Really, What IS my bra size?
July 7, 2013 3:11 PM   Subscribe

I know I'm not the bra size I wear. I am in between sizes/small size that I would have to specialty order. I am at the point that I want to drop some money to specialty order a bra that will actually fit. The problem is I'm not 100% sure what that size is.

I wear a 32B currently. I get the padded pushup from Target that's $20. I think I am closer to a 30B. However when I have read up/searched for a 30B, they claim that 32A is a "sister size" and that the cup is the same. I am nervous about ordering a 30B because I completely don't fit into a 32A. (I fall out the top and I have tissue out the sides by my underarm. Also the cups tend to be too close together and give me a very strange shape of like two little mounds under my shirt.) In addition, when I measure, I am closer to a 28 band, and possibly a C cup.

I am petite which is why I know I am a smaller band. Going by the Modern Sizing section of this, below are my measurements. (I know the "add 4 inches" model doesn't work for me, as a 32 band is much too large, and I get gapping in the cups.)

TMI that may help with sizing, I am petite, small band, but I have breast tissue, about a small handful. That's why an A doesn't fit.

Below Bust/Band: 28 Inches
Around Bust: 31 inches

Therefore the difference between my band and bust (31-28) is 3 inches, which would put me at a 28 C. But that seems too large?

(I have worn a 32C in the past with some t shirt style bras that were more full coverage so they didn't have a gapping issue.)

Does anyone out there have similar measurements or an idea of which would be best?
I also wear padded/pushup styles so that may affect fit.

The places I'm looking online that carry my size (The Little Bra Company, etc) do have return policies, but generally you have to pay shipping back, and the bras are anywhere from $30 to $60. Therefore I can return something, but it would be a hassle. I also would have to do an exchange of sizes or wait until money was refunded to order another bra.

I can look locally. I live near Salt Lake City, but my searches haven't yielded specialty bra stores.

Any help is appreciated. I am very tired of wearing bras that don't fit and gapping bras. I am also tired of being put into the 32A category when it clearly doesn't fit.

Note: The Little Bra Company size chart uses the add 4 method, which would put me at a 32A, which as I said, does not at all fit. Also feel free to me-mail me too, if you don't want to broadcast your size/measurements.
posted by Crystalinne to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (54 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
If you are okay with it and have one near by, women's clothing stores like Lane Bryant will measure for you. They also sell from cheap to expensive bras. You might have to see if they're a combine lane bryant+clinique store. Just call and ask.
posted by royalsong at 3:16 PM on July 7, 2013

Any good shop will do a full, proper measuring for you, but my friend has actually poked her head around an entire subreddit dedicated to the cause. Might be able to get some specific feedback from there as well.
posted by disillusioned at 3:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

I don't know about Salt Lake City, but your instinct to look for specialty bra stores is correct. (Perhaps others can assist you there).

Basically, much like other types of clothing but even more so, the fit of a bra can depend on the cut and type of the specific bra, especially for in-between sizes like yourself. You definitely should find an in-person assistance so during consultation you can get better ideas on which cuts, which brand would be your best go-to bra.

good luck!
posted by cendawanita at 3:21 PM on July 7, 2013

This is not something to do online, as there are simply too many variables to consider (beyond size, there's shape, there's varying styles of bras, there's brand peculiarities, et cetera). Go in person to a major, upscale department store. I've always had great luck with Nordstrom, less so with Saks. Try on a whole lot of bras after being professionally measured and fitted, and have the person work with you. You will find that the style will impact the fit just as much as the size.
posted by amelioration at 3:22 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Macy's usually has people trained to fit you for a bra. My sister and I went and we were both wearing the wrong size. But the same size in one bra is not the same, as the same size in another brand. They all seem to have their little differences that make a big difference to the wearer.

I would try and get fitted. I know Victoria Secrets also advertises this service but the young woman who helped me was not as skilled as the older woman at Macy's.
posted by cairnoflore at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What do you mean by "seems too large" for 28C? Have you tried one on and found it too big? A lot of people have skewed ideas about how big a C or D cup is, partly because there is no single size for a C or D cup--cup size is a proportion relative to band size, so the cup on a 32D bra is the same size as the cup on a 34C or 36B or 38A bra.

