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Sizing & Fitting

Finding your size

Measuring yourself at home isn't usually as accurate as getting fitted professionally, but it's certainly better than nothing! All you'll need is a mirror, a tape measure, and your best-fitting unpadded bra.

To get your band size, measure around your ribcage directly beneath your bust. Make sure the tape measure is evenly horizontal the entire length around. Take the measurement and round up or down to the nearest whole number. (For example, "31 and 1/4" rounds down to "31", while "31 and 1/2" rounds up to "32".) Take the new whole number, and if it's an even number, add 4 inches. If it's odd, add 5. This number is your band size.

To get your cup size, take the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust, again making sure that the tape is horizontal all the way around, and that it's snug against your body without digging in. Round to the nearest whole number again, and then take this whole number and subtract your band size. How many inches difference are there? To find your cup size, count up one cup for every inch difference, A for 1", B for 2", C for 3", etc.

Why get professionally fitted?

Although this measuring method has been used for decades, every woman is built differently, and many may need a professional eye rather than a one-way-fits-all system. It's not always easy to measure yourself, either, and even when we do we tend to resist changing our bra size if we don't like the direction the numbers are going! A professional fitter can take accurate measurements, offer advice, and make an impartial decision.

De-Mystifying D, E, F Cups and Beyond

As we learned above, each additional inch in difference denotes another cup size upwards. American brands tend to use a standard cup system, with the cup sizes progressing as D (4 inch difference), DD (5 inch difference), DDD (6 inch difference), F (7 inch difference) and so on. But what about our imported bras? European bra makers (and even some American ones) don't use the same system as most US manufacturers, or even the same system as each other! One brand will have cups progressing as D, E, F and so on, while another has cups D, DD, E, EE, and then F. How do you know what size you actually are?

It's not about the letters, it's about the number of cup size increments. Each size upwards should represent 1 inch difference, no matter what letters the brand assigns to that cup size. Here's a graph to explain:

Inch Difference 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Wacoal / Donna Karan (American) A B C D DD DDD -
Made For Me by Bra Smyth (American) A B C D DD E(DDD) F(DDDD)
Chantelle / Simone Perele and Le Mystere (French) A B C D E(DD) F(DDD) G(DDDD)
Fantasie / Freya (English) A B C D DD E(DDD) F(DDDD)
Anita (Austrian) A B C D E(DD) F(DDD) G(DDDD)
Aubade (French) A B C D E(DD) F(DDD) -
Lunaire / Natori (French) A B C D DD DDD -
Edith Lances (American) - B C D DD PS(DDD) XPS(DDDD)

If you're beyond a D and trying to decide which cup size you should buy, just count up the number of cup increments from D to find which up size you should buy from that brand. For instance, if you know you're a DDD in Wacoal, you'd count up two cup sizes from Chantelle's D cup, and find their size F, or count up two sizes from Fantasie's D cup to find their E. (Note that European cup sizes tend to run smaller than American ones, so round up if you're in between sizes.

How do I know I need to change bra sizes?

Things change, and there's no exception when it comes to our own bodies. You may know what size bra you buy; you may have even been professionally fitted in the past. But if you've been wearing the same bra size for years and years, maybe it's time to take a good hard look at how you look (and how you feel) in your standard size.

A well-designed bra should wear well all day without digging, adjusting, or causing any pain. Your silhouette under clothes should be smooth without any fabric folds or lumps. You shouldn't have to make adjustments all day. Think you need to make some changes? The good news is you're probably not that far off from a better size, you just need to see if you need to adjust strap or cup size.

Band problems

Is the band riding up in the back?

The bra may be too loose around; try a smaller band size. One note: cup sizes are proportionate to the band size, which means a 34B cup is smaller than a 36B cup. if you get a smaller band you may have to get a larger cup size.

Are there bulges over or under the band?

This can happen around the back or on the sides. If so, your band is tighter than it should be. Try moving up to the next size. Again, the cup size is proportionate to the band, so getting a larger band may mean you need a smaller cup size. Since the cup size is related to the band size, and not the other way around, fit the band first and then move around cup sizes until you find your perfect fit!

Cup problems

When you put your shirt on, are there lumps above the cup, creating a "double-breast" effect?

We all want something sexy, but some women are trying to get a low-cut look by wearing smaller cups than they actually should. Your bra cups, even on low-cut demi styles, should still be able to contain enough that nothing spills over. If you spend a lot of time trying to "fit" your breasts into your bra, it might be time to go the other way around. You could also get bras that are designed for plunge styles or cleavage. These bras have a looser top cut so they align with the fuller part of your breasts, rather than cut into them.

Does your bust pinch or fall out of the bottom or sides? Is the underwire digging under your armpits?

Time to get some larger cups. The cups should fully contain, and the underwire and center should fit snug against your body. Something to keep in mind if you get larger cups: if the whole bra fits around you nicely, meaning it isn't too loose or too tight in the back, you may need to get a smaller band with those larger cups, or a larger band with those smaller ones, to retain the overall circumference and fit.

Strap problems

Are the straps digging into your shoulders?

Make sure you have the right cup size: too little cup won't support full figures and will cause a lot of pull on the shoulder straps. You also need to make sure your band isn't too loose, because it is the band, not the straps, that should support most of the weight of your chest. The band is the foundation of the bra, and it should be doing most of the work.

Are the straps wide enough?

Even though the straps don't carry most of the weight, they still have to be substantial enough to be supportive. Women with larger cup sizes should probably stay away from tiny, thin shoulder straps. Many of our customers opt specifically for wider shoulder straps for comfort.

Do you adjust the straps as short as they go, and the bra still doesn't feel supportive?

Unless you have an unusual body type, the band could be riding up in the back. Try getting a smaller band size.

For more information on styles, fabrics, and more, see our FAQ and Glossary sections, or give us a call at 1-800-BRA-9466.

Women's Chart Size

  S M L XL
Sizes 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Bust 33 ½ 34 ½ 35 ½ 36 ½ 38 39 ½ 41
Waist 25 26 27 28 29 ½ 31 32 ½
Hip 36 37 38 39 40 ½ 42 44

Bra Smyth 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
We guarantee every product on our site! If for any reason you are not satisfied with a product, simply return it in its original condition, with tickets attached, within 4 weeks of your receipt of your order, for a merchandise credit or a full refund (the choice is yours).