I wore the wrong bra size for a long time. Almost 80% of women are still wearing bras that are not good for them.

An endless clothesline filled with bras in many colors and sizes in a meadow with rolling hills in the distance.
Skyimages/Istock Images

“I was so excited to say goodbye to my maternity clothes, I didn’t have bras. I assumed my old bras would fit when I gave up my comfortable nursing bras. I was taken aback by the cups and underwire that were on my sides.”

“I headed to my local department store to find the right fit. I have been fitted for a bra before. I had been fitted for a Victoria’s Secret dress a few years prior, so I was prepared.”

I assumed I would only go up or down one bra size. I went as a size 38C and left as a size 36DDD.

If you want to wear bras, you should get a professional bra fitting. I was able to get away from uncomfortable bras and into a size that fit like a glove. There are four tips for finding the perfect fit.

3-D scanning is being used to help shape bras and underwire, but it is not accessible to everyone.

If you’re not ready for a professional bra fitting but still want to make sure you’re wearing the right bra size, grab a tape measure (the fabric kind, trust me!). Then use this handy calculator to walk you through a bra fitting at home.


I’m not the only one who’s spent years wearing the wrong sized bra. Many women have.

A 2008 survey conducted by bra manufacturer Triumph and published in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy found that the majority of women (80 percent!) were wearing bras that were the wrong size.

70 percent of them wore bras that were too small, while 10 percent wore bras that were too large.

“It is not surprising that it is difficult to find attractive options in larger bra sizes. Victoria’s Secret carries bra sizes up to a 40DDD in a number of styles and colors, but this hasn’t always been the case.”

In fact, it’s not even enough. Many women need bands larger than 40 inches under the breast. Some department stores still have even fewer options to choose from once you go above a 36D, although most American women can find bras with cup sizes ranging from A to G, according to the New York Times.

I wanted to make sure that my bra size was smaller than what the store carried.

“Thankfully that wasn’t the case, but the saleswoman still led me to a single rack of larger bras in shades of beige and black. The adorable styles and patterns that were in the rest of the store were not worth the time.”

Jovana Vukotic/Stocksy

Most women still think that bigger is better when it comes to bra sizes. Many women shy away from larger band sizes.

What we don’t often realize is that cup sizes don’t equal the size of your breasts. They refer to the difference between the size of your breasts and your rib cage.

A person with a 34C still has smaller cups than a 36C. It is possible to get the right fit for many women who find themselves swimming in the next cup size up if they go up a band size.

Some women know they’re wearing the wrong bra size but continue wearing it anyway. A study in the journal Ergonomics has shown that women with larger breasts tend to have an even larger error when choosing bra size.

Wearing the wrong bra size can produce breast pain and bra irritation. In a study on women horse riders and the impact of their bras, 40 percent reported breast pain and 59 percent reported at least one bra issue. But don’t worry: It’s a myth that ill-fitting bras cause breast cancer.

You can get a bra fitting or use a bra size calculator. You should be aware of the signs that you are wearing the wrong bra size. It is important to have the right supportive bra for exercise. I will never go back to those bras.

Jody Allard is a writer and mother living in Seattle. She primarily writes about parenting, health, and women’s issues. You can connect with Jody on her website or Twitter @sendvodka.