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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » BS stands for "bra size"!

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Author Topic: BS stands for "bra size"!
-Lauren-
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I've recently come upon a fantastic revelation that's left me giddy and wanting desperately to spread the word. In a nutshell, there's no such thing as a standard cup size: a woman who wears an A or B cup can have fairly large breasts, and a woman who wears a D or beyond can have a smallish or average bust.

I got sick and tired of my bras not fitting. Those online measurement thingies gave me numbers anywhere from a "38 AAA" to 36 C-ish. I'd go buy bras and they'd feel fine for awhile, but gradually get loose, ride up, or wrinkle. I've grown a distaste for bras and often go without except when I go out for the day, but even then, it's nice to have something that bloody fits.

An online acquaintance heard my pleas and directed me to these two sites that delve into the nitty-gritty, with pictures, why cup sizes mean nothing and how to determine what you should really be looking for.

Armed, I located a lingerie shop that carries a decent range of sizes, and let myself think out of the box. I was miserable and cramped in a 38 C pushup bra (the kind I've always bought to convince myself that it's supposed barely cover since it's "small and sexy") and had chronically sore breasts. With the help of a sales lady, I walked out MUCH happier and more comfortable with a 34E. Granted, I'd gained a good amount of weight between that bra and these ones, but my bust is not tremendous by any stretch of the imagination. A 34E is, as the site went into is equivalent to a 38 D, 40 C, 42 B, etc, it's just the tightest band that can fit comfortably. I never even feel it on!

So yeah, I just thought I'd share this in case someone else is suffering on account of ridiculous sizing standards that brand women's breasts based on "size" that isn't even size. [Smile]

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atm1
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I definitely know that finding the right bra size is super important.

I've actually known many women who wear bras with large band sizes (ie the number) and smaller cup sizes when it should be the other way around.

For women with larger breasts in particular, it's really important to get a small enough band size. Bras should support you primarily through the band, NOT the shoulder straps. If the back of rides up your back, or the shoulder straps cut into your shoulders, chances are the band size of your bra is too big.

Generally, I'd say it's worth it to go into an expensive department store (say Nordstroms) or a speciality store (like the one you went to, Lauren) and have someone there measure you. You certainly don't have to buy any of the expensive bras they sell, but getting a measurement and advice from someone who knows that they're talking about is great. (Often, if possible, I'd advise saving up and buying nicer bras if you have larger breasts, because a $35-40 bra will definitely last more than twice as long as a $15-20 bra, so it's worth your money in general).

I'm lucky in that I have the same size breasts as my mother, and so she did a good job helping me find ones that fit (the 32DD is a hard find).

BUT, after asking a department store saleswoman about how she measured, I have totally whipped out the good old measuring take on some friends when they complain about uncomfortable bras. One friend had been wearing a 38 B for years, and when I told her she should be wearing a 34DD or E, she seemed appalled and said "But my breasts aren't that big." I responded with "But your bras *aren't comfortable.* Please at least go try something on." Sure enough, a week later, she was thrilled with her new bras!

(Oh, and Lauren, on that second site, there is literally a picture of an exact bra I have, same size and everything.)

Also, as a piece of advice for people handy with needles: sometimes bra companies charge more for a larger cup size bra, regardless of the band size. I have been known to buy 34D's or 36C's (which, as Lauren notes have the same cup size as a 32DD) and take in the band through a bit of hand sewing. It's a great way to save a bit of money.

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atm1
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Oh, and unlike some of the fitters who those articles mention, I've had great luck at Nordstrom's--when I was looking for something a salesperson literally looked at me and said "You're a 32DD, right?" and I wasn't even wearing form fitting clothing. That woman was good at her job!
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-Lauren-
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Oh, wow! I never knew Nordstrom was so down with "freakish" sizes, mainly because there wasn't one where I lived. Sounds awesome. [Big Grin]

Would you mind sharing your magic tape trick? I kinda had a rough estimate from one of the linked calculators on that site, but still had to fiddle with many at the shop. Not to mention, I'd love to be able to counsel my again-pregnant-and-boob-metamorphing sis. [Smile]

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atm1
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They keep those sizes in the back, but they're there! You just need to ask for help.

