Surveys of bra sizes tend to be very dependent on the population studied and how it was obtained.
In October , the S. Camp and Company were the first to measure cup size by the letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, and D, although the letters represented how pendulous the breasts were and not their volume.
Camp's advertising in the February issue of Corset and Underwear Review featured letter-labeled profiles of breasts. Cup sizes A through D were not intended to be used for larger-breasted women. Before long, these cup sizes got nicknames: Catalog companies continued to use the designations Small, Medium, and Large through the s.
The Sears Company finally applied cup sizes to bras in its catalog in the s. Adjustable bands were introduced using multiple hook and eye closures in the s. Prior to the widespread use of bras, the undergarment of choice for Western women was a corset.
The band measurement system was created by U. The underwire was first added to a strapless bra in by André, a custom-bra firm.
In the s, Dunlop chemists were able to reliably transform rubber latex into elastic thread. After , "whirlpool", or concentric stitching, was used to shape the cup structure of some designs. Since a brassiere must be laundered frequently, easy-care fabric was in great demand. For best results, the breasts should be measured twice: In November , Oprah Winfrey produced a show devoted to bras and bra sizes, during which she talked about research that eight out of ten women wear the wrong size bra.
Studies have revealed that the most common mistake made by women when selecting a bra was to choose too large a back band and too small a cup, for example, 38C instead of 34E, or 34B instead of 30D.
The heavier a person's build, the more difficult it is to obtain accurate measurements, as measuring tape sinks into the flesh more easily. In a study conducted in the United Kingdom of women seeking mammoplasty , researchers found a strong link between obesity and inaccurate back measurement. They concluded that " obesity , breast hypertrophy , fashion and bra-fitting practices combine to make those women who most need supportive bras the least likely to get accurately fitted bras.
One issue that complicates finding a correctly fitting bra is that band and cup sizes are not standardized, but vary considerably from one manufacturer to another, resulting in sizes that only provide an approximate fit. Manufacturers cut their bras differently, so, for example, two 34B bras from two companies may not fit the same person.
Larger sizes are usually harder to find in retail outlets. As the cup size increases, the labeled cup size of different manufacturers' bras tend to vary more widely in actual volume. Even medical studies have attested to the difficulty of getting a correct fit. The current popular system of determining bra size is inaccurate so often as to be useless.
Add to this the many different styles of bras and the lack of standardization between brands, and one can see why finding a comfortable, well-fitting bra is more a matter of educated guesswork, trial, and error than of precise measurements. The use of the cup sizing and band measurement systems has evolved over time and continues to change.
Experts recommend that women get fitted by an experienced person  at a retailer offering the widest possible selection of bra sizes and brands. If the straps dig into the shoulder, leaving red marks or causing shoulder or neck pain, the bra band is not offering enough support.
If it digs into the flesh, causing the flesh to spill over the edges of the band, the band is too small. Similarly a band might feel too loose if the cup is too big. It is possible to test whether a bra band is too tight or too loose by reversing the bra on her torso so that the cups are at the back and then check for fit and comfort. Generally, if the wearer must continually adjust the bra or experiences general discomfort, the bra is a poor fit and she should get a new fitting.
Bra experts recommend that women, especially those whose cup sizes are D or larger, get a professional bra fitting from the lingerie department of a clothing store or a specialty lingerie store.
There is significant heterogeneity in breast shape, density, and volume. As such, current methods of bra fitting may be insufficient for this range of chest morphology. A correctly fitting bra should meet the following criteria: One method to confirm that the bra is the best fit has been nicknamed the Swoop and Scoop.
After identifying a well-fitting bra, the woman bends forward the swoop , allowing their breasts to fall into the bra, filling the cup naturally, and then fastening the bra on the outermost set of hooks.
Experts suggest that women choose a bra band that fits well on the outermost hooks. A bra is one of the most complicated articles of clothing to make. A typical bra design has between 20 and 48 parts, including the band, hooks, cups, lining, and straps. Major retailers place orders from manufacturers in batches of 10, Orders of this size require a large-scale operation to manage the cutting, sewing and packing required.
