What most people don’t know about bra sizes…

La Senza Cup Choir

By most people, I don’t mean the discerning busts4justice.com reader, of course. But as I read the comments challenging her bra size underneath the gorgeous Lizzie Haines’ interview in the Daily Mail, I decided a world still blighted with ill-informed, ill-observed judgements about someone else’s bra size still needed more help explaining the (really not so difficult) nuances of bra sizing. If only to stop my head from exploding.

Here are five top tips to understanding all those numbers and letters. Feel free to wield this as a weapon in the face of boob ignorance. Even if you have to print it, roll it up, and boff people about ears with it…


Theory of Relativity. And Bras

Never judge a girl by her cup size. It’s not the letter, or the number, that signifies a big bust: it’s the relationship between the two. The number indicates the measurement in inches around the ribs (usually close to exactly, if you’re doing it right) beneath the bust, and the letter indicates proportionally the difference between the two. So…

A 36DD = 34E, 32F, 30FF, 28G

…because the volume is the same,  but the proportion in comparison to the body is not.


28D bras

With that in mind, you can see that a D cup doesn’t necessarily mean ‘biggest’. In fact,

28D = 30C, 32B, 34A.

Beautiful, yes. Pushing the boundaries of bra size comprehension? No.


Oh, Ms Hendricks. The woman is endowed with the most phenomenal bosom on television, and yet she does all of her similarly bestowed sisters a huge disservice by calling herself a 36DD. So women see her and, in spite of their quadraboob nightmares, don’t venture further up the alphabet because they assume that they can’t be ‘bigger’ than Hendricks, or any other famously endowed woman insisting they’re within the conventional bralphabet. A true DD cup would struggle to create the mountains on show below. Squeeze a GG/H cup in to a small space, however…


Got the numbers and letters sussed? Great. But that isn’t where a woman’s bra size journey ends. Leaving aside for the moment the fact that our awesome bodies change continuously through our lifetimes, so t0o do design and manufacturing standards between brands, styles and seasons. So whilst a 30G might be the most “correct size” between me and a conversion table, a 28GG, a 32FF, and in fact any other size in the vicinity could be “correct” factoring differences from bra to bra. This is why it’s important to recognise a good fit without the labels. Check Bravissimo for an excellent guide to getting it right…


I Heart Boobies

Bra sizing is a hugely individual and personal process, and what is right for you is all that matters – regardless of how you feel you compare to girls in the same size bracket. Love what you have, and enjoy that you have it. And don’t forget to give them a squeeze once in a while. It doesn’t hurt to show your boobs you care…

How will you be spreading the good fit word this week?





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84 Responses to What most people don’t know about bra sizes…

  1. mary wornoff says:

    I guess you just have to find the right person of expertise who can do the math. I know of one. And she launched here own bussiness in the heart of Columbus Ohio. Go see Heather at Curve Appeal. She can help any gal any size.

  2. Awesome post! It’s so true that the cup sizes are completely meaningless without the band size to tell you the proportion, and I like how you pointed out that there’s no one true size for every bra or style.

  3. danielle says:

    D is not big. Let’s keep trying to get that across to women everywhere! Great post.

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  5. Karen says:

    I can’t tell you how many times a day I get this conversation after someone has been fitted in a bra:
    Customer: So what size am I?
    Me: (tells them the correct size)
    C: Uh-uh. No way. Is that even real? OMG. WTH. (etc., etc.)

    I’m amazed how many ladies flip out when they find their true size. Some who find out that their bust is larger than they thought seem…ashamed! They almost always start making comments about losing weight, going back to the gym, etc. Smaller busted ladies are usually happier, but are confused about how they could go from a B to a D in the span of five minutes. I tell everyone the same thing: it doesn’t matter what those letters or numbers are as long as it FITS PROPERLY and looks good under clothes!

    • It all goes back to the relativity problem. All this misinformation means that people assume the letter alone is a sign of a: a big bust and b: weight gain! It’s ridiculous. If I could achieve one thing as a blogger, it would be to kill that ridiculous notion that beyond D is a land of freakishly huge boobs and cosmetic surgery. Sorry to be a disappointment, but my G just isn’t that ginormous! I admire women like you so much – keep up the fight one bra size at a time Karen! xxhttps://busts4justice.com/2012/01/15/what-most-people-dont-know-about-bra-sizes/

  6. Pingback: Why Playtex MUST act now | Busts 4 Justice

  7. Jilly says:

    Thanks for the post! I always wondered why I could fit into a B sometimes and a C others. Love Christina Hendricks too!

