Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Follow-Up To +2 Band Sizing

I received so many comments on my post about adding 2 inches to your underbustmeasurement that I’ve decided to respond to them in a proper post as opposed to replying one by one. When I tallied them last night, there were 16 comments that agreed with my post, 16 comments that disagreed, and 21 comments that were neutral or somewhere in the middle.

A common thread in the neutral comments was that my +2 method will work for women in the 26-34 band size range, but that higher measurements (like 38 and up, though some people started this category at 34 or 36) often need to use +0 or size down. I think this makes sense in several ways—firstly, because more natural padding means a tighter band wouldn’t have the same discomfort problems as when it’s coming in contact with ribs. Secondly because as a band gets longer, it has exponentially more stretch. I do regret not mentioning this in my original post. I don’t know that I can take a specific viewpoint about it since it’s not my area of expertise, but it was a pretty big oversight to not mention those issues, so I’m sorry about that. Bands from 28-32 are really more what I was talking about; they often have very little stretch because a solid 2/3 of the length of the bra is the cups.  I think people in this size range will often find increased comfort if they wear +2 from their firm measurement, unless they absolutely cannot in the case of very heavy breasts. In this case they may need to wear smaller bands, but until bands are made to be more comfortable, that’s not an ideal situation—it’s something you do if you have to, not something we should all do. Again, that was really what my point was.

Another topic that came up a lot is the tightness of measuring. I never thought of myself as measuring tightly, but having shown people photos of how tightly I measure, apparently I do use a fairly tight measurement. So this is the sort of tightness I was talking about adding 2 inches to. 

I honestly believed that everyone measured like this because the tape measure falls down if it’s any looser, but I’ve learned that isn’t always the case. I believe this might clear up some of the issues of larger band sizes needing to size down too. When I mentioned compressing the body, I meant compressing skin and bone, not fat. Compressing fat isn’t painful in the same way that I am describing. The feeling of wearing a too-small bra band reminds me more of the feeling of wearing shoes that are too small for an entire day. It’s a very specific kind of pain.

I realize that I should have emphasized the fit issue over the number issue. The most important point I wanted to make was that you should only wear +0 if +2 doesn’t work, whereas lots of people on forums recently have been saying that you should only wear +2 if +0 doesn’t work. I think we should accept something different as the basic system—start with +2 and move to +0 if necessary—and move from that, as opposed to using +0 as a starting point.

For all the people saying they use +0 because their band rides up with +2, that was still allowed for in the system I laid out, in which I said you should wear the largest band that doesn’t ride up, so we are not necessarily in disagreement. I just think people whose band is secure at +2 should stick with that and not go down to +0.

So in the spirit of science, here are images of me trying every band size from 28 (+0) to 38 (+10).


The 28 band fastens. It gives a lot of support, but more support than is necessary at the expense of comfort, and it compresses my ribs. 

This reminds me of the look a lot of people seem to favor. It’s a little hard to fasten on the loosest hook, but I can also get it onto the tightest hook. The underwires are distorting a bit as the bra tries to gain more elasticity. You can see that I get a bulge at the top as well as the bottom.

Here’s another 28 band.

The hooks are pulling out—not normal. This shouldn’t happen with a good fit.


Here’s a 30 band. 

This is pretty normal-looking to me. In my opinion, this is what a bra band that fits should look like—I do get little dimples at the bottom of the band, but it doesn’t give the image of an almost corset-like compression as the 28 band does.


This is a 32-band Panache Tango. 

The band on the Tango runs pretty small in my experience, so this is actually a pretty good fit on me. As you can see, I’m starting to get a little curve of riding up in the back middle of the band, but the sides are stable. If my boobs were just a little less heavy, I would probably love to wear a size like this.
Here’s a 32-band Freya swimsuit.

It rides up a little. I wouldn’t wear it for a full day because of the slight riding up, which decreases support, but it works great for sunbathing because the little dimples from the band cutting in have diminished in this size. I’m not active when I go to the beach so I can get away with this. I still believe some people can comfortably wear a band that is 4 inches bigger than their tight measurement, but it’s probably going to be smaller-busted women who are most comfortable doing so.