If you are wearing a 32B and the cup fits well but you want a smaller band, you should get a 30C, not a 30B. If you need to go down to a 28 band but want the same cup, you'd be a 28D. A D cup is not innately large.

And of course there's also a bit of variation in cup sizes between brands and styles and depending on how the specific shape of your breast jibes with the shape of the cup - that might be why your measurements suggest a 28C but you're wearing a bra with cups that are closer in size to the cups of a 28D.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]

Just because it's your sister size, does not mean it will actually fit you. I wear a 32D but if I tried to wear a 38A or a 36B, it would clearly be a poor fit.

My measurements are actually 30.5 and 34.5-35 (depending on the day), but I round up to the next band size. For a long time I wore a 34B, which was completely the wrong size for me, like I could pull my bra 6" off my chest without unfastening it! Now my boobs are so awesome and bouncy and look totally different and amazing in everything I wear. So yeah, bra sizes are weird.

If you have the cash, why not buy a 28C, a 30B, and a 30C and find out which is the right one for you? Most retailers will let you return items if they still have the tags. And don't go to Victoria's Secret for measurements! They suck.
posted by ancient star at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am totally willing to get measured. Do you think that major department stores won't do the "add 4" metod and put me right back at a 32A/32B? I have heard that many will only give you your "in-store" measurement because they don't sell other sizes.

Should I ask for someone who is good with specialty sizes when I get into the store?

And I mean a 28C seems like it would be too large for my breasts, but needs more cowbell, your explanation does seem right but I guess I'm in disbelief because of a C as people have looked at me and said "Are you sure you're not an A cup?" or "How are you a B cup?" (This may stem from being made fun of for small breasts.) Oh and cups on my B gap a little, but it seems to come from the band rising up my back. They fit pretty snug when I first buy them.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2013

It looks like you have a Nordstrom in Salt Lake City. They usually do a really great job with fitting and have a good selection of bras to choose from.
posted by goggie at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

Whenever you go down in a band size you need to go up a cup size to get the same cup fit. So if a 32b fits in the cup but you want a 30 band size, you should look for a 30c, or a 28d, etc. A 36d cup is the same size as a 38c, for instance.

I'm the same below bust measurement with a slightly larger cup size. I tried on a 28 band once and it was tight. Maybe i would have gotten used to it but I wasn't too excited to try. Also, with breasts on the smallish side, I don't think a tighter band is as important support wise for me as for someone with a larger bust, but ymmv.
posted by geegollygosh at 3:29 PM on July 7, 2013

Cup sizes are relative. A C cup on a 28 band is smaller than a C cup on a 38 band by quite a bit. This is where the idea of sister sizes comes from. A 30 C is the sister size to the current bra you are wearing - the cup will be the same, but the band will be tighter. On preview - sister sizes don't mean all of the sister sizes will fit you - it just means the cups have the same "volume." If your fit issues are related to band size ony (too tight or much more commonly, too loose), then sister sizes can help you identify how to get the same cup volume in a different band size.

If your band is riding up in the back, then that's a sign you need a tighter band. Depending on how loose it is, a 28 may be better. Also, there's some diversity among manufacturers in the size and crucially the shape of cups and the "tightness" of bands. I'm a hard-to-fit size on the other end of the cup spectrum from you, and a 30mumble bra from Freya fits me way better than a 30mumble bra from Curvy Kate despite the fact that they are the "same size."

Here's a size calculator from the place where I buy my bras. The woman that runs this shop KNOWS bras and fitting. Her place specializes more in larger busts, but the calculator should work for anyone. There has to be some kind of bra specialty store in Salt Lake. I found the one linked above by going to the websites of the bra manufacturers I wanted to buy and looking at their store directories. If you found some likely brands online, you could see if there is a brick-and-mortar store carrying them near you.

Victoria's Secret is a bad idea for a bra fitting for everybody, but especially when you are outside the mainstream in size. Look for a specialty store or Nordstorm at a minimum.

