By Marcy Montgomery Jones
I recently heard one of my coworkers talking with another woman – let’s call her Maxine. Maxine said that when she buys brand new bras, she always uses bra extenders. That concept floored me. Maxine vehemently insisted that she’s a 36DDD, and that her size requires her to use these accessories. She proclaimed, “DDD, that’s my cup size,” and wouldn’t listen to reason. After my coworker realized her breath was lost trying to convince Maxine otherwise, she gave up. This post is dedicated to Maxine and anyone else who wears bra extenders.
Get ready for Level 2 of bra enlightenment.
I’m sure that you already understand that every bra has a band size (34, 36, 38) and a cup size (A, B, C, D). But, did you know that that these two measurements aren’t created independently of each other? Cup sizes are, in fact, dynamic and are dependent upon the band size with which they’re paired. The volume of breast that a B-cup attached to a 34 holds is not the same as the volume that a B-cup attached to a 36 holds, and so on. Each band size remains constant (a 36 is always a 36), but the pattern of each cup size, and its resulting frame, expands as it’s paired with larger band sizes. This is the reason why crossover bra charts exist. If someone you meet refers to crossover bra cup sizing, let alone explains how it works, you should listen to her. That person understands bra construction.
The chart above illustrates how this relationship works. The volume held by a 34B’s cup is the same amount of volume held by a 32C. A 42B holds the same volume as a 34DDD. It blows your mind, doesn’t it? Of course, the 42B will have to spread the volume out over more of the wearer’s frame. Thus, the breasts of a 42B will have little projection, but greater width. The breasts of a 34DDD, on the other hand, will have ample projection but will rest more compactly on the wearer’s frame. Of course, under no circumstance should someone skip that many sizes to find a well-fitting cup. The comparison simply illustrates the point.
Crossover sizing is important when you run into problems in the fitting room. Let’s say you’re trying on a 38D, the band is riding up on your back, but the cup fits you like a glove. What should you do? You should try on a 36DD. The cup will hold the same amount of volume as the 38D, but the band will be tighter and won’t ride up. Assuming you’ve been measured correctly, it’s typically not a good idea to cross over more than one cup size in either direction. Doing so will most likely cause the bra’s size to be disproportionate to your breasts and frame.
You can now offer Maxine some help. If she loves her DDD cups, but has to use a bra extender, which size would you recommend that she tries? … Instead of her 36DDD, you could recommend that she try on a 38DD. Its cups will accommodate her needs, but she’ll be able to pitch her extensive collection of extenders.