So there are two important measurements, around the chest just below the breasts and around the widest point of them.

For both measurements, you'll want to make sure that the measuree takes *normal* sized breaths while you're measuring. When they breathe in, it should be a bit tight, but not uncomfortable/painful.

Do the measurement just below the breasts first. Make sure that the measuring tape is parallel to the ground at all points (so you're really measuring in a circle--not going higher or lower on the front or back. Take this number, and round it to the nearest inch. Now the band size comes from this number, but not quite. Take the first number (the number measured below the breasts) and round it to the nearest inch. Add 4 to that number if it is even, and add 5 to it if it is odd. This will give you the band size.

Then, measure the widest part of the breast. Again, making sure that the measuring tape stays parallel to the ground and round to the nearest inch.

The cup size is the difference between the two numbers. An A means the second number was 1 inch bigger than the first, a B two inches, a C three inches, a D four inches, a DD five inches... you get the idea. [Edited add, this also explains why there are AA and AAA cups, since those are when the band size is bigger than the around the breast measurement, which can and does happen).


For example, if you measure the first number to be 30 and the second number to be 36. The band size would be a 34 (30+4), and the cup size would be a B (36-42=2->D). Still, this is only a starting point for trying them on, but it should get you to within a small range of sizes.

Since you measure bra sizes this way, it makes sense that the cup sizes scale like they do. For the most part, you're talking about breast *volume* not breast diameter or whatever you want to call what the difference number. Volume scales as distance *cubed* not linearly. Really, breast size probably scales by some other factor and I'm too lazy to do the math right now. Anyways, it's not a direct relationship, to say the least.

[ 10-08-2009, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: atm1 ]

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Onionpie
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I actually only recently (and because of scarleteen, actually [Razz] ) found out that I've been measuring my bra sizes wrong the whole time. I'd always go with the LOOSEST band size that would fit me, and because of that my shoulder straps would always dig in.

And now I find out I'm actually a 34DD (funnily enough though, you're the same band size but bigger cup, and yet you say you don't have particularly large breasts; whereas I have had... several comments about how "big" mine are >:\ )

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-Lauren-
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Ahh, gotcha. I know that measurement system, and it's bogus for me. (35 under, 45 around = 40 DD = waaay baggy and big on me). I just got the smallest band that would fit and went up, up, up until it was right.. the add 4 or 5 thing never worked for me, especially considering bras stretch so darn much around the band anyway. And what the page said rang with me.. would we wear underpants that were many inches looser? [Smile]

Either way, no matter what method used, a fitting bra is a massive relief!

Onionpie: It really varies I guess because while boobs can be relatively close in size, their volume differs. I've got very wide-base boobs that taper, so I can only fit into a shelf/balconette E-cup which means I need to fill less of the cup. Also it took a month or so of gathering the escaped breast tissue from my armpits and back (oh lawd, my back!) and coaxing it back into the cup before I could fill it proper. I might even need to shop for a new one soon with it all migrating back to the mother ship. [Razz]

[ 10-08-2009, 07:03 PM: Message edited by: -Lauren- ]

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Onionpie
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actually, atm1, on one of the sites lauren linked to, it says NOT to add four/five to the band size! http://eternalvoyageur.xanga.com/692129662/bra-bands-all-you-need-to-know-about-them/

I actually found that pretty crazy, and it means I could probably do with a band size even smaller, but that'd be even HARDER to find than my current size, and my current size is not uncomfortable, so I think I shan't bother [Razz]

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atm1
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Right there, though, they're dealing in metric measurements and european sizing. I don't know how that would effect things, though.

One thing that I should add, is that you should always buy a bra that fits *on the tightest* hook. As the bra ages, it'll stretch out more (something that link mentions).

