Bra Sizing 101 and How it Works!

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Bra Sizing from

*UPDATED: September 2014

I updated the way I recommend you finding your band size because I found a more accurate and easier way of measuring.  

Hey out there!  I’m really excited to be talking about the next topic in my blog series, “Bra Guide”.  My first post was about How Bras Should and Shouldn’t Fit and received an overwhelming amount of response from ladies around the world asking me their bra questions, concerns, and issues.  It was so exciting!  I’ve had a lot of questions asked about bra sizing 101 and so that is what I’m going to be talking about today!  Yahoo!

In this post I’m going to cover what the numbers and letters mean and corresponding sizes.  Once you understand how bra sizing works, it will make finding a bra that fits so much easier!  This topic is SO IMPORTANT!  Make sure you sit back, grab a Diet Coke, and hang on.  This is going to change your world!

Number=Band Size

I’m going to use myself as an example.   My bra size is a 30D.  Now what the heck does that mean?  The measurement of my band or or underbust is 29″ which means I would wear a 30 band.  There is a chart below that shows you the corresponding underbust measurements with the band size.

Bra Band Measurements

Finding your band size is really easy, all you have to do is take a measuring tape and measure the very top of your rib cage or underbust measurement.  You want the tape to be snug and not loose when measuring.  Once you have your measurement round it up to the nearest WHOLE number.  That’s your band size!  Yahoo!

Bra Band Facts

Here are some important facts about your band.  Your band is where 90% of your support comes from.  So it’s VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT that your band is fitting correctly.  What I mean by fitting “correctly” is that it should be very snug on the loosest set of hooks when you first try it on.  The reason why you want the band to be snug on the loosest set of hooks is so you can tighten the band as it stretches.  The other reason is so the bra will last you longer.

When you buy a correct fitting bra it’s going to be really really snug at first, don’t worry it won’t be like that forever.  It will take a couple of days of wear for the band to ease a bit.  When trying on bras, if you have to hook the back to the tightest set of hooks for it to be snug, you need to go down a band size (don’t forget to up a cup size when you do this, I’ll explain this later on in the post).

There’s two tests you can do to see if your band is fitting correctly.

The first is to put the bra on and move your arms around and jump up and down.  When you’re done and if your bra hasn’t moved or if you don’t have to adjust the girls or pull it down, it’s snug enough.

The second test requires you have a partner on hand.  Have your child, husband, friend, or bra fitter try to slide their hand between the band and your back.  If they struggle to do this, then your band is snug enough.

Every woman is different.  But I like my bras really snug and there’s a couple reasons why:

First, because I like my bras to last me longer (if I’m going to spend my hard earn cash on a bra, I want it to last me as long as it can).

Second, I like the extra support.

Third, I love the feeling that my bra doesn’t move when I move.  I HATE the feeling of having to adjust my bra throughout the day.  I don’t have the time or the energy to worry if I’m going to be falling out of my bra.  I want my bras to do the work of supporting me and holding me in place.  I measure a 30D but I prefer going down a band size in some bras so I can get more use out of the bra.  The equivalent size to that is a 28DD or 28E.

When you go down a band size you HAVE to go up a cup size to compensate the difference.  I’ll explain this more in detail in the cup size portion of this post.  I wouldn’t recommend this to every woman.  Some women might not find this comfortable or feel like they need to.  Depending on the person, their needs, what size they are.  I sometimes recommend this to busty gals when they’re in need of more support or in need of more selection in bras.

Back Fat

Band Sizes from
This model has hardly any “back fat”, but I wanted to show you an example.

One complaint I hear from women who get fitted and start wearing the correct fitting bra is back fat.  Women don’t like the way the band is snug and it “squishes” excess skin on top and out of the sides of their back.

My thoughts on this.

99% of women have some type of “back fat” even very thin and athletic women have it.  Men and especially women are not going to be looking at your back.  People are going to be looking at your front.  I’d rather have a little “back fat” then not have my boobs supported and therefore not look as put together and heavier.

If you want to look slimmer, thinner, and supported, the key is wearing the correct band size and making sure it’s snug because the band is the foundation of the bra and that is where you get your support from.  I like to compare your bra band to the foundation of a house.  If the foundation of your house isn’t strong, or in the case of a bra, if your band isn’t snug, the foundation won’t be able to support the rest of the house, which in this case the rest of the house is your boobs.

I found a some great examples of how wearing a correct fitting bra can make you look slimmer in the front.

