Recently I had my first experience of actually fitting someone into a better bra size. It might surprise you to know that I’ve never done that before! Instead, I’ve referred people to the shop near where I live that does fittings, and I’ve helped many people online.
It can be hard to fit someone in person because most of us don’t have a ton of bras in random sizes lying around. I happened to have an old 32E Deco that was once my sister’s before her size changed, and I suspected that it might be around the range of my friend's size. I think it helps a lot to have at least one bra in the general area of what you think your friend might need. Otherwise, a fitting would be best accomplished in stages—first do a preliminary measurement and chat, then try ordering a few potential sizes from a website that offers free shipping. Depending on your friend’s size range, you might also be able to find bras for her to try in a store like Victoria’s Secret, Marshall’s, etc.
My friend came in wearing a 34C. She told me she often wears bras in B, C, or D cups and just buys them without trying them on, so she was getting a lot of inconsistency in her fit and was uncomfortable. One major complaint was the sensation of her band moving around throughout the day. Her underbust measured 33’’, but because of her complaint about the 34 band feeling loose, I figured she would be happier in a 32 band, so that’s what I suggested.
We also experimented with measuring for cup size and entering the measurements into good online bra size calculators, like the one at Sophisticated Pair or Curves and Corsets. These calculators did suggest similar sizes to what my friend ended up in, but it can be really hard to tell how a size will fit someone from a straight cup size measurement. That's why it's still important to do a fitting in stages, ultimately providing options to try something on. If you don't have any bras for your friend to try, using one of these calculators is a good first step. Then you or your friend can order bras in several sizes--the suggested cup size, one size smaller, one size bigger, etc.
My friend reads my blog and said her boobs have lower fullness. Because of that, I knew the Deco might not be the perfect shape, but I had her try it on anyway. At first she thought it was way too big in the cups, but then I taught her to “swoop and scoop”, which she’s never done before. After doing that, the cups changed from looking way too big, to looking like a near-perfect fit with just a tiny bit of gapping!
My conclusion is that she will probably want to wear a 32E in bras that don’t run big. (Deco runs one cup size large, so the 32E that was slightly too big is the equivalent of a 32F in many other bras.) After an initial fitting, especially with someone who hasn’t swooped and scooped before, there will likely be some tissue migration—breast tissue that has been squashed into the armpits by wearing poorly fitted bras will gradually become part of the breast again. So once this has occurred, a 32F may be the perfect size for her.
The real takeaway for me is the importance of emphasizing the “swoop and scoop” method. I’d never realized how much it needs to be emphasized, as it always seemed intuitive to me and I always did it even when I was wearing a 34DD. But now I realize that lots of people wouldn’t think to do it, and it can make a really huge difference in the size you need. If you don’t lift your boobs up into the bra and pull in all the tissue, you can damage your boobs over time—being pressed down like that day after day will eventually lead to loss of elasticity (commonly known as sagging). If the bottom of your breast touches your torso at all INSIDE the bra, that’s a sure sign you need to lift it up so that it is fully supported by the bra. Once you’ve done that, the cups of the bra may seem smaller—a sign that you need bigger cups!