I can say, though, that I do measure 27 inches around the chest, and all of my 32 band bras fit well. BUT that may have more to due with my size and my bras (most of my bras are from one brand these days, because I fell in love with it). I've had some for 4 years with next to no stretching. I've found that most people end up with too big band sizes if they don't keep the measuring tape level, too.

I've actually had a similar experience to you, Onionpie. A lot of people have commented on my breasts seeming quite large (particularly when I was younger. My breasts have been the same size since I was 12, barring a short stint they had as C cups after a month long back packing trip). I think part of that has to do with my quite thin frame. I have a good friend with the same bra size, but her breasts don't look nearly as big on her super muscular, athletic frame. She's only 4 inches taller than me, but has a good 40 pounds of muscle on her body that I just don't.

In terms of finding bras, the web sites fig leaves and bravissimo have a good range of less common sizes. I would encourage you, though, to go to a store that has a wide range of sizes, try them on there, and then search online. Lauren's method for finding bras sounds like a good--if time consuming--one.

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StrangePudding
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Hey I just wanted to add my two cents. I've worked at Victoria's Secret before, and I would NOT recommend going there if you have larger breasts. First, they don't go above a 40 band size and a DD cup, I believe. And good luck trying to find ANYTHING in a 34 above a D-cup unless you go online. Also, their bras aren't that much greater than anyone else's. I used to swear by my VS bras, in a line they discontinued, but I found one that fits almost exactly the same in Maidenform, and was able to get them on sale for $13 a piece!

My advice: Macy's. That's the place I work now, and the ladies there REALLY know their stuff. Obviously, it varies by individual store, but at least at mine they are super helpful to all the ladies they fit. Your band and cup size are important to get right, yes, but it's also wise to remember that each brand, even each style, will fit differently. The fitters at my store will measure you first, then go get several different bras they feel might work well for your body and breast type as well as your personal desires (minimizer, push-up, full coverage, demi, etc), then keep going back again and again until they find something that WORKS.

The only thing I would really recommend VS for is sports bras for not-so-busty women. They do have some nice styles in that category.

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atm1
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Yeah, I only use VS for cotton panties, since they used to make some that would go on sale for super cheap that were super comfy. I haven't been in years, though, so I don't know if they still do.

I'd be wary of Maidenform if only because my bras from there really didn't hold up over time--after a year or so they'd be completely stretched out. I don't know if your experience is different. That was made worse, I think, by the fact that I had 34D's from them, that were already a bit loose to begin with (at the time, they didn't make that style in a 32DD).

Oh, and for sports bras, I LOVE Title Nine. If you live on the west coast and can go to one of their stores, they will find you the *perfect* sports bra, even if you're busty. You can also order their stuff online.

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-Lauren-
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atm1, I LOVE fig leaves and bravissimo. They're like, bra size mecca. I'd totally order from them if I knew for certain what size I am, as my cup size likes to shift based on brand and style, so I have to try them on. Bummer.

Also, the calculator on the linked site works fine. All you gots to do is convert the cm measurement into the closest inch size with google, and use a international size chart to figure out what yours is. Fig leaves, I've just discovered, has both a centimeter-to-inches chart plus a corresponding-sizes chart! [Big Grin]

Strange Pudding: Yeah, lots of people have problems with VS. Granted, there are some people there who do know what they're doing and really care about customer service, but they're very limited by the sizing, and pretty much have to try to fit any customer into the narrow range available.. if they turned away the women who couldn't fit in their bras no-way-no-how, they'd fall short of the sales quota big time. To be fair, I've had the same if not worse experiences with fitting staff at department stores. It's just the crappy sizing system bringing it down. [Smile]

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LondonBlue
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Ah, bra size. What a topic.

