Sunday, March 18, 2012

Me and my Mythical Bra Size

Did you know that my bra size doesn't exist?

Well, according to most stores I've come across, it doesn't.

Some background:

If you've been to department stores (Kohls, Pennys, Macys) in the U.S., you know that the sizing there, no matter what your size or viewpoint is, is extremely limited. The only way you'll have a good chance of finding a bra in your size is if you are a 32A, 32B, 34A, 34B, 34C, 36A, 36B, 36C (8 sizes). If you're very lucky, you'll find sizes like 34D, 36D, 38A, 38B, 38C, 38D (6 more sizes). If you're extremely lucky (and if you go into a well-stocked Victoria's Secret), you might even come across sizes like 32C, 32D, 32DD, 34DD, 36DD, 38DD (6 more sizes). Thus, if you're fortunate enough to live somewhere where there's no Nordstrom or good boutique shops, you'd better fit into one of just 20 (or less) sizes if you want to be able to try on or buy a bra in person.

No wonder so many people think that a 32 band is only for tiny people. No wonder so many girls think that D and DD cups are huge. They've never seen anything smaller than a 32 band, or anything bigger than a D or DD, sold in stores. Or if they've ever seen a 30 band, it was for an A or B cup in the pre-teen section.

This is a big problem. Of all the friends I've helped figure out correct bra sizes, they've gone from one of the 8-20 "common" sizes to something that can't easily be found in U.S. stores (if at all) - making the sizes "nonexistent" to many retailers/stores .
Such as:
34C to 30F
34A to 30C
36C to 32DD
34B to 28DD
34D to 32F
36DD to 30G
36D to 32E

Most of the above women would not be able to find their sizes in stores at all in the U.S, unless they were fortunate enough to live near a Nordstrom (or boutique) and that store happened to stock their size (very, very unlikely for 28 bands, somewhat better chance for 30 bands; also very unlikely for GG+ cups). Then they would end up paying somewhere between $65-$85+ for a bra when they've been used to paying less than $20.

So some of them decide to go through the process of ordering online. Some of them give up and just wear an ill-fitting bra because finding a bra that fits well is such a hassle - and they think that they should fit into the small range of sizes that are sold in-store. Most of them are appalled at the small selection of items that are available in stores. "It's not fair," I've heard them say.

And it isn't.

This is why I do what I do. If I show everyone that a girl with a 28-band isn't just some mythical, twig-like creature, maybe some girls will realize that bands below 32 do exist, and they're not freakish for feeling like bands are always too big for them. If I tell everyone over and over that I wear a GG (or sometimes G, or H, or HH) cup, then maybe a few people will realize that the alphabet doesn't stop at D, that there are lots of options out there, that well-fitting bras do exist, that wearing a D cup or above isn't some strange, shameful thing.

A 28GG bra. See? It exists. It's not freakishly huge.
And it isn't right that many places that are supposed to sell bras to fit "any woman" instead have workers who insult you or tell you they don't believe you're the size you know you are, or that your size does not exist. (Yes, this has happened to me at not only Victoria's Secret, but at Nordstrom, Dillards, and boutique shops.) I know I may have an "unusual" bra size, but I'm not willing to just sit back and say "Oh, that's just the way things are" when it comes to the sizing methods and bra offerings of most stores. I may have resigned myself to ordering solely online, but I'm sick and tired of having to tell everyone else that "Oh, sorry, they don't sell your real bra size in most stores either. You'll have to order online." I'm tired of having to prep other girls for being insulted or told they're wrong when they go looking for their size.  Thanks, stores, for making us feel like freaks because we don't fit into an extremely limited size range! And also, stop trying to cover up this abysmally small selection by trying to squeeze everyone into a certain range.

Stores will try to tell you that you're wrong, that you're a freak because you don't fit into a 34C, or whatever size they think you should be. But they're wrong. You're not a freak. Don't let yourself be restricted by what they've been telling you, by what society tells you. Your body isn't the problem.

48 comments:

  1. I am extremely shocked to find that New Zealand actually does a better job than the US does in regards to sizing. I can easily go to Bras N Things or Bendon and get a 30F bra (and in Bendon occasionally I can even get up to 30Gs). Except for boutiques I can't get any 28 band bras, of course, and Farmers and Body stock only 30A and 30B, but so far the women I have fitted have been able to get bras in actual stores.

    Unfortunately, it's still a lot more expensive than buying the "normal" sizes, so I also feel incredibly bad that I'm telling these women that they can feel better...if they spend more money and can never trust most bra fitters again.

    Even more unfortunately, buying online over here is more expensive than buying in stores because of how much shipping costs :(

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    1. I am glad that ordering online in the US really isn't too much of a hassle (other than the few weeks' wait and shipping costs from UK sites). I just wish more places would acknowledge smaller bands/larger cups! It's interesting to hear about what the bra situation is like in other countries.

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  2. I'm a 40B. Trust me, I can relate on the mythical bra size issue! Anyone with a 40 or larger band is apparently supposed to be blessed with at least a C cup. Unfortunately I inherited my dad's rib-cage & shoulders, and missed out completely on my mom's breasts. (Put my mom in the right bra & she gives Adrienne Barbeau a run for her money!)

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    1. Yes, even though I tend to pay more attention to small band sizes when shopping, I've noticed that larger band sizes can be just as difficult to find! They seem to want to squeeze everyone possible into 34-36 bands.

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  3. Great post! You know I agree with you 100%. :)

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  4. I am a natural 34D (right now- they seem to still be growing even tho I'm 25) and I've been having a really hard time finding anything outside of Victoria's Secret to fit me well. There the bras are so expensive and I'm not okay with paying that much. If I come across one elsewhere they are all nude, black, or white and I love cute bras but evidently that's no longer an option. Now they are making bikinis in bra sizing to "fit you better" and it's really frustrating for me cause they do not fit ME at all. Thanks for the article- lets me know I'm not alone in my annoyance. Also, thanks for letting me vent a little :)

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    1. Hey, this is a great place to vent! :)
      Have you checked your size with a good bra calculator recently? (see this post http://boosaurusbras.blogspot.com/2012/03/bra-sizing-calculators.html)
      It may be that you're having a hard time finding a bra/bikinis that fits you well because you need a somewhat different size than you've been wearing. Never hurts to check!

      If you live near a Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, or Dillards, they'll have 34D bras. Also, there's a bunch of online stores that I made a list of that carry just about every size out there! http://boosaurusbras.blogspot.com/2012/01/bra-fitting-finding-bra-online.html

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    2. Weird question, but if you're still getting bigger at 25 and not generally gaining weight overall, are you on the pill? I have recently discovered that I'm oestrogen sensitive and I gain cup sizes when I'm on the pill - it's more common that you might think. If you're over 21 and gaining cup sizes without gaining much weight year on year (a steady 1 cup size every 12 months for me) then discuss the possibility with your GP.
      Unfortunately coming off the pill doesn't make you shrink much, but it does usually stop the increase. Also unfortunately I was a J cup by the time I discovered this, so check it out sooner than later. There are alternatives like progesterone only pills that offer as good protection from pregnancy without this side effect.

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    3. That could be a good point, Anon, although breast size does fluctuate throughout life with or without the pill! I just recently went up a cup size, for instance. Most fitters recommend you get refitted at least every year or so (no matter your age) just to check and see if you've changed!

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    4. im a 34D as well and ik its hard to find them i look everywhere i went with my mom to ross and found this cute zebra one and it was less than $10 i also went to target and found one on clearance if it helps i just get real upset when i go to a store to look for one and they dont have my size

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    5. hello! late to the party, but i can totally relate to what you were discussing about breast growth from birth control pills. i started developing breasts very early, when i was seven turning eight (freaky, i know!). my breasts stopped growing when i was around 16, and my bra size was a 32B. that's the plus four bra size. i started taking birth control pills in august 2009. now, i am 27 years old, and i have recently found out that my current size is already 24H, or 28F if you use the plus four method. that's up one cup size from last year. and i have been consistently gradually losing weight even before i started taking the pill.

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  5. Great post! As a girl who wear 30G I often struggle with this as well. I am lucky that we have a national chain called 'Change' here in Denmark, which do carry bands down to 30 (rarely 28) and cups up to H (and sometimes I). I am so grateful for this, especially since ordering online is a nightmare here - you have to pay a fortune for both shipping and returns.

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  6. Really like your blog! Glad to know it isn't just the UK ladies on a bra-fitting mission!! I am a curvy, nerdy girl in the mid-west and I don't exist either. Manufacturers in the US need to figure out that full-busted and full-figured are not the same thing. I'm 5"3, I wear a size 6 in pants from most stores, yet a 32HH/30J bra. I call myself a curvy woman on a small frame...
    It is so much cheaper for me to buy bras on ebay, but I really want to show my local Nordstrom that I exist. I bought a Panache not too long ago that was cheaper, even with international shipping, from Bravissimo. But Bravissimo already knows there is such a thing as my body type... So, I'll keep forking over $60+ to try and let them know that I am here and I will buy bras if they actually stock them!

