Every day we wake up and lingerie is the first thing we put on. There’s no doubt that a beautiful set adds a great sense of pleasure to our day.
We have put together some fitting information to help you to understand the process. Hopefully, this will have you on your way to loving your lingerie and enjoying wearing it.
We all need to know:
- How to measure ourselves to attain the proper Bra Size
- Understanding how bra sizes work and about Sister Sizes
- Which bras are appropriate under which outfits and for what occasions
- How to carefully maintain intimates with the proper care
How To Find Your Bra Size
There is a Measurement Guide at the bottom of this page. You can use this, along with a tape measure, to find your size.
The most important things to know about fitting and bra sizes are:
- You fit a bra on the loosest hook; as it stretches you can tighten it and then it will fit you for longer
- They can change; different bra cuts and different stages in life can lead to needing different sizes. Your bra size can also vary from brand to brand and changes in cut
- Your cup size will change if your band size changes
Once you know these three things, it is pretty simple. It is important to remember that your body size and your cup size go together. Many people think that a 12C and a 10C are the same cup size only bigger/smaller in the back. This is not true and the main reason why women end up wearing the wrong size bra. For example, a 10D holds the same volume as a 12C but is actually smaller than a 16B.
On the other hand, if you are wearing the correct band size, all you will need to do is move up or down a letter size.
Be prepared for your true size to surprise you. Even if you think of yourself as ‘busty’, this does not always translate to a big cup size. Contrary to this you could be considered quite ‘tiny’, yet wear a 32D.
Breasts are measured by surface area. The simplest way to show you is with this table:
…and so on.
This is a good example for New Zealand, Australian and UK sizing. There are going to be slight variations with different labels and styles. For example, some French and other European labels do not produce a DD cup.
Another helpful point is to know is your Sister Size. Your bra size can change slightly from brand to brand or variations in the cut. Find your size above and look one to the left and one to the right. We have underlined three sizes as an example. The 32D and 14B are Sister Sizes to the 34C.
If your bra size is unavailable, or not quite fitting correctly, then try a Sister Size; lean towards the size closest to your general clothing size. If you usually wear a 34C bra and wear a size 8 dress, then try a 32D - it is exactly the same cup size, though it has one tighter hook and a few millimetres less in the band.
If you are usually a 34C and the bra feels tight and your breasts are bulging a little over the top of the bra, you might need to go up a size – try a 36B.
If you are usually a 34C and the bra feels a little loose around the back or is gaping a little over the top of your breast, you might need to go down a size – try a 32D.
If you usually wear a 34C and the bra feels good in the band but there is room in the top of the cups, try a 34B; or if your breasts are bulging over the top, try a 34D.
If these options fail, the bra is the wrong cut for you and that leads us to the glossary.
It is important to know what cuts and shapes work for you. This is usually a case of trial and error. Once you have found a good shape, then your best bet is to stick with it, especially for everyday pieces.
Here is a list of the most common shapes we stock in Smitten Kitten:
Balcony | Balconnet | Balconette
Similar to a Demi Cup bra, the cups of the Balconette Bra do not provide full coverage. The underwires come up higher in the centre and are cut in a more horizontal line across to the apex/straps. This means your breasts will be encouraged to lift upwards - not together. Designed to make your breasts look fuller. The name Balconette is French, meaning “little balcony”. It is said the men in the theatre would look down from the balcony of a theatre with excitement at the women below...
‘Demi’ means ‘half’ in French. A Demi Bra only covers half of the breast. The upper half of the cup is cut away to expose most, sometimes all of the upper part of the breasts. The wires come up high in the centre and the bra is cut straight across to the straps, which are usually set further apart than other bras. This bra is designed to give you a big lift upwards – not together.
This is a bra where the fabric has been cut away to expose the breasts. A great way to frame your prized assets, with the support of the straps and underwires firmly in place. A wonderful special occasion piece.
Contour | Moulded | T-Shirt
Refers to cups that are lined or padded to hold their shape, even when the bra is not being worn. Will offer significant coverage, smooth shape and hides the nipples, though you will lose the natural shape of your breast as it will take on the shape of the mould.
Contour bras typically offer more structure, like the line of a full cup, lower in the middle and following the curve around your breast to the apex/straps. They are padded, so will add cleavage and support and are not a natural shape. Moulded Bras usually add a little more support and coverage, they are not see-through/sheer and any bra shape can have moulded cups.
T-Shirt bras are moulded. They are usually a contour shape and seamless; they have no lace or ornamentation. They are not a natural shape and are not see-through/sheer.
