch my chest?"

Yeah, this is me. I'm 44 and I can't remember ever having the top of the gore touch my chest, ever.

Also based on the links in this post, I bought myself a cheap couple of bras at Target today and even without the top of the gore touching the my sternum, the balconette I bought based on the links from this post is the most comfortable bra I can remember wearing ever. (I may still try a cup size up and see how I do in it.) Bras, I have been doin it rong!
posted by immlass at 7:34 PM on June 3, 2012


What I mean is, after reading the links, and doing the measuring and running the numbers, I found a Panache Tango II in my newly calculated size for deep sale on eBay.

So I figured I would take a chance, even though it sounded like a weird fictional size (a 30 band and a cup size that is not only not a passing grade, it is not a grade at all, or even a musical note.)

It arrived from England today, and ... I'll be dipped in dogshit. IT FITS AMAZINGLY.

You know - the center gore actually touches my chest, the girls are fully encapsulated and supported, the band is supporting their weight. All those things are happening to my boobs RIGHT NOW.

I have even been professionally fondled by old ladies with tape measures growing out of their necks and this is totally amazing to me. I am doomed to ordering bras from far overseas (to end run around the evil USian bra cartels) but it fits.

Also discovered, Ewa Michalak has the cutest models ever. I want to snuggle them all.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:11 PM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]

louche mustachio: HOORAY!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:02 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, if we're sharing updates, I must add that--realizing I was due for some new bras anyhow--I went out on Saturday armed with my new-found New Bra Math bra size (old bra math bra size = 40AA, new bra math size = 36D) with the hopes of finding the Perfect Bra that would give me D-cup boobies, woo!

Reader, I was skeptical. I have never found a 40AA bra, but I have found 40As, and they were too big in the cup. I have also found 38Bs and they have been too big in the cup. So, to be honest, as I went around the racks picking out candidates, I did not select and 36Ds. But I did select several 36Cs, some 36Bs, and a couple 38Bs.

It turns out the 36Cs were way too big, so of course, a 36D would have been an even funnier and/or sadder joke, depending on your perspective. Also, many of the 36 band size bras were extremely uncomfortable and tight, especially the balconette/demi-cup styles, which theoretically should be a better fit for my apparently extremely tear-drop shaped "full at the bottom" boobies.

The best fitting of the lot were a couple of wire-free 36Bs that more or less fit in my larger breast but were still kind of gap-y on the smaller breast. They are an improvement over the 38Bs I normally wear, insofar as my boobies are not temped to slip out the bottom. And they are probably one of the easiest bra sizes to find in the normal retail world, so I guess there is that.

But, still, I came away from the experience feeling rather demoralized. Boo for [mismatched, misshapen, non-standard-issue] boobies!
posted by drlith at 5:04 AM on June 7, 2012

I can't vouch for the quality of these bras, but it's a good idea.

Especially since breast asymmetry is pretty common.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:20 AM on June 7, 2012

Ewa Michalak has the cutest models ever.

There are very large women on this site that look just like me below the neck. Can't believe it! Maybe I'm not such a freak after all! I wish I could read Polish!
posted by Galadhwen at 9:03 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wish I could read Polish!

Chrome will translate for you!
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:39 PM on June 12, 2012

Follow-up: I was the one who was wearing the right band size, but according to the Breakout Bras sizing page, I needed to change from an A to a C. Which I was pretty skeptical about. As a lifelong A cup... well, C seemed impossible.

I went to Fred Meyer where they usually have a lot of bras on sale for an additional 40% off the last-marked discount price, thinking I would just try some cheap bras on. And not really expecting it to work.

The A's that fit me the best have usually been Warners. So I grabbed a Warner bra in C, and one in B. And then I grabbed a few other brands in C, and a few Bs, thinking "there is no way a C is going to fit me."

I tried on the Warner in C. And it was huge. Like drlith above, I have "full at the bottom" boobs, and I was afraid that no C cup could fit them -- they'd all gap at the top. (And I have tried Bs in the past that always gapped.) So that first Warner was too big and gapped, as expected. And the B cup -- also too big.

