Monday, January 26, 2015

Bra Calculators: Useful or Useless?

Have you heard of the figure that the average-sized US woman is a 36DD? How did they get that number? Was it self-reported? Did brand manufacturers supply numbers? Did woman even measure themselves correctly or did others do it for them? To give you an idea of how fluid bra sizing is between brands, I have compiled a long list of online bra calculations. Follow the links on the brand to try out your own measurements and see how they vary!

The Rules
1) I wore a well-fitted, non-padded bra.
2) Standing up straight, the underbust and bust measurements were taken flush to my body and parallel to the floor.
3) Some calculators require an overbust method which I have included for clarity (see picture below for measuring method).
4) Rounded up and down when appropriate. Ex. Round my overbust down to 36".
5) ALWAYS listened to the fit guide's instructions on how to measure and round up/down.

Picture of Bust and Overbust measurements (Olga)
Underbust: 29"
Bust: 38"
Overbust: 36.25"

Last Fitted Size at Nordstrom
30G (Nov. '14)

Bra Calculators by Brand
Aubade: 34E
Calvin Klein: 34D
Frederick's of Hollywood: 34D
La Senza: 34DD
Lily of France: 34D
Marie Jo: 30G
Natori: 34D
Olga: 36B
Vanity Fair: 34D
Victoria's Secret: 36B*
Wacoal: 34D
Wonderbra: 34F UK

Bra Calculators by Sales Company
A Sophisticated Pair: 28GG, 30G or 32FF UK (depending on how tight I wanted the band)
Figleaves: 30G UK
Bare Necessities: 36B
Nordstrom: 32E UK
Marks & Spencer: 30G UK

Online Fit Advice Only
Miss Mandalay

In Store Only

So are bra calculators useful or useless?
Many of these sites came with very good fit advice but would not have delivered by using the calculator alone. When possible try ordering a bra in a variety of sizes and try them on (make sure the site you use has a free return policy, though). Some manufacturers use their own sizing system (different from standard), so don't be afraid to try things on. And before anything else, try it on in-store whenever possible.
Now ask yourself: what does 36DD even mean when everyone measures things so differently?

A few notes:
- Some brands call the underbust the "bust" and the bust as "chest".
- Some brands only allow a measurement of 30" or greater for their underbust measurement. I rounded up in those cases to an underbust measurement of 30".
- If you really want hard numbers for bra fitting, check out Bratabase. Real people have taken measurements of the bras they own and are available to members.

* I have been measured IN-STORE at Victoria's Secret and they normally take the band measurements and add 4 inches, then subtract the underbust from the bust to get the cup. So thus: 29"+4" = 33" (round up to 34)... 38"-34" = 4"... D cup. So 34D in-store. What a difference!

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