This is the band size Victoria’s Secret would put me in, 34. I've modeled it with a Panache bra, though, to make sure that major brand differences don't come into play. Here’s where it starts to ride up to the point that I lose some meaningful support. (And yes, the cups are too small on this bra. It's not mine.)

A bra band in this size is way too big for me, and I think +6 will result in a band that is too big for just about everyone. A lot of larger-busted people who haven’t had their bra epiphany yet are wearing a band size that’s six inches bigger than their measurements because in an A-DD store that’s usually the only way you can get a cup size to fit. As you can see in the difference between my +6 (34 band) and +4 (32 band), going down even one band size will make a HUGE fit different to these women. 

You gotta admit though, the +6 (34-band) totally gets rid of my back bulges! But it creates waaaay too many problems in the front for that to be worth it.


I don’t have a 36 band bra anymore, so I’ve added an extender to the 34 to create a 36 band. 

As you can see, the band starts to ride up pretty absurdly at this size. My purpose in showing this level of riding up is to distinguish between what I consider a pretty decent fit in +4 (the 32-band, which is just a little big on me) and the way fit totally collapses with a band that is truly too large.


Just for kicks, I added a second extender to the 34 so it now mimics a 38 band. I probably don’t need to say much about this one as the image speaks for itself!


  1. Hi, I'm one of the people who disagreed with what you put on the other one. The pics clearly show + 2 is the best fitting size for you. I don't think anyone was saying you should use your underbust measurement as it is if this works for you.

    I measure very similarly to you, and on me a 30 band looks like the 34. I tried one on just to see after reading your post and I had to take it off after 5 minutes because it was just so uncomfortable.

    I wondered how we can have similar measurements and yet the fit looks so different, and I think it's to do with shape. I mentioned something about this in my other comment but I'll go into more detail as I think this could be where the difference lies. I have an extremely short torso. Halternecks are always too long, I have to get fully adjustable straps or they fall off and I get gapping at sleeves. I also have very top set, close together breasts, which means getting a bra to fit at the back is really important. If I get ANY back riding, it's up by my neck and stabbing me with the wires. Something I was thinking is torso length could have something to do with this. I don't have much space there, so if it moves up at all I am really uncomfortable and in pain. If you have a longer torso, you have a longer underbust and so more room to manouver if you know what I mean.

    I also don't have much squish on my ribs and if bands are painful I find bending the cup slightly so it is rounded helps. I don't find any pain from 28s usually.

    I really do think + 0 is the best starting point. The reason for this is because if someone has never had a well fitting bra, they might not know the band riding up is the sign of it being ill fitting. You can tell the 28 does not fit. Where as it's much harder to tell if the back is too big. Especially if they're used to even bigger backs.

    1. I have a short torso too, so it must be some other factor that makes it different. I do have a pretty flattened torso, so I look average from the front but skinnier from the side. Maybe that is a factor that helps anchor the band. From the photos on your blog you look quite slim from the front so that could be a difference between us.

      I don't agree, though, that it's harder to tell when a band is too big versus too small. I think they will both be obviously uncomfortable and visibly problematic for different reasons. I think people who believe that all bras are uncomfortable and that's how they're supposed to be usually feel that way because they're in a band that's too small or too big.

    2. That could be what it is, I don't have the flattened affect you mention in fact quite the opposite I'm quite narrow there, I've had that pointed out by a bravissimo fitter before that I seem to have very small ribs, that could be the difference. I think shape is just as important as measurements when it comes to sizing, and there's no exact rule for it.

      You can tell it's uncomfortable but if you've never had a well fitting bra you don't know what to look for. I used to think my 32FFs were fine, and that shoulder dents, back riding and straps falling off were all part of having larger boobs. When I went to a 30G I still had back riding but compared to the 32FFs it was improved, so it was a while before I ventured into 28s.