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    1. I love this post. I am glad to know I am not the only woman who is curvy on a small frame. I wear a 30J and am limited to Bravissimo stores. Though I love the store as without them I seriously do not know what I would do, but I wish we were not so discriminated against and forced to spend so much money on just ONE bra. However, I am glad that here in the UK they have a better attitude towards our curvy sizing. This post brings me back to a time I visited Florida hoping I would get a bra in my size and the sales assistant was trying to squeeze me into their largest size 30GG. She had never heard of 30J.

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  7. When I was 28 and sized a 32 band, I could have wrote your piece above. One thing, slender 28,30,32 do exist as well as larger in those bandsizes. In 1989 the only place I could find a 32D,DD,DDD was at a Christinas. Then later I was delighted to find VS,now VS 32 band is too big and their triple is too small.


    I have bought from Wacoal, they have 30/32 d,dd,ddd and in B Tempted, in lightly lined,unlined,seamed and seamless, supprtive and inexpensive - I buy straight from their site or at a Macys. I live in the states in Wyoming.


    Another thing I have experienced is the thinking you can't have big boobs D cup or more if your slender, only big have big boobs, so thinking runs both ways.

    VM

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  8. And this is not even taking into account that I can be a TOTALLY different cup size at different times of the month! How unfortunate is it to have to buy the big cup size bras for "those" times, and the littler ones for the rest of the month.

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  9. FYI VS is now carrying DDD (I felt like it was a small DDD though, but at least it's something?)

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    1. Nic, I believe that VS has had some bras in a DDD cup for some time, but usually only online (not in stores). From the website, though, it does look like more bras are offered in 32-40 DDD than before! You're right, it is something, but it really doesn't mean too much if VS is still promoting terrible fitting habits and advice :/
      I think you're right, too, that it's probably a small DDD; I believe VS bras are sized before padding is added. Thus VS bras technically only go up to a UK size DD.

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    2. VS's 32 DD is large in the band small in the cup and their DDD isn't much better. Since I'm sixteen and still growing it would be SOOOO nice to be able to buy a 30 G and not spend 60$. Bra's should be sold in all sizes for cheap.

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  10. That's true. I live in Finland and finding my size (30G, but perhaps 28GG would fit better) is close to impossible. I wouldn't like to spend a lot of money to bras because my breasts are still growing, but unfortunately that seems to be the only option. Buying online could be a good idea, but I don't know anything about it.

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    1. I'm a 30G as well (possibly 28GG too :P), and although I haven't been able to find a 28GG here in Denmark, I've found a great chain which usually always have 30G's (+ great sales!). The chain is called 'Change' and I just checked and they have a lot of shops in Finland as well, so maybe there would be one near you? http://change.com/da/butikker

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    2. Anonymous, have you ever taken a look at the blog http://branightmares.blogspot.com/? She's a different size than you (around 40H), but she's from Finland and blogs in both Finnish and English. I believe she has to order mostly online, too, but you might find some helpful advice there? x
      There are lots of great online bra shops (I have a post with a list of them) to check out if you decide to go that route! :)

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  11. I just found this blog and discovered that I'm not alone in having a small band and large cup size. So, thank you for blogging about these supposed mythical sizes such as my new 30G size. Although, variety in stores might change throughout the U.S. because I'm in California and have never had too much difficulty finding my incorrect size 34DD and my mother's 38DDD in many department stores like Kohls, JC Penny, and Macy's.

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  12. I haven't tried VS DDD bras yet since I am usually one cup size larger than that and ordering online is a big hassle for such a long shot. However, my experience when I was a few cup sizes smaller was that most of their DDs ran true to size if not a bit large. If you're a true DDD, you might give their dream angels one a shot...it runs big enough that that's the one they always want to try to squeeze me in when I tell them I won't be buying the bra to match my panties because it doesn't come in my size.

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  13. Does anyone else find that they need larger and larger cups ever time they get fitted? I I am now up to a 32H (and sometimes that is a tight squeeze) so a lot of the bras I like (that tend go up to a G cup) are now not an option. Has anyone got any suggestions about good brands for 32H and up? Thanks.

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  14. I can't tell you how beyond refreshing this is to read! We have the exact same situation here in Australia, I'm a 32GG/H (depending on the brand) and here in Sydney there are literally only a handful of stores that stock those sort of sizes (and they all cost a limb and a half - which is difficult when you're only a student!)

    Growing up I always thought a DD was like Pamela Anderson and until I became a 32E, I didn't even know that bra size existed. Most women's knowledge of bras and sizing is terrible and I've lectured a few of my close female friends recently about how DD cup isn't as big as it's made out to be, and how even some women in advertising campaigns for certain bra stores (shout out to Victoria's Secret) aren't even wearing the correct size. How are women to know when this is what we're shown?

