How to Measure for a Bra

If the Cup Fits, Wear It.
I’ve gotten countless questions from my clients about helping them look their best in their clothing, and the one thing I’ve always tried to stress is “foundation, foundation, foundation”.
Foundation garments like bras, body-shapers and such are important for women who want to not only look their best but in many cases feel better too. The right foundation garment provides proper support for the body and helps you display all the right curves in all the right places.
For those women who are struggling to lose weight and find that they are developing the “putty shape” in the midriff or “soft puffies” in other areas, a body shaper can help give a toned and firmer look. But for most women, the biggest problem area (and the area in which they make the most mistakes) is in their brassiere.
For Good Measure…
Most women, interestingly enough, don’t know how to properly measure for a bra. As a result, they go through life with an ill-fitting garment that either is too constricting and can be painful, or fails to give them the appropriate support they need. An improperly fitted bra can lead to back pain, and discomfort. Fortunately, getting a good fit isn’t as hard as you might think.
For starters, you want to take the measurements while wearing a bra. I know this seems like a paradox, because if you already have a bra, you should know your proper bra size. However, this isn’t true and the purpose for taking measurements while wearing a bra is to make sure that you can get an accurate measure while your breasts are in the proper position. This becomes more important for women as they get older and after changes in their body begin to occur.
Start by taking a soft measuring tape and measure the chest just below the breast. The tape should be level back and front and should fall along the lower band of the bra you’re wearing. The tape should be snug and lie smooth along the skin, but should not be tight or binding. Take this measurement and add 5 inches to the number. This becomes your band size.
Next take your tape measure and wrap it around the fullest point along your bust. This measurement is then compared to your band size. You subtract the band size from the bust measurement and use that number to determine your cup size. For every one inch of difference between the band size and bust measure, you have one cup size.
In the case of an odd-numbered band size, you will want to try both of the even-number sizes to either direction to get the more comfortable fit.
For example: Julia has taken her measurements and her band size is 33, while her bust measurement is 36. That means a difference of 3 inches, which makes her a “C” cup. Her proper bra size is going to be 32-C or 34-C.
Here’s a simple chart for cup-size measurements:
Bust Size – Band Size = Cup Size
Less than 1 inch  AA
1 inch     A
2 inches  B
3 inches  C
4 inches  D
This measuring technique is a great way to ensure the proper fit from your bra. However, you shouldn’t substitute a measurement for simple “hands-on” fitting. Use this measurement to give you a starting point when you begin your bra shopping. Be sure to try on the bra you plan to buy before you leave the store. As with any other item of clothing, sizing can vary from brand to brand, and even from style to style, so there’s no way around “trying it on for size” to ensure a proper fit.
Just remember, your bra should be comfortable and should never feel tight or binding. The cups should support the breasts themselves without sagging or seeming “over-full”. The goal here is to create a smooth, shapely silhouette, and a properly fitting brassiere is a key part of reaching that goal.
Photo: New Africa/Shutterstock