Look at what a difference not wearing the right bra size looks like on the left compared to the correct fitting one on the right. You can tell a huge difference!  She looks like she lost 10 pounds at least on the right side picture.  Wearing the correct band size is really crucial for all women.  Having a large bust can make you look heavier if you’re not wearing the correct bra size.  Like I said above, I’d rather have “back fat” than have my boobs not look supported and therefore making me look heavier.
Letter=Cup Size
The second part to bra sizing is the cup size.  For my humble 30D size, the “D” is my cup size.  To be honest, cup size is the trickiest part of bra fitting. It takes the most time to figure out.  But if you follow my tips, you’ll be able to do it without any problems.
Cup sizes range from AA to a JJ.  Some cup sizes have alternate names.  For an example,  the cup size DD can also be called an E, DDD can be called a F, DDDD a G, DDDDD a H, DDDDDD a I, and DDDDDDD a J, and so on.
There’s two ways you can figure out your cup size.  I prefer one over the other, but I’m going to go through how to do both of them so you can get an idea of what size you are.  By having an idea as to what size you are, you’ll be able to spend less time hunting down a bra that fits.  You’ll be able to tell the bra fitter lady at the department store what size you measure so you can give her a good starting point.  If you get a really good bra fitter (like myself), I can tell what bra size you should be wearing just by looking at you.
The first way to find your cup size is to measure your band size (the top part of your rib cage) and measure the fullest part of the bust (with your bra on and without a top on).  Minus your band measurement from your cup measurement.   For each inch in difference, the cup goes up by one size.  Take that difference and check the chart below.
Bra Cup Size Guide
My band size measurement is 29″ inches which equals to a 30 sized band.  My bust measurement is 34″ inches.  I’m going to minus my bust measurement 34″- from my band size 30= 4″.  If you look at the chart above it says I should be wearing a D cup.
The second way to find your cup size is going to a department store or lingerie boutique that specializes in bra fitting.  This is the most precise way to get a good fit.  If you’re not sure where to go I would Google some local places, call them up and ask them the following: what range of sizes do they carry, are their fitters certified, do they specialize in fitting, and what bra brands do they carry?  It’s also good to ask what their return policy is, just in case you don’t end up liking the bra.  A good place should carry band or have access to sizes from a 28-52 and cup sizes from AA-J. The brands I like the most are Anita International, Chantelle, Calvin Klein, Cleo, Elle Mcpherson, Elomi, Felina, Freya,  Le Mystere, Natori, La Perla, Panache, and Wacoal to name a bunch.
I’m going to get a lot of hate mail from this, but I like to be honest with ya’ll.  I’m not a huge fan of Victoria’s Secret (DUN, DUN, DUN), read the reasons why here.
It’s worth it to invest in your bras.  Invest the time and energy to getting fitted correctly and buying the correct fitting bra.  You wear your bra EVERYDAY.  It will make you look thinner, your clothes will fit you better, and you will feel more comfortable.     
Corresponding Sizes
The last thing I’m going to go over in this post is really important.  I think everything on this post is important, but this will help you to manipulate the sizing chart and therefore, make you feel like a rock star because you understand what happens to your size when you go up and down cup and band sizes.  Also, by understanding this part, this can help you determine your size.

Another important part to understanding how sizing works is how there’s corresponding bra sizes.  Did you know a 32C and a 34B are actually the same cup size?  There’s a difference between these two sizes and that is their band size.  In the chart below, there’s a highlighted column below you can see how all of those bra sizes have the same cup size.  A 28DD has the same cup size as a 38AA.  So when someone says they’re a C cup, that doesn’t really mean anything without a the band size in front of it.  You can be a large 38C cup or you could be a small 32C cup.  Remember, the larger the band size the larger the cup sizes are, and the smaller the band size the smaller the cup sizes will be.  

So let’s pretend you wear a 34C and you gained weight and your 34 band is too tight and is uncomfortable. Your cup size hasn’t changed, so you want to go up a band size, because you went up a band size you need to go down a cup size.  Or you could look at the chart below and see that the corresponding size to the 34C is a 36B.

Corresponding Sizes from
Bra Fitting
Now we’re ready to start putting our new bra knowledge to work.  This is “Friend A” below.
Bra Sizing from
“Friend A” is wearing a 36B in the bra above. The arrows are pointing to her breast tissue that was hanging out of the top of the cup.  This means the cup size is too small.  After measuring “Friend A” for her band size she measured 29″ around.  This is borderline between a 30 band size.  Because I put her in a 30 band size which is three band sizes smaller than the 36 band she was wearing, I have to go up three cup sizes.

Let me repeat that one more time.  Whenever you go down a band size you HAVE to go up one cup size to compensate the difference.   If you go up a band size you HAVE to go down a cup size to compensate the difference.    So “Friend A” ended up wearing a 30DDD or 30F.

She is wearing the Natori Demi Bra (the bra she is wearing is no longer being made, so this one is the sister bra).  What a hot mama.

How to measure bra size from
Here is the before and after.  You can tell she’s being covered correctly, the underwire isn’t sitting on top of her breast, the center of the bra is lying completely flat against her skin, and the band is low and snug in the back.
Bra Size Calculator from
“Friend B” was wearing a 34C in the picture below.  You can see from the arrows this bra was way too small in the cup size.  From the arrows you can tell her breast tissue is hanging out at the top and side of her bra.  After measuring her around the top of her ribs she measured 27″ around.  The 27″ means she should be wearing a 28 band size.  Because we needed to go down two band sizes we had to up two cup sizes.
Incorrect Fitting Bra from
I had her try on 28DD and it fit her perfectly!  See how much better she looks in a correct fitting bra!  She’s wearing the Calvin Klein Women’s Seductive Comfort Customized Lift Bra.  I personally wear this bra and love it.  It’s reasonably priced, comfortable, and gives a subtle uplift.
How to measure bra size
Here is the before and after up close.  The reason why the Calvin Klein bra fits her so well is because it’s covering on the sides and front, the underwire isn’t laying on top of her breast tissue, the band is low and snug in the back, and she looks great.
How to find right bra size from
I hope this post was helpful to about how bra sizing works.  It can be confusing so hopefully you were able to get a better understanding.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.  Make sure to check out my first post in the series, Bra Guide: How They Should and Shouldn’t Fit.  It’s a great way see how bras should and shouldn’t fit.
If you want to learn more about bras and how I can help you find your perfect fitting bra, go to my Bra Guide page for more information!  If you liked like post you’ll like these others ones too!
Bra Guide How They Should and Shouldn't Fit
Avoid Buying Victoria's Secret Bras from Fry Sauce and Grits
How to identify your breast shape to find the perfect fitting bra
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  1. says

    I am the poster child for “don’t try to fit yourself”… I recently lost a bunch of weight, so I needed new bras. I tried to get them on my own, but after a few weeks, it was clear I failed miserably. I had put myself in a 36D. I broke down and went to a boutique where I know they fit well… I ended up in a 32F. But she basically said all of the things you said here (it should be tight on the last hook, you should barely be able to get your hand between strap and back, etc.). Ladies… if you’re not sure, don’t waste the money… go get fitted properly! It really makes a huge difference. (Expensive lesson learned.)

