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Bra Size Changes

Bra Size Changes

I wanted to talk to you today about bra size changes. Since I started lifting weights almost 2 years ago, my weight has changed. It’s gone up as I put on muscle and it’s gone down as I’ve lost body fat. I realized recently I must be wearing the wrong bra size when I seemed to be spilling out of the cups of about half of my bras. So I tried measuring myself, and it said I’d gone up to a larger cup size, so I assumed I’d done it wrong and I should go get fitted by an expert.

Bra Size Changes

Our bodies change for all sorts of reasons. In addition to weight lifting, weight loss and weight gain, things like pregnancy, stress, age, and even birth control pills can cause your shape to change.

There are some signs that you may need to get fitted for a new bra size

  • Boobs spilling out of the top of the cups (what I was experiencing)
  • The cups caving in at the top because they’re too big (opposite of what I was experiencing)
  • Bulges around your back, at the bottom of your bra strap (meaning your band is too small)
  • Your band moving on your back (your band may be too big)
  • Underwire that feels uncomfortable (your cups may be too small)
  • Straps digging into your shoulders (could be that your cups are too small or bra doesn’t offer enough support for your cup size)
  • Your bra is worn out (doesn’t provide the support it once did)
  • Your bra isn’t comfortable to wear for some other reason

I went to Soma Intimates to get fitted. I went in wearing one of my Soma bras that still fit reasonably well (an old 34DD Allura). I explained to the cheerful sales associate that I’d been 34DD for several years but I thought that perhaps my size had changed and that I needed larger cups. She measured me and said ‘You definitely need a larger cup size! Let’s get you in a 36DDD.’

I was a little shocked, because I hadn’t expected to go up a band size in addition to a cup size. I tried on the 36DDD (in the Embraceable Full Coverage Bra) and it fit perfectly. I tried on a few other 36DDDs, some of which fit and one of which didn’t. I settled on 4 bras from Soma in the store. They had a limited amount of products in my size, which is what I’ve often experienced, no matter what store I go to. I also bought 3 additional bras online. Soma had several of the styles on sale, plus an additional 25% off since their Friends & Family Sale was going on.

Soma Embraceable Full Coverage Bra - Feline 36DDD

I bought 2 of the Embraceable Full Coverage Bra in Feline 36DDD. I also bought one in Light Nude.

Soma Embraceable Full Coverage Lace Trim Bra in Majestic Plum 36DDD

I bought 2 of the Embraceable Full Coverage Lace Trim Bra in Majestic Plum 36DDD. I also bought 2 of these in Black.

Middle Hooks

While the cheerful sales associate helped me with my bra fitting, she imparted two helpful tips.

  • Always hook your bras on the middle rows of hooks. (which I did not know)
  • Always try on different styles of bras, because 36DDD in one cut may not fit you in another. (which I knew)

Bra Size Changes

More Helpful Bra Tips

  • Learn your sister bra size, especially if you’re a full bust size like I am. A 36DDD is a UK 36E. Visit my friend Cora at The Lingerie Addict for awesome recommendations.
  • Make sure you hook your bras before you wash them.
  • Never throw your bras directly into the washing machine. If you don’t want to wash them by hand (and I don’t blame you), buy a lingerie bag (this is the one I own) to put your bras into so you’re protecting them and prolonging their life.
  • Never put your bras into the dryer. It will warp them and ruin them before their time. Let them air dry.
  • When you put your bras away, stash them the way you see them on display shelves, so they don’t lose their shape.
  • Don’t wear the same bra 2 days in a row. You need to rotate bras, switch off, so that they can breathe and retain their shape.
  • Don’t wash a bra after one wear. It’ll wear out faster.
  • You can wear a bra 3 to 5 times before you need to wash it, depending on your comfort level and how much you sweat.
  • I treat sports bras differently. I wear a sports bra only once and I wash them after each use.

The best places to go get fitted are at specialty stores like Soma (Skip Victoria’s Secret, they’re notorious for being  unable to accurately fit people, plus their bras suck if you’re a full bust like I am. Love their panties though!) or to a good department store like Nordstrom.

Have you been fitted for a bra lately? Have any tips to share?

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61 Comments

  • Great tips. I agree that it is important to know your UK bra size, I often buy UK brands and it was confusing at first. I also TOTALLY agree that if you have a fuller bust, a specialty store is a must. Bras from Victoria’s Secret/La Senza/etc. just do not work for me at all.

  • Interesting. I’ve always been told that most of the support provided by a bra is in the band and not the straps. However, the band does stretch over time (as do the straps), and as such, you should always start on the last hook when you first bought the bra, then gradually move in to the other hooks as the band stretch out.

    Yet, I’ve NEVER owned a bra that REALLY fit, because I’m supposed to wear J-M cup and they’re near impossible to find. Not to mention, the ones that I DO find tend to have cups that are so wide they nearly reach my back, as opposed to have the cup volume distributed more towards the front.