On preview - Also, with breasts on the smallish side, I don't think a tighter band is as important support wise for me as for someone with a larger bust, but ymmv. This is probably true.
posted by jeoc at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Busty Resources links to Pretty You Boutique in Kaysville, UT.

I recently went to a small specialty shop to get measured. I went from wearing a 38 DD to wearing a 34 H/HH. I didn't think it was possible that the band was that far off, but damn my boobs look good now. Trying on a bunch of bras (whether at nordstrom's or a boutique) is the way to go.

Some department stores have proper fitting guidelines, some don't. I'd been fitted at VS & a department store before, both poorly, and it took me reading the above-linked subreddit to finally measure myself and read up on fitting to finally go drop a significant amount of money on a whole new bra-wardrobe. I believe Nordstrom's has a pretty good reputation for bra fitting (although I've never tried it out).
posted by worstname at 3:36 PM on July 7, 2013

Go to the Nordstrom in Salt Lake City and get fitted. They are well-trained and professional, won't go into the "sister size" bullshit and, most importantly, will *actually stock a variety of bras in small band sizes.* I speak as a 32G who otherwise cannot buy a bra that fits me in my town of 400,000 people, le sigh.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:36 PM on July 7, 2013

Best answer: "Are you sure you're not an A cup?" or "How are you a B cup?"
These are people who do not understand how bras work. Don't listen to them.
posted by jeoc at 3:36 PM on July 7, 2013 [17 favorites]

And I mean a 28C seems like it would be too large for my breasts, but needs more cowbell, your explanation does seem right but I guess I'm in disbelief

Here are some pictures of a bra in size 28 C from the Bratabase. Doesn't look like what most people think of as a "C cup," right? Most people's notions of what an "A cup," "B cup," and "C cup" look like are based on bras in the 32-36 band ranges, probably. Or on some weird cultural assumption that A = small, B = medium, C = large, and D = BIGG HOOTERZ. As jeoc says, they do not understand how bras work.

I have to second the advice that an in-person fitting at a place that stocks lots of brands and sizes is the way to go. Getting fitted at a Bravissimo store was a watershed event in my bra-wearing life. And yes, the fitting results may be brand-specific; all of my bras now (other than sports bras) come from the same manufacturer because their bras in a particular size fit perfectly and reliably, while other brands I've tried on just aren't quite right.

You may not need a tighter band for support, but if it's riding up your back over time, you might need to start off with the bra fitted so that when you wear it on the loosest hooks it feels just a bit snug (but not painfully so). That will allow for the elastic stretching over time; you can move to the tighter hooks as needed.
posted by LBS at 3:48 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm a member of the 32A(-) club, and Nordstrom's has been great for both myself and for my 34G friend. Online, I really like the selection at, and they run frequent sales if you want to try a bunch at once. The problem is that many bra manufacturers have different ideas on size and positioning of the cup, so you may just need to find the one that works for you.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:49 PM on July 7, 2013

Best answer: I am not your bra size, but I recently discovered that I have been wearing a band size too big and two cups too small!

I read through these articles, and armed with that information (primarily the scoop-and-swoop method, seen in the "Putting your bra on properly" article below), went to a couple of department stores and tried on a bunch until I found one that fit like the photos. I can now hardly feel that I'm wearing a bra, and there are no weird bumps and bulges any more. It's kind of amazing.

Everything you never knew you needed to know about bras

Band to bust ratio visual chart

Putting your bra on properly

Clarifying breast shapes

Reddit thread on how to figure out your size

I've heard that the store, Intimacy does very accurate bra fittings, but I wouldn't rely on a regular department store associate to take those measurements.
posted by evolvinglines at 4:04 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

Bras are fucking weird and incredibly frustrating. If you can get a professional fitting done, then definitely do that, but realize that even once armed with your Official Size, there will still be bras that make no fucking sense in their sizing or shape. If you can't deal with a professional fitting, try ordering a couple from somewhere online that offers free shipping and returns.