  8. Love this post! And while I love Christina Hendricks for celebrating her curves… she is WAY off. I would be glad to help her get into the right size. It will help me sleep better at night, knowing that she’s not misleading more women when it comes to correct bra sizes. Thank you for setting the record straight 🙂 It’s something I do with my customers every.single.day. xo Linda

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  13. M says:

    I’m a Bravissimo lass… before I had my first Bravissimo fitting I wore a 36DD… I’m now in a 30H and lo and behold I have a waist!!
    Both at Bravissimo and on this blog, it’s great to find other ladies who don’t think G stands for Ginormous and H stands for Humungous when it comes to one’s boobs. I’m a new reader but I will be back! Thank you BfJ!

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  15. Yajaira says:

    Ok this may sound silly but: where would I find these sizes besides, say, Victoria’s Secret? I’m a 34DD, but the band fits loose, so I’m assuming I’d be a 28G, but I’ve NEVER seen these sizes. Thank you for a great article!

    • Are you in the States? I think Nordstrom comes closest but I think they still think 28 backs are ‘training bras’ *snort*. If you let me know where you’re based, I’ll do a shout out for fitters/retailers in your area. You may eventually find mail order the best (Figleaves and Brastop are lifesavers) but it’s good to try some on if it’s possible so you have a better sense of what you’re shopping for x

      • Yajaira says:

        Yes, I’m in the States, south Texas, to be exact. Any help would be appreciated :)!

      • Johanna says:

        I am currently in a 36DD from Victoria’s Secret, but the band is loose and I have “muffin-top” boobs. I too live in South Texas, were you able to locate any places with small band/large cup sizes in my area?

      • I’m trying – I’ll let you know if anyone replies to my SOS for you!

      • So no joy so far BUT the very very excellent Claire from Butterfly Collection in Canada does Skype fittings – that might help? She says she has lots of customers in Texas x ow.ly/dZllR

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  17. Megan says:

    This article would be great to carry around and “boff people about the ears with”, as you said. I recently measured myself and found out that I am actually more like a 34 F…and I had been walking around in a 36 C. No wonder the thing didn’t hold my boobs up! *sigh* And then I ran around all over seeing if any store had my size…they either didn’t, or they only had this horrid minimizer bra option. It makes me irritated. And, to top it off, all of the misinformed people asking me, “Are you *sure* you’re that big? You don’t look that big.” Or they spout their bra size to me like it matters… It is very irksome when the only place that I have found so far that has any actual selection online is Victoria’s Secret…and the fact that my mother thinks 50-60 dollars a bra is completely unreasonable and refuses to pay it (even though I have looked at many different places, and they are the same exact price range, if not more!) And how is it that a majority of celebs are in the wrong size bra? You’d think that they would their own personal fitter or something, right?

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  20. MariaQ says:

    I’m in the USA and have turned to buying bras online from UK based manufacturers and retailers, such as figleaves.com and http://www.barenecessities.com. They often have 28/30 band bras in the G cup range on sale, for $30 or so…
    I have been fitted at a local specialty shop which does carry these sizes… but they only had one style, in either black or tan :/ so after buying one there I bought the same size & brand online in more stylish colors.

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  22. Hnn says:

    Are you from the UK? I have just read that Alesha Dixon claims to be a 36B, thought it might make you giggle! As for Christina Hendricks…. 32HH or possibly J is my guess !!

    • Hello! Sorry for late reply – been on holiday and eating scones instead of keeping on top of boob world 🙂 I am from the UK but currently B4J HQ is based in the Netherlands. That is bananas about Alesha Dixon – I’m not sure how tall/broad she is but 36 seems quite a stretch!

  23. bra lover Rod says:

    As a mere male may I enter the discussion and make some comments? I agree that Christina’s breasts do look like they are struggling to escape and are obviously suffering from incorrect bra size. I guess we need to ask is this accidental and the result of poor advice on bra fitting or a deliberate choice to attract some more media attention

    Apart for being uncomfortable I think it also makes the breasts look as if they are not natural. With the breasts pushed up so high and the skin so taught they appear to be like so many starlets today…full of some kind of gel or saline balloons! They lose the natural appeal of curvy womanly softness that breasts are supposed to display. Yuk! The ‘basket ball’ effect I call it!

