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Okay, it's time to go bra-shopping! Ah but wait. You want to make sure that the brassiere you buy is something that will give you adequate support and yet not squeeze the air out of your chest.

First, how can you tell if your bra is wrong: According to the Intimate Apparel Council (yes, folks, there is such a trade organization), some clues are:

  • Your bra is more than six months old (I have had many bras last way longer than this)
  • Your bra cups have wrinkles
  • You have a bulge above your bra cup or at your underarm
  • The center panel (the fabric between the bra cups) doesn't lay flat against your skin.
  • The back is higher than the front.
  • The straps leave marks on your shoulders.
  • It's hard to slide a finger under the band of the bra.

OK, so to determine your proper bra size there are two measurements we must find out: Band size and cup size.

To find your band size (ribcage circumference measurement), whip out a good quality tape measure and

  1. Measure around the chest directly under the breast.
  2. Measure around the chest, directly above the breasts/under the arms.
  3. If the difference between the two measurements is two inches or less, use the first measurement. # If the difference is over two inches, you may want to try one bra/band size larger for comfort. This will be your bra/band size.
  4. If the under-breast measurement is an odd number, add one to reach the next even numbered bra band size.
  5. Now measure around the chest at the height of the fullest part of the breast. The measuring tape should be held horizontal, and your arms should be down. Make a note of that measurement (only used for comparison.)

To determine your cup size (projection of breasts from chest wall - in other words, how big are your boobs?), find the difference between Step 5 and your bra band size.

Use this chart to determine your cup size:

Half inchAA Cup
One inchA Cup
Two inchesB Cup
Three inchesC Cup
Four inchesD Cup
Five inchesDD/E Cup
Six inchesF Cup
Seven inchesG Cup

As an example:

  1. Underbust measurement is 37". Add 5 inches. Bra Size is 42.
  2. Full bust measurement is 45".
  3. 45 - 42 = 3" difference. Cup size is C.

Result: Buy a 42C bra

Keep in mind that the preceding was a guide for those who HAVE breasts.

What about those of us who don't have breasts (yet)?

Well there are some who choose to use falsies, or forms to…fill in the gaps, as it were. ;-)

Now, keep in mind that with falsies, you can be whatever cup size you wish, but choosing a size proportional to your body frame will look the most natural:

Here are some suggestions on choosing a cup size (from Tanya Brown at Tanya Brown's Breast Prosthesis Emporium):

Bra band sizes 32-28:

  • "Slender" build: A cup
  • "Average" build: B cup
  • "Heavier" build: C cup

Bra band sizes 40-42:

  • "Average" build: B cup
  • "Heavier" build: C-D cup

Bra band sizes 44-46:

  • "Average" build: C cup
  • "Heavier" build: D-DD cup

If you are in between sizes or you are having difficulty finding a good fit, when you go up a cup size, you should go down a band size. If you go down a cup size, you should go up a band size (ex: if you have a 36C and it is not fitting quite properly, you would probably want to try a 38B or a 34D next.)

When sizes are DD and above, great care must be taken to be properly fitted. Some bra manufacturers make their Bra Size slightly large. (e.g. a bra marked 38 will probably fit a 40 woman.)

For sizes above D, cup sizing is not well defined. It can keep increasing by an inch for each successive letter, or it can repeat letters for new cup sizes above D. So, a DD cup is the same as an E cup. A DDD=EE=F cup, a DDDD=EEE=FF=G cup and so on.

Long line and 3/4 bras should only be considered if their length is LESS than the distance from the under-bust to the natural waist line.

If either of the bra sizes given here is very different than what you are currently wearing, go with your current size.

When ordering a mail order garment where a proper fit is important, make sure that the return policy of the company is well understood.

If you are taking these measurements without wearing a breast form on for only a single prosthesis, determining the bra cup size can be more difficult. Some experimentation may be necessary.

If you are taking these measurements for two prostheses, you can simply take the bra size measurement (Step 1) and then choose the cup size that is right for you.

These are guidelines only. Proper sizing may vary for different body sizes, heights, and weights.

When sizes are DD and above, great care must be taken to be properly fitted. Some bra manufacturers make their Bra Size slightly large. (e.g. a bra marked 38 will probably fit a 40 woman.)

Note: This page was archived and merged from, feel free to keep it current.

Originally Contributed by Stephanie. (10/6/2004)

Metadata -- keep at end of page Summary:Clothing and Appearance/How to Measure Your Bra Size


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Page last modified on May 10, 2015, at 06:24 AM