Constructing a properly fitting brassiere is difficult. Adelle Kirk, formerly a manager at the global Kurt Salmon management consulting firm that specializes in the apparel and retail businesses, said that making bras is complex:.
Bras are one of the most complex pieces of apparel. There are lots of different styles, and each style has a dozen different sizes, and within that there are a lot of colors. Furthermore, there is a lot of product engineering. You've got hooks, you've got straps, there are usually two parts to every cup, and each requires a heavy amount of sewing.
It is very component intensive. Obtaining the correct size is further complicated by the fact that the size and shape of women's breasts change, if they experience menstrual cycles , during the cycle  and can experience unusual or unexpectedly rapid growth in size due to pregnancy, weight gain or loss, or medical conditions. In fact there are very few advantages in wearing existing bras.
Having a bra that's generally supportive would have significant improvement particularly in terms of stopping them going south The skin is what gives the breasts their support" . In , the most common bra size sold in the UK was 36D. Researchers ruled out increases in population weight as the explanation  and suggested it was instead likely due to more women wearing the correct, larger size.
Bra retailers recommend several methods for measuring band and cup size. These are based on two primary methods, either under the bust or over the bust, and sometimes both.
Calculating the correct bra band size is complicated by a variety of factors. For the woman with a large cup size and a between band size, they may find their cup size is not available in local stores so may have to shop online where most large cup sizes are readily available on certain sites. Others recommend rounding to the nearest whole number. A measuring tape is pulled around the torso at the inframammary fold.
The tape is then pulled tight while remaining horizontal and parallel to the floor. The measurement in inches is then rounded to the nearest even number for the band size. If the measurement is even, 4 is added to calculate the band size. If it is odd, 5 is added. Currently, many large U. A sizing chart or calculator then uses this measurement to determine the band size. A measuring tape is pulled around the torso under the armpit and above the bust. Because band sizes are most commonly manufactured in even numbers, the wearer must round to the closest even number.
Bra-wearers can calculate their cup size by finding the difference between their bust size and their band size. The measurements are made in the same units as the band size, either inches or centimetres. The cup size is calculated by subtracting the band size from the over-the-bust measurement. Cup sizes vary from one country to another. The larger the cup size, the bigger the variation. Surveys of bra sizes tend to be very dependent on the population studied and how it was obtained.
For instance, one U. However, the survey sample was drawn from Caucasian student volunteers at a Midwest U. Bra-wearers who have difficulty calculating a correct cup size may be able to find a correct fit using a method adopted by plastic surgeons.
Using a flexible tape measure, position the tape at the outside of the chest, under the arm, where the breast tissue begins. Conversion of the measurement to cup size is shown in the "Measuring cup size" table. This principle means that bras of differing band size can have the same volume. For example, the cup volume is the same for 30D, 32C, 34B, and 36A. These related bra sizes of the same cup volume are called sister sizes. A study by White and Scurr University of Portsmouth compared method that adds 4 to the band size over-the-bust method used in many United Kingdom lingerie shops with and compared that to measurements obtained using a professional method.
The study measured 45 women using the traditional selection method that adds 4 to the band size over-the-bust method. Women tried bras on until they obtained the best fit based on professional bra fitting criteria. When women wear bras with too big a band, breast support is reduced. Too small a cup size may cause skin irritation. They noted that "ill-fitting bras and insufficient breast support can lead to the development of musculoskeletal pain and inhibit women participating in physical activity.
In , researchers published research on world-wide breast size. They gathered breast data by gathering , individual breast size measurements in different countries. Only data from women in the age group 28 to 30 years. They found that women born in the United States have much bigger breasts than women in any other country. Their average bra cup size, when converted to the European measurement system, is substantially larger than "F".
The mean cup size of women of Canadian origin is "E" according to the EU bra size. Their average breast size is "D". Women born in Africa and Asia, especially those born in East Asian countries, have the smallest breast volumes. Asian women were found to have an average "A" cup size or even smaller. Did you know that a woman with 38D cup breasts has significantly larger breasts than a woman with 34D boobs?