I just went into VS the other day looking for panties, and ended up getting cornered by a sales lady trying to sell me a bra. She asked my size, I said "34C", and she looked at my chest and said "REALLY." ...which was really heartening, lol. I had tried measuring myself before and plugging my #s into various formulas online got me a 32B, which I can't fit over my eyeballs, but I assumed she would be eying me at around that size. Turns out she thought I should try a 32D, and sure enough, it was a lot more comfortable. I was quite surprised because "D" is thrown around a lot as the BIG CUP SIZE, and it's the size my mom wears, but she's a 38D and a 32D is waaaay different. I went through a similar experience a couple years ago when I switched from a 36B to 34C. I still wear bras of all 3 sizes for different reasons, but the smallest band size is always the most comfy in that respect.

By the way, I don't know if anyone brought up Soma yet, but I thought I would mention it. It's a lingerie store that is owned by Chico's or some similar place. It's a pretty nice shopping experience, but I've noticed that they're bras are WAY oversized...as in, the cup on a 34C is like a normal 34 or 36 D. I don't know why they do that, but it REALLY bugs me and has resulted in me purposely avoiding their stores. I read somewhere that specialty stores will run big or small in bra sizes to make you buy more, but I'd think that would be running small, not big (as in, I walk in and they surprise me by putting me in a DD, I'm supposed to feel good about myself for having large breasts, and I buy more bras). I really don't get why they would run big. But just a warning, if you get measured at Soma their sizes might mean something different.

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Ecofem
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I cannot say enough about getting a good, professional bra fitting and also wanted to second Nordstorm's. I've had the best experiences with them would totally recommend them; I've had mixed feelings about Macy's (depends on the person!) and have always passed on Victoria's Secret. My favorite bra brand is Wacoal's, which aren't cheap but last many more years than the cheaper brands, I've found; Bali (I think that's Macy's) has been a good, cheaper-if-less durable brand, too. [Smile]

[Edit: I've been a 32DD and now am a 34D. However, due to my frame my chest doesn't really look that "big" at all and I'll even go without a bra in some summer dresses. However, I think a good bra that makes you look and feel good, if you desire it!, is so important for many women with, well, not-so-small breasts. [Wink] ]

[ 10-08-2009, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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Bun Bun
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About a year ago I ended up going into an expensive lingerie store that some friends had reccomended. I'm SO glad I went and got measured! I had been wearing 36 B's and C's from La Senza (and for the record, I hate La Senza bras), and when I took off my shirt the lady took one look and said decidedly "32 D.". And wowee, do 32D's fit better! Though, sizes are different between brands- so I tend to just try things on. I start with a 32D, and go from there and see what's comfy. My latest is a $10 bra from La Vie En Rose. It's a 34D and is incredibly comfortable.

And Lena, you sound like me XD Because of my frame my bust doesn't look that big. I'm 5'8ish, and average weight. I guess on a shorter gal, my breasts would look much bigger!

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Shiro
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Whoa, is D and DD like a standard over the pond? No wonder they call us Nordics flat, over in Finland, the "standard" size is a (85)B-cup, don't knows how that is inches.
I fall short with my ridiculous 75A and fail to fill the cup, but since I'm quite short and.. used to be.. fairly thin, they don't seem to differ that much from your average girl. Or that's what I tell myself to make myself feel better, most girls in my school are very busty.

Never had a bra fitted, I just grabbed a bunch from the rack and kept trying them on until I found a comfortable fit.
Although.. I'm pretty sure it's not spot on, since I usually gotta hoist them really high to fill the cup, but then my breasts slip out under the wire.

Oh well. I only started wearing a bra at 17 anyway, so I haven't had that long to practice.

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-Lauren-
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Shiro, I'm in Finland too and I went to Change in Tampere. The ladies there are so nice and helpful, they carry a good range of sizes, and the bras are really reasonably priced. I think they're pretty widely distributed in the major cities. They cater to breasts of all sizes and shapes, which is wonderful.