But then, I thought for a moment. If Warners are always the ones that fit me the best when I'm wearing the wrong size, it makes sense that the ones marked with the right size wouldn't fit correctly. So I should try the other brands. I tried on a C-cup in another brand, and... holy crap, it fits! And it's cute and pink, besides!

I tried on a few more. In fact, I tried on 11 bras, I think, in both Bs and Cs. And the only ones that fit were C cups. And most of the Bs seemed too small!

Not all of them fit -- Maidenform in particular did not seem to fit me. So I can see that I will need to try on lots of bras and not assume that a particular size will always fit. But even some of the Cs that weren't quite right were clearly better than what I've been wearing. And when I changed back to the A that I wore in to the store, it was very obvious that it doesn't fit right, after having worn the others. Who knew? Two weeks ago I would have told you it fit fine (while complaining about its discomfort).

So, thank you for this post!

One more thing -- there's a brochure in Fred Meyer's dressing room telling women how to choose bra sizes. If I followed their instructions, I would be an A again... and in a band that is too big. Sigh.
posted by litlnemo at 12:15 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Holy crap, I am weeks late to this, but this is an amazing collection of information. Thank you so much for pulling it all together!
posted by echo0720 at 3:22 PM on June 18, 2012

I just stumbled back across this, as I had seen it earlier but didn't get the chance to read it until now, and I must say Thank You! This has been one interesting read, and something that my aching back, and shoulders are rejoicing that I have found. I am a big girl, both in the bust, and over all size, and I'm grateful someone took the time to put all this info in one place for perusal before shopping. I hate bra shopping, and well any clothes shopping with a passion. Hopefully after reading this I can alleviate some of that distress.
posted by redheadedstepchild at 2:55 PM on June 23, 2012

Because of this post, I booked a fitting for me and three friends at Intimacy NYC. We were ALL wearing too-small cups and too-large bands, of course. I bought one ridic expensive bra, and have started stalking flash sale sites for other nice bras in my size. I can't wait to toss out every single one of my old bras. So happy!
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:42 AM on June 25, 2012

Just chiming in to say yeah, Mefi changed my life WRT bra sizing and shopping. Maybe...2 years ago (?) there was a lot of discussion on AskMe with super helpful folks like ukdanae, and I had the epiphany most ladies are mentioning here: went from thinking I was a 36A and never, ever being comfortable in a bra to discovering I'm actually a 30DDD. That just blew my damn mind. And yeah, as louche moustachio describes, when I got my new bras via the internet I just couldn't get over the difference. As someone on AskMe described it once, a bra that fits well is sort of like...strapping on a breastplate of armor. It's tighter than you're used to, but counterintuitively that actually becomes much, much more comfortable once you've adjusted your perspective and gotten used to it. Shit doesn't jiggle or shift, straps stay in place, everything is supported by the band, and the stuff in the center between the boobs lies flat and smooth and snug. And I could be imagining it but I swear it seems like after over a year of wearing a bra that actually fits it seems like my...chest chub (?) had moved around a bit, into more flattering spots. Like upper back fat, those little rolls/folds around the underarms and behind them, went away or moved or something, to my actual chest, because I seem bustier now and slimmer in the back. I could just be imagining though, who knows. Either way, I look waaaaaay better in a sweater now. I have a very noticeable houseglassy waist thing going on, which if you'd told me about it years ago I'd have laughed in your face (I've always thought of myself as a straight-up-and-down, "boyish" torsoed person). It's pretty fantastic. One of the best things I ever got from Mefi.
posted by ifjuly at 5:33 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am coming back to this post nearly a month later to say I have found BRAS THAT FIT and my boobs have never looked so regal EVER and in fact I am a 30D, lololol crazycakes.

So thank you flex and Mefi for making my breasts happy, which is a sentence I never really expected to write on the internet, but there you go!
posted by zennish at 10:35 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older James Brown's 1971 Olympia Concert   |   Can the internet be shut down? Probabally, but... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments