A number of reports and studies in different countries have found out that between 80 - 85% of women wear bras that are incorrectly fitted. Doing the correct bra sizing is essential for every woman in order to take care of the physical health. Connective tissues and ligaments provide support to the breasts and give them their shape.
The breast volume varies during certain circumstances such as during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and nursing, medical conditions and weight gain or loss. This may result in unusual or unexpectedly rapid growth in breast size. Therefore, this would not be the best time to get your measurements. It is widely recommended to get a professional bra fitting at a retailer offering a wide selection of bra sizes and brands, since many brands use different methods to acquire measurements.
Bra size is composed of two dimensions ; the band size and the cup size. Bra cup sizes were invented in 1932 while the band sizes gained popularity in the 1940s. The band size which usually consists of numeric and refers to the size of the rib cage e.g 30, 32, 34 e.t.c and the cup size usually consists of alphabets e.g A, B, C, D e.t.c. and refers to the size of the breasts in relation to the rib cage. The cup size does not represent breast volume rather the difference between the breast and rib cage dimensions. Therefore, it is important to note that you cannot determine the cup size by your breast size only.
Sister sizes are bra sizes that are similar in breast volume, for example, If you normally wear a 34B and find that the band is too loose but the cups fit perfectly, you will need to try a 32D to gain the same cup volume. Since no international standards exist, manufacturers' bra size labeling systems vary from country to country. Some women choose to wear custom-made bras due to the unusual size or shape of their breasts. There are a number of features that vary considerably in individual women's breasts such as ; size, shape, position, firmness, spacing, symmetry and amount if sagging.
Camp and Company were the first to measure cup size by the letters of the alphabets A, B, C, D, through the letters. This represented how inclined the breasts were and not their volume. Cup sizes A through D were not intended to be used for larger busted women. Catalog companies continued to use the designations Small, Medium and Large through the 1940s. Britain resisted using cup sizes for its products until 1948.
When you continually wear bras with small cup sizes this may cause skin irritation while large band sizes reduce breast support.
How to measure a bra size using a tape measure;
a ) For the band measurement, place the measuring tape around your back ( making sure it is tight but not too much such that it digs into your skin ) , underneath your underarms. If the band size is an odd number, add another inch to it. For instance, round up a 33" to a 34". If the band size is an even number, this is often your correct band size.
b ) For the cup measurement, bend over so that it your chest is parallel to the ground to measure all of your breast tissue instead of what just protrudes outward when you are upright. Place the measuring tape around your back and over the fullest part of your breast. The measuring tape should be looser on this measurement and the tape completely horizontal around your back. For instance if the measure is 37", this is how you determine your cup size : Get the difference between your chest measurement and the band measurement, e.g 37" - 34" = 3"
|Difference in Inches||U.S Cup Size||U.K Cup Size||European Cup Size|
|Less than an inch||AA||AA||AA|
The above measurements are based on U.S, U.K and European cup sizes.
The fit of a bra is determined by the following factors ;
- Band size.
- Cup size.
- Strap adjustment.
- How the bra appears under clothing.
A proper fitting bra meets the following standards
- The chest does not ride up in the back.
- Cups should enclose the breasts to avoid them bulging out.
- Cups do not wrinkle up.
- The band is not too loose and does not dig into the shoulders.
- Underwires do not cut into your breasts.
- The chest band remains parallel to the floor when viewed from the side.
- You should be able to breathe and move easily without the bra slipping around.
Here are some risks and health effects of wearing the wrong bra size
- A tight bra exerts pressure on the rib cage causing back pain.
- The bust area tends to look unattractive and shapeless eliminating a decent look.
- A wrong fitting bra does not provide enough coverage causing inadequate support.
- Uncomfortable and tight bras lead to breast pain.
- A wrong fitting bra results in bad body posture.
- Pressure on the shoulders cause neck strain resulting in severe shoulder and neck pain.
- Tight fitting bras can cause minimal pressure leading to closure of the lymph valves and nerves causing blockage of the lymph nodes.
- A wrong bra size can cause irreversible damage to the breast ligaments leading to sagging of the breasts.
- A proper fitted bra should provide 90% of the support from the band while the straps provide 10%.
- It is important to note that with a proper fitting bra these risks can be treated to prevent the development of long-term chronic complaints.