Today’s blog is dedicated to our Bra Doctor, fellow blogger and professional bra fitter!
On a design level, it’s a huge technical challenge to enclose and support a semi-solid breast of varying volume and shape, plus its adjacent partner and incorporate wildly different torso circumferences too – but that’s exactly what bra manufacturers have to do! Add attractive presentation, functionality and fashion requirement. It’s really quite a big deal.
Until the 1930’s, bra sizes were sized S, M & L but with the technical sophistication of emerging bra designs, this sizing system just wasn’t sufficient any more. In 1932 S.H.Camp and Company correlated the size and shape of a woman’s breast to letters of the alphabet. Warner’s were the first to adopt these new cup sizes for their bras, which is the same A through D system that we use today. Just after World War Two a proper band sizing system was created by manufacturers in the USA.
By the 1940’s, bras had designated sales areas within department stores with their own special fitting rooms and manufacturers established fit training courses for their saleswomen.
So after seventy years why do manufacturers’ standard cup sizes vary so much?
Well, sizing systems vary from country to country, and secondly, bras can be graded very differently too. In Europe the torso is measured in centimeters and rounded to the nearest multiple of 5 cm, whereas in the States they use inches and round up to 2 inches (=5.08cm). Grading between cup sizes can be either 2 cm in Europe or 1 inch in the States (=2.54 cm) or even graded up by as much as 3 cm (as with some French brands). The smaller sizes are less affected but as soon as you get to the D’s and above the variances in cup size between brands can be substantial.
Also the general sizing system is insufficient too because the volume of the breast isn’t taken into consideration, only it’s diameter. Bras need to be close fitting – but women’s breasts vary wildly in size and shape, most breasts are asymmetric and can change depending on the time of the month and with fluctuations in weight. With off-the-shelf bra sizes it’s very difficult to accommodate all these inconsistencies, and bra fitting instructions also conflict between manufacturers! Methods conceived in the 1930’s have been gradually doctored and revised without any overall guidelines.
So it’s not surprising that 80% of women wear the incorrect bra size! How can you possibly get it right? Well that’s why it’s essential to be fitted by a professional with knowledge and experience of the different brand characteristics and can actually assess the fit of the bra on you. Once you’re familiar with the size you take in a brand, it gets easier! Don’t forget, though, that sizing may also vary within a company’s different styles, based on the cut, shape, fabric, and other important considerations like the width of the underwire that is used.
So, as Rachel did in her last blog, why don’t you take the mystery out of bra sizing! Do yourself (and your body) a favor get yourself fitted by our very own Bra Doctor at Now That’s Lingerie!
Facts and figures from Wikipedia: History of brassieres – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bra fitting image from The Daily Mail: www.dailymail.co.uk
Pingback: What’s in a bra cup? « Bra Doctor's Blog on May 25, 2011