Most importantly, wear what feels comfortable and correct to you, and ignore people who believe they can tell you definitively that you are doing it wrong without having actually measured you.
posted by elizardbits at 4:08 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

also mefi user danaeuk has given a lot of awesome bra-fitting advice on the green, and iirc did a great FPP about it a while back.

(i think i am spelling her name wrong because i can't find these posts to link for you)
posted by elizardbits at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2013

I agree with elizardbits that bras are weird and frustrating. I go once a year to a local bra shop and get measured, buy one or two bras and go happily on my way buying bras online after that.
posted by katinka-katinka at 4:16 PM on July 7, 2013

Oh, there was also this awesome FPP last year about bra-fitting, with many, many informative comments and suggestions for shopping online and in real life.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Definitely ignore the people who doubt your cup size. They don't understand bras. I'm a 32D and people have said "you don't look like a D cup!" - but multiple excellent fitters plus the fact that my breasts fill up the cups in my bras prove that these people are wrong.

As someone with slightly in-between size breasts, I usually go for bras with cups made out of firm but stretchy material--they're more forgiving when you can't get an exact fit because you're between cup sizes. Bras with molded cups or bras made of non-stretchy fabric with seams are more likely to gape if they're not a perfect fit.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2013

I have either the same or very similar measurements. I also would not fit into a 32a - that would be way too small in the cup. I have gone to two fancy bra shops and was told I should be either a 28c or d or a 30c or d. Right now I have a 28c that I love and two 30c bras that I also love. When you finally get a bra that fits you will be super excited about how your boobs will finally be perky instead of mushed down.
posted by Shebear at 4:26 PM on July 7, 2013

Response by poster: Small updates: Thanks for this link. I am full on button sized according to this, which probably explains why I tend to get gapping more than extra on top.

Very snug band will be a 27 inch measurement, so I may want to do the 28, as the 30's may be too big - depends on the style.

If I do bend over and measure, I'm at 32 - 32.5 inches, instead of 31 (standing). Not sure how much of a difference that makes.

This is the style I currently wear in a 32B. (I have like 4 of them because they are the "best fit" for the standard sizing.) And I find the padding and shape comfortable.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:28 PM on July 7, 2013

You can also get bra extenders if you like the cup fit of a smaller band but prefer a more comfortable fit.
posted by gladly at 4:29 PM on July 7, 2013

Zappos carries 15 different bras in size 30C, all with free shipping and return shipping.

Like you mentioned, very few stores are going to tell you that you wear a size that they don't carry. I was routinely squeezed into 32Cs and even 34Bs at places like Victoria's Secret and Nordstrom before visiting a specialty boutique in NYC that correctly sized me as a 30DD. Unless you're planning a trip soon, I recommend enduring the minimum-possible-hassle and buying through Zappo's.
posted by telegraph at 4:40 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not only do you need to get professionally measured, you also need to let the bra fitter lady come into your fitting room while you are topless and really see your boobs. AND you need to show her how each bra fits so she can see what does/doesn't work for you. This is not a time to be shy.

Also, you will eventually find that some brands work better for you than others. I will never buy a bra brand online that I don't already know works for me unless I can get free shipping both ways.
posted by joan_holloway at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am totally willing to get measured. Do you think that major department stores won't do the "add 4" metod and put me right back at a 32A/32B?

I haven't had this problem. They size you, ask what you are looking for, talk to you a bit, and then bring you bras to try on. Usually they are pretty close on the first try. You'll give them feedback on the bras (and they will observe the fit) and then they may bring you more. At least that was my experience at Lord and Taylor.
posted by bunderful at 5:11 PM on July 7, 2013

The places I'm looking online that carry my size (The Little Bra Company, etc) do have return policies, but generally you have to pay shipping back, and the bras are anywhere from $30 to $60. Therefore I can return something, but it would be a hassle. I also would have to do an exchange of sizes or wait until money was refunded to order another bra.

