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Bra sizes & styles
Bra sizes and styles
To measure for a correctly fitting bra
A measure is only a guide, which is why a lot of bra fitters don’t use a tape measure any more when fitting you. They, like our experienced bra fitters, will fit a bra to you which will also be a size guide and a style guide in one go.
To measure yourself, take the tape measure right underneath your breasts. The tape must be horizontal around your rib cage, and must be very firm. Take a breath and make sure you can breath with the firm tape in place, and adjust accordingly. This measure is the band size, and is the most important part of the bra for breast and back support. The measurement is your actual band size at the moment as shown in the table below.
The cup fitting measurement is a guide and a starting point for your new bra, but remember that all bras fit differently!
Bras are sized differently by different countries and manufacturers. The table below shows the main differences, but our bra fitters are able to help you decide what you need from the information you give them.
Some countries and companies use different cup sizing as well – just to make life even more difficult! Our bra fitters will be able to tell you how the bras are sized and help you get the right size for you. In general though:
Some bras actually come in half cup sizes, so it’s best to check with the bra fitter the sizing structure of the style you want to try i.e. a GG may only be half a cup difference from a G to an H – you may want the full cup size increase and need to go to the H.
There are many different styles of bra, not all of which suit all body and breast shapes. The following are the ones you’re most likely to see in maternity and nursing bras, and those which are popular in fashion bras, so that you can compare the styles.
Balcony / Balconette bras – this style is designed to cover about 50-75% coverage of the full cup style, with the straps wider on the shoulder, so won’t suit women with narrow or sloping shoulders. The style on some women means that the breasts often just sit in the cups, rather than being given the natural cleavage, lifting the breasts up and forward that the style is designed to do.
This style is not likely to suit your fuller pregnancy and breastfeeding breasts
Full cup bras – these are ideal for larger breast sizes, and rounder, fuller breasts. The cup encloses the entire breast giving really good support all round. The shoulder straps tend to be above the middle of the breast, giving good lift and shape, with the weight of the breasts being supported.
You will find a lot of full cup bras for pregnancy and nursing, some prettier than others, but all with great support.
Minimiser bras – these are designed to redistribute the breast across your chest wall, aiding the wearing of blouses without your breasts gaping through the buttons, by making your breasts flatter.
It is not advisable to use a minimiser during pregnancy and nursing as these bras are generally pushing your breasts into a different shape which may not be comfortable with your fuller, heavier breasts.
Moulded bras – these are designed to give you a smooth line under clothing. The seamless cups are moulded into a rigid shape, which helps to give you a symmetrical shape, even if your breasts are very different sizes. These bras are very popular, but there are not many soft cup or nursing bras in this style currently. Nursing bras using moulded cups don’t tend to drop down fully enough under your breast, which could give you blocked ducts under your breasts – not nice.
These bras can also make you look bigger than you actually are as they are adding a layer to your natural breast. You are unlikely to need extra padding during pregnancy and nursing!
Multiway bras – these are bras with straps that can be used under a variety of different clothing. They are extremely popular, especially during the summer months. There are very few in larger cup sizes as it’s difficult to give support to fuller breasts without the shoulder straps and a fuller cup.
There are very few soft cup and nursing bras suitable for wear as a multiway. If you need a strapless bra, or specialist bra for a certain outfit, contact our bra fitters for advice.
Padded bras – these have padding in the cup to give extra shape. This can be across the whole of the breast, or just to give extra shaping, e.g. push up effect. Some have removeable padding, so you can choose when to use the extra padding, depending on what you’re wearing. It is unlikely that you’ll need a padded bra during pregnancy and when feeding as you’ll be getting your own personal padding once you conceive!
Be careful with padded nursing bras as when you drop the nursing cup down, the padded fabric often presses onto the underside of the breast causing blocked ducts. You may find that a firmer nursing bra with lots of firm fabric is a good alternative.
Plunge bras – this is where the bra cups meet at the band of the bra, below your nipples. These bras are ideal for wearing with low cut tops, with many styles designed to give maximum cleavage. This style of bra is not designed for maximum support or security. So with your new found bigger breasts, you may prefer a fuller style for the next few months.
If you do want a plunge bra, make sure the cup is big enough to cover your bigger breasts so that the top of the bra isn’t pressing onto your breasts giving you the ‘4 boob’ effect
Soft cup bras – these are bras without using any wires. They use the structure of the bra, usually with the fabric and where the seams are created, to give the support and shape. There are many excellent soft cup bras, some that are light to medium support and others more supportive and fuller in the cup.
Sports bras – these are designed to stop your breasts from bouncing when you exercise. Exercise, even just walking around the house and town, can be uncomfortable and cause breast tissue damage if they are not well supported. There are different types of sports bra, some use compression, others use firm fabric and structure to give support. It is advisable to avoid compression sports bras during pregnancy and nursing as this may cause discomfort and press on your milk ducts when you need to avoid this.
Sports bras are designed with different support and sports in mind. Let your bra fitter know what type of sport or exercise you do, so that they can advise the best sports bra for you. You will need a different type of bra for Pilates, than you will for Running.
T-shirt bras – these give a smooth shape under t-shirts. They are generally either moulded, or padded, as described above, but are always seamless.