    I’m so glad that Genie bras exist.

  • You bra size will always change for whatever reason whether you have apricots to watermelons! Its all about good support for that tissue/muscle so we feel good!!

    Ursula

  • I loathe shopping for bras. I’ve been fitted at Macy’s before but very few places have bras that fit me. I usually leave in tears. In high school I was a 32DD, which was impossible to find in our small town. Now I’m older, heavier and have nursed 3 children so my “girls” are not what they once were. I’m in a 38H right now and it’s still not right. Oh, and all the big bras are always always ugly. I’d love a pretty, functional bra in a color other than beige.

  • Mine went up when I turned 25 – just after I had gone on a lingerie shopping binge (and wore/washed everything at least once). Talk about a complete waste of money! i am a Triumph person; they are so comfy and durable.

  • You know, this is a great point. I run a lot (repeat, A LOT) but have been lifting more to help stave off the dreaded marathon weight gain. (I know it’s counterintuitive, but when you’re running longer miles your body wants to compensate and you’re ridiculously hungry. Luckily, I seem to have found a nutrition balance that works for me.) Lately I’ve been thinking “did my ladies get bigger?” I’m probably the only woman that thinks that’s awful. I’m only a B, but I just don’t want large breasts. I like spending $15 on sports bras vs $60+ for the fuller figured girls. Maybe it’s just that my lats and pecs are getting more toned. Like a She Hulk!

  • I wear a European E so I know how it is with limited bras being available in stores. I stopped buying American brands a while ago and started buying Fantasie and Prima Donna both which are English and have a lot of support. They’re pricier but last for years.

  • I have thee VS bras. My first bras not bought at walmrt. And they did pretty good with me. But now only one really feels comfortable at all. It’s time for a new fitting also. I have heard that Lane Bryant does really good with bigger size boobs. Just the other day a lady an I bit to talking about it. She said they did really good with her. I would think that if u can wear their clothes sizes than they can probably fit u. I want to try them. I don’t know where u buy Soma Bras at and get fitted. I live in a pretty rural town and have to travel even to Lane Bryant. Just wonder what if any price difference would be? To help me decide which way to go. I just can’t handle a big tight wire going under my breasts at all. I would live to find some that r comfy for just hanging around the house that u don’t have to have full support all the time. But that way nipples r not showing thru tshirts when ur son and his friends come in or by. Something like a sports bra with out a lot of support but the elastic doesn’t feel like it’s cutting u in half either. Any ideas?

      • Lane Bryant bras might fit even if you don’t fit their clothing – just depends on your size.

        It sounds like you’d need a smaller band than they carry, though they have oodles of DDD/E/F cup bras (my size range, too, but I have a large band/rib cage, even when I was thin).

        Looking at their site it seems bras start at 36C, so the bands may not be small enough for you.

        But sounds like Soma bras work well for you, so score! Such a great feeling to find comfy support, isn’t it? Too bad us gals with larger busts end up paying so much for that support/fit and quality. Hrrmph!

    • Lane Bryant has my two “holy grail”, all time favourite bras! They’re by their house brand, which is “Cacique “.

      So, a little TMI, but I have a very heavy (and, tbh, saggy) bust after breastfeeding with a huge weight gain and loss, plus two other larger gains/losses and fair, non-elastic skin. Meaning I need a LOT of support from my bras, and the wrong fit and style means straps cut into shoulders leaving dents that don’t go away overnight, and general discomfort… I also really dislike underwires a LOT – even when properly fitted, though due to what I call “side boob” it usually seems the only way I can keep that side of breasts tissue out of my armoits is underwires.

      Enter TWO styles of Lane Bryant bras that nave NO wire, and offer more comfort than any sports bra I’ve worn, but without giving the dreaded “uniboob” that many sports bras give! A miracle, right?! These might not be your ideal bras, but when you mentioned not being able to stand underwire and wanting to be comfy, I totally related and thought my story might help you. 🙂
      Here goes!

      The first discovery was an all-cotton, full-coverage style that has the good parts of sports bras like wide, stretchy straps, firm control (I can bounce in mine and my “girls” barely shift – that’s huge for me!). The wide band under the cups is really comfy, and the area under your arms contains “side boob” totally, and also smoothed out my “back fat” so the bra didn’t create or dig into rolls – which isn’t a look I enjoy, lol. http://m.lanebryant.com/products/p223138

      The next bra I found made me convert from the above bras – I didn’t think I’d ever like anything even more, but these ones are it for me! Again, they shape as though there are wires but there’s only sturdy reinforced stitching where support is most needed. This one has the smooth ‘tshirt’ friendly cups that have no seams to show through your tops. This links to the satin style, but it also comes in a cotton cup style which looks the same (I have both, and both are amazing, IMHO!).

      http://m.lanebryant.com/products/4043c4044p57360

      I’m actually Canadian and ordering clothes from the US can be super expensive, but these are so perfect for me that it’s actually worth crossing the border every couple years to stock up (obviously not possible for everyone, I know).

