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European Bra Size versus American Bra Size – What’s the Difference?

One of our fabulous Customer Service Representatives, LaBresha, emailed me recently and told me many of our customers ask about the difference between European bra sizes and America bra sizes.  She then suggested I blog on the subject.  Well LeBresha, thank you for your suggestion, and here you go!

Let me begin with a little history.  The bra cup letter sizing as we know it today was first introduced in 1935 by The Warners Company.  Shortly after this measuring system was accepted in the US, the European corset manufacturers followed.

The numbers used today for our bra band size (e.g. 34, 38 etc.) were devised shortly after WWII.  Back then, women with the measurements of 36-24-36 were determined to be the ideal hourglass silhouette of the day.  But, since the band size represents a woman’s underbust measurement, the true measurement would be something more like a 28 or 32. Now, this is where marketing came in.  The industry decided to have the bra band sizes sound more appealing to women.  So, they took the underbust measurement, added 4-5 inches to it, and came up with the band sizes that we use today. This is why you add the 4 or 5 inches to your underbust measurement when you are calculating your bra band size.

So, now let’s talk about cup sizing today. A recent inquiry came to us from a woman stating that she’s a 36F in European bra sizing.  She wanted us to tell her what her US bra size would be.  There is no easy answer to her question, unfortunately.  This is because there is no consistancy in bra sizing between European brands and American brands when it comes to cup sizes larger than a D.  Over the years, various bra manufacturers, in their attempt to be unique, have varied their bra sizing from the traditional naming of cup size.  It used to be that American manufacturers would size their bra cups as follows: AA, A, B, C, D, DD, DDD, DDDD.  European manufacturers sized their cups: AA, A, B, C, D, E, F, G.  But, British manufacturers had their own scheme: AA, A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF.  So you can now see why it would be difficult to convert one size to another.

Here is my personal suggestion to women who have breasts larger than a D cup, and want to find their bra size in a different brand.  Know how many cup sizes larger you are than a D, and then you can always find your correct size.  Cup sizing up through a D is universal.  The grading of cup sizing is also universal.  Therefore, if you know you are 3 cup sizes larger than a D, you can simply find the D cup size on any bra manufacturer sizing chart, count up 3 cup sizes from there, and that will be your size.  Here’s is an example: suppose you know you are a DDD cup in the US which is 2 cup sizes larger than a D cup.  Using our cup sequences method, you would be an F cup in the European example, and an E cup in the British example.

But let me make it even easier for you.  At HerRoom, we have this great fitting chart we always keep current that compares all the brands we offer.  Simply find your cup size under the brand you know fits, then go up and down the column to determine your size in other brands.

fitting chart

Now what about band size?  Well, thank goodness this is pretty standard across all brands.  However, some European brands do like to use the centimeter number to identify your underbust measurement – and they don’t add 4 to 5 inches to make it sound better.  So, a 32 band size would be a 70, a 34 band size would be a 75, a 36 would be an 80 and so on.  The good news here is that at HerRoom, we only offer traditional band sizing for all our items, regardless of country of origin.

So there you have it.  It’s really not that difficult to understand and adjust to once you know the system.  And of course, if you have any further sizing questions, my ace Customer Service Representatives like LaBresha are there to give you any assistance you need.

 

 

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Dorothy
    December 16, 2008 at 5:01 am

    I don’t understand one thing. Why did bra manufacturers think that naming a band “34” would be more appealing than naming the same band “28”? It seems to be quite the opposite of vanity sizing.

  • Reply
    sexy
    May 17, 2009 at 7:15 am

    very confused.

  • Reply
    Bonnie
    June 5, 2009 at 6:28 am

    It doesn’t make sense to still be adding all those inches to our band measurements now that bands are made out of spandex and stretch up to 10″!

    I have a 27″ ribcage and wear a 28C. In the brands I wear it doesn’t even come close to being too tight. A 32A was madly uncomfortable, slid all around and the underwires were too small.

    I think you should give some thought to overhauling your measurement system.

    Other than this issue, I love the site and blog.

  • Reply
    Miguel Rosas
    October 5, 2009 at 5:40 am

    My fionce lives in Iran and i want to buy some interior clothes for her, her Bra is 75B and 38/40 panties. Can some one help me to convert this numbers to the right USA size,, Thanks for your help…

    A 75B is a 34B. and a 38 = extra small, and 40 = small. Tomima

  • Reply
    Maria H.
    February 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “Cup sizing up through a D is universal. The grading of cup sizing is also universal.”

    Sorry, but this is b***sh** and your chart is worthless too.

    US and UK manufacturers increase cups by 1 inch, 2.54 cms. Continental European manufacturers increase cupsizes by 2 cms. Thus if you go up 5 cupsizes from D in a European bra you need to go up 4 cupsizes from D in a US or UK bra.

    Take a look: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cupumrechnung_en.png

    To make this even more complicated some manufacturers like Empreinte increase cupsizes by 3 cms.

  • Reply
    Sophia
    June 28, 2011 at 6:48 am

    I’m not entirely sure whether you are suggesting that you should or shouldn’t add the 4-5 inches to your underbust. I’m from the UK, and through measuring my bras and testing out these theories, I would say that a 32 band is pretty perfect for my 31 underbust; In some brands I even need a 30 band.
    It seems the stretchy materials are what makes the sizes more accurate these days – back then the materials would’ve been stiffer and far less malleable.

    Very interesting to read about the ‘vanity sizing’ from the 36-24-36 measurements. I already knew about it, but you explained it very well.

  • Reply
    Sunflower
    June 28, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Hello. Tomima.

    Thank you for your wonderful and informative blog!

    I am very interested in historical context and development of bra sizing. You write, that it was a decision of the manufacturers to add 4/5″ to the underbust measurement to get the numbers closer to “ideal” hourglass sizes.

    This sounds reasonable – but there are so many things that sound reasonable and still are not quite true. Do you know any advertisments or interviews or anything from that time, that can serve as a reference for this theory? I would love to learn more about it!

    Sunflower

  • Reply
    Carol Shannon
    October 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Hi! I just read an interview with Linda The Bra Lady in which she said that 4 or 5 years ago, manufacturers changed their sizing to what she referred to as vanity sizing. She said they made the band sizes smaller, and the cup sizes bigger, so that for example what was a 36D is now a 32G. Is that even remotely true?

    • Reply
      TE
      October 8, 2012 at 6:36 am

      Hi – Interesting, but I find it hard to believe. I was in the industry then too. Can you imagine all the sizing issues if they really did that? I think the Eveden brands did it a little. And the fact that you add fewer inches to bands now tells me something happened in the band department. But, there is no way a 36D turned into a 32G. What has happened is that more large sizes are on the market. Bras used to stop at like a 38 and a DD cup size – before my time.

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