How To Measure Bust Size

If there is one thing every woman agrees on, it’s this: a bra with the perfect fit is a serious gamechanger. You see, when a bra is too loose, there’s undesirable overhang and discomfort. On the other hand, a bra that’s too big leads to an off appearance and awkward wear.

What’s a girl to do? The best thing to do is buy the bust size that’s right for you. 

Sure, you could have your measurements professionally done. But for those who plan to shop online or don’t want the hassle of being professionally fitted, you can always measure your bust size right from home. It’s quick and easy and only requires a flexible measuring tape.

Step #1: Measure Your Band Size

The first step is to figure out your bra band size. The band wraps around the ribcage and is essentially the “glue” of your bra, holding the straps and bra cups in place. It also provides around 70% of the overall support of your breasts, which is why it is so essential to get the correct measurement.

To measure your band size, simply do the following:

  1. Wrap the measuring tape around your ribcage. The tape should be pulled tight but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. Make sure the tape is level by checking in a mirror. An unlevel measuring tape will give a false reading.
  2. Take note of how many inches around you are. The number needs to be even. If you end on an odd number, you can round up or down to an even number, depending on your body type. Leaner ladies should round up to the nearest whole number while softer women should round down.

Step #2: Measure Your Bust Circumference

Knowing your band size is only part of the equation. You need to know your bust measurement to get the right fit from your bra, too. Measuring bust circumference is just as easy as measuring your band size. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start by wrapping the tape measure around your breasts, placing it at the fullest part of your bust. Typically, the fullest part of your chest will be the area of your nipple. Make sure you have located the fullest portion and are not on top or underneath — these are different measurements.
  2. Make sure the tape measure isn’t too tight or loose. Your breasts should not be squeezed, but the tape should also not be loose. Check the mirror to ensure the tape is level all the way around.
  3. Place your arms or elbows at your side. If someone is helping with the measurements, place your arms down by your sides. If you measure alone, put your elbows down. This will provide the most accurate measurement. Your back should be straight during this measurement. 
  4. Take note of how many inches around you are. Unlike your band measurement, you won’t need to round up or down. Whatever number you land on is the number you will use to calculate your cup size.

Measure your high bust, if desired. Some bra styles will have a high bust measurement. If you’re buying this type of bra, you can measure your high bust by wrapping the measuring tape above your breasts and underneath your armpits.

Step #3: Calculate Your Cup Size

Obviously, your cup size will not be described in inches like your band size. So, how do you figure out what your cup size actually is?

You will need to use a little mathematics to figure out your cup size. Don’t worry, there’s nothing too tricky going on here (see you later, Algebra). A simple subtraction equation is all it takes: simply subtract the amount of your band size from your bust size. The final value will determine your cup size.

Bra Size Chart

Every inch indicates a different cup size. For example, one inch indicates an A cup while four inches indicates a D cup. Essentially, for every inch up, you will increase in cup size. So, when calculating your cup size for your new shelf bra, start with one (A) until you reach your number.

Are you a visual gal? No worries. This handy bra size chart is here to help you out. Let’s take a closer look.

Bust Minus BandUS Cup SizesUK Cup SizesEuropean Cup Sizes
Less than 1″AAAAAA

Pro Tips: Measuring for Lingerie

The above measurements are great for when you’re shopping for undergarments. But what about measuring for lingerie? You need to take a few extra steps to get the correct measurements.

  • Waist measurement. Knowing waist size is essential. To measure your natural waistline, place the measuring tape around the narrowest part of your midsection — this is typically where the belly button is. Jot down the measurement.
  • Hip measurement. To measure your hips, place the tape measure around the fullest part of your hips. This is typically where your hip bones are located, although it may be slightly lower.

Torso measurement. Those in the market for teddies or the likes will also need to perform a torso measurement. Here, you will hold the measuring tape on your shoulder. Loop it down between your legs and back up to the shoulder.

The Bottom Line

When your bra fits beautifully, you feel beautiful. Calculating your bust size from home is easy. As long as you have a flexible measuring tape and a pencil and paper to jot down your results, you can learn your bust size in a matter of minutes. It helps to have someone give you a hand to ensure the tape is level and your measurements are accurate, but it’s unnecessary. The only question remains — which perfectly-fitting bralette will you buy next?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between bust and chest size?

Many women would say they didn’t know how to measure their bra size at home, making it challenging to buy the correct size. It gets even trickier when seeing terms like “bust size” and “chest size.” The bust size refers to the fullest part of the breast. While they may sound similar, the chest size refers to the area underneath the breast.

What is the average bust size?

Research has shown that the average woman’s bra size has increased exponentially over the years. For example, in the 1980s, 34B was the average bra size. Today, that number has risen to 34DD.

How do I know if I have the correct bust size?

The best way to know if you have the right bra is to measure the correct size. However, if you’re still unsure, the next best option is to try on a bra and see how it fits.

Start with the band. The band should be snug but not tight. Lift your arms over your head. If the band slides up, it’s time for a smaller band. If there are any signs of pinching, bulging, or other undesirable effects, you need a larger band. 

Then, pay attention to the cups. Does your breast spill out either at the neckline or underneath the bra? This is an indicator of the wrong bra size. Size up. Are there noticeable gaps, and you’re somewhat “swimming” in your cup? Size down. 

Things like straps and overall lift are more dependent on the style of the bra. If you’re having issues in this area, consider a new bra type altogether. You may also need to take other body measurements for the right fit.

Do you measure bust with or without bra?

You can measure bra size with or without a bra on. It’s a personal preference. However, if you plan to wear a bra while measuring, ensure it is not a padded bra, and there is no wire or underwire. You want to make sure you’re measuring your actual bust rather than the extra padding provided by your bra. I recommend measuring bust size without a bra for the best results.

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