Similarly, a woman with a 30D bra size would have noticeably smaller breasts than someone who wore a 36B bra size. A common misconception about bra sizes is that cup sizes remain consistent across different band sizes. For example, a 34D bra cup is nearly identical in size to the cup of a 36C or a 38B bra.
However, the 34D bra fits a woman with a smaller bone structure compared to the frame of women who wear the larger band sizes.
If this same woman carried very little body fat in her stomach, her 34D breasts would look prominent when viewed from the side. If an extremely slender and narrow hipped woman had 34D breasts, her breasts would look relatively large on her frame. Although 34D boobs are not large enough that sagging is inevitable for every woman, they are large enough that many women with natural 34D breasts wonder how they can reduce the chances that their breasts will begin to sag, or sag more than they do naturally.
However, this far post-childbirths, they have all but 'deflated', and were it not for the wonderful man I now share my life with, who makes me feel entirely perfect, I would have felt not 'good enough' again. Gratefully, I have come across this site.
And you know what? I feel entirely normal. Perhaps the 'topless beaches' of Europe have stayed their obsession with the 'perfect form' and allowed their society to accept people as God made them.
And instead would like to push the bottle into the mouths of our infants to help keep the image of the breast as pornographic as can be. And as far from natural as possible. Sorry for the rant. It's just one of those issues that was always THE issue to me. I have more breast tissue and milk glands under my arms than on my chest. While nursing my breasts never protruded more forward, but it looked like I was toting mangoes under my arms. Never occurred to me to photograph that but it would have been helpful for other women to see.
Even when I was significantly overweight I remained a C. My weight was in my hips and thighs. I didn't quite fill a C and my breasts were widely spaced. Bought a wonderful "granny" bra called Le Mystere. It utilized my underarm breast tissue, comfortably bringing it forward, it wasn't meant to push up.
I lost 35 pounds in 8 weeks and have kept it off for almost a year. I can't find a bra I like. The "granny" bras that I find comfortable don't seem to exist in my size. I miss the "side panels" of bras designed for larger breasts. I spill out the sides of smaller bras and cannot quite fill a B-cup.
I am currently using a gel insert to fill my beloved granny bra in C. I still bra shop every two months. A year old; mother of two. I have large breasts size 38DD.
I was a size 38B for many years, after breast feeding I lost breast volume on the upper parts of my breasts and it took many years to fill out again. In my teen years I was considered to be thin, but not too thin. Over the course of the past 2 years that has changed. I'm 5'8" now lbs.
Before my pregnancy I was just over lbs. I have stretch marks on my breasts, thighs, and butt. I was never really happy with my body growing up, even though I was popular among the boys in school. I feel the media played a big part of that. The movies and magazines with the seemingly perfect women with the seemingly perfect bodies. Airbrushed or not thats how I wanted to look.
I battled with anorexia for a little over a year and I'm happy to say that I've beaten it, though my self esteen has never really gotten any better. Finding this site, I feel, is the start of changing that. To know that I'm not the only woman with one breast that hangs lower than the other or not the only one with fairly large areolas, has changed my perspective on my own body and my self image.
So when I found out you were taking volunteers I had to jump at it. I know several young women who battle with poor self image every day and thats not an easy thing to overcome, so I'm recommending this site to everyone I can. Thank you for this site and thank you to all the women who have sent in pictures. This just may be the thing we need to do to turn our cultures perspective of the female body around.
See size 38b breast pics. I'm going to have a BR done & per my ins requirements I will need to go down to a B cup. Neenax2 Jacksonville, FL I'm a Triple D now & was a B like in Jr High about 45 years ago. Just want to see, visualize what my breast size will look like after my surgery. My breast size is 34B and I think that looks and feels pretty heavy on me as I am 5′7″. 38B is definitely heavy and I can definitely imagine that on my body. Thought it depends on person to person. A really tall and big girl can definitely handle 38B. A2A 38 means the inches around the chest. Under Bust Measured around the body, underneath the bust in the ribcage area. Fullest Point / Cup Size Measured with a non-padded bra around the body, over the fullest part of the bust.