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Getting Abreast of Bra Sizing

Updated on August 9, 2015
hell4heather profile image

Author, comedy writer & mum of five (not the band). Heather's first ever writing attempts were published right here on Hubpages.

A sizeable issue

Have you ever tried to work out what your actual bra size is?

Let me tell you a true story.

A few years ago, I walked into Mothercare, eight months pregnant feeling very heavy and miserable. My already ample-at-pre-pregnancy bosoms were fighting their way out of the only maternity bra I owned that was so tight, 'left' now had the word "Triumph" permanently engraved on it and 'right' was sobbing into my belly button.

I was uncomfortable, boiling hot (it was the middle of summer), in constant agony and my back was screaming,

"Please, NO more milk today!"

I quickly advanced to a greater discomfort zone after flashing two melonous sandbags to a rather shocked looking shop assistant - who breathed, "Oh my goodness," before hurriedly ushering me into a changing room to be measured; and not before giving her bemused colleague a "did you see those apples?" look.


Fast forward to a memory from three years later, when I walked into Ann Summers as Valentines day approached and whispered sheepishly to the shop assistant,

"Do you have anything in a 38FF?"

To this day I will never forget her response, which was loud enough for the raincoat parade outside licking the windows to hear:

"38 DOUBLE F?!?"

Lets Google!

If, like me, you have, ahem, jumped the queue when God was handing out bosoms you will find it embarrassing, but extremely necessary to find your correct bra size. And you would rather consult the Google Guru than face dropping your melons out to a pretty 20 something girl called Nicky in a lingerie shop.

You would think some online research might be a godsend for the likes of us, wouldn't you? Well, here's another true story. Today I entered the search term “how to measure bra size” and this is what happened...

The Top Search Results:

1) M & S

Marks and Spencer advises us to "measure overbust and underbust and simply cross reference the two measurements you have taken.”

OK.. The first thing I notice is that my overbust (amplest part to you and I) measurement of 46 doesn’t even exist on the chart. The second thing I notice, is my underbust measurement of 39, doesn’t even exist on the chart. The over bust measurements only go up to 44 and all the given figures for underbust are in fact, in measures of .5.

Therefore, my self-concluded bra size is gleaned from the not-really-there axis result. Basically, somewhere between the 37.5 and 39.5. Follow this with making a guess at what comes next after the largest oversize measurement on the chart - 44 (have you lost the will to live yet?) I conclude I'm either a 42H or a 42G.

2) Bravissimo

This site has the most simple to follow instruction of all – throw away your tape measure. Done.

Now it continues to say that “years of experience of working with you to find your perfectly fitting bra means we believe that tape measures don't help when it comes to finding a bra that fits properly.” Makes sense. But then, how exactly do I find out my size as per the teasing “Getting The Perfect Fit” article title?

What Bravissimo goes on to tell us is how to check that the bra you are wearing is a perfect fit or not, which presumably it isn’t or you wouldn’t have entered the Google search term “how to measure bra size.” Would you?

Bravissimo’s approach does seem to make sense, but the website advice rather cleverly (or not as the case may be) only leads you to the single conclusion that you need to go into the store and get measured. Clever because instore customers can’t simply switch websites and would be less inclined to go buy a cheaper bra elsewhere after they've been measured. Not so clever when, in my case, I have a meagre bra-buying sum in the bank, live in a rural area miles from the shops, don’t drive and want to buy one online today. So not today Bravissimo. Next…

3) An international bra size calculator from

Hurrah – this looks nice and easy. A simple online calculator to input underbust and overbust size and also, added bonus of above bust/chest size. Different. OK, where did I put my measuring tape? Ah yes, Bravissimo told me to put it in the bin..

After taking my measurements I input the results, click enter for result: 44B

As the pesky-yet-curiously-funny meerkat says, "Simples!"


Another simple calculator asking for above, below and across the bosom measurements. And this time, I find I am a 40C

Curiouser and curiouser – as Alice in Wonderland said. Probably when trying to work out her bra size...


After wondering why I never raced to buy this domain name, I read the concise list of instructions:

  1. Measure under your bust and:
    add 4ins. if the measurement obtained is an even number of inches or
    add 5ins. if the measurement obtained is an odd number of inches.

So, 39 +5 = 44

  1. Measure over your bust and as my bra size is 2” over my cup size, the site says I am a C

Ample Bosom conclusion: I’m a 44C

And last (yes it is nearing the end) but by no means least:


Under band - If the measurement is even, add 4"
If the measurement is odd, add 5"

39 + 5 = 44

Still here?

Full bust measurement, i.e cup size = 46

Finally, to work out my size I subtract my band measurement from my cup measurement

44-46 = -2

This means, my standard cupsize is below AA – it isn’t even on the chart!

I think - therefore I am(!) - minus 2 minus AA?

Excuse me.. did I just reach the elusive size zero they all talk about in the US?

It's only fair to stress that all of the above sites have a disclaimer advising us they only aim to provide a general indication of your bra size and 'the best guide is a bra you already wear which is comfortable.'

But then, chances of finding the bra that is comfortable is greatly reduced by massive differentiations between how to measure your bra size online!

So I'm off to shop. Anyone know where I can buy two parachutes?

Heather is the author of the hilarious comedy novel, 'The New Mrs D'.

© 2011 Heather Hill


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      THis is a hilarious look at bra sizing. I have found it frustrating over the years. Very well written and with great wit!

    • profile image

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      Mylindaminka 4 years ago

      Кроме того, причёски на основе таких кос держатся особенно долго, что позволяет кудрявым девушкам реже мучиться, расчёсывая, «раздирая» свои густые кудри.

