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Tomima Talks: Challenges with Uncommon Bra Sizes

Hello there,

Here’s an interesting fact: HerRoom offers 520 unique bra sizes. As you might guess, the sales for these sizes fall pretty nicely into a bell curve, with the most common sizes from 32B to 42DDD(D3) being the summit. But there are many MANY bra sizes that make up the tails, and this is where bra fitting challenges occur along with a reduced selection. It’s simple economics – most bra manufacturers wish to make bras in sizes with no fit issues and sell large volumes.

My goal has always been to offer bras for all women. If your bra size falls on one of the tails, let me explain the unique challenges surrounding it. I’m also highlighting brands who boldly go where most won’t to service your unique bra size.

Challenges with Small Cup Sizes

You may be surprised to learn that bra cup sizes of AA, A and several B’s are difficult to make because they require a much more exact fit. Women with more breast mass are able to move it around to fit into their cups, but small cup-sized women cannot. These small cup sizes (especially with underwires) must be located in exactly the right location to line up on top of your smaller breasts. This makes these sizes much more challenging for bra manufacturers because now breast distance and height on the chest variations can make or break a bra’s fit in these smaller cup sizes. A woman, who’s say a 32A, can try on a bra in her size, and because the cups are spaced a little too far apart, or too close together, will not like the fit.

Here are two very popular bras among our 32A customers. Look at their centers. The tight center panel will fit a woman with close-set breasts, whereas the wider center will fit a woman with wider set breasts. The key to a successful fit for AA, A, and most B cups is knowing your breast location, then looking at the center panel to get your best fit – especially in an underwire

On the other spectrum of small cups, but larger band sizes, here are two of our most popular 40A underwire bras.

Of course, wireless and bralette-style bras will be good choices too. Not having underwires, the bra structure is less rigid, which allows more wiggle room in the cup for breast placement. But, for bralettes, which tend to come in t-shirt sizes (S, M, L, etc.), be sure to review our size charts – not all bralettes will have a size that fits AA and A cup sizes.

Another option is to forgo a bra and instead wear a camisole. Many small cup-sized women tell me this is their preferred undergarment. We have a great many options in camisoles. We have shapewear camisoles that include some spandex to give support, camisoles with an internal shelf bra, and camisoles with structured cups.

For more information on small cup size bra options, watch my video. And don’t forget, if you’re fastidious about fit, getting a bra altered is always an option.

Lingerie Brands for Small Cup Sizes: •   Small Bands: Amoena, Anita, Berlei, Dominique, Fit Fully Yours, Natori •   Large Bands: Amoena, Anita, Leading Lady, Valmont

Challenges with Voluminous Cup Sizes (larger than D6)

It wasn’t until after 1985 that cup sizes larger than a DD(D2) started arriving on the market. For many years large-breasted women never were able to buy the right cup size, so didn’t know what a good fit should look like or feel like – they simply bought the biggest cup size available and struggled. Today, cup sizes are now available up to a P and KK (Both D13).

Cup Size D1 vs D13

Large breasts are as different as snowflakes; full and firm, pendulous and low, touching, east/west leaning, etc. But all need a bra with support. Supportive features include seamed cups, more hooks in the back, side support panels, tall sides, and firm power mesh fabrics. But complaints abound about supportive bras looking like a “harness”. The reality is the more coverage and support, the more improved your comfort and shape. And, many manufacturers are now using sheer paneling to give large cup sizes the illusion of less coverage.

These larger cup sizes are made by fewer bra manufacturers because of their complexity and engineering. You may have noticed our notes on bra styles letting you know about design changes after certain cup sizes; the hook counts change, the straps become wider, a support feature is being added… and others. All these adjustments take time and effort to find and optimize during the development of a new bra style wishing to cover a large cup size range. And some bra designs simply can’t scale up into the larger cup sizes successfully. Conversely, bras with average cup sizes have it easy. They simply use established industry cup measurements that have been used for years. This is the simple reason why there are so many more manufacturers making these bra sizes.

The most important thing a large cup-sized woman needs to do with a new bra is to get into it completely – not just hook it up and quickly conclude it doesn’t fit. A little time must be taken to reach into each cup with your opposite hand and pull all your breast tissue into each cup. You should also make sure your nipples are positioned in the cup’s apex and tighten your straps. To see an actual example of a woman doing this, watch my video.

Lingerie Brands for Large Cup Sizes: •   Small Bands: Cleo by Panache, Curvy Kate, Fantasie, Freya, Panache, Parfait, Pour Moi •   Large Bands: Aviana, Curvy Kate, Elila, Elomi, Fantasie, Fit Fully Yours, Glamorise, Goddess, Panache, Parfait, Prima Donna

Challenges with Small Band Sizes

A recent addition in the last several years has been the 30-band size, and more recently the 28-band size (which starts with a D cup and goes larger). Many more women are a 28 or 30 band size but don’t know it because these band sizes are rarely available for sale (but for HerRoom). Most of these women are probably wearing a 32 band and struggling throughout the day with the band riding up their back.

The real challenge with having a small band size is when you have a larger cup size. Don’t shoot the messenger, but the scarcity of small band/large cup bra offerings is due to their extremely large return rate – exceeding well-over 50%. Manufacturers are in business to make money, so poorly selling bra sizes are quickly discontinued. It’s simple economics. At HerRoom, our selection in these sizes is carefully curated to keep returns down. We have a few 28 band fit models who test new styles for fit and comfort.

Here’s an image of a 28(D8) bra. It’s unusual because it does not lay flat when the back is attached. Interestingly, you would think these women have a petite frame and kind of an outlier figure shape. But they do not. What they do have is a narrow back, touching breasts, and breast tissue that extends under their arms. And remember as you go up a band size, you go down a cup size to maintain cup volume. So this 28(D8) has the same cup volume as a 36G(D4).

Lingerie Brands for Small Band Sizes: •   Small Cups: Anita, Berlei, Bluebella, Dominique, Natori, OnGossamer, Shock Absorber •   Large Cups: Cleo by Panache, Curvy Kate, Freya, Panache, Parfait

Challenges with Large Band Sizes

It starts happening around the 42 to 44 band size; women become more comfortable in a wireless bra. Here’s why. An underwire, to be comfortable, must rest in a woman’s underbust crease. And, this crease must follow the shape of an underwire. In larger band sizes, the distinction between breast tissue and body tissue becomes blurred. Consequently, the underwire can wind up resting on or poking into body tissue making an underwire bra uncomfortable.

Wireless bras are a great choice for women who wear larger band sizes and struggle with comfort. Manufacturers in this size range have developed very attractive and comfortable styles using newer fabrications. For a comparison between underwire and wireless bras, watch my video.

Lingerie Brands for Large Band Sizes: Small Cups: Anita, Bali, Elila, Glamorise, Goddess, Leading Lady, Valmont Large Cups: Aviana, Elila, Elomi, Glamorise, Goddess, Parfait, Pour Moi, Sculptresse by Panache


Tomima Founder & CEO

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