    3. Plus 2 works for me -- my underbust measures 32", and bras with a 34 band generally give me the best support.

      I also have a short torso, but I don't think that that's what makes the difference. In my case, I think my mild scoliosis is the reason, because it causes my ribcage to bulge out more on one side than on the other, as in this comment on the Boosaurus blog. (The commenter notes, "My underbust is about 27.5-28", but a 28 band is far too painful for me," then goes on to discuss her spinal curvature and how it affects her band sizing.)

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    5. +2 band sizing works for me. My underbust is 32", but bras with a 32 band feel much too tight -- I wear a 34 band with comfort.

      I also have a short torso, but I don't think that that's the problem. What makes the difference for me is that I have mild scoliosis, a spinal curvature that also causes my ribcage to bulge out further on one side than on the other.

      I came to this conclusion after reading this comment on the Boosaurus blog. The commenter says, "My underbust is about 27.5-28", but a 28 band is far too painful for me," then goes on to say that she thinks her own scoliosis is the reason that a 30 band works better for her.

    6. I was thinking rib cage shape may have something to do with it too.

      I have a small, rounded rib cage. I wear about a US size 14, but my underbust (measured comfortably snug with the tip of one finger tucked beneath, is a solid 33. exhaling and tight, I pull it to 32 without much trouble. I look small across the back -- if I put my fingers to enclose my ribcage from the side I can then reach across more than half my front with the same width.

      I'm wearing size 34 bras right now and they're all on the last hooks. I think I need to size down to a 32 in some brands (Freya and Fantasie especially... which happen to be my best-fitting brands).

      I also have the added issues of high-set and very heavy breasts so I have to get support but also can't go too high on the sides.

    7. I usually use +2, and I have relatively narrow and deep ribcage. So I'm more rounded than flattened.
      I think what "anchors" the band at least in my case is my back getting more broad toward the shoulders.

    8. I'm following this because I find it interesting how everyone's different. Shape seems to play as much as an important role as measurements. Whatever the starting point, it's something that should be looked at, as very few guides mention how the shape of your body or breasts affects what size you'll need.

  2. You're the best judge, but just to throw my two cents in I do agree that the 28" band in fact does look too tight on you. The 30" looks perfect to me! :) The 32's verge on being slightly too loose according to me, but really, you're the best judge when it comes to your own body! :) If a certain band doesn't bother you, then really, that's great!

    What's your thought on sports bras? I think that for hitting the treadmill you really do need that steel-support. Do you think that a band that doesn't sit like armor *giggles* around your underbust can achieve that? You said that being able to fit your hand beneath the band doesn't really indicate anything about support and fit, but is that true for sports bras too, in your opinion? (I was at the gym last night and I felt so uncomfortable running on the treadmill and I had to keep my arms close to my body to minimize bounce and no way would I be able to really go for it the fastest I could without severe discomfort)

    1. I wear an underwired bra underneath my sports bra, so the tightness of the sports bra itself doesn't matter quite as much, but I think those do need to be tighter. The Panache Sports bra is one I would have needed a 28 in. I wouldn't have LIKED it but I would have needed that for it to work as a sports bra.

    2. If you're needing to use your arms to minimize bounce, then your sports bra of choice is not supportive enough. That could be due to fit, or it could be due to the style of the bra relative to the type of boobs you have.

      I'd try going down a band size and up a cup size in your current sports bra (up a cup size just to keep the cup volume the same when you drop the band size) and also experiment with other brands of sports bra if you can. Don't be afraid to jump around in the fitting room - it's a sports bra, you have to test it out! (Probably jumping so much you work up a sweat would be rude, but a few hops or jogging in place? Go for it.)

    3. The one I'm currently using (it's the same one I described in the comment above) is the Freya Active underwired in 30D. My underbust measured snugly (not rip-the-tape tight) is 71 cm and I think that sports bras need to match your snug measurement more or less (it could differ a bit more in everyday bras since you're not jumping around in them and since sports bras are meant to be worn just a few hours) in order to stop the bounce.

