How Bra Sizes Work


The bra. Brassiere. Over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder.

Whatever you call them, women have been wearing these bikini-type garments for coverage, support and just plain fashion since as far back as the 14th Century.

And no they weren’t invented by Otto Titzling (“tit sling”) that’s an urban legend!

They’re a staple part of everyday life now, found from our underwear drawers to the inside of newspapers and magazines, but still the mystery of how the sizes are measured perplexes us!

Let us solve the age-old mystery for you so you can invest in some perfectly-fitted, décolletage decoration of your own (or for your lady friend, if the man-bears are a-reading!)


How Bra Numbers Work

So the numbers on the band around the body (e.g. 32, 34, 36) refer to the size of the rib cage – literally using a tape measure to work out the size in inches around the chest, under the boobs. To get the final number, if the measurement size is even you add 4 inches, if its an odd number, add 5 inches.

The next measurement is taken from the fullest part of the breasts and around the back of the body. This measurement, minus the first band measurement, will give the cup size.


How Bra Cup Sizes Work

The cup size is the part that comes after the numbers on the label – usually letters such as A, B, C, D and so on. They don’t actually measure the volume of the cup size, but rather the size of the breasts in relation to the rib cage, so how much bigger they are.

This is why no two cup size bras look the same. A 28C bra will be much smaller than a 38C, despite the letters being the same. Bras like this are called “Sister Sizes.”

(Are you still with us? Good, because the really hard part is coming!)

If a woman loses weight and feels the need for a smaller band, say going from a 34E, then a 32E will be too large a cup size and the bra won’t fit well. In this case she would actually need to be fitted for a 32D to find a more suitable fit.


Bra Sizes for Different Breast Shapes

Confusingly, because lady bears come in all kinds of wonderful shapes and sizes, bra sizes alone aren’t enough dictate the best bra fit. That’s because two women with the same bra size but different bra shapes may need to wear different bra styles. For example narrow breasts can benefit by wearing a plunge bra whereas wide-set breasts will be better suited to a balcony style bra.


The Bra “Fruit Test For Men”

The Old Bear Wives Tale goes that if one couldn’t obtain one’s lady bear bra cup size and needed to guess for gift-giving purposes, one could use the visual aid of fruit to approximate.

No, really.

Lemon was the A cup, Orange for B, Grapefruit for C, Cantaloupe (exotic!) for a D or DD cup and a big ol’ Honeydew for E cups and beyond.

Unfortunately all that lifting and weighing at the fruit bowl isn’t guaranteed to estimate the perfect size so don’t leave it to chance and ruin the “fruits of your labour”!

Check the labels grizzlies and get your favourite designer bras with the perfect fit at

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