Ladies, let’s start with the “pencil test” (very scientific). Take a pencil and place it under your breast. If it falls to the ground when you let it go, you probably will not be requiring the assistance described below.
But if the pencil stays in place, it’s an indication that you may need a little “support” from outside sources.
What am I talking about? Wearing a bra, of course!
Most women have used the following method for determining their correct bra size: Begin by measuring around your rib cage just under the breasts, then add 4 to that number – or 5 if it’s an odd number – to determine your correct bra band width (32, 34, 36, etc.). Next, you measure around the fullest part of the breast to determine your cup size. One inch greater than your band size number would mean an A cup, two inches greater a B cup, and so on.
Just for fun, do you know how high the cup size goes in the alphabet? We’ll get back to the answer a little later. Here’s a hint…you probably have never seen it in stores.
But for now, let’s start with a story about my trip to a professional bra fitting and how you can find your real bra size.
After wearing nursing bras for over a year, I was finally ready to reclaim that part of my anatomy as my own. When I arrived in the lingerie department of Dillard’s, I was handed over with a great flourish to a “professional bra fitter”, who happened to be visiting the store that day.
Frau No-nonsense (not her real name) followed me into the dressing room and asked me what size bra I was wearing. With a wave of her hand she dismissed my answer, suggesting that I – a grown woman in her early 30’s at the time - had no idea how to properly determine my correct bra size. She rattled off what she believed was my correct size, ordered me to remove my top and bra, and after a quick double-check with her measuring tape, she went off to gather a selection of bras.
A few minutes later she returned to the inside of my dressing room, bras in hand, and proceeded to fit me into the first bra (literally). I believe she could have instructed me how to properly adjust myself within the cups, but instead, she just reached in and adjusted me herself. She then whirled me around to adjust the band and straps, and VOILA! I was done.
(I remember thinking she could have at least informed me of what she was planning to do…sort of like the doctor does during a GYN visit, but I decided not to reprimand her for fear it would produce further not-so-gentle adjustments.)
The results? A bra size that was two band sizes smaller and two cup sizes larger than I was previously wearing, based on the method described above. My first thought was, “Cool, I’m a XXxx!” My second was, “Darn, this is going to be a hard size to find in stores!” I was right on both accounts.
So why should a woman visit a professional fitter? Vanity, for one! Proper lift and fit makes your tummy look smaller and flatter. In hot weather, it cuts down on skin-to-skin contact that leads to perspiration. The more upright, “perkier” angle also makes you look younger than the sad, droopy one you may be sporting now.
If your bra is riding up in the back, your band size is probably too big. You want the band to feel snug, and plan to buy the band size that fits on the very first hook, so that you will have extra rows to adjust the band smaller as it stretches with wear. Next, if you’ve lost a little perkiness with pregnancy and age, a larger cup size and underwire support will accommodate you much better.
Finally, back to our question about the alphabetical cup size? Here are some hints: Good-golly, Holy-moley, Jee-whiz, Knock-me-over, and Lots-to-handle.