Band Size Explained

There are two components of a bra size: the number, and the letter. Band size is the numerical part. It corresponds to the tightness of the bra band.

A brief explanation of the role of the bra band

The bra band does the heavy lifting when it comes to support. The straps are mostly there to keep things in place. Bras are designed this way because our back is a lot stronger than our shoulders. Think of it like wearing a backpack in front – you wouldn’t want it to hang off your shoulders (especially with thin straps). It’ll be a lot easier to carry with a thick strap tied around your back that anchored the backpack to you. See Fig. 1

Illustration of a girl wearing bra

If lift is what you want your bra to do, most of the work will be done by the band. To do this, the band needs to be somewhat tight. Otherwise, the burden will fall on your shoulders. This can cause shoulder, back, even neck pain. See Fig. 2

If you don’t need or want much lift, the bra band can be looser. For people whose breasts are self-supporting, or with smaller breasts that don’t need lift, a firm band can be unnecessary – a relaxed band will feel less binding. See Fig. 3

Fit check

No matter your preference for lift or no lift, tight or loose, your bra band should always stay put. It should lie parallel to the floor, never riding up in the back.

A picture of boob

No matter your preference for lift or no lift, tight or loose, your bra band should always stay put. It should lie parallel to the floor, never riding up in the back.

If your bra band rides up in the back, it means the band is not supportive enough. Assuming the bra band is well-designed for your needs (and simply too big), switching to a smaller band size will solve the problem. However, if the band is too thin, or too weak (too stretchy, or has little stretch recovery), you may need to switch to a different style See Fig. 4

 Image illustrating the rolling of band and proper band

If your bra band rides up in the back, it means the band is not supportive enough. Assuming the bra band is well-designed for your needs (and simply too big), switching to a smaller band size will solve the problem. However, if the band is too thin, or too weak (too stretchy, or has little stretch recovery), you may need to switch to a different style. See Fig. 4

Choosing your band size

If you prefer a firm, lifting fit that minimizes the stress on your shoulders and neck, your band size is the same as your band measurement. If you measure 40’’, choose a 40 band.

If you prefer a relaxed, non-binding fit that minimizes the discomfort around your ribcage, take your band measurement, and add 2-ish to it to get your band size. If you measure 32’’, choose a 34 band.

Comfort means different things to different people. If you are not sure which band size suits you, try them out and decide for yourself. Your comfort is always your best guide.


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