A full cup bra covers most of the breast. A full cup bra will not cause an indentation along the top of the breast and offers added support. They start low on the band in the middle and follow the natural curve of the breast. They usually have at least two seams. One across and one vertical. A good full cup bra should give you a supported natural shape and feel very comfortable. These can be sheer or moulded.
A bra with padding added to the cups to add volume. The pads, if removable, are also known as cookies, cutlets or cupcakes.
This is a low cut bra in the centre, with steep angles to the apex and usually has heavily padded cups (they are not always padded) designed to push the breasts together, and up to enhance both the cleavage and give you lift.
Similar to the Demi, though sometimes boned with little or no upper-cups. Designed for show and not for support. Displays most of the breasts and sometimes the nipples.
Soft Cup | Wireless
A bra with no underwires. Will merely hold your breasts often pushing them a little together. Recommended for comfort. Gentle on the body and highly under-rated; you can still get a great natural shape and great support without underwire if the bra is cut well and offers a sturdy band. A good Soft Cup or Wireless Bra will make you feel like someone is lightly cupping/holding your breasts.
Triangle | String
A Soft Cup Wireless Bra. This cut is recommended for small cup sizes only as it will offer no support at all to larger breasts. A triangle bra has small triangle shapes for cups and usually a string size band and straps. Usually lacy, sheer and delicate.
Bras with sewn-in wiring that runs underneath the breast in each bra cup in a ‘U’ shape. The wires lift and separate breasts. Underwire can be a plastic-coated piece of metal, a flexible wire or moulded plastic.
Basque | Merry Widow
A long-line bra extending to the hips, with garter hooks attached along the lower edge.
Bustier | Longline
A bra with additional fabric extending down to the waist or hip. May include garters, boning or lace-up closing. Often worn under formal gowns. Bustiers are sometimes incorrectly called corsets.
Used in corsets to support the desired shape and to prevent wrinkling and pressure on the corset fabric. Historically, boning was made from whalebone, or other soft bone because it was flexible. If you find a vintage corset, the boning could be made from proper bone.
These days, boning is artificially made to replicate the soft/flexible bone. It is a thin plastic or metal strip used to give more structure to a garment and is usually incorporated into a vertical seam.
A traditional corset supports the breasts from underneath and usually pushes them up and over the neckline edge. It is almost always hooked, boned and tight fitting, often with adjustable ribbon or string. It begins either above or just below the bust and extends down to the waist or occasionally below the hips.
Pasties | Nipple Tassels
Adhesive patches are worn over the nipples. Sometimes with weighted tassels which can be used to swing in circles, a popular Burlesque act.
Buying A Gift
We do offer exchanges on gifts if your choice hasn’t quite hit the mark, though it’s a lot easier for everyone if we get it right the first time, so if you have any doubts with sizes or styles, then please email us your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
When purchasing a gift of lingerie for the first time, the safest option would be to purchase sleepwear. A loose-fitting silk slip, camisole or gown is perfect as the size is a simple dress/clothing size and it really is a timeless gift.
If you know this person well, and would rather purchase something a little more specific, the best place to start is inside her lingerie drawer.
The best trick to finding a lady’s bra size is to take the size from her favourite bra, or one she wears often. Have a little look at the size written on the back tag and write it down. It is usually either a dress size or inch measurement followed by cup size, e.g. 12C or 34C.
Just a general Pants Size is fine for this. Just find the size in any pants or briefs she wears.
This is the same as her Dress Size. This can be different from pants size as it is the waist measurement. Find the size in a dress she currently wears if you can, otherwise, her general size should work.
Fitting Room Summary
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that there are actually only a few centimetres difference per size; that is only a couple of millimetres per seam. As long as you don’t stray too far from your usual size, things should work out okay. The more support you need, the more precise you will need to be with size.
Here are some final tips to help you know whether your bra is fitting you correctly:
- The band should fit nice and snug; not too tight and definitely not loose. You should be able to fit your index and middle finger together between your skin and the band, without circulation being cut off
- The cups should follow the natural line of your breast all the way to under your arm. No breast tissue should spill out beyond the underwire or under seam or over the top of the bra
- You should feel supported by the band and the sides of your bra – not the straps. The straps should be firm, again, 2 fingers between without circulation being cut off but not digging in. Think 90% support through the band and bra and 10% through the straps
- Last and certainly not least – are you comfortable?
Some bras can be expensive, though in most cases they are worth it. They use softer more comfortable fabrics, better quality cotton for longer lasting stitching and thicker, more heat resistant elastic. They also have more flattering cuts, using patterns that have been hand-made, tried on people and sampled to perfection.
A beautifully cut bra will sit perfectly, feel comfortable and have you looking and feeling your best.
If you take good care of your lingerie and intimate apparel, they can last a really long time. Take time to read the wash labels on your lingerie and follow them carefully.