Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TLBC & How To Find Your Proper Bra Size

I've been wanting to try The Little Bra Company for a while now since they offer petite-friendly bras in very small sizes.  I finally stopped by one of the lingerie stores that carry them today, but unfortunately they only carry one kind (Lucia) and the smallest size they had was a 32A:

I currently wear 32A bras, but only because that's the smallest that I can (easily) find, and more often than not the cups would gape.  The cups on this one actually do fit, but the band was still too loose, even though TLBC recommends going up a band size on their website.  There's another store in my area that carries TLBC, but I'm afraid they probably won't have the smaller band sizes either, so I think I will probably have to order online if I want to find one that fits.

Lately I've been looking into proper bra fitting.  To find your band size, the usual recommended method is to measure under the breasts and add 5", or measure above the breasts.  I'm not sure how accurate that method is though, because adding 5" makes me a 32 and I'm pretty sure I'm not.  The sales lady at this particular store measured me over the fullest part of the chest, told me that's my band size (30), and the difference between this measurement and the under-the-breast measurement is my cup size, which is another way that I haven't heard of.  She then proceeded to marvel at how tiny I was and suggested I try children's bras (just what a full-grown woman wants to hear lol).

I recently ran across this website which had a lot of interesting information.  For example, I didn't know that cup sizes actually change with band sizes.  Here a DD cup on a smaller band size is much much smaller than a DD cup on a larger band size:

And even though these two bras look exactly the same:

One is a 38A and the other is actually a 32DD!  Can you tell which is which?  I think the take-home point here is that when a bra doesn't fit, you have to take into consideration that is it the cup or the band that's ill-fitting?

For proper band fit, you shouldn't be able to stretch it more than 2" from your body:

(All my bras failed this test, so I definitely should be wearing a smaller band size!) 

For proper cup fit, the underwire should not be sitting on any breast tissue on the side, like this:

And if it does, over time your breast tissue will "migrate" into the armpit and even to your back!  So if you wear a correctly sized bra and properly scoop back all the "escaped" breast:

Then apparently "most girls reported that their cup size increased within a few weeks to a couple months after getting the right bra size."  I definitely would not mind some of that!  Even more incentive to get a properly fitted bra :)

Another thing I didn't know is that if the cup wrinkles at the top, it's too big... but if it wrinkles at the tip (or nipple area), that actually means it's too small!  Something about 'orange in a glass effect' and you should actually go up a cup size (and down a band size if needed).

But by far the most useful thing I found on the website is this bra size calculator.  You need to measure:
  • underneath the breasts after full exhalation
  • around the fullest part of your chest
Plug in the numbers (in cm), and not only will it tell you your size, it'll also tell you what to get if you need to go down a cup or a band size.  For example, I'm a 30A according to the calculator.  If I try on a 30A bra and the cup fits but the band size is too big, I should actually go down to a 28C (instead of a 28A, since cup size changes with band size as I showed before).

Hopefully some of that was useful information for you.  I definitely learned a lot and now I just need to find the bra that's right for me!


  1. It took me a while to find bras that really fit but I did, though it makes it harder to find now because I'm not a standard size. Most "petite" bra retailers don't stock bras for bustier petites. Sigh. I just resort to purchasing bras from Asia or the UK.

  2. this is super helpful! thank you for this guide :) when i went to victoria's secret to get a strapless, the lady barely measured me and told me i was a 30a or something. i usually wear 34b's so i was confused but for straplesses i definitely needed a 32b. i think she just assumes that every asian girl is petite and has nothing.

    we don't have nothing! we just need the right methods to fit them properly into bras :)

    the calculator seems amazingly helpful and i was very surprised to learn that small band D's can equal large band A's :o

  3. Great research! This is very useful for us. I have never done any research on bras. I am wearing bras those are from Asia and they fit me decent enough. Let us know how your online purchase turned out.

  4. I did my measurements after visiting TLBC website, and their calculations had me as a 34 B, and there is no way I am a 34 or a B, as I do not fill cups on a 32A. I checked some other calculators and they all had me as a B, and that makes no sense. My underbust measurement is 28.5, and my full bust measurement is 30.5. I ended up buying some bras from Gap Body in size 32A and they fit really well, with the exception of the half empty cup. The Electroniczny Bra Fit calculator you linked to has me at a 30A - that seems more like it.

    1. I would expect you to be a 28D. The underbust measurement is the bandsize you should be wearing and the inches different is cupsize. 1" is A, 2" is B, and so on.

  5. That is the best and most accurate bra calculator I have seen online. Normally, bra calculators NEVER pinpoint my correct size (30D). This one did!

    Funny you mentioned you didn't know cups sizes change with the band size. This is something MANY women don't know, which is why I get funny looks when people find out I wear a D cup...because a D cup on a 30" band is MUCH smaller than on, say, a 36" band. The equivalent cup volume on a 36" band would be 36A. And if you go the other way, a 36D would equal a 30F! When you think of it that way, it all makes sense.

    The brafitters at Nordstrom understand this. They are the only ones I have come across (at least in South Jersey) that don't look at me funny when I mention my bra size. I've gone to specialty bra stores before and the sales women didn't even know they made bras below a 32" band, and they thought 32" was really tiny! It would blow their minds to know they make bras in 28 bands!