      Once you find a style and size(s) that work for you, you can easily order more online. Just getting these links now I see there’s some great sales and promos on, which always helps with the cost of getting new bras.

      I’d also suggest checking your area for Lane Bryant Outlet stores. They don’t have all the styles, sizes, and colours, but what they do have is well discounted – I’ve spent under $15 for each bra before, which is amazing for me! But even at full price these bras are totally worth every penny.

      In an online clothing sale and swap group I belong to the large majority of women also have loved their LB bras and recommend them.

      They do cups up to G/H, and I think band sizes start at 38, so it can really help out gals with fuller figures. There are loads of styles, many with underwire but several without, so there’s a good chance of finding something that works.

      Hope this helps you! Sorry for the long reply but I know what finding great bras has done for me – both greatly increased comfort and makes me look much better (and slimmer), too.

      Good luck!

  • Bras are the strangest things ever!! I swear. Going for a fitting will tell you a size you never would have imagined but it’s always right.

  • I’m guilty – I throw mine in the laundry and the dryer. I’m sure I’m due for a fitting too but the last time I had one the bras I bought were so uncomfortable and I never really wear them.

  • I would definitely advocate skipping VS and going to a specialty bra store or Nordstrom, where they will fit you properly. I think a lot of women don’t realize your breast can go back to your arm pit (yay side boob!) and you need to take that into account when figuring out a cup size, usually by leaning forward and actually scooping your whole breast into the cup. Pregnancy and breast-feeding/pumping wrecked havok on my breasts, but I got refitted at a Nordstrom and feel so much better now. I have to give a plug for my favorite brand, Chantelle– pricey but comfortable!! Also, just because you are a cup/band size in one brand does not necessarily mean you will be that size in every brand or style of bra!

    • So happy to hear your Nordstrom love too! Yes, at Soma, they had me lean forward to see how my boobs stayed (or didn’t stay) in the cup of the bra to determine if it was a good fit. And I agree, bra sizing is not universal, so some cuts / brands fit better than others.

    • Girl, I’m giving a shout back for the side boob issue!
      I have a larger gap between my breasts so it can appear I’m not that big… But when I was breastfeeding it became obvious that my bbreast tissue actually goes halfway around the sides of my ribcage, very easy to tell when your breasts fill with milk, lol!

      Now long past nursing, but with heavy breasts, it seemed only wire could hold those suckers in until I found the best bras ive ever worn… No wires! Wires tend to press into that side boob, even when I’ve gotten the apparently correct size. Do you have that problem, by chance?

      I’m Canadian, so no Nordstrom handy here… We have just gotten a couple in bigger cities, so hopefully that will help with bra shopping since I see many women recommend them highly. 🙂

  • I didn’t know to hook my bra before washing them. I wish I could get truly fitted for a bra, but there just aren’t a lot of options for plus-size bands with smaller cups. I order online, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.

  • I hate bra shopping and I found this article very useful.
    I’ve gone up and down in bra size but I tend to ALWAYS get fitted before i buy a bra. You just can’t be sure. For me though despite how much weight I gain or lose, my cup size has stayed the same since my early 20’s (DD) but my band size has gone from 36 to 32. It was only when I was breastfeeding that I went to a gigantic 34G…those were rough days -_-

  • Before I got married, I gained a bit of weight and couldn’t zip up my dress. I spent three months doing weights and exercising every day. My waist and hips trimmed down, but my bust got way bigger. I had to have a seamstress put in panels on the side of the dress. I found out the estrogen can be stored in fat cells, so when some women work off the fat, the released estrogen can make their breasts grow larger. I’ve noticed whenever I lose weight, I get bigger up top. Being pregnant made my bust size go from a DD to G, but that went back down after a few months of breastfeeding my son. PMS bloating also makes my bra size fluctuate. There’s a week each month I can’t wear all my bras.

  • I gave Soma a try after reading great things about the line. Now it’s the only place I purchase bras. I had an excellent fitting, received the proper bra and love the look of Soma. I was doubtful at first because the initial fit was snug. After several weeks I realized I no longer was using my drawer full of VS but was wearing only the Soma bras. One of the joys of growing older for me has been a huge increase in breast size. Soma “gets” that and helps me look better and younger. I also prefer supporting a Florida based company.

    • I didn’t know they were Florida based! That’s so cool! As you know, I live in Tampa, so that makes me doubly pleased with them. So happy to hear of your positive experience too!