Nordstrom Rack is having a clearance sale through tomorrow. It looks like there's one near you. I went to one yesterday, tried on EVERY bra that might *remotely* fit (as in: 36 DDD - 40 F) and came home with 2 bras for $10 each. (Normally they were $60+.) There weren't many of the $10 bras left at my location in my size range, but most of the others were still under $30. I tried on tons of sizes because every brand & style fits a bit differently so you can't assume something will (or won't) work without trying it on.
posted by belladonna at 5:32 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nordstrom's pretty fabulous for sizing. Also, HerRoom will let you order and do free returns/exchanges.
posted by spunweb at 5:40 PM on July 7, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so far for the support everyone. (Pun-tastic.)

I definitely want to try to get fitted soon. I found 2 online, This and This, that look good (in a 30C). They do free returns, and they are on sale so I might try to order them soon and see how they go. It seems that 28D don't have as many push-up options and are harder to find, but I may try to find some for comparison.

Keep any info coming or thoughts on the ones I linked. It's all be super helpful!
posted by Crystalinne at 5:42 PM on July 7, 2013

also mefi user danaeuk

Try ukdanae. She has provided great bra advice.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:43 PM on July 7, 2013

I think that even if you get measured and "officially sized" or something (not quite sure what to call it) there's still always going to be an aspect of "in this particular brand of bra, I am a XXX". I just went bra shopping on Friday and although I didn't get my measurements taken, I did get the lady to help me find the bras and make sure they were fitting correctly. I wound up with (Australian sizes) a 22E in one bra and a 24DD in another one. They both fit beautifully. I would have said I was a 24DD and my ribs haven't suddenly gotten smaller between bra changes, so there's obviously more going on than the simple mechanics of band/cup size. The kind of material used, especially how stretchy/not it is; the label that gets whacked on because the company is trying to help women feel better about their boobs (and they think better = bigger or better = smaller). It would be really nice if these things were standardised and the charts and "how to tell what size you are" things all make it sound like it is, but it is not.

So I am firmly with all the people saying yes, you need to get properly fitted and there isn't a great way to do this online. However once you do find a bra that fits, you can shop for that bra online. The staff in the shop will probably be able to give you advice like "that brand tends to be smaller in the cup" etc, which also gives you useful info to go on for the future.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:52 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't think anyone has mentioned Victoria's Secret... That's another place you can go to get measured and fitted. They also make the most amazing push-up bras on earth... VS is the only brand of bra I will wear. (Count me among those who wore the wrong size for years: turns out I am not a 34B but a 32C.)
posted by désoeuvrée at 6:05 PM on July 7, 2013

It doesn't matter what your "actual" bra size is, you just need to find one that fits. Go to Nordstrom and you won't regret it. Their bras are a little pricey (mine I think is $70) but worth every penny. They will try to convince you to buy multiples. It is good to have at least two (dark and light) but you don't have to buy a second/third one right away.
posted by radioamy at 6:06 PM on July 7, 2013

If there's an Intimacy shop near you, or near somewhere you'll be traveling, I'd highly recommend checking them out. My first time shopping there was pretty amazing. The saleswoman looked at me, knew what size I needed (without having to touch me to measure), and was able to bring bras of a few different sizes (since brands vary) that fit my actual shape.

I used to hate bras and bra shopping enormously, because as far as I could tell, there was no such thing as a bra that fit. I was wearing a 36A and the cups were to big and everything was all wrong. At Intimacy, they put me into a 32D and it was a revelation. They fit! They look good under clothes! There wasn't weird extra fabric all over the place! I still can't just go out and buy any 32D bra -- there's a lot of variation between brands. My understanding is that the cup size, while measured by breast volume (measuring around ribcage and breasts), is really more indicative of the diameter of the breasts themselves. So, there's low-volume cups (large diameter, but don't come out very far) and high-volume cups, and that difference tends to be more brand-specific, and not something that bra sizes code for.

For someone looking for anything outside the most common sizes, I would definitely stay away from Victoria's Secret. They will try to convince you that "sister sizes" are actually the same. If they were actually the same, why would there be two sizes? The salesperson I had could not answer that question.