  2. says

    I have tried all this and still cannot find a bra that fits right. I just bought some thinking they would work and after a week, 2 of them are already driving me crazy. The one I like only had one in “my size”. sometimes I wish I had the guts to just go without, but that would not look good after 5 kids.

    • says

      Curley Family, check out and I’d definitely recommend breakoutbras method of measuring, especially if you are a large busted woman with a petite underbust (and I’m meaning 10″+ difference between bust and underbust measurement!) If you need more help, just comment here or on my blog, and we’d be very glad to help you!

  3. says

    I love reading your posts about bra sizes! Very informative! I’m wondering, though, do you have plans on writing any posts about bras during pregnancy and breastfeeding? I’m 28 weeks pregnant with my 3rd baby and the variation is ridiculous! I’m very small to begin with (32 B if I’m lucky) and this pregnancy they’ve only just begun to change (which is much later than my others…not sure why that is!) I’ve nursed both of my babies for around 19 months and the fluctuations are very frustrating! I’ve never found a nursing bra that I actually liked, either. If you have any experience with this problem or any suggestions it would be most appreciated!!

    • says

      Yes, I’m going to write an entire post dedicated to expecting and nursing moms! Finding a nursing bra can so difficult because you don’t know what size you’re going to end up being and you don’t want to wear the wrong bra size because it can cause mastitis (yuck and ouch). I’m planning on writing it in a couple of weeks. Make sure you recieve updates from my blog so you can be alerted when that post is up. One of my favorite nursing bras is the Elle Mcpherson Maternelle Maternity Wire-Free Nursing Bra. It’s comfortable, super supportive, and has a long set of hooks and eyes, so as you lose weight, you can tighten it at least six times. It’s awesome! Thanks for stopping by. Can’t wait to address your questions in my upcoming post.

  4. says

    I’m really sorry, but the band sizing information on here is not correct and probably doesn’t work for most people. You should wear the band size that is EXACTLY the same as the measurement around your rib cage under your breasts. Then determine your cup size from the difference between the two measurements. I have pretty small breasts and I have never been able to get any bra to fit me UNTIL I was fitted for a bra this way. I have tried to wear a 34A for my whole life, but now I wear a 28D (28 inch rib cage, very petite shoulders) and it fits me perfectly. The chart you provided is an American bra band size chart that they use to generalize bra sizes. In the UK, they size the way I have described above. I buy all of my bras online, mostly from Marks & Spencer because they sell every bra size, unlike Victoria’s Secret.

    • says

      Hey Sarah, in the post I talk about how method you mentioned is not an efficient way of finding your bra size. I recommend you getting professionally fit. Measuring is good for women who don’t have access to a professional bra fitter, it will help them to get a rough estimate of what size they are. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • says

      Thanks so much for visiting our blog Jessi! I love your blog and am obsessed with you and all of your fashionista friends! I couldn’t agree more with you when it comes to VS. If you live by a department store, I recommend you going there. My favorite is Nordstrom because that is where I used to work. Do you live in Utah county?

  5. says

    So, I’m LDS and I have always had the hardest time finding bras that fit nice that have decent coverage, that fit well with garments. I have been sized by the vs girls, but they told me i was a 38DD… I feel like this is way wrong. I do have that little issue where 1 is a whole cup if not more bigger then the other. I have been having a lot of back issues due to my large size. What are some tips that you might have? This is an awesome post btw so much info!! 😀

    • says

      Kerby, you’re in good company because being LDS myself, this is a topic that deserves an entire post, I swear! It’s normal to have one breast be bigger than the other. To deal with this I recommend you getting these light weight molded cups call No Peeps from Wacoal, here is the link to them: I use one of them and insert them into the cup that is smaller and that will make that cup fit better. When it comes to garments, it can get extra tricky because if you wear the dri sik ones your bra can tend to slip up and that’s so annoying. It really depends on which fabric of garments you wear. I like to wear the cotton poly and the carinessa so when I wear my bra over my garments, because of the fabric, my bra doesn’t ride up. I know a lot of women who wear their bras underneath their garments because it feels more comfortable. I find busty gals benefit from wearing their bras underneath their garments, because sometimes garments can make the bra not fit as well. Your back issues can be 90% because of you not wearing the right size bra. Go get fitted professionally at a department store like Nordstrom or a bra boutique that specializes in sizing. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions!

  6. says

    I loved this post as well as the corresponding post that showed proper and improper bra sizes and how they fit. I have trouble finding bras that fit me in department stores due to my size (32f – 34dd or e). Since I am not an average size, I find that making sure my bra fits and is comfortable is very important. Especially since I have yet to find a well fitting, comfortable bra for less that 60$.

  7. says

    can’t wait to read your nursing bra guide! i’m a 32F or bigger and can’t find ANY nursing bras that even come in 32 band sizes:) even went to a couple different lactation consultations and found ONE that fit me well but it’s not even a nursing bra. I’d love to find a great memory foam nursing bra that doesn’t fall off my shoulders!

  8. says

    Great post! But I want to correct you on something. I worked at VS as a bra specialist for a while. When I was there the requirement changed for being bra certified from just the specialist to every associate. Most of us could tell a bra size just by looking too. Maybe we were just a talented store, but I promise we’re all certified! Unless they’ve changed the rule back in the last year & a half, that info on your post is incorrect. Other than that, great info!

