You Might be Wearing The Wrong Size Bra

11 Nov

Seven years ago, I lost five dress sizes in about a years time. I achieved this success through dramatic changes in my lifestyle which centered around diet, exercise and a lot of commitment and discipline. (I was single, had the time, money and energy.) After my weight loss, I was at a loss (pun intended) for what my correct bra size was.  So, I dug in and researched until I found some answers.  What I learned is that most often women are wearing a band size that is much too big and a cup size that is much too small.  The average 36 C bra, if you’re wearing that, I would bet money that you’re in the wrong size, even if you swear you are okay because you were fitted by a Victoria’s Secret shop girl. Nope.

“According to Susan (Susan Nethero, a bra fitting specialist), the perfect position for your breasts is midway between your shoulders and your elbows. And your bra should be level front to back. Susan says most women wear their bra bands too high on their torsos and throw their measurements off. “Most women keep going up in the back [increasing their band size] instead of getting a deeper cup,” Susan says. “We want to keep the back lean and small so we can lift the bust. [The bra band is] like a bridge—if it’s properly planted at the base, it can lift.”

In order for your bra to keep its shape and support, Susan says you should change bras throughout the week. “I always say a bra needs a day of rest,” she says. “You shouldn’t wear the same bra two days in a row because you’ll wear out the support elastic and it does need to find its memory.”

Susan says there are obvious clues your bra is the wrong size:

  • If your cups runneth over, it’s time to go up a cup size.
  • If your cups dimple, it’s time to go down a cup size.
  • If you have the dreaded back fat, you probably think your bra is too tight, but you’re wrong—your bra is too big. Wearing the bra lower on your back with a smaller band size will completely eliminate the back fat.
  • If your strap falls down, that means your bra band is riding up and you probably need to go down a band size.”  Cited from Best Breast Tips,  retrieved from

Image Source

Image Source

Here’s the good news, we can fit ourselves without the help of 20 year-old-professional, who while chewing gum and smelling like cotton candy, tells us that we look hot in that bra (Can you tell I dislike Victoria’s Secret?). Thanks to this awesome guide from Break Out Bras you can find your perfect bra size! It’s very easy, and requires a soft measuring tape, a mirror and your nudity.  Are you okay with that?  Also, don’t miss the nursing bra size tips at the bottom of the page. Okay, let’s get to it! 

(The Steps below are directly copied from here:

Measuring for the Correct Fit

Step #1: Get a soft measuring tape.
This is the only type of measuring tape that can be used for accurate measurements. If you do not have one, you can get one a Wal-mart or many other stores for less than a dollar. 

Step #2: Take off your bra.
The measurements you take will be much more accurate if your bra is off. Almost all women wear cup sizes that are too small which smashes the breasts down causing the measurement to seem smaller than they really are. If your breasts hang or sag, just try and get someone to help you so that you can prop your breasts up while measuring. If you really need to, just take the measurements with a bra on. The size will still be a lot closer than anything you have been wearing and the fit a whole lot better. And if you need help or feel the numbers are just not making sense, just take BOTH measurements, one with the bra on and one with the bra off and call us and we will help you determine the best size. 

Step #3: Measure around your rib cage.
This measurement will help you determine your band size. So measure right underneath your breasts where a bra band would normally sit. Make sure that you keep the tape level all the way around and pull the two sided together until they meet and lie flat against your body. Do not pull too tightly but it does need to be somewhat snug. Whatever number you get here, in almost all cases just needs to be rounded up to the nearest even number. So if the measurement is 33 than you would just round up to 34. Very easy. But there is one exception to this rule. If you measure 34 1/4 or even 34 1/2, you should round down to 34 instead. The reason for this is simple. Bras lose elasticity every time you wear them so the fit will only get less and less supportive the longer you wear the bra. So when you first purchase a bra it needs to feel snug but not too tight on the LOOSEST hook. Then as the bra stretches from wear, you can move the hooks in tighter to maintain a higher level of support longer. If you buy a bra, and need to wear it on the tightest hook from the start, you have nowhere to go but to buy a new one when it starts getting stretched out. For a bra to be supportive, you must wear the correct band size. 