I recently went to Nordstrom and had really good luck with the "Josie by Natori" brand. They're inexpensive for good bras, and have a good size range. Not sure I saw any 28 bands, but they definitely have 30 in some of their styles, and a full range of cup sizes in all band sizes.
posted by duien at 6:12 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

I mostly agree that you just gotta go find someone good to measure you, preferably a crotchety old lady with a ton of experience who is not afraid to feel you up and throw a bazillion bras at you til you find the right magical voodoo combo of band size, cup size, and manufacturer. However, if you're more of an online shopper, there's this new service True&Co that will ship a box of bras from assorted manufacturers to you and let you return the ones that don't work for free. I'm too nomadic right now to give it a try, so no first hand testimonial here, but I am unreasonably excited to try it when I get a set mailing address again.
posted by kelseyq at 6:12 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

I would like to counter the Victoria's Secret suggestion: no one has mentioned Victoria's Secret because they will not generally tell you that you are a size they do not stock, and they only stock a very, very limited range of sizes (their band sizes don't go that low, and if you are bigger than a D cup you are hosed, and if you are large cup size and a small band size you are especially hosed and may go years thinking you're some ludicrously-for-you large band size just because they told you that to get you into a cup size that fit, ahem, and then when you get properly sized all your clothes fit a million times better).

In conclusion: if you can't find some tiny little specialty shop, just pop by Nordstroms, really. I just got resized there because I've lost a little weight and needed to make sure that I had a strapless bra that fit under my wedding dress. The saleswoman asked if she could come into the dressing room to see the fit and helped me adjust things, and was really respectful. This was my experience the first time I was sized there, too.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [8 favorites]

Jockey has this "revolutionary" new bra sizing thing, and will send you a kit for you to use at home to discover what size you are (according to their revolutionary new system).

I hate shopping in stores and getting sized by strangers, so I do plan to try this (but sadly cannot report yet on how earth-shattering the new sizing system is).
posted by whistle pig at 6:35 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have almost identical measurements to yours (approx. 28" underbust, 31/32" bust) and usually wear a 30C. As others have stated, your bra size is probably about a 28C/D. However, if you're like me and have a bony ribcage, it may be uncomfortable to wear a bra with a 28-inch band, so you might also try a 30B/C. However, strapless bras do need to be tight in the band to keep from sliding down, so it's best to go down to as tight a band as possible for those.

I have to go against the prevailing recommendations for getting fitted at Nordstrom. I would not go there or anywhere else that does not specifically state that they carry bras in the 28-30 band range in smaller cup sizes. These sizes are not easy to find at the vast majority of brick-and-mortar stores in the US, including Nordstrom and specialty bra stores. And yes, salespeople and bra fitters will simply lie to you about your size in order to sell you a bra in a size that they carry. This meant that getting fitted at Nordstrom was a complete waste of time for me. Even though the fitter measured my underbust at 27", and even though I specifically asked her if she could bring me bras in 30C, she still told me I was a 32B. As it turned out, they just didn't carry any bras below 32A. So make sure to call whatever stores you find in advance and ask them if they carry bras in your size range. If they don't, they'll be useless to you (unless the fitter is both knowledgeable and honest about your size).

As you probably won't find a local store that carries any bras in your size, I recommend ordering online. Since you're concerned about paying for return shipping, Zappos carries bras in 30-inch bands. Online stores without free return shipping include: Regardless, I'd recommend ordering a bunch of bras in multiple sizes (28C, 28D, 30B, 30C) so you can try them all on and get a feel for which fit best. Different styles of bras will fit you differently, so even if one bra in your new size doesn't fit, a bra in a different style may fit perfectly. For instance, someone whose breasts are shallow (a category many small-busted women fall into) will typically find that a full-coverage bra, even in the correct size, will fit poorly, while a demi-cup bra will fit much better. When trying on bras, keep in mind the standard bra fit advice, including the "orange in a glass" effect which may throw you off.

As far as specific bras go, my regular bra is b.tempt'd Faithfully Yours in 30C, and the Petite Embrace Lace Push-Up also fits ok, so the b.tempt'd bras you linked may work for you too. With free returns, it's worth a try. In 28D, the Freya Deco strapless (not the regular or half-cup version) and Curvy Kate Elegance fit me as well. Feel free to Memail me if you have any questions on those.

