Why Your Bra Size Isn’t the End of the World

Curvy Kate Ellace bra review 28gg

Regular readers of Big Cup Little Cup will know that we’re all about the bra fit. You may have noticed this from posts including our measuring video (which we re-watched in fits of laughter this past weekend), our post all about how to tell if your bra fits properly (in which we really need to re-shoot the photos!), our most popular post, So You Think You Know What a D Cup Looks Like? and our little Bra Fitting 101 page which rounds up a few more tips from us. In addition to this, our regular reviews are mostly centred around how well the bras we own fit us, and some of our favourite posts to do are Undercover Underwear – finding out how well certain brands and stores fit us into bras. In fact, my own love of lingerie came out of the time when I realised that bras weren’t supposed to be tugged at all day to stay in the right place and could actually look and feel really pretty and awesome if I wanted them to, rather than just being an apparently necessary piece of underwear, despite the fact it wasn’t actually doing anything for me at all because it was the wrong size.
And that’s where BCLC came in. I wanted to share my love of lingerie and newly found bra fitting knowledge with more people. I’d discovered that the alphabet didn’t stop at DD, that 32 wasn’t the smallest band size, and a person with a larger chest wasn’t resigned to a life of discomfort. And I wanted to share that. I wanted to create awareness of smaller band sizes and larger cup sizes.
Then Charley came in – she was wearing a not so ideal size for her, so I educated her in the Way of the Bra (I feel like this should be an official title?!) and she joined my bra campaign. I’ve refit friends and family members into sizes that they didn’t realise existed – sometimes they’ve loved it and stuck to their new size, sometimes they haven’t been as keen.
And that’s where this post comes in – it’s absolutely fine not to wear your “true” size.

So what do I mean by “true” size? In this sense, I mean what’s sometimes called your +0 size. This is the method of bra sizing I tend to go to in the first instance:

Underbust Measurement = Band Size
Full Bust Measurement – Underbust Measurement = Cup Size
(ie. 1″ = A, 2″ = B, 3″ = C, 4″ = D)

So for me, my underbust (when measured snugly) is around 27″ and my full bust is around 37″, meaning the bra size I would try first is 28GG.

Of course, this method is not foolproof. Some people with a 27″ or 28″ underbust prefer to wear 30 bands because they don’t have a lot of “squish” on their ribcage and find a 28 band to be too tight. Some people with a snug 41″ underbust might prefer to wear a 40 band, even though technically it sounds too small, because they have a lot of squish and want more support. Personally I prefer a snug band, so I wear a 28GG most, but I will also happily wear a 30G if a 28 band isn’t available and sometimes prefer a looser band anyway.
This is why I call this method simply a “starting point” towards finding the best size for you, and who’s to say that your best size needs to be one that numbers give you? If you’re comfortable in a different size altogether, there’s no reason to say you have to wear your “true” size simply because the numbers say so.

When I was first sized properly, once I’d got over the sticker shock that many people experience, I was determined that I could only wear my real size. I battled it for a while, trying to stick to my old 32DDs and 34Ds, but once I’d felt what a better bra for me felt like, there was no turning back and I soon got rid of all the old bras, and this turned me back in the other direction. I had what’s been called Reverse Letterphobia: I wouldn’t wear choose anything that wasn’t “Big” – in my eyes, F+ for me.

It’s important to bear a couple of things in mind though:

  • Not every brand will stock your “true” size.
  • Some brands have different sizing methods.

I was reluctant to choose bras and lingerie from companies that didn’t stock my size – a bit like in clothing sizing, I would be reluctant to choose a larger size despite the fact that it’s just numbers and letters on a label. It does severely limit your options though, especially when your bra size is one of the difficult to find such as small-band-small-cup, small-band-large-cup, large-band-small-cup. But luckily, I’m getting over this. And that’s a good thing, because I love so many different kinds of lingerie and it’s opened my eyes to pieces that I can actually wear.

For example, I’ve always loved What Katie Did but only ever previously owned one of their corsets. Reason? Because I assumed I wouldn’t fit their bra sizes (and I didn’t want the matching briefs/garter belts without the bra!). They didn’t seem to stock anything in a 28G/GG or 30FF/G, so seeing nothing FF+, I thought I would never fit them. However, I recently purchased one of their torsolettes (the specific one is no longer available on the site) because it was in the sale, but the closest size to mine I could find was a 32E. I’d checked out their sizing page which specifically says that they use vintage sizing and that a size 10 in clothing would most likely wear a 32 band. I thought then that I might just get away with a 32 band, but it might be a little on the large side. I picked the E as it was the largest cup size. I do find their info a little difficult though as they mention they use the same sizing method as Agent Provocateur, ie. add 4″ or 5″ inches to your underbust measurement for band size…in AP, I find a 32 band to be far too big. Nevertheless, the 32E torsolette arrived and…it was too small…not in the cup, but in the band and body!! The cup was actually pretty spot on. I ended up sizing up to the 34E (the sister size 34DD was all sold out and I can get away with a little more room in the cup) and this is a much better fit. Just goes to show, doesn’t it, that I, as a 28GG, can wear a 34E in WKD…don’t discount a brand just because they don’t make “your” size.

However, word of warning – while sizing charts can be really helpful when choosing a bra size, they may not always work for you. While I’m recommended to take a 32DD or 32E in Agent Provocateur, I know by experience that their 32 bands are much too large and their 32DD cups are too small for me. But, as is one point of this post – this is not the end of the world and hasn’t stopped me from wearing a 32DD Agent Provocateur bra!
I’ve shied away from reviewing bras on the blog that aren’t my “true” size because I’m a self-confessed “bra guru” so wearing something that doesn’t fit or doesn’t sound like it will fit from the size written on the label seems like a sin.

But this is my confession: I’m a lingerie and bra fit blogger and I don’t always wear a bra that “fits”.



  1. Pernilla
    December 30, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    I realise this is an old post, but I struggle with bra sizing. I rarely wear bras, as I don’t find ones that fit. I did measure myself just the other day, and according to the difference in bust and underbust measurement I am supposedly a 28-30C. But I find A cups too big for me most of the time. I am wondering, could a lot of back muscles (and a pretty chronic inflammation in them) in the upper back give that difference in cup size when going after measurements?

    • admin
      February 5, 2019 / 2:58 pm

      Hi Pernilla! If you’re comfortable not wearing bras, or you find the bras you already have to be comfortable already, there’s no need to change. But if you want to try a bra in the size that is recommended to you – I’d say go for it in the 28-30C and see what you think – it might surprise you! It may be that the A cup is too big because you’re trying a 34A (for example), which is meant for a 34″ underbust and 35″ full bust, whereas your 28C measurement suggests you need something with a 28″ underbust and a 31″ full bust – you can see why the cups might be too big if the 34A is meant for 35″ in the cups and 28C is meant for 31″! Check out this post for more info on this.
      I can’t say for definite about back muscles and inflammation, but it could be something that affects it too. You might find that you want a larger band for comfort, so maybe the 30C (or if 28C is the size you’ve been given, 30B will be the sister size) would feel more comfortable.
      Hope that helps!

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