**So for the above example, the band size is 34. I will use this measurement again below to determine the final size needed. 

Step #4: Measure across the widest part of your bust line.
Just measure across your nipples at the widest part of your breasts. Nothing at all needs to be done to this number except rounding it up if the measurement falls between two numbers. So if you measure 41 1/2 just round it up to 42. This is it. Nothing else. 

Step #5: Do a little math.
Now take the number from step 4 and subtract the number from step 3. This then gives you a cup size to go along with the band size that was determined earlier. The band size we had earlier was 34 and for the above example the bust measurement was a 42. So you have 42 – 34 = 8. 

Determining which size to order in a nursing bra can be tricky. Most women want to order bras before they deliver and before the milk actually comes in. This is the first mistake. 

Finding Your Nursing Bra Measurement


That way your milk is in, your swelling is gone, and your size well-established. You want to use the same method detailed above. If you do, the size you measure will most likely fit very well throughout the duration of your breastfeeding. 

If you are measuring before you give birth, you need to take into consideration the fact that most pregnant women gain between 1 and 4 cup sizes during and after pregnancy. It is a guessing game trying to order before your milk actually comes in. Normally the cup size and the band size increase during the middle to late parts of pregnancy. In most cases, the band size will go back to the pre-pregnancy size after the baby is born because the baby is no longer pushing your organs up into your chest. The cup size, however, almost always increases right after birth and even more so if you nurse. Because there is no way to determine what your body will do ahead of time, we suggest you get a transitional bra. A transitional bra is a moderately supportive bra that allows for fluctuation of your body’s size. It will take you through pregnancy, labor, and the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Transitional bras will be great sleep bras regardless of your final size; that way you are not investing a lot of money on bras that will most likely not fit in the end. 

Whatever you do, DO NOT buy a bra that fits perfectly while you are 9 months pregnant. It will not fit after the birth. If you have to buy a size specific bra before you deliver, just make sure that the band fits tightly and the cup size is a little large. That way, when the baby is out and your rib cage gets smaller again, the band will be comfortable and the cup will be large enough so that when the milk comes in, you will have a big enough cup to accommodate the change. Your breasts will get bigger. Count on it. 

If you have any questions about sizing or bra styles, please contact our Customer Service.
Toll Free Telephone: 1-866-870-8911 


6 Responses to “You Might be Wearing The Wrong Size Bra”

  1. Angie November 11, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    According to this, I need a 31C. I don’t think those exist.

    • Joy November 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

      Hmm. I wonder if you would go to a really nice place, like Nordstrom’s, if they could fit you in a size like that.

  2. R November 13, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    I saw the bra lady at Nordstrom about 6 months after I finished breastfeeding my youngest. I went down in measurement and up in cup. I had to call my sister while in the fitting room to express my shock! I had actually gained 2 extra letters! I went from a 34D to a 32DDD. Geez! As my sister put it: be thankful you are not one of those girls that just went up measurement and down in cup! Either way I am thankful I know know what I wear and they are actually pretty comfortable.

    • Joy November 15, 2010 at 11:51 am #

      I am a huge fan of getting a good fitting at Nordstrom. I’ll never forget when my daughter was about six weeks old I was extremely frustrated with not being able to find a nursing bra that fit correctly. I walked into Nordstrom with an ill fitting nursing bra (because for some reason, motherhood stores only carry 36, or 38 band sizes) and left wearing a 34 F! I was in heaven. I shelled out the dough for those two bras, but let me tell you, they were and are worth every penny!


  1. Excellent post about bras and bra sizes « Into Loving Hands Doula Service - November 11, 2010

    […] You must go over to my dear friend Joy’s blog, The Joy of This, and read about bra sizes. The link, drumroll please: […]

  2. How To Convert a Regular Bra Into a Nursing Bra « The Joy of This - January 4, 2012

    […] Not sure on your fit to begin with – especially while nursing? Then check out my post on finding the right fit for you:  You Might Be Wearing The Wrong Size Bra. […]

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