    I think your pictures of your ‘correct’ bra size show the benefit of a proper and natural cleavage effect, although I think you could still go for a little extra with a cup size say just one size smaller if your goal was to enhance your cleavage and yet still avoid that taught and stretched skin synthetic boob appearance.

    When I was growing up as an impressionable teenager and young adult, any woman with a D cup was seen as ‘big breasted’ and was the subject of the usual breast lover fantasies. I can recall seeing some ladies that boasted DD cup size and was even more impressed with the very rare model that claimed to be a massive E cup! (as an aside I always wondered what the difference was between DD and E…how the alphabet sequence changed when you got to D?? I even thought maybe that the bra had two separate D cups (hence the DD) and that there might be bra manufactured that had different cup sizes on each side of the same bra to allow for the normal situation where women have one breast a little bigger then the other (as humans we are never completely symmetrical…one leg is longer, one eye sllghtly bigger etc, etc).

    Anyway women seemed to be smaller back in the 70’s and 80’s or maybe they were just not measuring themselves properly! Today I seem to see so many women with bra sizes that were unheard of in those days. In the 70, 80’s and 90’s we did see the growth of breast augmentation with all kinds of gels and saline solutions inserted to expand breasts, sometimes to weird sizes. This ‘basket ball’ effect resulted from a contest for publicity and to see who could be biggest on the stripper and adult industry scene. So my question is …are we simply calibrating bras differently today or are there now so many more women with larger (natural) breasts?

    • Robin says:

      Well, America at least has gotten fatter and there is a lot of ‘enhancement’ surgery, as you note, so yes the average boob size has increased here.

  24. Kathy says:

    Just got fitted at Nordstrom. Was wearing a 38 C, now I’m in a 36 DDD. Amazing how well it fits. I did have to get over the triple D thing though!

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  26. clevername says:

    Not sure where you’re getting your info on Christina Hendricks from, she’s never publicly stated her bra size.

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  28. Mel says:

    Hmmm, when I was originally refitted, my band size did NOT change. However, my cup size went through the roof! Band size according to fit my rib cage is 36. And I went from a DDD to a GG (and/or H, depending on the style of the bra. Full coverage bras, I can go for GG. While bras with more of a plunge, I have to wear an H).

    I’m just confused by the math, because the theory is the band and cup size are proportionately related. And considering my jump in cup size, my band should have shrunk?

  29. Liz says:

    I have a 28″ underbust and a 32″ bust. I was thinking about trying 28D, what do you think?

  30. Mari says:

    Im from pakistan and ive been wearing a 34G since i was in 6th grade (my mom told me 34 DD was the same as G so i wouldnt freak out). I wanted to get a reduction when i was younger because even though i was never openly teased in school i knew i was being made fun of during games. So i quit playing games and swimming and so i gained weight. I am unable to loose weight as i stress eat. Im about 5feet 1inch. Being a university student and now in a co-ed environment i feel uncomfortable sometimes as people think with a body like that i must be sleeping around and in my country that makes you a bad girl/boy. I have big hips which hide my tummy so i look more curvy/chubby rather than fat which i am. But the thing is the bra i wear now sometimes seems too tight as when i take it off my breasts hurt sometimes. Also my shoulders hurt and i cant get ready made clothes as clothes with a larger bust area is too loose at the waist area etc. I cant get a bigger bra as the size i am wearing already comes on order to the shop i buy and try it on….its a marcs and spencer range. Im sorry its so long but i am having trouble please help if you can. Thanks

    • Hey Mari, so sorry to hear you’re in discomfort. It definitely sounds her like you’re struggling in the wrong bra – your breasts and shoulders shouldn’t hurt. I suspect if we can find a better fit you’ll be more comfortable and you’ll find it easier to find clothes that fit too (although waist cinching belts are life savers when it comes to fixing outfits for hourglass girls like you and me.

