You Might Be Wearing the Wrong Bra Size — We're Here to Help

Use this quick guide to find your perfect fit.

A person putting on a bra in front of a mirror
Photo: razyph/Getty Images

Whether it's straps digging into your shoulders, skin popping out of the sides, or a band that won't stay in place, an ill-fitting bra can be a real nuisance. Fortunately, there's a solution: finding your correct bra size — and a new bra. Measurements can be taken by a professional fitter at most lingerie stores or from the comfort of your own home. To DIY, you'll just need measuring tape and our easy-to-follow guide for finding your measurements.

Keep scrolling for how to correctly measure your bra size, plus tell-tale signs that you're wearing an ill-fitted bra.

How to Find Your Bra Size

Measure Your Band Size

The first step to figuring out the proper bra size is measuring for the band, which does require a little bit of math and a tape measurer, like the one you'd get from a sewing kit.

  1. Take the tape measurer and wrap it around yourself where the band of your bra would sit. Do this either with no bra on or with a non-padded bra.
  2. Wrap the measuring tape snugly so it fits around you how you'd comfortably wear a bra.
  3. Round the number you come up with to the nearest whole number.
  4. Take that number you measured and, if it's an even number, add 4 to it. If it's an odd number, add 5 to it. If you measured 27 inches, add 5 to get a band size of 32 inches.

Measure Around Your Bust

Next, measure your bust, which is a key part of determining your cup size.

  1. Using your tape measurer, measure around the fullest part of your bust.
  2. Line up the measuring tape around your back and across your front. Don't measure this as snugly as you measured the band, but instead, keep it at a comfortable level of tightness.
  3. Round the number you come up with to the nearest whole number.

Find Your Cup Size

Now that you have your bust and your band measurements, it's time to do some quick math. Take the measurement of the band and subtract it from the measurement of your bust. Then, match the number you get with a bra size chart to find the appropriate cup size.

Here's a quick guide:

  • 0 inches — AA
  • 1 inch — A
  • 2 inches — B
  • 3 inches — C
  • 4 inches — D
  • 5 inches — E
  • 6 inches — F
  • 7 inches — G

Once you have the band measurement and your cup size, you can pair the two together to determine your bra size. So, for example — starting from the very first step — if you measured your bust size as 38 inches and your band size as 36 inches, that's a difference of 2 inches. Looking at the chart, 2 equals a B cup, which would then make your bra size a 36B.

How to Know If Your Bra Is the Wrong Fit

The most important thing to remember when you measure bra size, though, is that bras are not universally made. You might wear a 36B at one store but not at another. What you really need to consider are the factors that indicate a proper-fitting bra.

Your Bra Shouldn't Leave Dents in Your Skin

If your bra is too tight, it might leave indentations on your skin. This is a sure sign that you may need to size up or adjust the straps or clasp. If you're on the largest-size clasp and it's still leaving a dent, it's time to get the next size up.

Your Breasts Shouldn’t Be Overflowing From the Cups

The cup size is too small if the tops of your breasts are bulging out. If you're wearing a bra with cups cut low specifically to be worn that way, that's different. We're talking about that double-boob look that happens when the top of the cup is cutting into your breast. If this is happening, you need a larger size.

The Band Should Sit Flat the Whole Way Around Your Body

If the bra fits properly, the band will sit nicely around your torso in an even line parallel to the floor. The back should not ride up higher than the front, and if it does, it may be a fix as simple as adjusting the straps.

There Shouldn’t Be Gaps in the Band or Cups

On the flip side, if the bra is too big, you might have a gap in the cups where your breasts aren't filling them completely. You also shouldn't be able to fit more than a finger between the band and your skin. If you can, the band is too large. Lastly, the straps should sit properly on your shoulders. If they're falling down, they're too long and should be adjusted.

The Bottom Line

If you do need to size up or down, it may not be as simple as going from a 36B to a 36C and vice versa. If you wear a 36B and the cup is too big, rather than simply going down to a 36A, try a 38A. If the cup of your 36B is too small, try a 34C and see how it fits. Bras have sister sizes, and sometimes, it takes a little bit of trial and error to get the size right. But once you measure your bra size, you have a good starting point to figure out what size you should try first.

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