    • says

      Hey Alexa, when I worked at Nordstrom from 2006-2009, VS hadn’t certified their bra fitters. I’m so glad to hear that they’re finally certified. I will get that corrected. Thanks again.

  9. says

    I’m curious what type of bras you recommend for the very small chested? When your a 34 barely a B it is really hard to find bras that fit well. If I go up a cup size my bra gapes open cause I don’t fill it out when I go down a cup size I spill out cause its too small. Help!

    • says

      I would get fitted by a certified bra fit specialist first. They should be able to help eliminate this problem all together. Then look at the type of bras you’re trying on. Are you trying on demi or push up bras? These types of bras are lower in the front and therefore don’t cover your breast tissue. f you’re hanging out the top of the cups with one of these bras, you might want to try more fuller coverage bras. Your breast shape also plays a part in what type of bras will fit you. Stay tuned, my next bra post is going to be about bra types and breast shapes and how they play a role in fitting.

  10. says

    This is super helpful! I have been wearing a 36DD but always have cleave on top- the underwire never sits flats against my chest, and I always have to wear it on the tightest clippy. So should I go down a band size and up two cup sizes?? Any feedback would be great! Feel free to email me @ thanks! :-)

    • says

      Also I love wearing a minimizer- I hate feeling like my breasts are not fully contained! So any reccomendations would be great as well!

    • says

      Hey Becca! It could be your band size is correct, but your bra is really old and needs to be replaced. They say that bras have a shelf life of 6-12 months. Depending on how you take care of them, how often you wear them, and how you wash them. I would get fitted because that will make it so much easier for you. If your band size is too small, I would try a 34G or a 34DDDD.

  11. says

    Even if you doubt your new size TRY IT! Try it in several cuts and brands! I really disbelieved I was a 34D. I was a 32A as a teen then 34B in my 20’s. After having my son the shapes of my breast changed. I am flat on top but full on the sides and bottom. I have struggled to fill the cups I was trying. I changed the band up and down. 34 is definitely my size.

    I broke down after reading post after post like your’s and decided to visit Victoria Secrets and try a D. I went with a demi cut. Full coverage is best for those full all around.

    Yep I am now in the D club.

    • says

      Haha! Sometimes us women can get caught up in the size, just like how we get caught up with our weight. Size doesn’t mean anything! I’m glad to hear you finally found your real size and have embraced it!

      • tina says

        I too went to vs n was told I vary from a 38 d to ddd I can’t believe that I am that big. A 38 d digs and i am spilling out the sides and I feel that I don’t fill a 38dd unless it’s a push up. No bra seems to fit right as I am wide. Plz help

  12. says

    I always have the hardest time finding a bra that fits and is comfortable! One time I went to Victoria’s Secret and they girl that measured me said I was a DD, I can’t recall the band size but it was huge on me! I swear I could have stuffed a whole box of tissues in each cup! Since then I never ask for a measurement when trying to find a bra at Victoria’s Secret (and yes, I am one of those ladies that refuses to buy a bra from anywhere else).
    Anyway, I find that my main problem with finding a bra is that my left boob is noticeably bigger than my right. I’ll find a size that fits but then there is a gap in the right cup and it is even noticeable when I have a shirt on. At the current moment I can’t afford a boob job, do you have any suggestions so I can avoid the gaping cup?

  13. says

    Awesome, I get fitted once a year at Nordstroms and what a difference a great bra can make. However I don’t want to spend the exact same amount of $$ on my teen’s bras quite yet…so I will use this info to fit her so we are prepared when we go shopping this month. Thanks so much..I shared a link on my FB since I know about 3000 women who might need to check their sizes LOL! Thanks for the “support”!

    • says

      Suzanne! No, I gotta thank you for the “support”! I would buy my teens bra at places where I can get them for a lot cheaper like: Marshall’s, Ross, TJ Maxx, or Nordstrom Rack. I couldn’t agree more with you that getting fitted is so important, and you need to do it often. I would get fitted every time you buy a new bra. They say you change sizes 6 times in your lifetime. I believe it! When I was pregnant and nursing my daughter, my bra size changed three different times!

  14. says

    Hey Courtney! I really liked how you encouraged women to move beyond labels and try a new measured size so that they can get a better fit. I hear all the time that DDs are huge blah blah when they’re really not, and it’s discouraging to know that so many women will never try the proper size because of a dumb label.

    There’s a few things I wish you had talked about.

    The first is how to put a bra on properly. Most people don’t actually know, but you’re supposed to lean forward and scoop your side boob into the cups. I have bras that are empty until I do this, and it reduces so called “back fat”, which is actually boob that squishes backwards. Once I started doing this, my back fat disappeared.

    The second is the bust measurement method. I take issue with measuring over a bra, because many women wear a bra that doesn’t fit properly, and by measuring over their bra will get an inaccurate measurement. A better way to measure would be by leaning over so that the breasts hang down, or by lying down on one’s back and measuring around. Both of these measurements put me in a comfortable 30DDD, while measuring over my old bras that I had before I got refitted put me into a painful 30DD, which cut into my breasts and made my days miserable.

    The last is more of a question that was originally going to be a suggestion before I read the comments.
    You go with the measure around and add four inches method of obtaining the band size. You mentioned in an above comment that in your post you spoke about how not adding inches was inefficient, but I couldn’t find what you said. Regardless, I have a counter anecdote.

    Using the methods of measurement you described, where you measure over the bra and add four inches to the underbust, I would be a 34C. I wore a 34C for my entire life until someone introduced me to the alternate measuring methods I’ve described. I now wear a 30DDD. My breasts fill out the cups, the band is snug in the way you described, and my breasts are well supported, like in the pictures.
    While wearing a 34C I can pull the band away from my back by about four inches with ease, five if I get someone else to do it. The band rides up and turns into an upside down u-shape, and my neck hurts from the straps.

