Reader Question: Finding Your Size, Step By Step

A full-busted girl seeks her perfect bra size. Share your advice!

Hello folks,

    I while back I got this mail from A. asking for help with finding her correct bra size. Take a look at her problem and help out with your advice:

   A couple of months ago, I began my journey into bra land.  I'm 20 years old and American. I always matured faster than other girls my age. I hit puberty at age 10, and began wearing my first training bra when I was 8. When I was 11, I was already wearing a 36A (wrong back size even then). Within a year and a half, I was wearing a 36C. With, no knowledge of how a bra is supposed to fit, I always wore my bra on the tightest hook and eye.  I also thought that the bra was supposed to ride up in the back and that the straps were supposed to give all of the support. Whenever the bra didn't fit me in the cup, I would go up a band size (I know, so wrong!!!). Up until a couple of months ago, I had been wearing 38C bras with the four-boob effect for at least 6 years. I am a bit overweight (152 lbs) and petite (5' 1"), but I've never been very heavy. My breasts sag a lot in my opinion. My husband loves them for their size, but I hate them because I can't find a bra that fits right.
   I measure 109 cm over-bust (leaning forward) and about 75-76 cm under-bust (tightly). My breasts are kind of wide set and fuller on the bottom and sides. I've been 'fitted' twice, once in a department store and once in a fancy boutique. The woman at the department store said that I'm a 34DD, so I bought 3 bras in that size and within a week, I could wear them on the tightest hook and still fit my arm between my back and the bra band. The cups also cut into my breasts on the sides and leave red marks. The woman at the boutique tried putting me into a 34FF after I explained to her that a 34 band was too big on me. She also had terrible customer service skills (she forgot I was in the shop 3 times!), so I left empty-handed. I have looked online and measured myself countless time and ordered 4 Curvy Kate bras from and have had to send each one back because it was either too big or too small. I've tried sizes 32FF, 30H, and two styles in a 28J. Anyway, I would like to know if you have any suggestions to make as to size/style/brand.

    Here is my bit of advice:

    Hey A, The calculator gives you a 32H, but this is just a starting point and not the verdict. First lets talk about the band: which band size did you feel the most comfortable in, most of the time? Try the bras on backwards to test that 8this way the cups and underwires won't interfere with your judgement). Remember that the bands will stretch a bit over time. This part of bra fitting is rather subjective, so go for the band size that feels comfortable while still being snug. (Of course certain brands and models have more or less stretchy bands, so you will not be wearing only this band  size for every).
   Once you have decided which band size you want to stick to for now, you will have to do a bit of trial-and error with the cups. Order 3 neighbouring sizes (for example 32G, 32H and 32HH). If you are not sure what kind of cup is best for you, it is a good idea to order three or more bra models -- balconette, half-cup, and plunge (full cups won't work on breasts fuller on the bottom) --- each in the three sizes. Soft cups please. If you have these bras to try on, you will be able to tell whether it's the cup size or simply the style that is not working for you.
    You don't seem to be satisfied with Curvy Kates -- a problem in these bras is that the underwires are a bit too flexible so in bigger sizes they stretch and make the cup too shallow. Have you tried Panache or Fantasie? These are great brands brands for bigger busts, depending on whether you need broad, medium or narrow underwires, respectively. And as always I highly recommend my favourite brand, Ewa Michalak -- just remember that they have a slightly different sizing system because their bands are snug and stable, so use the calculator on their page. Their bras are exceptional in fit, especially for bigger busts because the bigger cups are constructed with more pieces than the smaller cups.

    So, ladies, do share your advice with A. I'm sure many of you can identify with her bra journey. 

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