      Unfortunately, I'm not able to try it in-store (my country simply doesn't stock the sizes nor the brands I need to try on), and I have to order online. I do make sure to check the fit though of course, and if I decide it doesn't fit I'll send it back. The reason why I kept this bra is because I didn't know of the swoop and scoop method back then and so it seemed fine. It was also in the time where I had JUST hopped on the correctly-fitting-bra waggon and so I wasn't so sure as to how a bra should fit as I am today. I'm gonna order the Shock Absorber Multi sports soon and try it out! :) Hopefully that'll work.

  3. Just want to emphasize how great it is that the bra-fitting community can be so incredibly reasonable in disagreements, I think it's worth a mention.

    Second, I absolutely think the tightness of measuring matters, like you say. I like a normal to slightly large 30 band, which is +0 for me IF I measure my ribcage with the tape measure pulled about as tight as I like a band to feel (measures 30.5). If I pull super, constrictingly tight, I can get down to 28.7 or so (and I don't have much fat on my ribcage), but I figured everyone just measured about as tightly as they like an actual band to feel, which I'd argue works with +0, versus as tight as absolutely possible, which probably works a bit better with +2 (for the 28-32 band range, as you mention). I also think the lungs empty/full thing comes into effect.

    1. I measure with my lungs in between full and empty, and if I measure as tightly as possible, I get 25". The measurement to 28" is how tight I like a band to feel, but 28 band bras are much tighter than that because of the stretch.

    2. I also really love that we are able to disagree respectfully. I was glad to see only respectful comments on the other post. I do occasionally get disrespectful comments on my blog but they are always from people outside of the "regulars".

  4. One more thing about wearing the band too tight - you can see it on your photos. The band is so tight, it won't fit where should be, it slides down. I can see it on so many photos on Bratabase.

  5. Excellent post! I was wondering how tight the measuring tape should be pulled.

  6. Do you suggest that people calculate cup size before or after doing +2? Because it seems to me that the biggest advantage of bra fitting instructions based around +0 is that they tend to do a better job of getting people into the right size cup. Also, doesn't most +0 related advice also suggest that women with rib measurements that are odd round up to the next size?

    I measure both my underbust and full bust when exhaling and when inhaling deeply to get a sense of how that will impact my measurement. If I were to pull the tape as tightly as you do, I get 29 and 3/4, though my normal measurement is just a hair over 30 (30.125). When I inhale deeply my ribs expand to 31.5. Using either measurement (30.125 or 31.5) the rounded size would be 32. I mostly wear a 30 or 32. Because my "traditional" underbust measurement is 30, would you consider me to be doing "+2"? (I say traditional, because it seems like most fit websites don't talk about measuring while you inhale also).

  7. Different manufacturers use slightly different fabrics. Freya/Fantasie always seem very stretchy and quickly become too loose but Panache bands are generally less stretchy and tighter so one can't generalize, just have try them all on. I tend to use my underbust measurment as a starting pint but I do have some bras one band size up. It all add to the fun. Great post, I have learned so much from you

  8. I see exactly what you are saying here, that I think others are missing... Using +2 as a starting point is going to ensure you get the LOOSEST fit that is still supportive, versus the tightest fit possible. In order to keep from ending up in a too tight, uncomfortable bra, we should be doing kind of the opposite of what we do with cup sizes (with cups, we go up until they are too big, then back down one), with the band, it might be better to start out a little too big (possibly) and go down, instead of taking the smallest band you can wrangle yourself into.

    Not sure if I got my thoughts across correctly, but I totally get using +2 as the starting point, because using +0 means you aren't going to try something a bit looser unless you can't hook your bra in the +0 size. Then you might end up with a too tight bra instead of a size up which may be more comfortable.