    In the spirit of joint open mindedness, I recommend that you try it out. Most brick and mortar stores don’t have 28 bands (I guessing using the other way you’d be a 28DD or DDD), but a 30D on the tightest hook will work for a short experiment.

    I’m not going to do this MLA style, but here’s where I got my info
    Touches on how a well fitting bra looks better, like in your pictures, as well as how the sizing methods described work.
    The side-bar has more information, including how breast shape affects how bras fit.

    I appreciate what you’re doing, and I think that any form of measurement will be better than grabbing bras off shelves willy nilly, even if that measurement skews the band-bust ratio. I thought that most of what you had to say was correct, like how a band should be snug and give support, and how we should remain open minded and try our new measured size.

    I’d really like to hear your thoughts, as well as why you like the +4 method. Thanks for your time! :)

  15. says

    Noelle! I can tell your passionate about bras too! We’re kindred spirits. Thanks for your feedback. Like you mentioned I don’t recommend the measuring your cup size at all, BUT there’s some women who don’t have access to a department store or a place where they can get fitted. By measuring can give them a rough estimate as to what size they’re. I’m sorry, there must have been a miscommunication, I’ve never recommend women to add +4 inches to their bra size. Thanks for the additional info! I will definitely check them out. Thanks for visiting our site!

    • says

      Your chart seems to suggest this though, by putting a woman with a 27-29″ ribcage into a 32″ band.
      I agree that measuring for cup size can only give a rough estimate, but I find that this estimate has been more accurate than any professional fitting I’ve received, including my very good fitting at nordstrom.
      The problem with getting fitted by “certified professional fitters” is that bra fitting methods aren’t standardized, and almost every company distorts their measurements in their own very special way.
      I apologize for the gigantic wall of text. I can become quite verbose when I’m not careful. Thank you again for your time.

    • says

      I was just going to add my own comment to this too about the +4 method being used here. If you measure 27″-29″ on the ribcage, you should really be looking at 28 bands. But there are sometimes discrepancies in this since some brands still use the +4 method. I’m in the UK and most brands here now do not use this method, and many of these brands are now reaching the US market too (Freya, Curvy Kate etc.). But the European brands are different all over again, using cm instead of inches! So really I go with saying that there is no defined size. I generally wear a 28G/28FF/30FF/30F, all depending on size and how the sizes run.
      There are also different cup sizes in different brands and in different countries – as you probably noticed, in the UK we have FFs between the F and G which throws off a chart altogether if you’re looking to buy from a UK brand but are used to US sizes! It would be so much easier for all of us if it was standardised!

    • says

      Totally agree with Noelle and Sian! Using your method, I would be about a 36G, which is drastically off from my correct size of 30J. Even my old 34GG bra isn’t very close to fitting correctly! I would strongly recommend trying out the +0 method, as it gives much more support, especially to bustier girls. I am a certified bra fitter myself, and this method has been proven to work well. Thank you.

    • says

      Double Delight and Beyond, the way I described above of how to measure your cup size is how I was taught from Nordstrom. It’s not the only way to find your cup size. I don’t recommend it because I found it to be not accurate. Thanks for suggesting another option.

  16. says

    Hi, I discovered your blog from a Pinterest pin. I am wearing a size 38DD bra but according to your post I should be wearing a 44 J. Some of the things I have read online though, is not to measure while wearing a minimizer bra. Does this really affect my size? Only owning minimizing bras, what can I do to correctly measure myself, if indeed it does make a difference? Thank you and AWESOME post by the way :)

    • says

      Hey Lourdes, yes, wearing a minimizing bra can affect your cup size. I don’t recommend this way because its not accurate. For some, it can give you a good place to start when it comes to your size, but for most, it’s not very accurate. If you do measure your bust size, try to wear a non minimizing bra. If you want to be 100% accurate, go get fitted.

  17. says

    I have a question, I used your guide to best measure myself and check the fit in my mirror, I bought some cheep bras and extenders to adjust the fit with till I get it the best and your photos suggest that I might have 2 different size breasts. the right side fits good but the left breast looks like I could go a cup larger for that one. Do you have any advise for this problem??? I’ve called around and Victoria does offer free sizing so I want to go have a fitting done to be sure, I know that you don’t like their bras but should I still be able to get a good fitting done there? I need new bras and really want to be sure and know my size before I buy.

  18. says

    Sadly fitters in store are very hit and miss, most do add 4″, as you seem to, and for me that was a disaster. I have worn professionaly fitted 36Bs, then various sizes in between, and now a self fitted 30F/FF which is the best size range I have ever worn. My measurements are 32″ snug/comfy underbust and 37″ overbust. Your band size chart would have me in a 36DD which I am quite sure would be awful as even 32″ bands ride up on me. The chart doesn’t even give you the size you actually wear which you put down to shape issues, I say it’s a problem with the chart.

    I really appreciate some of the good stuff you have put up here, but telling everyone to go to a professional fitter just isn’t helpful, there are more poor ones than good in my experience.

    • says

      Hey Steph! Thanks so much for the input. I’ve used this system for a long time and it’s worked well for me. I’ll have to look into some of the other methods to see if I like them just as much. If you need help with fitting or finding a bra that fits, I do online consultations for women who don’t have access to a good fitter. Let me know if you’re interested at

  19. says

    I’ve never actually been able to find band sizes smaller than 34 in general stores that I go to (which obviously aren’t top-of-the line. I usually tend to go with “smallest size I can find in the adult’s section” but that’s not actually very strategic….

