Correct Bra Fitting – What You Need To Know

May 13, 2012

Bras have been the bane of my life.  Ever since my first teenage bra I’ve never been truly happy with what I’ve worn, believing that the misfortunes I endured were normal.  Then came the day when I discovered I was doing it all wrong.  We were all doing it wrong.  The problem is, the industry that makes our bras marketable doesn’t know it.

Being a lingerie lover and model I witness both sides of the fence and I’ve realised the flaws.  Seeing models and their portfolios everyday I’ve come to recognise a badly fitting bra and I can tell when someone isn’t wearing the correct size.  I can see in my own images where I’ve worn the wrong size bra.

Many of my modelling friends firmly believe the bra size they say they are is correct, but by judging their frame and body shape you can quickly guesstimate what band size they are.  Countless girls who are smaller than me are thinking they have 32, 34 and 36 inch backs when they’ll really be something several inches smaller.  The problem is stemming from a poorly and outdated concept whereby we women are educated to add 4-5 inches on our measurements.  Bra manufacturers, model agencies and well respected department stores are fitting and telling women to measure this way.  It’s wrong and there’s too many boobs getting a bum deal!

The signs of a poorly fitting bra include riding up at the back, bulging over the cups, gaping, straps slipping off your shoulders.  You may not have even noticed the signs, because it’s easy to live with something you don’t question.

Brastop Campaign

When I was blindly buying the wrong sizes year in year out I was a 32E-F.  Since getting clued up and fitted by the modern standards, these days I’m a 28 bordering on 30 in a GG to H cup.  Being a 10-12 dress size, people are puzzled by this.  When I had a conversation with my mum recently she was surprised when I told her I needed a 28 back in a bra and this is the problem.  People believe back sizes such as these are for children because they seem ridiculously small.  The fact is, if every woman were to be refitted the modern way there would be many more people needing these sizes like me, and in every instance, every woman would require a smaller back measurement than they believe.

One of my favourite images, but the bra doesn’t fit properly

It doesn’t help that brands and stores tend to produce and sell the more popular sizes such as from a 32 back, which instills in peoples minds that these are adult women’s sizes, resulting in the continued cycle of miseducation.

The proper way to measure yourself for a bra is surprisingly simple.  I found a fantastic guide that advises how to properly measure yourself on Thin and Curvy’s blog.

The gist is literally this
Stand up.  To find your band measurement (which is the number part of your bra size) you get a tape measure, wrap it fairly tightly around your chest immediately under your boobs and record the measurement.  If the tape measure says 28″, that’s your band size – no adding extra inches.  If you’re like me and measure an odd number – I measure 29″- you round up to the next whole number which makes it 30″, but trying bras in both 28 and 30 bands is a good idea.

Finding your cup size (which is the letter part of your bra size) isn’t as spot on accurate but there are methods that help to give a ball park figure.

Thin and Curvy suggests the following way – Stand up.  Get a tape measure and, wrapping it loosely around your boobs (at the fullest part) record the measurement.  Say it is 37″ (what I measure).  Subtract your band size from the bust measurement (37-29) and record the number you’re left with, which in this case is 8.

Every number indicates a cup size.  1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, 5=DD, 6=E, 7=F, 8=FF, 9=G, 10=GG, 11=H, 12=HH and so on.  The number you’re left with, in this case is 8, which means cup FF.

Many people swear by this method, but it didn’t work out right for me.  I am a GG-H cup.  I have found a way which would bring this correct measurement up so if you’re not getting good results from the above method (you’ve tried bras that size and they’re not fitting), try this.  This is my take on the method-

Without wearing a bra at all, stand and learn forward so your torso is parallel to the floor.  Measure around your boobs allowing them to fall naturally.  This way I measure 39″, which after subtracting the 29″ gives me a number of 10, therefore making my size more correctly a GG cup.

Trying on various sizes and styles of bra helps to find your true fit.  Remember that all brands and designs vary and you should try a bra on every time before committing to buy it.  Some bras I fit better in a 30″ back, some bras an H cup provides more coverage.  All boobs are different too and you’ll find some bras suit your boobs better than other styles.

I would love to see more women – including my model buddies – just give this a go and see what bra size they could be trying out.  Smaller back sizes seem a little taboo but it doesn’t mean you’ve got smaller boobs that you thought you had.  The back number simply represents your body frame.  Of course a 36G means bigger boobs than a 28G but it’s all relative.

Also when you go down a back size you go up in the cup so don’t be horrified or puzzled if your measurements suggest you’re a much larger cup than you currently wear.  Above anything, wearing the right size bra can be literally life changing.  A well supported bust is healthier for your back and improves your posture, and wearing something that fits well is a huge confidence boost.

Me wearing a bra that does fit

Grab the tape measure – what have you got to lose?

Becky x


  1. mydesiretobe

    May 15, 2012 at 3:00 am

    The picture of you in the teal bra makes you look a bit like Catherine Bell.

  2. sarah

    May 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Iv never been given the right size using the old method.So i have to try on each bra i buy. Its really annnoys me tho that you can be one size in one brand and another size in another. Im going to try the new method now

  3. Cavy.girl

    May 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Hi Mydesiretobe, thanks for the comment. I didn’t know who Catherine Bell was so had to have a bit of a Google! I’ll take it as a compliment! 🙂

    Becky x

  4. Cavy.girl

    May 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment. Yes, it is very frustrating that bras just can’t be simple. I wish there was a magic way to make it all easier!

    Becky x

  5. Jen V

    November 13, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Supposedly they measured me and say I’m a 38B
    and when I go buy my bras, the one’s that make me look super awesome are the 34D!!
    So I find that measuring yourself is completely off, or the people who make the bras are completely off, or not measuring with the same measurements that the others are measuring our boobs with.. cause that’s a HUGE difference!!

    The girl at the fitting room didn’t believe me.. So I took in bras of different sizes, and the one that looked the best was the 34D and she measured me a 38B how can it be so off???

    That was at Victoria Secret, Yesterday. So what am I ??? a D or a B?? a 38 or a 34???? Drastic difference! WTF!!!! So annoying!! I too cannot just go look for a bra, I MUST try them on before I can purchase ugh!!

  6. Paige

    August 8, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    Becky can you make a thread like this again. I see it all too often at work and it drive me nuts. Bra outlines under thin shirts. Either they have the wrong size bra, or the wrong type of bra. You see the top edge of the bra as though the bra is too big, or we see them spilling over the bra. Perhaps sometimes it’s also a case that they need a seamless bra, or a Plunge or 1/2 cup or even a 1/4 cup for those that can. Which ever the case I feel like this should be brought up again and again.

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