I'm sharing this myTake today, because I am extremely passionate about helping people understand how bra sizing works.
I have small boobs. 32A seemed to be the smallest size most shops carry, so I assumed for most of my life, up until about 2 years ago, that it must have been my size. Furthermore, Victoria's Secret sized me as a 30B but said I could fit into the sister size of 32A, and Ann Summers sized me as 30B. They're the experts, I thought.
How wrong I was, and how wrong they were. About 2 years ago, I found this amazing subreddit called abratthatfits. They have their own calculator. I put my measurements in, and it gave me the size 26E (26 in UK sizing, but in US sizing this would be 26DDD). It changed my life.
At first, I was in MAJOR disbelief, because - I have small boobs, aren't E cups for people with really big boobs? Nope. That's the first thing I learnt. Technically, it's wrong to even be talking about 'A cups', 'B cups' and 'E cups' because these on their own are not sizes. The letters mean nothing without the band size. There's a common societal misconception about bra sizing that A = tiny, B = small, C = average, D = large, DD = very large and DD+ = massive, but this is not true. The letters stand for a difference in inches between underbust and bust measurement. So, A = 1 inch difference, B = 2", C = 3" and so on. E, therefore, indicates a 6 inch difference (about 3" of projection per boob - so not as big as everybody thinks). This 6 inch difference will appear differently on different band sizes. For example, on someone with a small underbust measurement like me, 26E appears to be quite a small size. 32E, on the other hand, looks more like a small-average size (not large like a lot of people think). As the band size goes up, this 6 inch difference will appear larger because there is essentially more surface area to cover.
Now, I want to address the fact that of course, there will be many people reading this who actually are A and B cups, I am not denying the existence of A and B cups in the slightest. However, many people are wearing A and B cup bras due to being fitted incorrectly in stores (cough Victoria's Secret cough) and/or lacking in knowledge about bra sizing and therefore thinking that nothing over a B cup can be small. C, D, DD, E and F can be small too on a lot of band sizes - band size is so important. If you wear a 32A and your underbust measurement is 32" and bust measurement is 33", then you're most likely wearing the right size. Similarly, if you're a 34B and your underbust measurement is 34" and bust measurement is 36", then you're a 34B. Never add inches to your underbust measurement - even if the company's size guide tells you to! I'll address this in another paragraph.
Another thing that really confused me when the calculator gave me the size 26E, was that in my 32A and 30B bras, I used to have gaping in the cups, which made me think that the cups were too big for me. But, as I learnt, this is not always the case. There are many possible reasons for gaping cups - it doesn't always mean that you need a smaller cup size. Also, the band felt super tight on some of my 32A and 30B bras, so how the heck could a 26 band work for me? But, I learnt that, if the band feels tight it doesn't necessarily mean the band is too small. If the cups are too small for you, the band can FEEL tight, because your boobs put a strain on the band to try and accommodate more cup space, and this makes it feel tight. To check if you're wearing the right band size, you can do an independent band test. Put on your bra upsidedown, so with the cups facing down. Try to move the band around the circumference of your underbust. If you can easily move it, then it's too loose. If you can't move it at all, it's probably too tight. If it's snug but you can move it if you try, then it's probably the right band size.
The third thing that really confused me, was the idea of a 26 band. I had NEVER heard of a 26 band, nor seen any 26 band bras in shops. I thought 30 was small! But, the truth is, 26 bands aren't uncommon. Lots of women need band sizes that are below 32", but they don't realize this because bra stores use an incorrect measuring method called the +4 method. It tells people that they should measure their underbust and then add 4 inches. This is TOTALLY wrong and puts people in the wrong size completely. For example, I have a 26 underbust and 32 bust, which makes me a 26E. But, the +4 method puts me in a 30B (30 underbust, 32 bust), which is totally wrong for my proportions. Think about it, you wouldn't measure your waist and add 4 inches if you were buying pants, would you? So, why do stores do this? They do it to make more money. As long as they can keep fooling us and measuring us wrong, it means they get to keep their size ranges as narrow as possible and therefore, make more money. This needs to change, because so many women need bands smaller than 32 and because these aren't readily available, they have to settle for 32 bands which are not going to be supportive at all. The +4 method affects us all, whether we have big boobs or small. A lot of people with big boobs wear sizes like 34DD (because they think DD = large) when they actually need a G or H cup. For example, someone who is a 30G, would be put into a 34DD by the +4 method - this is so wrong, and will give them zero support.
I am so passionate about this because, if I hadn't found out about 'abrathatfits' I would still be wearing the wrong bra size, which is bad for your breast tissue, and not to mention super uncomfortable. Furthermore, it frustrates me knowing that so many people are wearing the wrong size and it's all because of bra companies measuring people wrong. Listen up ladies - you do not need to be fitted in store. Once you have a measuring tape and the abrathatfits calculator, you can measure your own bra size, and be way better guaranteed of its accuracy.
I want to address 3 big misconceptions about bras:
1) There is a general consensus that bras are uncomfortable, end of. This is simply not true. Whether your boobs are big or small, a good-fitting bra, will be comfortable. If you are uncomfortable while wearing a bra, there's a huge chance you're wearing the wrong size. My 32A and 30B bras used to be super uncomfortable. Since I found my actual size, bras feel like a second skin. I literally forget I'm wearing them.
2) Some people think that you should wear a bra on the tightest hook. You should actually wear it on the loosest hook. The other hooks are there so that when the bra loosens out after multiple wears and washes, you can move to the next hook and it should then feel as it did when you first bought it.
3) Have you ever heard of the scoop and swoop? If not, look it up. If you don't scoop and swoop, your bra isn't on right and it's not going to support your boobs correctly. Search it in the abrathatfits subreddit for a better explanation but it basically involves leaning over at a 90 degree angle when your bra is on, and scooping your breast tissue from the sides and underneath properly into each cup of the bra. I didn't realize how bad a fit my old 32A and 30B bras were until I did the scoop and swoop.
Feel free to comment, I would love to have discussions with you guys about this! Also, if you need any help with anything or have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. If I can help even one person, I'll be super happy.
Have a lovely day! #bras