Fitting 101: Basic Guidelines for Your Best Fit

Like Windie, I realized that I’ve never really done a full post on bra fitting. While I do have a page that lists bra fitting basics, it doesn’t go into too much detail on why each point is so important.

I love Windie’s latest post, Bra Fitting Basics...And I wanted to do a similar thing for my readers, as well as sort of do a “course” of posts about the different nuances that exist in fitting. Because even with these simple rules for bra fitting, there are tons of other little things that can impact how a bra fits. And, to help my dear readers (whom I truly appreciate! I ❤ you all!) from not slamming their heads against the wall when they go for a fitting, I thought I would focus on this topic throughout the week.

So, first things first…..some simple rules of bra fitting:

1. Your band should be snug and level with the floor around your body 

 **Basically, if your band rides up your back all day (think higher than the center of your back…. If it’s close to your neck your band is definitely too big), you NEED to go down a band size, maybe 2. 

** You should only be able to fit two fingers easily under your band in the back, and be able to pull your band away from your body about 1-2″. If you can fit your whole hand under the band, or pull it 6″ away from your body, you NEED to go down a band size, maybe 2

** If you can’t breathe, feel like your band is very restrictive, have red marks around your body that don’t go away, and if your hooks are being pulled out of their stitches, your band may be entirely too tight. You may need to go up a band size.

** If you get rashes underneath your boobs from things sliding around, you may need to go up a cup and down a band size.

** 80% of the support of your breasts comes from the band. So if your band is too big, you’re not getting the lift that you need and deserve. 


Band is level and snug

2. Your wires and cups should encase all of your breast tissue

**If your bra cups cut into your tissue, causing double boob or even side boob (under your arms), you absolutely NEED to go up 1-2 cup sizes.


The cups are not big enough; there is a lot of underarm tissue not pulled into the cups

** If you do the Swoop and Scoop  and your breasts are bulging out of your cups, you absolutely NEED to go up 1-2 cup sizes. 

** If you have gaping or wrinkling in your cups, DO THE SWOOP AND SCOOP. If even after that you have too much material in your cups, you NEED to go down a cup size.

** If your wires are laying on breast tissue anywhere chances are you need a different cup size or wire shape (I’ll cover wire shapes in a coming post in this series).  An easy way to find where your breast tissue starts and stops is to bend over and trace with a washable marker the shape of your boobs, from your sternum – between your boobs – down and around underneath your boobs, all the way over to your side. Stop your line when you feel ribcage and no breast tissue. If you put on one of your current bras and find that your wires and cups do not cover up your marker lines, (especially in the center), then you NEED to go up 1-2 cup sizes. 

** Your underwires are an important aspect of providing lift for your boobs. If they aren’t flat against your body NOT BREAST TISSUE, they aren’t doing their job. Your wires should be flat between your boobs, and flat all around your boobs. The wires should be tacking to your ribcage. 


The wires completely encase ALL of the breast tissue, and are settled directly underneath the boobs. Not sitting on any breast tissue.

The wires are completely flat against the sternum, providing separation and stability

The wires are completely flat against the sternum, providing separation and stability

** Cup size is just as important as band size. With proper fitting cups and band, you will have two – AND ONLY TWO – boobs that you can see under your clothing, and you will feel so much better. Your arms will not brush up against breast tissue, your boobs will be lifted and supported, underwires shouldn’t irritate you anymore, you should not have any poking or gaping, and you will likely look 10 pounds lighter in the right bra!!

How to Find A Starting Point  
(note: this is only a way to find a starting size….your size can vary depending on bra cut, brand, fabrics, wire shape, etc. which I will discuss in future posts…..But at the very least, if you do the following  steps and find that your size is quite different from your current bras, it’s time to go shopping!!)

  1. With a soft measuring tape, measure – snugly – your ribcage directly underneath your breasts. Say you get 34.5″. If you have little body fat around your ribcage, you may feel most comfortable in a 36 band. If you like your bands snug, or if you have body fat around your ribcage, you should start with a 34 band.
    **NOTE: Snugly means that there should be no slack in your measuring tape, and the tape should be level all the way around. If you have little to no body fat, you do not need to pull super tight. If you have body fat and are squishier, pull as snug as you feel comfortable, leaving enough room to breathe. 
  2. Using the same measuring tape, bend over and measure over the fullest part of your bust (in most cases this is either above, below, or at nipple level). Keeping with the same example, say you get 42″.
  3. Standing up, do the same measurement – fullest part of bust. If you get a different number than you did for bending over, say 40″ – it’s very likely that you have a lot of migrated tissue (i.e. under arm boob) that you will need to pull into your cups. In this instance, take the larger number – 42″ – to determine cup size.
    **NOTE: If your bent over and standing up measurements are the same, congrats! You probably don’t have migrated tissue under your arms!
  4. To find cup size: Subtract your ribcage measurement from your bust measurement, using whichever band size you are most comfortable with. So for example, a woman with the 34.5″ ribcage measurement chooses to wear a 34 band. So, do this: 42″ – 34″ = 8″.
  5. Then, use this chart to match up your inches difference to find a good starting cup size. According to this chart, our example would need to start with a UK  34 FF, which is equal to a US 34 G.
bra cup chart

As noted, cup sizes are UK sizes. The letters in parentheses are US cup sizes. **Click for larger view

Next in the series: Determining wire shape

As always, if you have any questions or need help with a fitting, leave your comments below, or email me at

7 thoughts on “Fitting 101: Basic Guidelines for Your Best Fit

  1. Hi , My name is Maria, i have a 22 inch difference between my back size and ther around the fullest part of my breast….my back is a 42, i cannot seem to find a bra w/ cups big enough to fit…any suggestions?? thanks…

  2. I don’t think this is accurate. I got 34 around rib cage. 43 bending and 40 standing. That would make me. 34 g!
    I have post breast feeding boobs. Therefore I have lots of loose skin. I just can’t seem to find something that fits comfortably without everything falling out! A d cup is way too big! Please help

  3. Pingback: Fitting 101: To Add or Not to Add | Fussy Busty

  4. Pingback: Bra Sizes: Converting between systems and brands | Wide Curves

  5. Pingback: Bra Sizes: Converting between systems and brands | WideCurves

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