Ever feel like a complete dummy when it comes to bras? Well, don't worry you're not alone.
There's comes a time for most of us, with so many sizes, shapes and styles, all promising different things and using language that seems purposefully obtuse, and it soon becomes hard to care.
But take heart, I'm going to share my top tips with you so that you'll soon be feeling like a bra expert.
1. You are a specific bra size. Truth or Myth?
If you already had a sneaky feeling that there was something strange going on in the world of bra sizing, you'd be right. The truth is there is no universal calibration of bra sizes, and even the same bra size will differ in proportions even across the same brand.
Don't let fierce assistants with tape measures make you believe any differently, usually the only way to guarantee a great fit is by trying on at least a couple of sizes.
Here's how that works - firstly band size.
Generally, this *is* a thing you can do with a tape measure. Wrap the measure around your underbust and read off the measurement. In the UK and US, you then add on 4" to get the actual band size. This piece of confusion comes from way back when bras were not made of stretchy fabric and you need to cut the bra large enough to accommodate your rib cage as you breathe. So, girls with a 32" underbust are generally in a 36" bra, but it's worth trying a 34 occasionally.
I've noticed though that girls with larger band sizes, 40+ are often more comfortable with much tighter bands, so sometimes a 40" measurement will equal a 40" bra. Remember - there are no real hard and fast rules here, we're after support, comfort and confidence.
Then we need to add cup size into the mix, and this is where things generally get complex.
First thing to remember, we're trying to estimate volume with a tape measure, so chances are you won't be one fixed cup size. But as a guide you subtract your underbust measurement from your fullest boob. The difference between the two numbers determines your cup size:
Cup size is proportional to band size, you always need the two together. 32D is much smaller than 38D.
As a rough guide a 32D = 34C = 36B, in other words for a specific volume, if you go up a band size, you can go down a cup size to get a very similar fit, so if you find a bra that's close to a perfect fit but not quite there, try a different size. It might provide just enough variation to correct the slight differences between manufacturers.
*You are a specific bra size* MYTH BUSTED! You can be two or three different sizes at the same time.
3. Certain bra shapes only fit certain boob shapes. Truth or Myth?
Wow. There's now a whole system of boob classification going on out there, with boobs divided into four, six, and even eight different categories. I'm undecided on this one, over my 15 years of bra fitting, I've seen lots of different size boobs in the same style bra, and really, boobs that may look very different au natural, will usually look pretty similar in the same style bra. So be confident and try whatever style takes your fancy. Bear in mind that the more structure in the bra, underwire, padding, contouring etc. the more support your boobs will get, the more they will change shape. Whereas bras with very little structure like a teeny triangle bikini bra have less effect on shape, but who cares! We are the shape we are, there is no one right or wrong shape, so it follows there can be no right or wrong style to suit you.
*Certain bra shapes only fit certain boob shapes* MYTH BUSTED! Wear what you fancy.
3. So what do these different bra terms all mean?
Underwired and non wired. Self explanatory really, underwires give a tremendous amount of shape support to your boobs.
Here are two unpadded leather bras, Lisa with an underwire, Raphaela without. Same 36C boobs in each, but they look completely different in these styles. You can see clearly how the underwire scoops the boob into the cup.
Balcony and Balconette: Similar but not quite the same. Both sit on a band that goes right around the body, and both styles cup the boob from underneath giving you two round orbs of delight. Balconette styles go more or less straight across at the top with wide set straps, whilst balcony dips down in the middle and up at the sides. They can be unpadded like the Lisa we've just looked at, padded like our best selling Miranda balconette, or two cup sizes larger like our Super Boost Miranda Balcony.
Lastly the Plunge Push Ups.
Plunge bras don't sit on a supporting band like the balconies, instead they have two wings which join at the back and a tiny bridge at the front. Very low cut at the front with wide set straps. They have different wire shape to the balconies and push your boobs together at the centre as well as up, giving defined cleavage. Usually padded, like our Kiss Kiss plunge, but can also be superboosted like our Kiss Kiss Superboost.
Hopefully you're now fully armed with knowledge, but if there's anything you're still unclear about, drop me a line - I never get bored of talking about bras, I'm passionate about them and love to share.
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To find your regular glove size, take the measurement around your palm, glove sizing is still done in inches, so you'll need to convert if necessary - 2.54cm = 1 inch.
Our gloves are on the tight side, so you may want to round up or down according to how you like them to fit, a good regular fit by sizing up, a super tight fit by sizing down.