I'll second the recommendation for ABraThatFits; check the right-hand sidebar for some great information, and you can also search to find posts from similarly sized women. Good luck with your bra search! I know how frustrating it is, but it'll be great once you have bras that fit you well.
posted by LNM at 6:46 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, LNM. Thanks for all that! I probably do have "shallow" shape! Who knew?! That's also probably why I prefer the push-up styles to give me more of a shape.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:02 PM on July 7, 2013

Yeah go to Nordstrom. I went and the woman just looked at me in the crappy-fitting bra I had on and knew what size I should be, went and got a bunch of bras for me to try on and I was shocked at how wrong I was about my size. I was wearing the wrong cup size and I had thought I was wearing the wrong band size - I finally went for a fitting b/c I had bought a few nice bras online and they were way too tight, so I figured it had to be the band but then I ended up exchanging them for the correct cup size. I was not about to pay $$$ for nice bras that didn't fit.

Then I took my mom to a different Nordstrom for a fitting and she was also wearing the wrong size.

Not sure why but Nordstrom seems to be the place to go for bra fittings.
posted by fromageball at 7:12 PM on July 7, 2013

I am almost exactly your size - 28 band, and previously wore a 34B, or 32B if I could find them. I only have a couple of points to add to what's already been said.

First, I found it incredibly difficult to get correctly fitted in-store, even at Nordstrom, because I couldn't find any place that even stocked 28 bands. At Nordstrom I was fitted to a 32, which was the smallest band size they had in stock, but I had to start out fastening it on the very smallest hook, with no room to make it tighter as the material stretched over time. I was able to try on one 28 band when I went to the store jeoc linked in person, and it was a huge improvement. All the bras I've bought since then, I've just had to order several cup sizes and styles at once to see if anything fits right, and returned everything that didn't. Note that even a lot of online retailers don't actually go down to a 28 band (assuming that's what fits you best), and a few with the best selection are UK-based so shipping costs are higher (though Figleaves has a US return center, which is a big help costwise).

The only other point is that, as others in the thread have pointed out, cup size and band size are interrelated so that a C cup isn't necessarily as big as you'd think. I actually ended up having the best-fitting bras for me be 28DD or 28E, despite having a smallish chest and previously wearing 32Bs without spilling out of them. Be open to the possibility that the best fit may be in a larger cup than you're expecting.

[on preview, seconding LNM on basically everything]
posted by josyphine at 7:12 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

LNM has it! HerRoom has some great how-to videos. And your cup size is nearly always bigger than you think when you're wearing the right size!
posted by manicure12 at 7:48 PM on July 7, 2013

I haven't read all the comments yet, but I came on because I'm almost the exact same size: my underbust measurement is 27/26" if pulled snug, and over the bust is 31" - I used to wear a 32b-c constantly, but realized that a 30c/30d fit far better, and a 28d fit best of all, if you can ever find one. NORDSTROM. They have the tiny band sizes. Get thee to a Nordstrom stat.

And, hint: once you know what size fits best, hit up your local Nordstrom rack on a regular basis, like once a week just run in and look at the bras in your size and run out. They won't always have something, but I have three bras in a 28 or 30" band from there that I got for $10 or $12 each (originally in the $80 range).
posted by celtalitha at 8:40 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

This betsey johnson bra is the most comfortable thing I own; it seems to only come in funky colors now, but I have a black one and a blue one and it fits perfectly.
posted by celtalitha at 8:47 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks, kelseyq, for the link to True&Co in your comment above. I love the try-at-home sites like this for eyewear, and am really excited to try a bra version!
posted by evolvinglines at 8:53 PM on July 7, 2013

I am 30C, I have your measurements, and I have found bras that fit from Calvin Klein and Betsey Johnson. Hard to find in stores, but not a particularly odd size. I have a lot of 32b bras that kind of fit. I hate how they ride up my back, though.

