Forget the tape measure; you are not going to wear a tape measure. Experienced fitters don't need a tape measure and neither do you. If a bra is the wrong size it tells you. All you need to know is what to look for, and then by taking one step at a time you can achieve the best possible fit. More importantly you will know why that bra fits you, so you will always know in future if a bra is the right fit.
The first thing to do, is to take a good look at the bras that you are currently wearing.
The first question - Is my bra back too big?
If the back of your bra is too big you won't get the cup right.
It is almost impossible to wear a bra with a back size that is too small for you without knowing it - it will be too tight and feel as though it is cutting you in half. Unfortunately it is not so easy to be aware of a bra with a back that is too big for you, and this is undoubtedly the biggest single sizing mistake.
A correctly fitted bra should fit firmly around your back, which is where most of the support should come from. The back should stay parallel with the front of the bra. If the back of your bra tends to ride up, it is probably because the back is too big for you.
A simple test is to put two finger under the band, if you can get more than two fingers the band is too big. A new bra should pass this test with the clasp on the loosest fitting - this allows you to tighten the bra as it stretches with wear and washing. Never fit yourself into a new bra on its tightest fitting.
Once you are happy with your back size you can look at the cup size.
If you need to change to a smaller back size (which we find to be a very common occurrence), you may also need to go for a larger cup, because often one compensates for the other. You also need to be aware that a D cup on a 34 back bra is bigger than a D cup on a 32 back bra. The actual wire on an underwired style gets larger as the back size increases, even when the cup letter stays the same! The rough rule is that you should increase the cup letter for every decrease in back size, if you want to keep the cup the same size, and vice versa.
If you have been wearing a 36C bra, and you have just discovered you are not a 36 but a 34, that you should really be in a 34 back bra. You will now need a 34D.
If you are wearing a bra with a cup that is too big for you, that is relatively easy to spot. Basically you won't be filling the cups properly, and you will need to drop a cup size.
It is more likely that if the cups aren't fitting you properly it is because they are too small. The breasts will be bulging over the top and sides of each cup, and the wires of an underwired bra not sitting back against the chest wall in the cleavage. If the band of your bra is tight enough, it will be attempting to pull the underwires up against your body. If the wires (i.e. cup size) are big enough, they will go around each breast and sit snugly against your rib cage, with each breast in it's cup. If not, an increase in cup size is called for. Some judgment comes in here to assess how much of an increase is required, but at least if your bra back size is correct, you will be able to concentrate on the cup.
In terms of styling, a full cup bra with shoulder straps placed centrally to each cup will give your bust the fullest all over support, a minimiser full cup bra will help to give a smaller effect to your bust, a half cup or balconette bra with widely spaced shoulder straps will provide uplift, and a push-up and plunge style both uplift and maximum cleavage.
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