  20. says

    Hi Courtney, I am 15 years old and I have big saggy breasts. Well I’m a 36C and I don’t mind wearing a underwire or wire-free bra I’m ok with both. Well I would like to know what’s the best bra style for me because I want a bra that could lift my breasts and where could I find those bras and which ones are the best?

    • says

      Hey Thaely! Thank you so much for visiting the blog! First, I would recommend you reading my breast shape post, by determining your breast shape, this will help you to know which kind of bras will fit you best. In this post, I recommend bras for each of the different breast shapes. Please let me know if you have any other questions! If you need help, I do online and in person bra consultations! Here’s the link to the post:

    • says

      It’s ok don’t worry about it. I’m still a little confuse of what breast shape I have though. Well I took a picture of the side of my breast and I noticed that it kind of looks like the picture of larger breasts but not that much. Well I do have big breasts for my age. Well from the sides my breasts look kind of round but they look like if they are going down from the top of my breasts which are the pectorals I think that’s how you call it when I look at them from the side. And if I look at them from the front they look saggy but my nipples are not pointy down whether I look at them from the side or the front. So I’m a little confuse do you think you could tell me what breast shape I might have. Btw I’m still confuse about the Seam cup bras and seamless cup bras for saggy breasts, is it better to use seam or seamless cup bras?

    • says

      Hey Thaely, from your great description, I think you’re probably a slight combination of larger and saggy breasts. Your nipple isn’t going to make a HUGE difference in what breast shape you are. So the bras I recommend are going to be from the list of the larger and saggy breast bra picks. If you want to be shaped, I’d recommend a seam cup. But the thought of seeing seams underneath your t-shirt makes you shirk, then you’ll want to stick with a seamless cup. Seamless cups tend to make breats look farther apart. SO, it’s important when looking at seamless cups to make sure they have some kind of side fabric inside of the bra, this will add a little shaping and pull the breasts inward more. Let me know if you have any other questions, my dear!

  21. Laura says

    I just started reading your blog. I’ve had an issue with bras forever. I know, I should just go to a professional bra fitter. I brought bras and realized I spilled out and had to go to a G-size, but I find that the underwire seems to slip down to my naval as opposed to staying right under my breasts. Does that mean my band is too big? I measure a 36 and I bought a 36.

    • Courtney says

      Laura, from what you describe yes your brand seems too big if your bra is hitting you down to the navel. Go down to a 34 band size and see if that feels better. If the G cup fits you, remember that if you go down a band size you have to go up a cup size to compensate the difference. So try a 34H.

  22. Juliana says

    Great article!
    But, like some other people have said, why do you add inches to the band size? Yet only for smaller ribcage measurements.

    The chart shows a 28 ribcage should wear a 32 band and then should subtract her band size from her bust measurement (34-32). Yet it also says a woman with a 40 inch ribcage should wear a 40 band. She would then subtract her bust measurement from her exact underbust unlike the woman with the smaller ribcage.
    This means someone with a larger ribcage is using a completely different measuring system. Why add inches for small ribcaged women but not larger ribcaged ones?
    How does that make sense?
    Have you ever tried a 28DD before (sister size from 32C)? Or even considered a 28F since 34-28=F? This would be using the same sizing system you recommend for larger ribcaged women.

    I measure a 28 inch underbust and wore 34Cs and then 32Ds for a while. Now I wear 28F/FF and it feels great. The band doesn’t seem too small at all and actually when I tried on a 30 band it felt noticeably too loose on the tightest hook.
    If you haven’t checked out the abrathatfits reddit yet (as suggested by others) I encourage you to!

    I hope Nordstrom’s offers more small band options soon so I don’t have to keep ordering online!

    • Courtney says

      Hey Juliana. Thank you so much for commenting. Yes, I can understand why you would be kind of confused. I didn’t create this way of measuring, it’s the one I used at Nordstrom. The problem I have with the measuring system you use is that I measure a 28 inches around too and I can’t image squeezing myself into a 28 band. A 32 band fits perfectly and a 30 band fits kind of snug. Personally I think the band sizing on A Bra That Fits runs a little small. I’ve been using this system of measuring for over 8 years and it’s been the best system I’ve found.

  23. says

    Courtney, it might be worth trying some 28 and 30 bands. I measure at a 28 inch ribcage too and I wear 30 inch bands now which are much better than my old 32 and 34 bands. I can tell these are still too loose because I have to fasten them on the innermost hooks, but unfortunately it’s harder for me to find 28 bands :( using UK sizing and your actual rib cage measurement, I’d predict you would be a 28E, so I’d say your 32Cs are surprising in that you wear a cup size SMALLER (not larger) than your measurements suggest. Just to add to the arguments here that the “add 4 inches to the band size” method is inaccurate and confusing, just think about the poor petite ladies who are shown to have “concave” chests using this method. For example, a lady with a 28 inch ribcage and 29 inch bust will have a measurement of MINUS 3 inches (29 inch bust – 32 inch band = -3inch). Clearly this is nonsense, and useless as a system as there is no cup sizes corresponding to negative numbers. Simply take the band size to be 28 inches, as measured, and there is then no problem (29 inch bust – 28 inch band = 1inch difference= 28A. Infact, using the “add 4 inches to the band” system, all women with bust sizes of less than 32 1/2 inches will end up with negative numbers that are no help in cup sizing whatsoever. Even a system which adds two inches to the band produces similar errors. So a 34 inch bust and a 32 inch ribcage (calculated as 34 inch bust – 34 inch band = 0 inches), suggesting a non-existent bust. Yet work with the raw numbers and it’s clear a two inch difference likely requires a 32B or a 34A. I believe the add inches to the band systems have been the biggest factor in leading small busted and petite women to wear the wrong size bra, since their size can only be calculated meaningfully if the band size is taken to be their ACTUAL ribcage measurement. I’d also argue that using the add inches method puts everyone in a badly fitting bra, but I wanted to show how ridiculous it gets when dealing with smaller busts. The method puts me, for example, at a 32A, a whole 2 cup sizes out from my true size of 32C (or more accurately, 28DD).

