You might have noticed me mentioning in recent posts that I’ve started including 30 bands in my possible sizes. That’s not because my measurements have changed but because I had a realization, one that felt a bit mischievous at first: I don’t have to wear a 28 band if I don’t want to.
I’ve been wearing one for the past few seasons because it matches my measurement (28 inches around the underbust) and I didn’t want to risk having back pain or other problems from wearing a too-loose band. But I hadn’t had many problems with 30 bands before that, unless they ran unusually loose, and I had a host of new problems with 28 bands—painful underwires, sharp edges cutting in, and that weird constricted feeling that comes from wearing something very tight for hours. So I recently decided to do a small trial of wearing 30 bands again. I figured if it didn’t work, I would go straight back to 28s, but ultimately, the 30 bands were a success for me based on the criteria I had chosen. The way I see it, there are three important tests for whether the band size you are wearing is too big:
First of all, and I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, but your bra band should not ride up. It should sit horizontally around your body. However, it’s important to note that a few bras have bands that just sit that way, angled a bit up, so they look like they are riding up when they are actually the right size or even too small. This is one of the most annoying things ever in my opinion, because it makes it difficult to distinguish between a correct or too-big band, hence why I’m mentioning two other tests.
Second, if you have back pain at the end of the day from your boobs, definitely try a smaller band. It might not solve the problem, in which case you need not bother to size down, but if it does help, you owe it to yourself to wear the smaller size.
Third, if you have to readjust your boobs a lot throughout the day, that’s a sign that something may be amiss with your size. Ideally, a well-fitting bra should stay more or less in place—you shouldn’t feel like you are constantly tucking and pulling. If you are, you may need to reevaluate what size you should wear. It could be that you need to change your cup size, or it could be that you need to wear a tighter band.
If you don’t have these problems with a slightly larger band size, though, I personally feel that you should choose the band that feels most comfortable, which may not necessarily be the tighter one. For me, I had a lot of comfort issues with 28 bands, so I’m moving away from them. Of course, I was never a small 28, and this is just my experience—I’m not suggesting that people abandon their sizes willy-nilly on my advice. I just don’t want people to feel trapped in a band size that is only best for them in theory. I have met some people with larger underbust measurements who prefer to subtract inches from their measurement to get the most comfortable band size, and I think that it’s also okay to add a couple of inches if that is the most comfortable option and if it is still equally supportive.
I’m pretty convinced that it’s not a good idea to add more than 2 inches to your measurement to get your band size, nor would most people have success subtracting more than that, but again, I’m sure there are some exceptions and outliers to this rule of thumb. Only you can decide what feels most comfortable for you. Just be informed about the right and wrong reasons to wear a band size slightly bigger than your measurements. For instance, no bra fitter in a store should encourage you to add inches—especially not the standard, pathetic American system of adding up to SIX inches. It is your right to decide to add inches, but MOST people will fare best in a band size that is close to their measurements.
I also don’t think it’s a good idea to make the choice to upsize just because of increased options in larger band sizes, although I understand why some people might find this a massive relief. Wearing a 30 band, I have many, many more options than wearing a 28 band, but that isn’t reason enough to size up in the band. If I was uncomfortable in the 30 band, all the options in the world wouldn’t mean anything--because all of them would cause me pain. Upsizing just so you can find something in shops, when you wouldn’t do so otherwise, means you are being bullied by the companies and inadvertently voting for the wrong sizes with your wallet.
However, you also shouldn’t feel that you need to wear the smallest possible band size if you are actually more comfortable in one size up. The best method is to take some time to experiment and try out a few different sizes. Most people will still find they are most comfortable in a band size that nearly matches their measurements, but trust your own instincts—if you’ve tried all the sizes you can (and that means more than just the ones available on the high street), you’ll know which one is best.