Smaller Girls with Smaller Busts – a different fitting challenge

image from

I tend to talk a lot about thinner women with bigger busts in my blog, but smaller-framed women with smaller busts have unique fitting challenges all of their own. Although there are an number of companies out there who cater to women who are a 30F or a 28H (even if just online), there are markedly fewer who cater to women who have even smaller bands and/or smaller cups – sizes like 28C or 26DD. For one thing, most women in this latter category have had the notion pushed on them time and time again that they are tiny, that they have “tiny boobs,” and that they couldn’t be more than an A or B cup. So, unaware that there are other options, they struggle with bands and cups that are too big, a lack of support from bras, and the feeling that maybe bras just aren’t for them.

I came across a Youtube video the other day by a petite woman (Jen from frmheadtotoe) who addresses some of these issues. It’s a bit long, but the way she comes to realize that she doesn’t have to be stuck just wearing the smallest size she can find at Victoria’s Secret is really enlightening.

In the video, Jen talks about how she’s always just worn 32A bras because those were the smallest ones she could find. However, she’s always had problems like the band being too loose, the cups being too big, etc.

Now, the one thing she does that’s a little off in the video is measuring above her bust instead of the proper way of measuring under it. Measuring over the bust (an incorrect method used by some stores) will give most people a measurement that is several inches too big for their band size. However, because her frame is small all around, she still manages to make the pretty revolutionary discovery that a 32 band is definitely too big for her and that bands below 32 do exist. She ends up finding that a 28B (from The Little Bra Company) is a much better fit than her previous too-big 32A. I would go a step further and say a 26C or even a 24D may work even better for her, depending on what her actual underbust measurement is (which the band measurement should be based off of).

Here’s where many people get hung up, though. “C or a D??” you might gasp. “Why, there’s no way she can be that big of a cup! A C cup is big! A D cup is HUGE!”

Hold up! Cup sizes are relative to band sizes. A cup letter means nothing without the band measurement attached to it – the letter just indicates the difference between the underbust and bust measurement. A 24D and a 38D are two very different sizes. A 24D bra is, approximately, for a woman who measures 24″ under her ribcage, and her bust measurement is 4″ larger than that. On the other hand, a 38D bra is made for a woman with a very different build, but the approximate same relative proportions – one who measures 38″ under her ribcage and has a bust measurement that is 4″ greater than her underbust measurement.

Thus, a 24D would actually be quite small, the cup on it being about equal in volume to a 26C, 28B, 30A, and 32AA (this is the principle of “sister sizing” – going up one cup size and down one band size each time to keep the same cup volume). The band measurement is what’s important here. A “24D” means that a woman with a 24 inch ribcage has a bust that measures about 4 inches more than her ribcage. A “30A” means that a woman with a 30 inch ribcage has a bust that measures about 1 inch more than her ribcage. The cup volume is about the same on both these sizes, but the cup shape will be different (and the band will be very different).

Virtually all Victoria’s Secret models should be wearing sub-30 bands, and yet VS doesn’t sell any sub-30 bras (and very few in a 30 band), and their bras fit their models poorly (like this one) – talk about sending the wrong message!

The biggest problem for very small-framed girls? Besides Ewa Michalak, who will do them by custom order, there are no companies that currently make 24-band bras. 26-bands are starting to fare a little bit better; besides Ewa Michalak custom order, The Big Bra Bar is currently piloting a bra in a 26 band (in cup sizes DD, FF, G, GG, and H), and well-known brand Panache plans to offer a bra in a 26 band in March of next year (I would guess in cup sizes D-G). This is great news for girls who need a bra smaller than a 28 – and I gather that more companies will follow in Panache’s footsteps and start offering 26 bands. Hopefully some will even start offering 24-band bras!

Koralik bra from Ewa Michalak

Still, even with a few more options, girls who are a 26-band and below a DD (or above an H, like Brittany from Thin and Curvy) cup, or girls who should wear a 24 band, are currently stuck with either the custom-order option or with altering larger bands down (which generally will distort the cups at least a little).

Another, possibly bigger, problem, though, is that most girls who are smaller with smaller busts don’t know their options. They don’t believe that they could be any cup size larger than an A, and they’ve never heard of a band size below a 32. Often a 32B, or whatever size they’re wearing, is “good enough” for them, and they don’t want to take the trouble to go find a 28D – which, to them, sounds like a crazy, nonexistent size that they couldn’t possibly be (despite the fact that it’s equal in cup volume to a 32B). They just aren’t aware that there might be better options out there for them, or that a better-fitting bra will be more comfortable, make their boobs and clothes look better, and support them better (and inspire new confidence!).

If you’ve measured yourself and figured out that you’re a size that is very difficult to find, do something about it! Most good bra companies will listen to customers and bloggers. The companies who are offering or planning to offer a bra in a 26 band are doing so because of the many women who requested/demanded the option.

If you’ve previously worn something like a 34A and found that you’re probably more like a 28D, you’re not weird! Remember, cup size is relative to band size, and (despite what the media says), a D cup isn’t “huge” – actually, it’s quite average, and all it really means is “about a 4 inch difference between ribcage and bust measurement.” Cup sizes go up to L+, and with so many letters, it makes sense that many women will be above a D cup rather than under it.

Where to Find Bras for Small Frames:
28-30 A-C: The Little Bra Company (online or local) as well as other local boutiques (Nordstrom may have options for 30 bands); also check out the Guide to Online Bra Stores and Brittany’s post on Resources for Small Busts
28 D+: see Guide to Online Bra Stores or check out boutiques in your area
26 DD+: Check out The Big Bra Bar’s pilot 26-band bra, and anticipate more options from more companies in 2013!
24-26 bands: contact Ewa Michalak

Do you (or does someone you know) need a sub-28 band? There are more women who fit into this category than you might think – I am by no means a very tiny-framed person, yet my underbust still measures less than 28 inches and I generally wear a 28 band. There are many, many women who have smaller frames than I do – they need and deserve to have the right bra size too!