  24. Surbhi says


    This is very good information. I’m size 36C but recently i measured and it came out to be 38C. Though I tried 38C but I have never been so uncomfortable. I had to adjust it all day long, and my boobs were sagging (all this brought me to this post). Moreover, it was also ridding up from the back. I switched to 36 C again and this is very comfortable for me. Also, even though I’m very particular at yoga and working out my I have little back flab always which made me thought I should wear a bigger size. I want to know is this possible that the measurement may always not be well suited as per the body structure as 38C really doesnt seem to be my size. Thanks!!!

    • Courtney says

      That could happen, but “back fat” can be deceiving because if you have a lot of it, it’s most likely your bra is too big in the bad. The band is sitting higher on your back where the more fleshy part is, so therefore that why you get more back fat when you’re wearing the wrong size. I’d stick with the 36C. Remember if you go up a band size, you have to go down a cup size. So you would be a 38B if you decided to go that route.

  25. Rebecca says

    I am confused here. My band size around the top of my ribs fit snugly is a 34, measurement across my bust is 38, but sometimes fluctuates to a 39, rounted off 40. So does this mean I am a 40DDD or a 38D? I am currently wearing a 38C bra, which fits snug around the upper rib cage, but the front part of the bra does not fit flat on my chest? And I can fit my hand up the front under the band as well as put my hand up the back part too? So what size do I actually wear?

    • Courtney says

      Rebecca, if you measure a 34″ around your ribs, you should be wearing a 34 band. If you measure a 39″ at your bust, you should be wearing a 34F or 34DDD.

  26. Rhonda says

    My bras always roll up across the back! I tried wearing a band size smaller and a band size larger and neither one worked! Help!

    • Courtney says

      Rhonda, what size are you wearing? I find women who are heavier have problems with the band rolling up because of the way their shaped. The key to preventing this is having a band that is thicker and more sturdy. If you have any additional questions don’t hesitate to email me at

  27. Ashley says

    This was helpful and also leaves me soooo confused. I recently had augmentation and was sized at Victoria Secret. She measured me at a 36DD or 34DDD. I tried on both and it seemed as though the DDD had a better fit. 36 band was really loose. So, I bought a few. Not that I even had a good selection at that size. The gore does not sit flush, which keeps bothering me now that I read this. I measured my under at 31, which should mean a 32. And around at 37. 32DDD. ? Would going down to a 32 band make the gore sit flat? Or do I need to go up a cup size? It seems to fit well besides that. It doesn’t dig in, it just doesn’t sit flat. I’m in a rural area and the closet VS was 90 miles away. They have a Dillard’s which is the only other department store, so I am totally lost now. I hate that I bought these now knowing they should fit differently.

    • Courtney says

      I would recommend a 32 band size. If you go down to a 32 you’ll need to go up another cup size, so I would put you in a 32DDDD or 32G. Sometimes when women are augmented they have a harder time of having the gore fitting perfectly because of how close or far apart the implants are placed. I’ve seen this happen a lot with augmented women. By going down to a 32 and up another cup size that should help the problem. The best place for you to find 32G is at Nordstrom or online.

  28. Janan says

    I need help with finding good bras for my 17 year old. She is fairly large on top and wants to hold them in
    a little as she doesn’t like being that size. Any ideas on bras that will hold you in better than others? We’ve really struggled finding bras for her at all.

    • Courtney says

      When you say hold her in, you do you mean having the cup cover or are you talking about support? If you want more coverage, go with her more coverage bra, if she’s needing more support, I would highly recommend you go get fitted by a professional. If she feels like she’s not getting enough support it’s most likely her band isn’t snug enough. Go down a band size. The band should fit really snug. Here are some bras I really like:

      Natori Hidden Glamour
      Wacoal Embrace Lace

  29. brittani says

    Im like a 28 D or 28 C. It’s horrible because I’m 20, poor and live out in the middle of nowhere and no one sells my size. I hate my situation and it hurts my boobs.

  30. Angela says

    THANK YOU! Bought 2 bras at VS and wasn’t sure I loved them. Googled bra sizing charts and came across your blog – and proceeded to buy a huge bulk of bras from Nordstrom. Found two that I love (Calvin Klein and Natori) that don’t even feel like I’m wearing a bra! Thanks for rescuing me – I didn’t know VS wasn’t the best!

  31. Ellie says

    On thin I should be a 42 E/F, but I’m a 40 C and it fits! The back could be a 42 but they both work and are comftble. I guess it makes me feel better thinking I should be a E, but I’m 13 so?? Aargh I hate being fat. :/

  32. Donna White says

    I have lost close to 30 lbs and need new bras that fit My rib cage is 29 and my bust is 37.
    I have lost some volume on top of my breasts. I went to Soma and was fitted . the fitter said I wore a 34 D . My breasts spilled out of the 34 D so we went to a 34 DD when I initially put the bra on it looks like it fits but as I go through the day the top of the cups seem to gap. I need help please. Also I don’t know why everyone ( sales ladies )thinks I want full coverage bras I just don’t like the double boob look.