  9. I'd like to thank you for your perspective on the issue! I also prefer the +2 method in many cases.
    If I measure tightly while exhaling around my ribcage I am 72 cm or 28.35 inches, and when inhaling and measuring loosely 76 cm or 29.9 inches. But there is no way, I could squeeze into a 28 band. I wore 30 bands for a long time and was quite happy. In hindsight, however, I believe that at least some of the bras were sitting to deep, because my underbust is slightly bigger than my waist area and the band slipped down during the day. I had lots of underarm rolls, because the wires were not coming up high enough.
    Today I wear a 32 in most brands and feel much happier. I too have scoliosis, however, I don't feel it impacts my preference for bands very much (straps is very different issue, though). But scoliosis comes in different forms, so it's possible that others might be influenced by it.
    I think it also had a lot to do with how squeezeable one is. People who have lots of padding (more likely in bigger band sizes), thus need tighter bands. That's the reason, why I find it useful to measure your ribcage very tightly and loosely, because if there's a large difference, it's an indication that tighter bands might be better.

  10. I agree with how the band looks for you in 30. The 28 really looks too tight. This, I think, is the actual message: what a bra should look and feel like. We agree on that, and we agree that different people need different adjustments to get there.

    I just can't agree that +2 is a neutral starting point because it sets a boundary. From 0 you think "Oh, I could go +2 or I could go -3" but with +2 you don't think of anything below 0 as an option.

    1. This is how I feel about it. I have no problem at all with women adding or subtracting as needed, but why choose an arbitrary +2 as the starting point when +0 is neutral? Some women will need to subtract 2 inches to get a proper band size. Should we advocate -2 as the new starting point?

  11. I love how you show the different bands on you! It really shows how the bands work for you.

    I still have to disagree why the +2 should be the default. It just doesn't make sense to me. If the correct band (roughly) varies from -2 to +2, why is it best to suggest that +2 should be a starting point since +0 is in the middle of the range?

    This seems even more incorrect when you think about the average woman in US and UK who are propably more squishy than bony on their ribcages and thus more likely needing +0 to -2 than +2.

    I think that the correct advice should be that it varies and that you should seek what feels good for you. And that generally slimmer women might prefer adding inches and squishier women might need to substract inches.

  12. Hmm, if someone were to ask me and I didn't have a very, very clear idea of the shape of their underbust/heaviness of their breasts etc. I'd say move to +2 if +0 doesn't work, just because of the sheer mathematics of it. If there are indeed(and from a lot of other sources, I think this is the case) a lot of women who need to subtract inches, then starting with a +2 as "standard" really biases their fitting experience in favor of those who need extra inches (unless a fitter just knew to bring them ones that ran tighter). They would be trying on an even -more- incorrect size first and have to do more work to find the correct one. I think we all need to take personal experience out of it, though, and see that women are ultimately so different that +0 or +2 *shouldn't matter* if a woman gets a good fitting from someone who knows what she's talking about. It doesn't matter if a bra band is labeled a 34 on a woman who measures 29" if it truly does fit. I still think starting with +0 makes the most sense, but I can see how others who end up wearing larger bands might see it differently.

  13. I think you're 100% right! +2 works fine for me and your other post has helped me to understand why I see all those ridiculously tight Ewa Michalak bands on Bratabase - thank you for that. IMO +4 works with Ewa's bras because her bands are true to size as long as you measure in centimetres, i.e. they don't stretch as much as other brands'.
    I really, really like your blog btw.!

    1. I think you see ridiculously tight EM brands on the Bratabase because it is so hard to get an EM bra. There is so much hype about them, and it takes awhile to get them, so people feel like they have to like them even if they are too small. I see people wearing EM bras that fit them terribly, and raving about how great their too-small bra is.

  14. You joke about +10 but I literally used to wear a band size 10 inches too big for me! I wear a 28J/30HH now, but I used to wear a 38DD. Those last pictures make me cringe because that's exactly the sort of riding up business I had going on when I wore a 38DD! I'm so glad that blogs like yours helped enlighten me. . . and my back :)

  15. I personally agreed with your previous post, if anything, for one reason: you, like me, mainly wear Panache and Cleo bras the most. I measure 32'' and have to wear 34 bands in Panache and Cleo because those don't even stretch beyond 32,5''. Everything else I've ever worn is the exception.