    • profile image

      BRUMEBOOBRE 4 years ago

      When i accustomed to receive high on lifestyle yet of late I have built up the weight.

    • DTroth profile image

      Diana Owens 6 years ago from My Little Hole In The Wall, HubPages, USA

      Great Hub!

      Sadly hilarious. It's nice you can find humor in something so frustrating. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

      At least now I know I'm not the only one wandering around hopelessly lost in "bra world!"

      ...jeeez (:

    • lou16 profile image

      lou16 6 years ago

      So true and yet so funny - first time I've managed to chuckle while thinking about bra sizes, it's one of the most frustrating things to shop for imo.

    • Invisiblestats profile image

      Invisiblestats 6 years ago from london

      Love this Hub! So widely understood by us ladies and gave me a giggle..

      I really hope you find a good fitting bra soon,,I am still looking to I either get 4 boobs where it is too small or no support what so ever lol

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Congratulations on your Hub Nuggets nomination, you certainly deserve it, this is hilarious! Thanks for publishing it, not only did I get a good laugh, (I'm laughing with you, not at you,) I learned a lot as well. Good luck in your quest to find the perfect bra. Lane Bryant is my friend, she should be yours, too :)

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for writing this hub explaining bra sizes.. It's really cute and has lots of great info too. Bookmarking for when I go to get a new bra-which hopefully will be soon. Congrats on your hub nuggets nomination!

    • Miss Mellie profile image

      M.S. Ross 6 years ago

      Ha! Great "breast exposé" and thoroughly enjoyable writing. Voted up! Having visited three shops in one day (two of which provided measuring service), and being told by one shop that I'm a B; in another shop I'm a C or D ("You could really go either way, honey"); and in one shop that I'm an A (only if I want to bind my breasts like some ancient cultures practiced), I have given up trying to find My Official Size and just buy what feels and looks best. This is a great companion hub to the hub on changing dress sizes through the years!

    • Susan52 profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago

      You are so right on! Love it! Hanes now has a bra style that's sized as XS - S - M - L - XL, just to confuse things a little bit more. Oh, my, if you can't laugh about things like this, you'd just want to cry!

    • LoopyGem profile image

      LoopyGem 6 years ago from Canada

      Hello there HFH! Last year I worked for a lingerie shop that does "professional" bra fittings. I put that in quotes because I know that calling myself a professional in this would be like saying I went to a special school and everything...which I did not. HeHe

      Based on working there though I can tell you a couple of things to make finding one that fits comfortably a little easier.

      1. All bras are made differently. You may be a 36C in one and then be a 38DD in another. Don't trick your mind into thinking you have a certain size. Just like your pants sizes are always different, so will be your bras.

      2. One is always bigger than the other. For some, more so. You fit the bra to the larger one....

      3. When you put it on, you should make sure the clasp is on the middle one. This leaves room for the fluctuation of weight we women are prone to.

      4. Put it on, then bend down and adjust the strap around under them. Stand up. If you see 4 boobs, it's too small. Also, if there is alot of extra lines in the cup, it's too large.

      5. Get over the fact that you will see "chicken wings" on your back. We all have them. It doesn't necessarily mean that the bra is too small.

      and finally

      6. Raise your arms up in the air. If the bra stays in place, resting comfortably under "them", the elastic is laying flat then you have a winner!

      Hope this helps...:) Great Funny Hub!!

      PS..I fitted ladies that were a 42 H....yes...H ;)

    • crochet-afghans profile image

      crochet-afghans 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the chuckle. I had been looking to find my size. Now I know no one knows how to do it. Found an existing bra of mine that seems to fit perfectly so I'm off to the shops and hope all 40D bras are the same size.

    • hell4heather profile image

      Heather Hill 6 years ago from Glasgow, Scotland

      Thanks to everyone for stopping by and for all your lovely comments. The Victoria Secret info was a real eye opener! But not surprising in the least - there is an old joke that Victoria's Secret is that nothing fits the average woman LOL :-D

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      This hub is very entertaining as well as usual. Congratulations on your well deserved win.

    • windresistant profile image

      windresistant 6 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Great advice. I worked at victoria's secret for a while... where they are totally NOT supportive of actually having boobs! They actually lied to me about how to measure people, incorrectly, so that we could squeeze people into bra sizes we carried instead of what actually was going to fit them. Being an honest nearly-min-wage worker, I told more than one customer that my managers who they often proclaimed to be incredibly rude were lying to them, and that if they were like me, chesty and tiny... or just chesty at all... they needed the support of another store, or the online catalog. UGH!

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Good advise. I had been wearing the wrong size for a long time and finally went one inch larger and one cup bigger and now I am feeling much better. Problem is I have one b a cup bigger than the other, so it gets tricky, but I'd rather be comfortable. Congrats on your nomination.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. This hub was hilarious. After 42 years, and eight children, I have no idea what my bra size is, and not a single bra that fits. Somewhere around 36 D? or 38C? Thanks for a great laugh.


    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      If this is any indication of how your mind works, following you will be a fun ride indeed!

      Up and hilarious!

      A guy walks into a woman's shop and tells the lady he wishes to buy a bra for his wife. When she asks what size, he tells her 7 & 1/4. Puzzled, she asks how he measured.

      He replies, "With my hat!"

    • hell4heather profile image

      Heather Hill 6 years ago from Glasgow, Scotland

      Thanks :-) Had a look at the hubnuggets page and duly joined. Lovely to meet you on here!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Your hub made me chuckle. :)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Please join the Hubnuggets fun! and participate in the Hubnuggets forum too!