To be fair to Simply Yours they have stressed here that their calculator is just a starting out guide – but why add inches at all? I have proven that with my 35inch underbust measurement I fit well into 34/36 bands so why not just take that measurement as what you should wear? Sure to start with a correctly fitted bra may feel less comfortable if you are used to a looser band, but it will loosen up within a few wears and given you better support.
A very good friend of mine write this fabulous response to their post:
‘Despite your explanation, this is still very incorrect I’m afraid. I have fitted hundreds of women by eye not using a measuring method, as I believe the best and most accurate way to find out your size is to try the bra on and go from there. However, after finding the best fit of bra for them (making sure the back band isn’t riding up, that I can’t pull it away from their bodies more than 2 inches, etc) I have actually then measured them just to see for research purposes whether this 4+ inches business is accurate. I can tell you that the band number (28, 30, 32, 34 etc) corresponded with the band size they were correctly fitted into EVERY time. The majority of them came in wearing bras that fit awfully – their bands rode up, their boobs dropped, and their shoulders and back were sore from taking the whole weight of their breasts… And surprise, surprise – the band sizes they were wearing were 4 or 5 inches bigger than their underbust measurement!

It’s the same with myself too – my old bras are the band sizes that your measurement guide and your blog suggests I should wear. They ride up and thus cause back pain and they give my breasts an awful shape due to lack of support. The only way myself, and 99% of all the women I have fitted and spoken to, can get the lift, shape, support and best fit is to wear bras that correspond to their direct underbust measurement. I wear a 28 or sometimes 30 if the bra is tight enough (I measure around 28.7). My bras in those sizes never hurt, the cups and wires are never distorted, and they last a long time. ANY bigger and I lose support, my bras ride up and I can pull the back of the bra away several, several inches. I have bought European bras before and I found the same thing — when I bought them according to what my centimetre measurement is, the bands rode up and were a bad fit. Thus, it’s easy to conclude that the UK system does correspond directly to your underbust measurement in inches. I have also tried to fit several women who measure 24, 25 and 26 inches under their best. Size 28 bands rode up considerably and caused them shoulder indents, back pain and a poor shape under clothes. They have now got specially designed 24 and 26 bands respectively which are finally good fits. If the 4/5 inches system truly worked as a guide, then I would have seen it work at LEAST once in my time, but I have not – ever. All it has done for the women I have fitted and myself is give them poorly fitting bands.

Additionally, I just measured all my 28 and 30 band bras (this has taken a while – I have over 30 bras!). After measuring 30 bras over a variety of brands, fabrics, styles etc I think I have a good idea of what the average is, and I can see that what you’ve written about the true measurements of 30 and 34 bands is completely incorrect. Now:

You say –

“On an average 34 back size bra the underband will measure 25-26.5in (that’s 64-68cm) flat depending on the fabrics used (and how much they stretch when worn). That’s around 4in smaller than the body measurement of a size 34 lady, whose ribcage measures 29.5” (75cm).”

and

“A 30 back band would measure around 54/56cm or 21/22in and would have to stretch at least 8in to make the body measurement. As you can see from the two examples, this bra has to stretch much more to meet the actual body measurement of 29.5in. This extra stretch puts a lot of extra pressure on your bra”

On average a 34 band bra will measure 25-26 inches flat? I’m not sure what kind of ridiculously small 34 band you’re using as an example here, but all my 28 and 30 band bras measure around 24-26 flat – NOT 21/22 like you suggest) and stretched out (as if you were wearing them) they measure between 28 – 30. Here are some real examples from a few of the bras I’ve just measured:

Rhea Masquerade bra, size 30 (a very snug 30, I might add): 25 inches flat, 28.5 stretched (slightly stretched, as if you were wearing it)
Bravissimo Dotty spot, size 28: 25 inches flat, 28.5 inches stretched
Cleo George, size 30: 26 inches flat, 30.5 inches stretched
Cleo George, size 28: 24.5 inches flat, 28.5 inches stretched
Fantasie t-shirt bra, size 30: 25.5 inches flat, 29.4 inches stretched
Freya Arabella, size 34: 30 inches flat, 34 inches stretched
Masquerade Tiffany, size 30: 26 inches flat, 30 inches stretched
Freya Retro, size 32: 28 inches flat, 32 inches stretched

It’s very clear that the band sizes do in fact correlate directly to your underbust measurement – when they are stretched, they stretch out comfortably about 4 inches, thus measuring exactly the same as their band size number (and thus your underbust measurement). If you add another 4 inches on top of your underbust measurement, you’d be wearing a bra that is WAY too big’

This is probably the best online calculator I have found. It is not 100% accurate and struggles with very big cup sizes but it is a very good rough guide. It does not add inches unless you are an odd number like myself and therefore adds one to make me 36. If you are really clueless about where to begin with your bra size I would use this calculator.

A few of my blogging friends have written their own posts in relation to this debate. Sophia explains:
‘They use the outdated method of adding 4 inches on to your underbust measurement to get your correct band size. This actually comes from back in the 50s where the ideal hourglass measurements were 36-24-36, so inches would be added to the band size as ‘vanity sizing’. Not only that, but the materials used in the 50s were much firmer, stiffer and less pliable than they are today – meaning there would be no wiggle room if you did have a size that was too tight. This is no longer the case nowadays; stretchy material is used for everyday bra bands in order to give maximum comfort and support.’

Cheryl stresses:
‘As a self-trained fitter and a 28FF myself, I know full well the advantages of a great bra. I’ve seen women smiling and liberated from something so simple as a bra and it really is wonderful to see.

Nonetheless, an issue which has been niggling for a while now is their use of the ‘plus four’ method’

And Beckie says:
‘I can think of no exceptions I know (and I’ve coerced, cajoled, and cheerleaded coachloads of women in to better fitting bras) of D+ women who have received a better fit from the plus-four method than they have working to the raw underbust measurement. I personally went from being a totally sedentary plus-foured 34E girl, constantly cursing my own body for being uncomfortable, unruly and cumbersome; to being a 28GG/30G girl who runs, swims and cycles as often as possible without ever thinking twice about whether her ample chest will get in the way.’

What are your opinions on this fitting debate? What have your experiences been like? Did you find that you wore the wrong size bra with a too big band once upon a time? Or are you still unconvinced by the shunning of the inch adding method? Let me know :)

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