    1. Really? I find that my Panache Superbra bras have firm bands, but that Cleo bands are very stretchy.

    2. Yeah, same, my Cleo Jude bra has, like, The Ultimate In Stretchy bands. I should probably have gotten it a size smaller, it stretches out so much when worn. (Like, to the point of moving around all over the place on me, riding up in back uncomfortably, etc.)

  16. I completely agree! My 32 bands are comfortable on the tightest hook straight away, and I measure exactly 30 inches underbust. I thought this meant I should wear a 30 band, but when I tried one on, it was the most difficult thing to do up! It fastens, and the support is fantastic, but I can't even swoop and scoop properly due to the complete lack of stretch. 32 bands for me! Though a 31 would be perfect.

    1. You tried only one on? That imo really doesn't prove anything.

  17. In think dividing it into ranges of when +2 or +0 is applicable is quite right.

    But I land right between those two. I measure 35" snug, 32" tight, and 30 super tight. I am overweight, squishy, and how I see it, or rather feel it, is this:

    When I tried a Cleo Marcie 32HH, the band felt good. I tried a 30J, and the band felt good. I could pull the band out the same amount, with sligthly more force than the 32. But the band felt less tight. It didn't feel less supporting, as the band is only like 1/3 of the bra, so the rest, the wires, cup, straps and whatnot still supported. The band didn't ride up, but there was space between that and my back; it is as if the part of my back where the actual band part sits is smaller compared to the rest of the circumference.

    Now, I did also try the Zia, and it felt tighter than the Marcie, but still not tight enough that 32 felt right.
    I take 30 in Freya too, but yes, and I can feel they are slighty more strechty than Cleos. In Bravissimo, however, a 30 was too tight - i was able to close it and try it on, but it wasn't comfortable.

    For me, it is as if a 32 Cleo band hugs the fat and the tissue, but that I need at 30 until the band actually use the bones - not compressing on the bones, but use them as an anker.

    I get rolls both over and under the back, as hey, I have fat there. It just makes it all that harder to figure out, if you are plushy. All straps will also always indent.

    I did get a little paranoia about the hooks pulling out, and it is something that I will pay attention to. I do feel like that the hooks of the Cleo Zia look strained, but I am also used to the three hooks of Freya, and not only two. This part of your original post was what made me really think about it. I tried the Marcie again and again in 32 and 30, and tried to feel it out. Picture how it would stretch with wear and wash. I ended up with 30, this felt best.

    On the other hand, I tell myself, how can an overweight possibly use on of the smaller bands. The hooks are straining - I try to see if I am distorting the wires. Yeah, a bit of rambling, but all in all... I guess I will stick with 30 for now, and just watch for signs of bad/god fit.

  18. I live your article, and agree with your clarification that this might work differently for larger measurements. I measure 37-38 inches around the ribcage (depending on how tight I measure) and my boobs are heavy, so I very often have this described by your picture :)
    To avoid it, I feel better in a tighter band, as it helps with the support. A size 34 is actually the best fitting for me. If the band has less stretch, a 36 also fits well. Before shopping in places that offer D+ sizes, I had to go up the band for the cups to fit, but I never found the larger bands comfy - the main problem for me is that they don't stay close to the ribs under the boobs, so the boobs sort of..go under, or the bra rides up, depends on the point of view.

  19. I do agree that those that run on the smaller bands do have a tendency to go +2. I measure 26" snug (25" extra tight) and while I haven't tried any 26s due to rarity I really don't feel the need to as I find most 28s to be snug enough to provide support, not ride up my back and be forgetfully comfortable. I have found a few 28s that felt a tad loose; I have also found a few tight 30s that work as well. For me +2 definitely is the route to go.