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  15. As what I read from other informative article that chances are, you aren’t wearing the right bra size — roughly 85% of women are in the wrong bra, and even for the lucky 15%, it’s almost impossible to just have one bra size.

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    1. Hey Leigh, thanks for the comment! You're right, no one will really be one size in every brand and bra they try - for example, I currently wear a 28H, 28HH, 26J, 30GG, or 28J, depending on the brand and fit of the bra!

      Most women who are wearing the wrong bra size are simply wearing a band that is too large and a cup that is too small. Measuring yourself correctly will give a much better idea of what your correct size is!

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  16. It's frustrating when people don't believe you. I did my own measurements, and came out with a rib cage of 30 inches and a breast circumference of 36.5, which, if I've been told how to measure correctly, is between a 30E and a 30F. While my breasts do look large, people hear the size and scoff, not realizing that cup size is a ratio thing and that an F cup on someone my size will not be the same amount of flesh as on someone with a 40 inch rib cage.

    Literally the only place I've come across, in terms of an actual physical store, that carries even F cups is a Fredrick's of Hollywood that's relatively close to me (and by relatively close, I mean about a 45 minute drive), and they only have down to 34 in F cups, so that's what I've been making do with.

    Victoria's Secret not only measured me completely wrong (I'm a 38C? What the hell.), but when I went in at a later date and asked if they had my size, the sales girl rolled her eyes and gave me a very condescending speech about how, no, my breasts aren't that size, and that they don't carry "fetish size" bras anyway.

    I'm sick of this attitude. I love your post, though, and it was well articulated. Hopefully more people will read it and realize that unusual breasts do, in fact, exist.

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  17. Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez in Aliens) opened her own bra store (Jenette Bras) in Pasadena, CA in 2011 because she could never find her bra size. She tells an interesting story about how Jewish girls were taken to a bra shop to be measured. She frowns on how in this modern world you just don't get that service anymore-how she was always told to settle for a 32 band even though it was way too big--she's a 30F.

    I was a 34/36 C for most of my adult life and had supposedly learned how to measure myself in Home EC class--then one day at Dillard's, I mentioned how my shoulders hurt all the time. The saleslady suggested that I was wear too small a size. That just because I was smallish didn't mean I didn't need a bigger cup size. I went home and measured--sure enough I was a D cup (probably bigger--I just wasn't ready to consider a DD yet. Now I'm a 38/40 DDD/F but I can barely wear a DD in most bra brands because I am so short waisted and well, the price of a DDD/F is unbelievable. My shoulders kill me sometimes and I went to a Genie bra for awhile and once again tried an underwire in a DD from Macy's online--it was a bra I already had in a D cup--the cups came way up under the arms and almost to my collarbone--I felt like I was wearing steal breast plates. Here's why I didn't go into Macy's--the last time I did I overheard the two sales girls laughing at some black women who had just left. Laughing that the women thought that fat girl with them could wear that size bra. I was appalled--I reported them and said they had no business working with actually people. What is it with some women who can be so thoughtless when if comes to other women and their sizes. I will leave my bra buying to online from now--safer than me ending up in getting into a fight---hahaha (hope this didn't publish twice)

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  18. I have measured myself using instructions I found from someone on YouTube, and determined that I am a 30F. I thought that that was ridiculous, I'm 15, how could I be an F? Then I read somewhere that the cup size is actually relative to the band size, which means a 30F is actually not such a huge cup. After that, I began looking for a store where I could try on 30F bras to see if that really was my size, but I quickly determined that the average store does not carry them, so I started reading again. I found this post and read the bit about how the wrong band size can make your back hurt... I thought that my back hurt because I spend so much time playing in an orchestra, you know, sitting up straight with a violin on my shoulder, that can hurt one's back, I thought, but if a bra that fits will make that pain go away (or even lessen it a bit), then that is now my quest. So here I am sitting in my 32C from Victoria's Secret, where they actually tried to tell me that I am a 34B, with a hurting back. This makes no sense, my ribcage measures 30", why would I wear a 34 band? I guess I will drive an hour to the closest Nordstrum or something.

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    1. I understand your frustration! There are lots of great online options for ordering bras (or check out places like http://www.reddit.com/r/abrathatfits for more sizing and shopping info), or Nordstrom should have some options if you make it over there. Good luck! A well-fitting bra should definitely help with back issues.

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    2. @Grace Fellows Even with a bra that fits, string players benefit from some strength training. Push-ups are excellent and can be done anywhere. You'll feel better if you address the wardrobe AND the workout!