      • Soma is owned by Chicos. Chico’s was founded in 1983 as a small boutique selling Mexican folk art and cotton sweaters on Sanibel Island in Florida. Chico’s also owns White House | Black Market and Boston Proper. Tervis Tumblers is also a Florida based company. When you head south on I-75 from Tampa, you can see their factory on the left.

        • I think I knew that Soma and White House | Black Market were owned by the same company, but I didn’t know that they were a FL company. So cool! Thank you!

        • Their factory?! YESSSS!!! Now I just need to hope i choose the right size in their bras as I’d *love* to try their bras, hear such great things about them.

          THANKS!

          • Soma is not manufactured in the USA. Reread the post. I mentioned Tervis Tumblers which are made in Florida. Check out the US company Hanky Panky. Their products ARE all made in the USA. They make the most comfortable long lasting underwear in the world.

    • Wait, this awesome bra company is American?! Do they manufacture in the USA, too?!

      Asking because I live in Canada so ordering clothes from outside the country incurs duties and taxes… BUT if you order merchandise made in the USA or Mexico you don’t pay duty under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)!

      Ooh, hope it’s true as I hear their bras are excellent!!

      Thanks so much, I’m excited!!

        • I thought I’d poke around their site and see if it specified where they manufacture, not just where they’re based…

          But if they don’t note both on their site, I thought I’d ask people who have their bras as it’s probably noted right on the tag!

          Fingers crossed. 😉

  • Thanks so much for this- bra shopping is the worst.

    Victoria’s Secret gets a bad rap, and full disclosure, I am a former employee (though I worked for the Beauty division) but having shopped there, as well as Soma, Nordstrom, and a myriad of other places, I can honestly say the accuracy of your fitting just varies depending on the individual that measures you. I consistently wore 38D-DD at VS, have 36FFs and Gs from Nordstrom fittings, and was once told by a Macy’s fitter that I was a 36B (as in Boy? What?!?) Yes, there has been new thinking in the last few years on how bras should be measured (there’s an awesome Reddit sub that details it) but I honestly haven’t had better luck with bras fitting when sized this way. Of course, I agree that VS needs to expand their size range majorly, but like you said, that’s an issue it’s consistent across the industry.

    OK, sorry, off the soapbox 🙂 During my tenure, I did pick up some additional tips that might help:

    – Always make sure you’re washing your bras in cold water, and even if you’re not worried about the bra losing its shape, never use the dryer. Heat ruins the elastic in the bra, which means less support and shorter product life.

    – We were always taught that bras should initially fit you snugly (but comfortably) when on the loosest setting of hooks. Somewhat snug is very important, because the band is actually what should be supporting your breasts, not the straps. The reason for fitting new bras to the loosest setting is that, as we know, bras lose elasticity as they age- you will need to be able to use the tighter the fittings to accommodate that.

    Just some thoughts. I need a new bra myself…ugh.

  • Ugh, it’s been hell for me to find a nice fitting bra. Despite measuring myself, I’m keep coming up with a 38D and that is so far off. Do you know of anywhere to find bras for a plus size girl with a small bust?

  • My bra size changes all the time. Sometimes swear my hormones do things to my boobs (depending on the time of the month) and I need a different size bra from one week to the next.

  • GREAT Article! !!! I have gain weight. I was very flat chested and always wanted boobs.
    Now I have them from the weight. I don’t want them !!! Alot of what you said, was greatly appreciated. I needs a good fitting.
    Thank you.
    I think i have Soma store close by.
    Beautiful choices you purchased.

    Thanks
    Paulette

  • Awesome post! I struggle finding bra´s that fit me and where my boobs don´t spill. And stupid Victoria Secret never has my size in store. And then I get the”look”. lol. Playtex is the only brand that I found that does the job. Ladies tend to buy too small cup size for sure. The next problem are bikinis. Awful subject lol! 😉 Love your choices- so pretty!!!!

    • It’s definitely frustrating! I didn’t expect to go up a band size + cup size, but me spilling out of the cups was a definite sign. Victoria’s Secret is not a place I trust for bras unless it’s for a friend who is an A or B cup, because a lot of their bras just don’t fit well.

  • Thanks for this post! Very informative and such a positive tone. I appreciate it! I finally got properly fitted for the first time about a year after my first baby arrived. It was life-changing. Seriously. I wish I could shop at Soma– they have such pretty things. But my size is pretty limiting (36G). Thankfully, the ladies at Nordstrom were able to help me out!

    • Nordstrom is definitely a great place to go. I woul have gone there if there was one closer to me but after driving around all day yesterday, I went to Soma since it’s by my home. It’s amazing when you can get a comfortable bra that you can wear all day that doesn’t hurt.

  • You might check Lane Bryant. I know you are not plus size, but I LOVE their bras. I would buy several of one type in different colors. I buy mine online now but I hope it may work for you!

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