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Your Bra Size Matters. A Victoria’s Secret’s Employee’s Guide on How to Pick your Bra Part 1

Every collegiette probably remembers the day they tried on their first bra. The excitement, anxiety, and anticipation of putting that piece of fabric over your breasts and feeling like a woman. But as time went on, the size and fit of our first training bra didn’t seem to keep up with our growing bodies. Most of us probably went in for a proper fitting, often offered at lingerie stores like Victoria’s Secret and La Senza. What is my big girl bra size? The bra specialist at your favorite lingerie store probably measured you with her soft tape and informed you of a new size; a number followed by a letter. Like many of you might have been, I was intrigued by this type of sizing.

How peculiar that my bra size contains a number and a letter. I mean, my pant size and shirt size is usually a number or a letter, not both! Your bra size is actually a combination of two sizes put together to provide you with the best fitting bra. The number size is your band size, which indicates the width and measurement of your chest at its most narrow. The letter represents your cup size, which is the overall size of your breast. An A cup means your breasts are an inch larger than your chest, B cup means they are two inches larger, C means they are three, and so forth (eg. You are 34 inches around the smallest part of your chest, but around the largest point of your breasts it measures 37 inches. Congratulations – you are a 34C!) The perfect fitting bra should have a band size that fits snuggly around your chest, and a cup size that covers both your breasts.

So now that’s explained, bra sizing is just plain and simple right? WRONG. Unfortunately even though many women are armed with that knowledge, they still mistakenly wear the wrong size. In a survey done by Women Wears Daily, a whopping 60% of women are actually wearing the wrong bra size! That means that 1 out of 2 women you know are probably wearing the wrong bra size!?

What does this mean for you, collegiette? Well for starters, you should definitely take actions to make sure you are wearing the right size. A simple visit to your favorite lingerie store, once or for the keeners, twice a year is good enough to keep your size in check. Weight fluctuations throughout the year can also effect your bra size. But what if you do proactively keep track of your bra size, but you are still wearing an ill-fitting bra? Well hold on to your hats collegiettes, this is where things might get a little bit complicated…

If you buy your bras from different brands, a discrepancy in sizing is not uncommon. Some brands prefer to stay true to size, while others will “fluff” their sizes a bit in a move called “vanity sizing” to make you feel like your breasts are larger than they actually are. There are also several different styles of bras to take in account. A demi bra might not fit you the same way as a full-cup bra, therefore sizing it differently might help. Moreover different collections within the same brand might also require a different size depending on the frame, and design. So what does this all mean? Well, it means that finding your perfect bra size and fit might be more complicated than you think. I’m going to give you a quick tutorial on bra anatomy, and the following diagram below shows all the integral parts of your bra.

The gore of the bra should be sitting flat against your skin. Make sure that the bra isn’t causing bruising to either of your breasts.

The cups of the bra should be able to cover your breasts fully. If there is gapping between ether of your breasts against the cup, this indicates you need to go down a cup size. If you are spilling over from your bra, this indicates that the cups are too small. Often spillage from a ill-fitting cup size often results in what is known as “quadboobs.”

The straps of the bra on both sides shouldn’t be digging in to your shoulders. Make sure that the straps are equally adjusted. Sometimes when the bra fits perfect but the straps doesn’t, it might help if you criss-cross the straps at the back.  You shouldn’t be able to fit more than one finger under either strap.

TIP:  Criss-crossing the straps at the back actually provides additional lift and support to your breasts. In some causes it will make them appear larger!  (Criss-crossing straps will require a bra with multi-way convertible straps, fully extended convertible straps, or a bra strap clip.)


The band of your bra should be fitting snug and tight against your back. However, it shouldn’t be digging in and leaving marks on your skin either. If you can fit two or more fingers under the band, though, you need to tighten them. If the band is lying parallel to the floor, then your band is fitting perfectly!

Watch out for Part 2: “Your Bra Size Matters. A guide to a Girl’s Best Friend Pt. 2” for more information on different bra frames, fits and purposes. Coming soon!

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Karen Li

U Toronto

Book & Media,Visual Studies + Writing and Rhetoric. 1T6 20 something-female at the University of Toronto with a penchant for spotting the best Thai restaurant around. When she is not optimizing the perfect take-out order, she can be found writing about culture, media, and lifestyle at her blog, http://www.plasticconfetti.wordpress.com
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