Written by Debra Wyatt (last updated October 28, 2020)
Chances are that you are among the 80% (that's eight out of ten) of women who are wearing the wrong size bra. Most of those women wear a bra that is too small. Wearing the wrong bra size is not only very uncomfortable, but it doesn't give the support that is needed which is unhealthy for your body. Wearing the wrong size also means that you are not getting adequate support for your breasts. This can cause your breasts to sag which leads to premature aging. You can tell if you are wearing the wrong bra size if your bra is riding up your back, your shoulders are sore, or if the sides are bulging.
To find the right bra size, you need two measurements: your chest size and your cup size. You can find these measurements relatively easily, but you need a friend to help you measure. You'll also want to make the measurements while you are wearing a bra, even if you suspect that the bra is the wrong size. (Wearing a bra—even one that is the wrong size—will help compensate for any breast sagging or personal peculiarities.)
The first measurement is the band size (or chest size). Use a tape measure to measure around your chest. This would be right under your breasts around the back and ribcage. Be sure that the tape measure is resting flat on the skin and that it is straight around your back. (This is where the friend comes in handy.) Keep the tape measure tight, but not so tight that it digs into the skin and not so loose that it sags. Now add five inches to your measurement and you will have your correct band (chest) size. Write down the number so that you can remember it.
If your measurement ends up with an odd number (like 33 or 35 inches), it is usually a good idea to go down to the first even number. For instance, if you measured 35 inches you would want to go down to size 34. That's because bras will stretch over time. This is easy to accommodate since most bras have several sets of adjustable hooks and eyes so that you are able to readjust the tightness to something that is more comfortable.
The next measurement is to find the right cup size. With your friend's help have them run the measuring tape around the fullest part of your breast. Once again write down the number. Now subtract your band (chest) size. The difference between the two numbers provides the correct cup size, as follows.
Obviously, the type of bra you are wearing when you make your measurements will affect the cup size you calculate. If you are wearing a padded bra, you'll end up with a larger calculated cup size. Similarly, if you are wearing a sports bra you'll end up with a smaller cup size. You should wear a regular, unpadded bra to get the best measurement.
If possible it is always best to get fitted for your bra by professional, and always try on the bra to be sure that it fits correctly.
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