I had no idea that bra cups are proportional to band size. What this means is that a 32D is equivalent in cup volume to a 34C, a 36B, a 30DD, etc. This is because, four example, a D cup is defined as a 4 inch difference between your underbust measurement and your bust measurement. So, if your underbust is 28, and your bust is 32, you are a 28D. If your underbust is 36, and your bust is 40, your size is 36D.
I was starting (in the past 6 years), to realize that I need as tight a band as I could find, or else the weight of my boobs would be unsupported, which causes the band to rise up in the back (and my boobs to not have lift in the front). If your band is rising up, you need a smaller band!
Sadly, my mother had no idea about how band sizes worked. She put my tiny frame in a 36 band in high school!
I had no idea that I could buy bands lower than 32. I had no idea that I need a 28 or 30 band.
I had no idea that the United States is stuck in a terrible bra matrix (32-38 bands, A-DD cups), with more than 80% of women wearing the wrong bra size.
I had no idea that the U.K. (and other countries like Poland) have been making extremely wide ranges of bra sizes for years, which are GREAT for women who have small backs and large breasts. For example, brands like Freya, Panache, Fantasie, Cleo by Panache, Gossard, Curvy Kate, Tutti Rouge, etc. U.S. boutiques (and Nordstrom) sell some of these brands. There are many online retailers that sell them as well (including Amazon). They are not more expensive than Victoria’s Secret, and better quality.
I had no idea that a gore of a bra is supposed to tack.
I had no idea the importance of hand washing bras, and of never putting them in the dryer.
I never really thought about the fact that bras stretch with wear (the band and the straps). I mean, I knew that it happened, and my bras would start to suck after 6 months, but I just kind of accepted it and kept wearing stretched out bras! I never threw them out! Doesn’t make sense.
I thought I had to live with “quadboob.” I didn’t think I could ever find a sexy, cute bra with a cup big enough to hold all my tissue.
I never thought about the “wires” of a bra, and what shape wires I need. I didn’t know people think about this! Now I know I need relatively wide wires and cups with medium projection.
I never knew I could feel good again wearing a moulded cup. I had been wearing all unlined bras for years so that I would not feel huge and bulky. A well-fitting moulded bra can actually make me look good and not bulky.
I never thought too much about what shape a bra gave me. Cleavage was always good, and as little spilling out as possible, but I never knew what kinds of shapes were possible (e.g. extremely round and uplifted, flattened but still nice cleavage, etc.)
I never thought about cup-construction and how that affects shape: three-part cups, vertical seams, side support, etc.
In the past two years or so I started having the revelation that I need fully-adjustable straps (instead of straps that only adjust in a little bit of space in the back), or else the straps don’t get short enough for me. I will never again buy bras that are only partially adjustable!
I never knew I could still feel cute wearing bras with slightly wider straps.
TJ Maxx used to be my refuge, where I would go to find 32Ds and 32DDs - one of the only places that had them (and only a few), and for $10 a pop. Now, I pity TJ Maxx, so ensnared in the American bra matrix. I will obviously never find a 28G bra there!
U.K. sizes typically start at a 28 band, and proceed in the following way: A B C D DD E F FF G GG H HH J JJ K, etc. Now I know that I am in the range of 28G, 28GG, 30FF, 30G.
If this new size of mine were translated back into a 32 band, I would be a 32DDDD or 32DDDDD. No wonder I could rarely find a 32DDD that would fit (I did have success with only one Victoria’s secret 32DDD and with one Felina 32DDD, but only in the cups - the backs were not tight enough, so the bras lacked support).
I had no idea how small-breasted you have to be in order to be a true 32D or 32DD. I was taught all my life that D was big. It is big if you are a 38D, but a 38D is equivalent in cup-size to a 32DDDD! And conversely, a 32D is equivalent in cup-size to a 38A!
My learning experience began in February, and was a long process. In January I knew I needed bras that fit (my others were no longer working). On Amazon and Ebay I ordered two 32DDD bras (I started getting very excited about Betsey Johnson and Felina, happy to find these new brands after I realized Victoria’s Secret’s 32DDD bras were too small). I was temporarily happy with my purchases - they were better fits than the worn out 32D and 32DD bras I had been wearing.
I signed up for True&Co, which allows you to get boxes of bras sent to your house to try on for free. It’s awesome and easy. Unfortunately, they do not have a wide range of sizes. I did not have much success with the 32DD and 32E bras that I tried.
Now I forget exactly how this happened, but at one point - in my “bra research” - I came across some cute Le Mystere bras. I ordered two moulded bras from Ebay in size 32F, knowing that the 32E bras from True&Co had been too small. They felt very supportive! More supportive than I had ever felt! There was some slight quadboobing, but I was happy.
Around this time, I had been googling True&Co and came across some blogs that were incisively critiquing the company for it’s narrow size range. I had, accidentally, found myself in the world of “full-bust” blogging. I became obsessed with reading about proper bra sizing and fit from women who were similar to me in size. These women discussed current lingerie offerings from relevant brands, and reviewed many bras. I started realizing how complex bra-fitting could be. I learned about U.K. sizing, and really wished I had a tape measure so I could be certain about what my size was!
I realized that I wanted to find a boutique that carried bras that might fit me. I found one boutique, and headed over there thinking I was a 32F. The lady measured me, (she said I was “wide”—I didn’t really know what she meant) and determined I needed a 30 band, not a 32. This was shocking, but nice. She put me in the only 30FF bra she had (a Fantasie Rebecca), and it fit great. The shape was too matronly for my taste, however. But I felt like I was getting closer to the truth, and could possibly eventually find even better fits - the perfect bras!
Finally, while driving between Milwaukee and Lafayette, I saw a highway billboard that advertised a store that carried 28 bands, and up to a K cup. I went to this store and for the first time tried on U.K. brands like Freya and Cleo. I tried on 30FFs - what I thought was my size, but with the help of the excellent fitter realized that I best fit in a 28 band. And am hence a 28G. Whaaaa?
With Amazon prime (thanks Tom!) I started ordering many U.K. brand bras in the range of 28G, 28GG, 30FF, and 30G. I was absolutely amazed at the fit, and how good I felt and looked. I didn’t know any of this was possible for me.
I got a bit addicted, and now have about 17 new bras? What? Even strapless! (Don’t worry, they were all bought cheaply on Ebay or Amazon, or Braswap).
These reddits are amazing:
A bra that fits (great fitting advice)
Braswap (I sold about 20 of my old ill-fitting bras here, and bought/swapped bras for cheap from other users)
And of course, I never could have conceived something like Bratabase.com would exist. I never buy a bra without looking here first!