As a bra fit and design enthusiast, I always get a rush of excitement when I meet with Felina Creative Director and “all around nice guy,” Willy Mrasek. When we get together, we can talk for hours about our shared obsession: finding the best bra fit possible for every woman. We love to catch up and trade stories about our latest discoveries and ideas about our favorite topic. I applaud people in our industry like Willy because they focus on the things that matter most to women when they’re looking for a bra: superior fit, comfort and style.
Finding the right bra fit for different body and breast types might sound easy, but it’s not. Just like women’s bodies, breasts come in all shapes, sizes and weights. Finding a great fitting bra for a slender woman who wears a DD cup and has self-supporting breasts is very different from finding a great fitting bra for a petite woman who wears a B cup and has conical breasts. From fabrics and elastics to cup, band and strap design, there are countless considerations to make when finding the right bra for any one woman.
Because this challenge is so complex, I’ve noticed a common misconception about bras and their makers. When a woman tries on a bra that doesn’t fit her, she immediately thinks it’s because the bra’s manufacturer hasn’t taken the time to understand her body. While I can understand why some women might come to this conclusion, this really isn’t the case. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with many design teams (all whose brands are carried by HerRoom) and I can unequivocally say they are all focused on fit, and are passionate about getting it right!
One way manufacturers have tried to better understand bra fit and help women find their right size has been by developing detailed bra measurement systems. Willy is no different. In his quest to improve bra sizing and fitting for women, Willy asked me earlier this year if I’d be willing to let several of my employees try his new bra size measuring system – knowing full well that all my female employees absolutely know their correct bra size. I was more than happy to help.
Willy’s bra measurement system
Willy’s new system still has a woman measuring her under bust circumference to determine her band size, but without adding any inches. He also has a different bust measurement request to determine cup size. Rather than taking a woman’s bust circumference and subtracting from the band size, Willy asked my employees to measure their breasts starting in the center where the breast tissue begins and measuring over the breast apex and to the other side where the breast tissue ends (while wearing an unlined/padding free bra).
See the full Felina bra fit measurement page here.
Willy then provided this table and asked my employees if their current correct bra size lined up with his new measuring system.
Let’s start with me. I wear a 34D in contour cup bras and a 34C or D in seamed cup bras. So, when I share my size I usually call it a “34C+.” My measurements lined up with Willy’s chart for a 34C.
The results for my team were, well… all over the place:
78 percent of the participants felt the result was too large. These participants were mostly in the DD+ cup size range. Looking at Willy’s system, you can see he is adding the traditional 4”-5” to the band measurement to get the band size.
56 percent of the participants felt the result was too small. 33 percent said the cup size according to their measurement was too large and 22 percent said the cup size they calculated matched their actual cup size.
A woman’s bra size is subjective. This experiment really reinforces how subjective a woman’s bra size is. At the end of the day, the only bra size that matters is the bra size the wearer is most comfortable in.
Things get trickier for DD cup sizes and above. When a cup size increases beyond a DD, my point of view is that the band size needs to come down and be tighter to provide more support around the under bust. Reviewing my employees’ results during this experiment only further reinforced my theory.
Plastic surgeons have used a similar method. About 15 years ago, I was interviewing plastic surgeons who specialized in breast augmentation and I found that this was the method they used to determine augmented breast size. Given that an augmented breast is full, this would make sense. I included this measuring technique in my Bra Fitting Center back then. In contrast, however, Willy’s measurements require a smaller measurement to achieve his cup size. For example, a 38D cup should measure 12” in the plastic surgeon’s measurements. Using Willy’s system, 38D-42D sizes only range from 10”-11 1/4”. Knowing that many women who go in for breast surgery ask for a certain cup size and wind up with a larger one, this surgical measuring could be a part of the reason why.
I’m grateful to Willy and Felina for asking us to participate in this new measuring system. For a woman who doesn’t know her size and wants a starting point, using Willy’s method along with the traditional method should get you into a bra size ballpark. This is valuable. But, at the end of the day, your best bra size will be the one you are the most comfortable in.
Find a better fit,