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    3. I had the same experience with Victoria's secret two years ago my breasts aren't dune growing yet but measured them 32A at the time and the straps wear digging into my shoulders so when I exchanged it they gave me a 34A that eliminated the problem with the straps back then my bust measured 35 around I notice the band and around the cups leave red marks I have exchanged the bra to get the right fit so when I gain more growth the bra will still fit because I don't want to spend another 44 dollars to replace the bra when its still like bran new and my cup size is bigger and now they measure a small 37 around the bust so I'm wearing a that bra in a 34C that's going by the add 4 method I'm on the second hooks now and no indents red marks from the straps around the band and the wireless part of the cup yes it dues leave red marks and indents so their method is off some wear. I have bean doing some research and found out I'm a completely different size altogether my ribcage measures 30 inches under the bust so how would that be 34 and a small 37 bust that makes my 30F give or take depending how they letter the cup size yeah quite a shock now wear to get that size for a descant price that wont cost an arm and a leg to get a new set of bras.

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  19. I'm sitting here in a 32C and my back hurts! I've been looking everywhere for a 30F, which is what I've measured myself to be. It's so frustrating!

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  20. It's crazy, people always complain that small band sizes with large cups are hard to find, but since they complain so much there are actually tons of online stores that specialize in these kinds of bras. But you know what I am? A 28B. This bra size is literally NONEXISTENT! I HAVE NOT FOUND ONE 28B BRA ANYWHERE ON THE INTERNET!
    Okay I needed to get that out :P

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    1. I feel your frustration - petite band/cup combos can be extremely difficult to come by! Have you checked out The Little Bra Company? They do offer some lovely options in 28B. You may also find that 30A in some companies that run firm in the band could also work for you. Venusian*Glow also has a helpful roundup post: http://www.venusianglow.com/2010/08/very-small-cups-with-very-small-bands.html

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  21. What's infuriating is when some "fitting professional" tries to cram my 30J self in a 36DD. Makes me look like I have 4 breasts with the muffin top. I know that the 30J Freya fits so order online. Busty girls get left out clothes wise. Why anyone wants a bust outside those 8 or so sizes Iis beyond me.

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  22. I've recently found out I'm a 36FF- and I'm now trying to figure out where I even buy that size. I really appreciated your article to help me realize I'm not alone- and that I can just buy them online!

    http://tallvegetarian.wordpress.com/

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  23. Oh my goodness, this post is brilliant!!! I've been bra shopping in Target and Kmart (in Australia) and always thought I was a 14 DD. Went to try and find a new bra today and found that the DD cups on the size 16 was too small but the band was too big. But they don't stock anything above a DD!?!?! Going to get professionally fitted in the New Year and I'll probably fall into the non-existent category. :(

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  24. Hi I have surched every where for bras I have brought them on line and they are either too big or too small .. I hate the thing and take them off as soon as I walk in the door .my size is a funny one I am big shouldered and small breast I am also 62 yrs old so they are facing south,, my size is 127cm bust and 117cm band if anyone out there can help I would love to here from you Lorraine

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  25. Hi I am a size 28GG and I have been looking for some place to buy a bra from. Do you know anywhere in Southern California??? I really can't seem to find anything online and my bra now is just uncomfortable and I have it jimmy-rigged for support. The measurement around, under my breasts is 70 Cm;27.5 in. The measurement for around, on my breasts, with a bra on is 89 Cm;35 in. Can you or anyone help?

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    1. Hi there, you might check out The Enchantress in San Diego :) Nordstrom stores should have 30G, which may work okay for you, and they'll alter the band for free from what I hear.

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  26. Like how you said finding 32A was easy. I cant find that size anywhere unless i goto victoria secret. Cant find any 30B either which would be my alternative size

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  27. I use to wear a 34C but one day decided to do an online bra size calculator because I was going to need a bigger cup size soon, my measurements were 27 inches underbust and 32.5 Bust making me a 30DD or 30E, which fit me way better.

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  28. By the way, Great post, it's so true!

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  29. I'm 22 and a natural perky 34D, although with the BC that I take they seem to keep growing. Finding a bra in my size feels like hunting for unicorns, darn impossible. The only place I have ever found my size is Kohl's but the cuts and designs are very limited and the prices are sky high. My best friend is getting married this weekend so I decided to buy a new dress for the occassion (finding a dress that fits me is a whole other hassle) After finally finding a cute dress that fit properly I realized that I would have to buy a strapless, low back bra to wear with it. If 34D isn't hard enough to find, try finding one with padded support and removeable straps....In the end I wound up returning the dress and opting to wear something I already own, that won't require a bra hunt.

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