  33. Kim says

    Awesome article, thank you! I have a question about my ribcage–my right side is more prominent than my left, and the middle (sternum) sinks in a little bit. Is it still possible to find a gore that tacks? I’ve always had problems with this. In addition to my small band size (28-30), it’s hard to find bras that feel good.
    Thanks for your help! This is a nice, easy-to-follow guide. I’ve enjoyed reading it!

  34. Maria says

    Well, because I have found my bras uncomfortable lately I thought I would try measuring myself, as you recommend. I measured just under my breast, at the top if my ribcage and that was 31 inches, so rounding up, 32. Then I took the other measurement with my bra on and it came to 37 inches. 37 minus 32= 5 inches, this makes me a 32DD or E. I was very sceptical as I have always worn a 34 b and then as I got older and gained some weight, a 36c. I went to the department store to try on a Wacoal, they had a huge selection. The 32DD was ridiculously too small, way to tight everywhere. I am a very average sized, well proportioned person, 5’7″, 130 pounds, and from what I see in your picture, ideal shaped breasts. I have also heard of measuring band width by coming around the back across the top of the breast area, that makes more sense. Anyway, I realized I have just gained some weight so my bras are a little tight, that’s why they are uncomfortable. Once I lose the 5 pounds, I will be back to normal. By the way my sister, who has had 4 children and fairly busty swears by Body By Victoria Secret bras- she says they are so comfy and supportive, she barely knows she has one on, she even sleeps in them.

  35. Amy says

    I live four hours away from any city in Utah and I only have Wal-Mart & Kmart to shop for bras & no botiques (other than online). I have shopped online for bras, but am hesitant to do so because if they don’t fit, I pay shipping twice. I am going to be in Bountiful, UT next week & am in DESPERATE need of some bras. Where can I go to get properly fitted & get good quality bras? I am tired of being “squished out the back door,” straps falling down, cups riding up, straps digging into my shoulders, and spilling out everywbere!! ANY help would be very much appreciated!!!!!! Thanks!!! -Amy :)

  36. KC says

    I have a question on band sizing. I like that your chart is pretty much a direct conversion of your underbust measurement to the band size. However, some sizing guides (on other sites) say to add a certain number of inches to the underbust measurement to find your band size. One site even suggested adding four to five inches to your underbust measurement to find your band size. Most other sites I’ve found that aren’t translating band size directly from the measurement say to add around 2″ to get to band size. Even the Nordstrom website uses a different conversion chart (

    Can you comment on why they would guide in that way? I tried on some bras today according to your chart and had great success (going from buying Victoria Secret 34AAs to what worked out as a Betsey Johnson 30D today).

    • Courtney says

      Sadly, you’ll find many places distort how you should be finding your band size. I would never add inches to your band size, and if a site is telling you to do so, they’re not telling you accurate information. For an example, if you measure 30 inches around your ribcage, you should be wearing a 30 band. If you measure 35 inches around, I would round down to a 34 band size instead a 36. If the 34 band size is too tight, then try a 36.

  37. JAM says

    This is changing my life. I just got the Victora’s Secret semi-annual sale catalog in the mail and I have been a faithful shopper there for years but realized that I had to adjust my bras during the day and that I have had a red rash like chafing mark under my breasts for years. Obviously I’ve been wearing the wrong bra size because they just fit me into their biggest size 36DDD. Now, I measured myself and I’m a 34G!!! I can’t wait to shop for some new and improved bras at a real store and not one that caters to 15 year olds. Thanks so so much!

  38. Hailey says

    Hi I need some help. Right now I’m wearing a 32dd which seems to be too small in cup size because my boobs are coming out of the top. Its a push up VS bra which I hate. So while trying to figure out my bra size I found this. When I measure myself by this I should be wearing a 30c.(but I’m wearing the bra that seems to small because that’s all I have when I’m measuring) To me that measurement seems small. I want to order a bra from Amazon or ebay because I’m broke. Lol. But not sure what size to buy?…

    • Courtney says

      Hmm, a 32DD and a 30C are way different sizes. What I would do is go into your nearest Nordstrom and try on a 30DDD or 30G, once you find what size you are, then you go online and order them online. If you say the 32DD cup size is too small, the C cup in the 30 band will be too small. Hope that helps.

  39. Allie says

    I’m reading this and trying not to panic because I’m a bit confused I read another website that said you should take your band measurement and add 4 or 5 depending on whether it was an even or odd number. I’ve been wearing a 36B just because it felt the most comfortable but I’ve been wondering for awhile if its the right size as I never got professionally fitted for a bra and my areolos or nipples slip out sometimes but I thought that was normal I dont know.. My band measurement is 31.5 and my bust is 36 with a bra and 37 without( is that normal???) Are the numbers for the bras the band numbers or the bust measurements? Am I not a B cup after all? According to the chart I’d be DD I think but that just doesn’t make sense to me. I have DD friends and there boobs look waaaaaaaay bigger than mine. HELP!!

    • Courtney says

      Hey Allie! Yes, there’s so A LOT of wrong information out there about how to measure your bra size. DO NOT ADD INCHES TO YOUR MEASUREMENTS. This way of measuring doesn’t make sense at all. Why would you add inches to your brand size? All that does is make your bra band too big. From your measurements you should be wearing a 32DD. The number is your band size and the letters are your cup size. The reason why you’re shocked with this size is because when you go down band sizes, you have to go up cup sizes to compensate the difference. So because you went down two band sizes, you have to go up two cup sizes. That’s the other misconception about bra sizing is a D or a DD is huge. It’s not. Cup sizes aren’t stagnant in each band size. They bigger the band size the larger the cup size is. So a DD in a 32 band is not the same in 34 band size. The 34DD is a cup size larger than the 32DD. I hope this makes! Thanks so much for commenting and visiting our blog!


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