If you're having trouble filling the cups, I'd suggest you go try a shelf/balconette bra like I usually do, those styles tend to be great for us girls who aren't blessed with even volume throughout the boob. Also, be sure to gather any migrated breast tissue (the "fat rolls" that accumulate under your arms and around your back) into the cups when you put it on. Lastly, if you're spilling out underneath the wire, the cup is too small! Go for a bit tighter band and the next cup size up if you can manage.

And there really isn't a "standard" -- cup sizes don't mean squat! In one of the sites above, the girl who was a "B cup" is fitting wonderfully in an E, and her boobs aren't at all large. I can attest to that for sure.. I'm pretty average and I'm fitting fine in my "freakishly large" size, thankyouverymuch. Plus, when the vast majority of women are wearing the wrong size, it's even harder to determine what the average is for any group! [Smile]

[ 10-09-2009, 06:21 AM: Message edited by: -Lauren- ]

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Shiro
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I think I saw one over where I'm currently living, actually. But I feel so awkward going lingerie shopping that I usually avoid it until the last of my cheap bras breaks down-- after which I go and buy another cheap one.
I've learned my lesson not to buy without trying it on, though. Learned the hard way.

I also thought the band is standard! Oops, what a misconception! I'll be sure to try on a tighter band with a bigger cup next time, just for kicks.

Heh, you make a good point. I wonder why do we all seem to be getting the size wrong, is measuring it rocket science after all? [Big Grin]

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WildOrchid
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I got fitted half a year ago. It's incredible. I can run and my breasts don't jump out of the bra!I went from 75 C to 65 E.
Now I'm trying to convince my sister. She has the same measurements under the breasts but way smaller cups. That's way she thinks she should wear A. But she's 86/75. This could mean 70 C. Unless she stops flattening her breasts with A bras she won't have much to show.

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darksider17
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well...the things like with every womens breast...one is slightly smaller than the other...
but mine is way diff...and I know...most of allot of people have that problem...

but my self-confidence hurts me when..I have to wear padded bras...and put two inserts in the other....and I hate it..I mean...I'm 19..always have these problems with..some with certain embarassing points too...

so i'm afraid..that when i do do with a guy..if he's the right..might like hate it or somethin...and id be so embarassed..

plus..if you must know my bra size..one is like a large D..and the other could be a small A...so..yeah...

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BlackCat
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I've almost given up on getting a proper fitting bra. My breasts change with my weight quite a bit, and then sometimes they just get bigger on their own.

I noticed my 36Cs were getting too small on me so I went and bought some new 36Ds not too long ago. Lo and behold, two weeks later I go on birth control and my fat rearranges itself to my boobs. I loved that my pants started fitting better/looser, but when about $150 worth of bras started fitting exactly like my old bras did, I was pissed.


I seriously don't understand why bras cost so darn much. I mean, I can find a dress for $20 when a good bra runs about $30? I know it's partly labor but the amount of fabric for the price just does not logic.

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atm1
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Darksider, I know this is a bit late, but have you seen this article? You might enjoy it.

Frankenboobs

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crazyhorseperson
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As it turns out, my previous thought of being 34D is wrong - I'm actually 28E! The problem is, the only way to find bras that would fit is either A: go to a place very far away, or B: order online....which is unfortunate. xP
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Heather
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Were you fitted by someone who does this for their living? If not, even mall shops often have someone who can do that. Online calculators for bra sizing are often pretty wonky.

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crazyhorseperson
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I used about five different bra fit calculators online and all but one gave me the same size. The one that gave me a different size was because it was made when the general consensus was to add 2-4 inches to band size; the others ignored this convention.

Then, I used the conversion: 28E=30D=32C, and looked for 32C bras. There weren't any, but I did find the Genie Bras at Target, and the medium (if I recall correctly) ones, which fit 32C/34B (it didn't mention smaller sizes) fit me perfectly. [Big Grin]

I know the online calculators are often incorrect, so I looked up the newest advice as well as what Nordstrom's site said in terms of home measurements before I confirmed my bra size.

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