    In the end when it comes to a starting point, I feel the middle road should be taken since as has been mentioned, ladies with a larger band measurement sometimes even need/like to go even smaller than their measurement. I figure start at +0 if possible and then let comfort, fit and preference guide any movement from that point whether it be +2 or -2. As long as the structure of the bra isn't compromised let the wearer be the guide.

  20. Your revised rule is still too simplistic. I measure 31.5" underbust and cannot comfortably wear larger than a 30 band. Some of my 30s are looser than I would like, and I am not into a tight fit for its own sake. I just want my breasts to be supported from below. I have narrow and deep breasts, so I've thought about buying a 28 band just to get narrower cups and wearing it with an extender. Right now I'm in a 30GG and I spill out of the cups a bit. And my full bust measurement is only 8" larger than my underbust. So I don't know what to tell you, except that your method works for you, and for some other women, and doesn't work for a lot of other women, like me.

  21. I've been thinking about this, and I still have a big issue with this as a general concept/piece of advice for women trying to figure out the bra size they should be wearing: "The most important point I wanted to make was that you should only wear +0 if +2 doesn’t work, whereas lots of people on forums recently have been saying that you should only wear +2 if +0 doesn’t work. I think we should accept something different as the basic system—start with +2 and move to +0 if necessary—and move from that, as opposed to using +0 as a starting point."

    One of the fundamental issues I keep running into when I read that (and I had to ponder it a bit to figure it out) is that the way a bra feels when you put it on in the dressing room is not actually representative of how a bra will feel after you've worn it in a bit. Some brands stretch more than others, but pretty much all of them have some degree of give that happens once they're no longer brand new. So if we're telling women who are already used to wearing ridiculously oversized bands (+4 or +5 with too small cups) to look for a looser band option even in a smaller band size, then it seems like we're setting them up to fail - because a properly supportive band on someone used to wearing a ridiculously large band may already feel uncomfortably tight just because they're not used to feeling ANYTHING there, because they're going to spend all that money on a new bra and then it stretches and soon it's not as supportive as it should be, which casts doubt on the whole 'you need a better fitting bra' concept. (And let's face it, finding bras with smaller bands, larger cups, or both is already a giant PITA for most women because you end up having to guess at your size and mail order and deal with returns, and if you're already thinking 'I don't see how I can possibly be bigger than DD' then how much is it going to take to get you to just give up and go back to accepting that bras are just horrible torture devices?)

    I'm not saying that women should be squeezing themselves into the tightest band they possibly can fasten. Like I said in another comment - if you're stretching the band to the maximum just to get it to fit around you, then it can't do what it's supposed to do for comfort, which is expand and contract with your rib cage, because it has no more 'expand' left in it. But when you're in the fitting room or trying on a new bra, I don't think it feeling a touch tighter than you feel is comfortable should be a death knell for that size - it's the same concept as buying jeans that are a little tight in the fitting room because the fabric WILL stretch with wear, or the general advice that swimsuits are best purchased a little tight if you mean to use them for swimming, because most swim suit material also gets stretchier when wet. (Meaning a perfect fit in the dressing room might go to almost too big, while a slightly small fit might go to perfect once you've been in the pool.) Essentially, we need to recognize and allow for the properties of the garment, and bras are one of those garments that you can't 100% buy based on how it fits brand new never been tried on by anyone before.

    Starting from adding 0" just seems to make more sense to me, as long as we stress that adding 0" MAY NOT BE YOUR BEST FIT. It's just a better place to start than adding 4-5". Then you try things, and you take your time thinking about it, and imo if you have an option between one that fits perfectly new and one that's a touch tight, you go with the tighter size and maybe get an extender to use until it breaks in. That way you get perfect fit for longer and more value for your money, since the bras we're talking about are not cheap.

    1. I guess I disagree with the concept that bras stretch out a lot when you wear them. Unless they're very poorly made, they shouldn't. I think a band that stretches enough to change size with wear does so because it was too tight to begin with--when the band is too tight and straining around the body, that damages the elastic and it will wear out quickly, leading people to think they need to start with smaller and smaller bands, when in fact starting with a looser band will lead to less loss in stretch. I still wear all my bras on the loosest hook, even the ones I've had for over a year. Yeah, I can see that after maybe 2 years I would want to go to the middle hook, and I do have one bra that was heavily used when I bought it that I wear on the middle hook.

