amaze magazine :: winter 2005

AmaZingly FIT
by terri murray


"Bra bubbles..." those unsightly 'lumps' that spill out of our new bras, old ones and everything in between! They appear because, as hard as we may try, women just do not have the correct fiitting bra.

Without a doubt, the most difficult part of purchasing intimate apparel is determining the correct bra size. Interestingly enough, this is not just a phenomenon for the plus-size woman since statistics show that 75% - 80% of all women are wearing the wrong size bra! Why is it such a mystery? For one, fit experts and intimate apparel industry experts disagree on the subject and second, industry standards for measuring differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.  This certainly does make the whole process more difficult for us. However, since I have been with Lane Bryant corporate as a fit model, assistant technical designer and bra fit expert, I have some general guidelines for fitting a bra that can help you 'ban the bra bubbles!'

The Plus-size Fit

First of all, when determining if you need a "Plus-Size" bra, some experts suggest and I agree that around a 34" or 35" under bust measurement is when you should consider using the plus-size bra fit formula adding 2 - 3" instead of 5" to your under bust measurement to determine band size.  Next, it is necessary for curvy women to measure three points:  1) Underbust 2) Bust and 3) Above bust.  The three point measurement system vs the two measurement (underbust and bust) is far more accurate to finding the perfect fit.

Plus-size Bra Fitting Formula

Grab a tape measure, pencil and paper to calculate the following:

  1. BAND SIZE - Measure Under Bust while wearing a bra.  Follow the tape measure along the bottom of your bra band. If an even number, add 2"; if an odd number, add 3".
  2. BUST SIZE - Measure at the fullest part of the bust.
  3. CUP SIZE - Subtract the band size from the bust measurement to determine your cup size.  For example:
    Band Size (36, 38, 40) = Using a 37" odd number under bust measurement, add 3" = 40 Band Size
    Cup (B, C, D) = Using 45" bust measurement, subtract band size 40 =5" Difference = 40DD Bra Size
  4. ABOVE BUST - And last, measure above your bust. Make sure that the tape measure is high around the upper back, goes under your arms to the flat area above bust and round this measurement to an even number.

Missy Formula
Add 5"

Difference in

Plus Size Formula,
Add 2" to Even or
3" to Odd Number

Difference in

Under Bust, 37"

Bust, 45"

37+5 = 42
Band Size
3" (45" minus 42")
37+3 = 40"
Band Size
5" (45" minus 40")


The bust measurement minus band size determines cup size.  For example, if there is a

1" Difference in inches of bust measurement minus band size (not measurement) = A Cup

2" Difference                                                                                                        = B Cup

3" Difference                                                                                                       = C Cup

4" Difference                                                                                                        = D Cup

5" Difference                                                                                                        = DD Cup

6" Difference                                                                                                        = DDD Cup

7"+ Then F, G, H, I, J, and so on.

Some more rules for your perfect fit...

  • If you go down in the band to one lower size, go up one size bigger in the cup.  And vice versa, if you go up in the band size, go down in cup size.  Take the time to try on a few bras, different types, sizes close to your size and write down how each fits.  If your weight fluctuates up or down during pregnancy, don't be afraid to try on or purchase another size. 
  • If the band rises in the back, the band is too big.  Choose a smaller band and go up a cup. 
  • If your breasts are overflowing (double busting) or the center of the bra is away from the chest, the cups are probably too small.  The center of the bra should rest on the chest bone. 
  • And if your bra fits properly, there should be even weight distribution - straps don't dig into shoulders.  You may need a bra with wider, comfortable, more supportive straps. 
  • If you find your blouses gap, try a minimizer to reduce your bust appearance about 1" or a more supportive bra.  It could be your bust is lower than it should be and needs more support. 

Now you can see why bra experts are called fit experts.  If a book could be written about shapewear, two books could be written about fitting bras, industry standards, sizes, brands, and styles.

Let's take a look at bra options...

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