Do you have Amazon prime? I do, and I ordered a bunch of bras and returned the ones that I didn't like or that didn't fit. I got this Calvin Klein push-up bra and I don't love it, but if you like push-ups, it might really work for you!

I know Zappos also carries Betsey Johnson bras. Just order one or two, and return them with free shipping if they don't work.

A C-cup is not inherently busty. I am a petite woman, and a lot of people are like, "You're not a c-cup!" And I'm like, "Whatever!" I have a friend who is a 32D, and people tell her that she can't possibly be a d-cup! And she totally is. Bra sizes don't work the way people think they do.

But I would go for a 30c before trying to find a 28c. The difference between a 30C and 32B - night and day! Really, so much better.

Also, if you're crafty, you can alter your bras. I am not particularly crafty, but I had a friend who would take in her bras because she had a small band size.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:24 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nordstrom IS the place to go for bra fittings. It just is. Go there, get educated and buy 1 or 2 bras (because they will cost the earth.) Your bust line will thank you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:40 AM on July 8, 2013

The idea that you can fully describe a complex three dimensional solid with a number and a letter is bullshit. Just wanted to get that out of my system.

That said, I'm in your boat, normal sized boobs set far apart on a smallish ribcage. I find that Aerie bras fit my shape well and also they have a (mostly) complete set in the fitting room, so that you can try on a sample of all the sizes they make for each style even if they don't stock it in the store. They also take returns in the store, which can be very helpful if you have to order your size online.

I am also currently contemplating taking in the band on a bra that fits perfectly in the front but is too loose since the band stretched... So that's an option if you sew at all.
posted by anaelith at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2013

I definitely suggest trying demi-cup bras as LNM suggests - I have shallow breasts that are wider at the bottom and not full at the top, and full coverage bras don't fit me well at all. Also, definitely try a 28C or D! you may think a D cup sounds huge, but a D with a 28 band is smaller than an A cup with a 36 band size. I had been wearing a 38B for a long time but remeasured without the adding nonsense and am now in a 36DD. As someone who has been small-busted my whole life, I was in complete disbelief that a DD cup would fit me, but I got this demi style and it fits perfectly. Plus, my breasts are actually supported by the band now. Demi styles combined with a snugger band and a cup size that is appropriate for your measurements will work great!
posted by bedhead at 9:09 AM on July 8, 2013

Response by poster: I ordered the 2 linked above in 30C. (They don't come in a 28D.) I will see how those fit then with that info head to Nordstrom, hopefully sometime this month.

I seriously want to thank everyone for being helpful! I had no idea that there was something that could fit me. I have in the past been seriously depressed when putting on my bras that didn't fit, to the point of tears and considering surgery to fit into a bra. I finally feel normal!!!

Now I just need to restock my bra wardrobe!
posted by Crystalinne at 11:19 AM on July 8, 2013

Definitely get measured, but avoid places like Lane Bryant (who definitely do not carry your size anyway) and Victoria's Secret. Their staff are generally not very knowledgeable about bra fitting.

I've generally had good experiences with Nordstroms, even though I told them I can only afford one bra. A fitting there is generally way more..uh, intimate than I've gotten at VS and Lane Bryant. The saleswoman even came into the fitting room with me and showed me how to put a bra on and properly scoop and swoop.
posted by inertia at 7:28 PM on July 10, 2013

Hey, hey, let's do the Anecdata Dance!

OK, Friday night I wandered into a sea of fresh markdowns in the Target undies department, and I saw it as the brapportunity I've been waiting for to try out this whole "sister size" business. I found a 75% off one I liked in my smaller-band sister size; I'm wearing it today and I really, really like it. I didn't think I would, because sometimes even my regular bands annoy me, but this one's good. No pinching, no rolling. YMMV, of course, because women's RTW clothing is always kind of a crapshoot, which is SOOO great for our body image.

This is a replacement for my dear departed Kermit the Bra, whose fabric was the same color and texture as our froggy friend, and who perished in a freak dryer accident. The new one is the same fabric in purple; the only purple Muppet I could think of was the Count, so I've christened it Count Rackula.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:37 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

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