      I guess I just disagree with your basic premise (that bras quickly stretch out so we should buy smaller bands). That really shouldn't be happening. Yeah, jeans that don't have any elastic in them stretch out with wear, but that is a totally different kind of fabric.

  22. I agree with the +2. I measure 27" and I wear a 30 band. That's mostly because my favorite bra doesn't come in a 28 band with a cup size that fits me. I have to start on the middle hook as opposed to the widest set hook, which, unfortunately, makes my bras wear out more quickly. Cleo by Panache tends to run snug, so a 30 band works wonderfully.

    Also, I love the black/brown lace bra that you're wearing in the first set of pics. Who makes it and what style is it?

  23. Great post. Completely agree

  24. WOW. What a blog! I always thought it was only me sitting home thinking about these things! I'm from Norway, and sadly we dondt have many shops like you have :(

    I wondered if you could help answer me a question:)

    In non padded bras i wear the size 32H, like in the Freya Jolie and Fantasie Belle.

    1) Is Freya and Panache a bit the same in sizes when it comes to these types of bra?

    And, I would love to buy the Masquerade bra, and different sort of padded bras, but are the padded bras smaller in size? I would also like to bu some of the padded ones from Curvy Kate.

    I'm also a bit full on the top, so I need something "stretchy" there as well:)
    Thank you! :)

    1. I would say start with the same size in Panache, and you may find that in certain styles you could actually wear a smaller cup size. For instance, if you wear a 32H in the Freya Jolie, you might find you can get away with a 32GG in Cleo by Panache bras if you're full on top, since the top edge is looser in those bras. I would say go with your Freya size to start, though.

      Masquerade bras run pretty true to size with unpadded Panache bras, in my experience. The bands often don't have much stretch, though, so that's something to keep in mind.

      The padded bras from Curvy Kate can be different in terms of sizing. The Showgirl half-cups (Thrill Me, TEase Me, Entice) run smaller in the cups, so size up. The plunges based on Tempt Me and Elegance run CRAZY small--I'd avoid those entirely. The Daily Boost runs the same as their unpadded bras (about one cup size smaller than Freya Jolie) and the Smoothie runs pretty true to your Freya size.

      If you like something stretchy on the top edge, you should definitely start out by trying the Panache Andorra! It's a really comfortable bra and has stretchy lace in the top section.

      Good luck!

  25. Hmmm, interesting. I think everybody is definitely different, which can make things really tough, I have tiny shoulders, a very narrow frame (9.5 inches across, measured how you do for bratabase. My shoulders across the back are just under 15 inches.) a short torso, and a big difference in bust to ribcage. My tight ribcage measurement is 26.5 inches, slightly looser is 27, and bust is 39 inches.(My breasts are also still growing, for some reason. They grow about an inch a year, even if I lose weight. I'm 28, never been pregnant, my breasts just appear to enjoy growing. Heh.) The bras that fit me semi decently are typically UK 28HHs or Hs that run very large in the cups. (So that they fit like HHs) I need a 26 band in many bras, however, perhaps because of my small frame, because many of my 28 bands (in multiple brands and styles) ride up the back and provide little support. I can get two fists (and then some in some bras) between my back and my band and still breathe easily, and while I agree one should be able to get some fingers back there, two fists seems a little much. None of my hooks are stretched out in the slightest. The only thing I can think of is that, despite being on the smaller band size that typically seems to not need the +0 or -'number' rule, because of my narrow frame and heavy breasts, I have to follow that rule, because 30 bands ride almost to my shoulder blades, and 32s are laughable, even on the tightest hooks. I love bratabase, though-it has really helped me find styles and cuts that work better for me, and while I'm still getting my exact fit down (26HHs or Js are impossible to come by, it seems.) they have been the most helpful site by far.