      It’s quite difficult to fit remotely through comments, but I’d check a few things. Are your shoulders hurting because the straps are digging in? Do you have grooves in your shoulders? If so, I think we should maybe think about trying a smaller band size (80% of the weight should be taken by the straps: the band should be firm but comfortable and always remain horizontal to the floor without riding up – but remember if you size down one in the back you need to go up on in the cup to get the equivalent cup size). Are your breasts sore because the cups are squishing in to them in places? If so, size up in the cups. The wire should track around your breast, not sitting on breast tissue or leaving gaps between the wire and where your breasts begin. If the wires are sitting on the breast or poking in it can get really uncomfortable.

      You mention that the shop can’t get you bigger ones but are you able to mail order? Some companies do free shipping so you can try a few and send back the ones that don’t fit whilst only having to pay one way. I’m sorry I don’t have better knowledge of your area to help with some suggestions of lingerie experts – I really hope you can find something that works better for you. Stay in touch and let me know how you get on.

      Love from B4J x

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  32. Mari says:

    Thanks a lot for the help and yes i used to wear bras that used to leave grooves in my shoulders since i got a new bra its not leaving grooves now but the old areas hurt with the weight. My mom said that breasts may be sore due to the friction by the net covering most of the bra (i can only find net bras in my size) she says use a tissue in the cups but in the summers with temperature up to 45 its not doable. As for the band size it fits great when i try it on the 1st month or so but then the fit loosens up and the cup is not giving me much support i think ’cause my breasts kinda sag wid it after the 1st 3-4 months. I got a new bra couple months ago it fits good but recently i have had to keep pulling the straps up and the band from my back down to prevent the cups from pulling down (the band fit hasnt changed that much). Mail orders arnt for pakistan. I can order them from the store but they order 5 to 6 out of which 1 or 2 fit so if you could give me an idea what size range i should order i would be grateful. Also after how long should a bra be changed?

    • Hey Mari. I’m not surprised F cups are way too small if G cups are too small! We need to be moving the other way up the alphabet. The right size bra shouldn’t cause ‘friction’. From your symptoms (band riding up, band sagging, etc etc) I definitely think you should consider a tighter band to help take the weight of your boobs. You may need to try something like a 32H to get the support you need. It feels strange going tighter at first, but you get used to it and the pay off is amazing: uplifted boobs, clothes fitting better (I dropped a dress size just by the new size lifting my boobs up and keeping them in a better place for my clothes), plus you’re so much freer in your movement. I don’t really think of my breasts from the moment I put my bra on to the moment I take it off now – and I used to feel like some kind of uncomfortable freak before, constantly wrestling with straps and elastic. You have my total sympathy on the heat thing – fabric is key here. Both Panache and Freya do lovely cotton styles that are much cooler than synthetic fibers in hot weather. There is nothing more uncomfortable in the heat than hot boobs!

  33. Mari says:

    Btw ive tried an F cup (both 34 F and a 36 F) but the cup is too size. Plus i only wear underwire the other ones are suffocating

  34. Mari says:

    I’ll order that 🙂 thank you so much really 🙂

  35. Mari says:

    Will do….thanks and btw you are doing an amazing thing for women 🙂

  36. I got a bra fitting, a 42DDD, the bra stills rides up the back and cuts into my back fat & then the wires pike out the front. My girls hang to my waist, is there a comfortable bra that will hold the girls up without cutting off my circulation? I am desperate to not have to be always pullin at my straps & tugging on the back of my bra to keep it down.

    • Hi Sandy. It’s difficult to comment on this without knowing more about your body type but from your description I’m wondering if what we need her is a much firmer band and a much bigger cup. A tighter band might sound counter intuitive, but actually the band needs to take 80% of the weight of your breast. When it’s firm, it actually stays in place so ends up digging in less. For bigger breasted women, the best suggestion is to measure your chest under your bust and use that number as your starting point (e.g if you measure 36, try a 36 bra). If you’re sizing down in the band you need to size up in the cup (because the letter only works in relation to the band – it’s all relative). For every size down you go, you need to go one size up in the cup, e.g 38D = 36E = 34F = 32G = 20GG etc etc. If you’d like more detailed help, feel free to reach out on Facebook – B4J is at http://www.facebook.com/busts4justice x

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  38. Angela Jackson says:

    I have been in a 34C for years (after getting measured) but yesterday I went to VS and got measured and was told I am 34DD…needless to say I requested someone else measure me. After getting measured three times, the results were the same. No wonder my back, arms and shoulders were constantly hurting! I was confused on how the sizing works until I read this page. Needless to say I have to start a new bra collection. Thank you so much for explaining the measurements to me!

