Your big boobs don't suck, your bra does: How to find the right bra size

June 27 | Guest post by Anja
Skeleton Hands Bra by Etsy seller dresstar

For years I was wearing the wrong bra size (I was wearing a 34D but really needed a 30G in UK sizing). My large breasts were totally unsupported through my too-loose bra band, and I felt very ashamed — especially as a teenager. I would not wear low-necked shirts or move too fast because my girls would have jumped out of the bra.

Finding out my correct bra size (30G) helped me a lot — it changed my life both physically and emotionally. Since I was fitted into a 30G, I've gained weight and both my band and my cup size have gone up and now I'm wearing a 34G and still like my breasts. (That doesn't mean that other women have to like their breasts, too, or that I can not understand that breasts can be a struggle.)

After I found my right bra size, I was so happy with how my life improved that I decided to get trained as a bra fitter, and I've been making a living at this line of work for last 18 months. The store where I’ve worked is specialized in big cup sizes up to UK K-Cup (US O-Cup).

I wish I could fit you all personally, but here instead are my tips to help you start your search for the right fit…

Saying "I'm an A/DD/H" cup says absolutely nothing

It's like giving the time by saying "it's quarter past." The cup size is always related to the band size. So a 34DD is one cup size bigger than a 32DD. Or my 34G is two cup sizes bigger as my former 30G. Knowledge about bra sizes although helps to understand that a band size can’t change through a breast reduction (for example, a 38H could be a 38F but never a 36F because of surgery since the surgeon doesn’t alter the ribcage).

Not all fittings are equal

I have seen many women coming from stores where they had been “fitted” before, but they were still wearing the wrong size — centre gores (bridges) and bands riding up in the back. I realized that not every bra fitting is equal. It even happened to me. Before I was fitted into a 30G (US 30I, AUS 8G) with a band tight enough to finally lift the weight from my shoulders, and give my breasts excellent support I had been fitted, several times, into wrong sizes.

Here are some bra size resources

  • The Bra Band Project: To get an impression what a DD cup really looks like (on a 30/32 or 34 band and so on — you might be surprised that a 34DD for example is rather small!)
  • A Sophisticated Pair and Butterfly Collection – both wonderful shops in North America with very helpful information and blogs about breasts and bras.
  • Wikipedia gives a good overview about how the numeration of band sizes is different around the world, but they can be compared to each other.

I know the anger and depression that large breasts, and especially breasts in ill-fitting bras, can bring. I remember my teenage years with ill-fitting bras, and the shame I felt for myself and my breasts. If this post can only help one person then I've done my job… virtually.

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  1. Yes, identifying your correct bra size is a big deal and a big help once you do so… but that's only half the battle. As someone who wears a 36M/38K (UK sizing!), knowing my size only helps so much when only a handful of bras are ever available in my size (and the ones that are available are always full coverage lacy textured things- god forbid someone with big boobs want a smooth bra to wear under t-shirts or with a lower cut top). If the band isn't too huge I can sometimes get away with buying a larger band/smaller cup and taking in the band some, but that's a pain and doesn't always work. So I stick with buying the same 2 Elomi and Panache bras that fit and are "comfortable" most of the time and try not to get my hopes up when I browse sites that supposedly target larger busts with "inclusive sizing". This sounds bitter, and I guess I am bitter still about bras even though I know my correct size, and that's OK. I do a good bit of garment sewing for myself since I don't fit any standard sizing particularly well, and at some point I'd like to tackle drafting and sewing a bra pattern that will fit, but that's pretty daunting and above my skill level at this point.

    5 agree
  2. I think a good bra should fit you how you want it to fit you.

    Every bra fitter I've found wants to put me into a really tight band with a D cup and those things hurt. The band digs in, gives me weird lumps and leaves ugly marks. Every bra I buy in a 36B sits comfortably around the band, the girls fill the cups nicely, the straps sit well. But by your guide, this is the wrong size bra. I'm sticking with what I think fits me best because I'm the one who has to wear it

    4 agree
  3. Thanks for this! In my experience, even with a relatively moderate size (German size 75D-DD) it is nearly impossible to find a bra that fits in your average high street fashion shop… they usually only have A-C cups 🙁
    And even harder to find a bikini that fits! I don't need a lot of support, so I am quite happy to wear flimsy triangle bikini tops with as little fabric as possible to get in the way of my tan, but I'd like them with straight straps so I can hide the tan lines under my normal bra straps in everyday life. *sigh*

    Oh, and also – what's the deal with "minimizer bras" for cup sizes such as D? D is really not that big (depending on the band size, of course)…

    One quick question though – what am I doing wrong if the bra straps keep falling off my shoulders all the time? Are they just too long, or is it something else? In winter I'm fine with wearing bras with x-shaped straps but in summer I prefer hiding the bra straps under my tank top straps…

    2 agree
    • I have an average bra size, but I like minimizer bras because they are so comfortable. Because the cups are fabric rather than foam, they still fit well when my breast volume fluctuates. Also, they make me look professional in button-down shirts. The only real weakness of minimizers is nipple visibility.

      With regard to the straps falling off, you might need to look for styles with the straps set closer in back. I've seen these marketed as "ballet." Another thing that helped resolve this issue for me is to find cups that fit better and a band that was more supportive. I love my bands with triple hooks.

      My bra recommendations are practically octogenarian, but that's just what makes me look the best under clothes, and feel most comfortable, so *shrug*.

      1 agrees
      • As a 38E, I also wear minimizers frequently. For nipple visibility, you can get reusable silicone inserts that help cut down on headlights. The ones I have are called "Top Hats Reuseable Silicone Nipple Concealers" — there are other brands too but I haven't personally tried them. And for the falling bra strap issue, I have a couple of "Fashion Forms Strap Mate Bra Straps" that are attached to the strap several inches above the clasp (assumes a fairly thin strap, though). This can make the process of putting on or taking off the bra a bit tricky bc it has to go over your head, but it works well for me.

        I get most of my bras online. Herroom.com is my go-to site.

  4. Another great website is Boob or Bust – https://booborbust.com/ – includes a calculator so you can measure your own correct bra size. It also gives a run down of common bra styles and what breast types they fit best. Absolutely brilliant. For years I thought I was a 36C, and after trying the calculator I was fold I was a 32F. I laughed out loud. No. I am in no way an F cup.

    Turns out I am, and a 32F bra fits me perfectly. I've never felt so supported in my life. Absolutely life changing.

    1 agrees
  5. The bras fit me at 38DD, but the problem rests in the use of foam. My boobs don't fit those preshaped cones ever. I never had an issue and now, I struggle to find bras that will look okay. I don't need weird padded foam (make me just sweat more), just need something to hold my girls up.

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