Sonya Elango
Student Health Education Centre

Having breasts can be downright annoying at times. From having to wear the “proper” bra for an outfit, to constantly fixing loose straps, bras are a particular kind of pain in the chest.

And the unfortunate fact is, even if you’ve spent the last decade strapped to braziers, you’re probably wearing the wrong size to begin with.

If this is the case, you’re in good company as around 80 percent of women are said to be wearing the wrong size.

As this is something that can lead to discomfort, back pain, breast tissue migration as well as a less flattering appearance, figuring out your correct bra size is a great thing to do for yourself.

Two common myths about bra sizes are that A cups are tiny while D cups are huge, and that this range of sizes fits the majority of people with breasts. These two myths directly lead to the ridiculous number of people that are wearing the wrong sized bra. In reality, you can’t really determine how ‘big’ someone is based on their cup size alone. Cup sizes are ultimately uninformative without knowing the band size. In fact, the same volume of breast tissue can actually be a range of different sizes. For example, someone wearing a 32D size bra has the exact same breast tissue volume as someone wearing a 34C, 36B or a 38A sized bra. This range of different sizes with the same volume are known as “sister sizes”. While these sister sizes could technically substitute for the true size, they would provide a less than ideal fit. The size that properly fits someone ultimately has to do with how this volume of breast tissue is proportioned on their body. One common problem has to do with wearing a too-small cup with a too-small band. This is a direct consequence of wearing a bra with the same or similar volume but a different distribution.

Being fitted for a bra can therefore be important to avoid wearing the wrong size. However, even “professional” fittings may not be completely accurate. Accessible lingerie stores, like Victoria Secret and La Senza, do not provide the best fittings, and they only stock a certain range of bras sizes. This means that many people get shunted into the wrong size to fit the confines of the stores bra stock.

At the end of the day, it may actually be worth learning how to measure one’s own bra size (there are several excellent tutorials online). It also may be worth learning about what constitutes a good fitting bra. Here are couple of guidelines to follow:

  1. Bands should be tight but not uncomfortably so since about 80 percent of support should come from the band not the straps.
  2. The straps should not dig into or fall off of the shoulders while cups should be filled without any bulging occurring at the front or the sides.

It is quite possible that these guidelines may be annoying to follow seeing that many sizes are not stocked in some stores. While someone who wears a cup size above DD or a band size below 32 is not necessarily above or below “average”, these sizes can unfortunately be harder to find. However, getting a bra that fits well (there are other stores out there!) may very well be worth this extra effort due to their comfort and better support. Your breasts will thank you.


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