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  40. jessi says:

    i recently lost like 10 pounds, but it’s really made the bra feel loose. so i measured myself and i’m a 28″ under measurement. now does that mean a 28″ band or a 32″ band is suggested because i’ve heard that you should add 4 to get your band size?

  41. Maria says:

    Just came across this post. I live in San Antonio and have been looking for a bra boutique. No such luck. 😦

  42. saim says:

    Hello ladies. For pakistan. I wil say u have a lot more options available. I recently moved from saudia to pakistan and my cup size increased as I was pregnant. I went from b to d. I couldnt find any d bra except vs and marks n spencer here.but these are available very rare.i visited many stores and even every lingerie shop in city. I found vs bras and triumph ones. Very confortable and affrodable. This blog is really nice as I came to know about a lot of things. People here also think that d and further cup sizes are abnormal. But you should keep in mind that they are people with no information. Just stay confident. If u wear right bra size and good dress..it doesnt matter whether u r having d cup or g cup or h cup. Stay beautiful and be happy with what you have..:-)

  43. Heather says:

    So pleased can now get a trendy and supportive 34E for £4 at Asda. Although had to wait until a grandmother and an OAP. For years and years had to get something with big enough cups and take it in about 4 inches at the back. They were never comfortable. Still can’t get a 32F for £4 at Asda yet though, and would need that for some styles. At last they recognise lots of women have good figures (or would have if had been able to get the right sizes when younger).

  44. laurie says:

    I have a hard time finding a bra to fit me at all. The cup is either to small or to big. I am wearing a 36ddd. I went to Caiche to get a new bra because i have lost weight. When the girl measured me she said that my waiste was 30” and bust DDD. Now I have yet to find someone in Louisiana that I could go to. Victoria Secret is worthless for me. The saleswoman at Caiche said that a 36 still may fit. I tried on many different bras. 36ddd was to small and 38ddd was to big in many of the different styles. I finally settled for a 36ddd balconnet but still not happy with the fit. Can anyone give me any suggestions. It is hard buying online when you are not sure of the fit. (Ii am around the Baton Rouge Louisiana area)

  45. Kai says:

    Just stumbled across this article and wanted to comment: I measured myself the “new” way (a.k.a not adding four inches to my under bust measurement like my mother basically believes is the only way to fit bras.) and I’m technically a 28d not a 32a like my mom swears by. but I can’t go to a store and buy such a size and I will get in insane amounts of trouble if I ordered one online. If I go to a 30c and make the band a little smaller (cut and sew an inch out on either side) would that still be fine? the 32 bras are awful and won’t stay in place and I am afraid the 30 would be the same but I know stores carry that size.

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  47. Gen R. says:

    Hello ladies!
    After years of complete darkness on the subject of Proper Bra Fittings, and Beyond, I find that the best solution is to just be honest. Not only with your own self and your own body (We’re talking measuring tapes, ladies!) but with your mothers, brothers, husbands, sisters, etc. I went from a 38C to a 34D thanks to a wonderful place called Intimacy. They are a boutique, which is now only in Houston for us Texans. They used to have a shop in the Northpark Mall in the DFW area, but as I recently discovered, that location is gone. For all you TX ladies looking for somewhere to go, try them out. Although the prices are not ideal, the fitting specialists are top notch, and the selection of sizes available cannot be matched. They also have an online store now! Thought I would throw my 2 cents in, since I didn’t see any boutiques mentioned by B4J, and I know first hand, these ladies know their business, and will help change your life.

  48. Michelle says:

    Hi, I got fitted like 2 months ago and they said I was a 12J(34J in US), they only had one bra in that size which I brought but it was $90(AU) I have now grown out of it I have only just turned 17 will my boobs just keep going, I feel so uncomfortable in everything.

    • Sorry to hear you’re uncomfortable M – it’s not easy when you feel so self conscious. I don’t know when your boobs will stop growing as it’s different for everyone. But I do know that by always making sure you have the right support, and putting a lot of effort in to loving yourself the way you are, with time the self-consciousness can pass. Your boobs do look bigger in an improperly fitted bra so make sure you keep getting fitted. You can always find cheaper options online when you know your size. Good luck x

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  50. asma says:

    i am fitted from dd to c thanks to lovable brand from lebanoon .

  51. kayce says:

    I got fitted not to long ago and found out I was a 34G thanks to the lovely ladies at Suzette’s Lingerie, which has lead to me having a hard time finding bras because I can never find a store with a bra in my size. I started ordering bras online and it is wonderful except when it comes to converting from US sizes to UK sizes. All the charts I see say a US 34G is the same as a UK 34F but when I tried the bra on it was way too small, I was popping out everywhere! I’m not sure how to size up or what my UK size would be.

  52. mama says:

    I am so confused right now. I am big boobed so many say n I can’t find a bra that fits. 36 under and 78 around. What size would it be?

  53. anastasia says:

    Help me!!! I usually get a 38G in wahcol. Hope I Spelled That right. I’m in the US also and I can never find anything in that size that is cute and fuctional. Then I saw curvy kate. I’m thinking the brand is from England. Are the sizes the same???

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  57. Marlana says:

    I am current a 36ddd and am in need of a bigger size and don’t know we’re to go from where I’m at

  58. Karen Blackburn says:

    It would be great if you could also recommend good places to buy large size bras. I am a 38L and my daughter is a 38M but nowhere on line can I find a site that admits to selling bras in those sizes. The ones that do seem to stop at 34M,anything larger than that in the band and they seem to stop at K, or more frequently G. This is proving very frustrating as I am looking for a lovely bra set for my daughter. Any ideas on where to look. Thanks.

    • Hi there Karen – have you tried Bravissimo? They have a couple of pretty options at a 38L. Unfortunately no M – but they do do 40L so your daughter could try that and perhaps even get the back strap altered down. Let me know how you get on!

  59. Kassandra says:

    Try the websites

    – herroom.com
    – barenecessaties.com

    I buy my bras there size 36G but I’ve seen much larger sizes for sale you just have to look.

  60. Ingrid Swo says:

    I’m having a hard time fitting into any bra. I even want to give up. So any advice would be of great help for me right now. I’m a petite woman, standing tall on 5’3 in and I weight 110 pounds. My small figure would make people think I’m a B cup, so forever now I have been wearing 34B bras. I’ve been searching online information because I have lots of breast tissue. I measure 36 inches over my bust and 29 inches underneath. Right now I’m wearing a 32C and interestingly enough, the cups hold my boobs well, but more than half of my breasts are coming out – the band fits ok-ish. 2 days ago I tried a 34D and it fit ok-ish, as the cups didn’t hold up my boobs too well. It felt comfortable but not quite. So yes, I’m starting to actually freak out I have no idea what bra could be fit. According to this calculators and fitting sizes I’d supposedly fit into a 34F – I mean REALLY? I find my boobs small, but at the same time they’re more than a handful (when I grab them), they’re “heavy”, full, they jump, but they still look small, at least to me – and they fall to the sides. Bras that didn’t feel right for me: 34B, 32C, 36C, 34C, 34DD, 34D, 32D *sad face*
    What should I do? I live in Brazil, at the moment and it’s hard to find a decent bra for my case. And great article and blog 🙂

    • Hey there – sounds like you need a hand! So nothing can replace being fitted by a boutique who really knows their stuff. But in case you don’t have that to hand, let’s get you to a good starting place. We’re also similar sizes so that might help!

      First, take your underbust measurement. For bigger boobs, often (not always, but often) it helps to start with that number. This means that the band will be firm against your ribs and won’t move up your back with the weight of your breasts. I also measure 29″, and I usually wear a 30.

      Then, you need the difference between your back measurement and your bust measurement. Based on your measurement given, that’s 6 inches – which would mean an F cup.

      Put those two together, and I’d start by trying a 30F bra (the equivalent of a 34D in terms of volume, but will give you a stronger lift).

      Once you’ve got your 30F on, test for fit. Here’s a handy guide of what you’re looking for. You may need to adjust – for example, if the cup is a bit small, try a 30FF. Or if the back is too loose, try a 28FF/G. Remember that the letter is always relative to the back size, so go up a cup size if you go down a back size to retain equivalent volume. The opposite is true if you go up a back size.

      These tips are also helpful when you’re searching for your perfect fit in different brands because bra sizes are not standardised across companies.

      It can be a bit confusing at first, but once you’ve found that perfect fit it’s life changing. Good luck!

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