    Now I just need bra manufacturers to understand that you can need a petite bra and be a 30D. I am very narrow, and I need the cups touching in order to fit me correctly. *sigh* One day...

  6. WOW! I really need to get a bra fitting. I just kind of guess when I go to buy mine. I have also been wanting to try TLBC... I didn't know they were carried in stores. I'll have to look around :)

    Thanks for the info!

  7. This was extremely informative. It's shocking how the cup sizes differ for different band sizes. Hope you get a chance to try out your correct size! I'm surprised that stores that carry TLBC do not carry their smallest sizes - doesn't that defeat the purpose?

    Lol @ what the sales associate said to you. Sigh - the only bra fitting I've gone to was in Asia and there was no embarrassment there because many of the customers were my size. She did reach in and "scoop" for me though which caught me completely by surprise ... what can I say - a very "hands-on" sales associate!

  8. PAG - LOL!! I can't believe she 'scooped' you haha... yeah Asian sales ladies are definitely not shy!

    Kerry - I think we're similarly sized because most of the time I don't fill 32A cups either. But it seems like the TLBC cups are shallower because even their 32A cups do fit! For a less expensive alternative, I've found that the cups on this bra ( also do fit, but the band is too big for me because it tends to ride up and become a little comfortable. You under-bust measurement is a little bigger than mine, so they might fit better on you.

    Stylepint, Angie & Jenn - Sometimes I wish I had your problem! But definitely being a bustier petite you really do need a correctly sized band for proper support.

  9. Hi Petite XXS,

    Thanks for the mention! TLBC is located in several boutiques in the SoCal Area. Please check out this link for a store near you. As you have discovered already, not every store carries the same sizes or styles, so I suggest calling them first to make sure they have your size in stock. If you don't find what you are looking for there, please contact us at, or go to We have a 30-day return/exchange policy, so please feel free to try us on. By the way, this is very good tutorial and guide you have put together. Thank you!

    Best regards,
    Emily Lau
    The Little Bra Company

  10. I just bought a bra in the girl's department after becoming increasingly frustrated with inadvertently flashing people from my "big girl" bra cup being too big.

    The band itself (34) isn't the problem - I have the "migration" issue mentioned earlier and have had it forever. My anatomy and the A cup do not agree. This one aspect of being petite is overrated! :)

  11. Oh, my goodness. I think I want to cry.

    The adding 5" to band makes me a 29 but my boobs are 29 so am I a 29AA????

    When I put my measurements into the calculator I came up as 26D. WTF. I HATE MY BRAS. >:(

  12. Emily - Thanks for stopping by! I definitely plan on trying on TLBC bras in the smaller sizes.

    Megan - Are you sure your band isn't the problem? I think I read that when your breast tissue "migrates", that's because the underwire is actually on some of the breast, and that you should actually consider going up a cup size (so the cup shape is wider), and down a band size correspondingly to maintain the overall fit.

    Jen - Omg you're super super tiny!! I don't think the conventional adding 5" works at all... I think that's why so many of us petites end up wearing 32A or 32AA... when we should be Cs or Ds in smaller band sizes. According to the calculator a band size up from your 26D is a 28B, which TLBC and other specialty bra stores do carry if you're interested in trying out a smaller size.

  13. The bra size calculator you posted is the most accurate one I've tried! I'm not as petite as many of the readers being a 32D, but with other methods I've been wrongly fitted for a 34/36 band.

    What's odd with me though, is that if I choose to buy a 34 band (out of convenience sometimes), I have to buy a 34D because the cups for 34C are too small. The bra calculator suggests me to wear a 34B if I size up for the band, so I'm even more confused!

    Most of my friends who are built larger (36C-36DD) always tell me that I'm lucky I have a small chest. They would be shocked to find out that I'm indeed a "D" also.

  14. This is an awesome post. Before last year- I was wearing TOO big of a bra and luckily realized it and now I think I have the right size. I am really small in the band area but have a large cup so it can be very tricky!

    Great job on the info :) I think most women wear the wrong size which is so sad!

  15. Thanks so much for this article! I've always had the oh so gross armpit fat problem and before really getting measured for a bra earlier this year, I had no idea it was because of wearing the wrong cup size. I have always worn a 32B, and was shocked when the VS associate told me to size up to a C. Haven't been as good about ONLY wearing the new bra size since I didn't have the heart to throw out my old bras, but am definitely going to take this more seriously so that I can get rid of any unnecessary bulges caused by the migration of tissue caused by my old bra cups cutting into the wrong part of my breast.

  16. "If I try on a 30A bra and the cup fits but the band size is too big, I should actually go down to a 28C (instead of a 28A, since cup size changes with band size as I showed before)."

    You mean 28B, not 28C. 28B, 30A, 32AA, etc. are called "sister sizes."

  17. hugstiem - I thought 28 "C" sounded a little generous for my size, although that's what the calculator said. What you said makes sense though... I think my measurements might be borderline or something.

  18. Thanks so much for this excellent post, in particular for the link to the bra size calculator. This is the first calculator that correctly predicted my size (30D). All the other standard calculators you would find online usually measure me as 32A or 32B even though even the 32B is way to small in the cup area. I have been suffering most of my adult life from pinching underwires because of the cups being to small and the band being to big (I remember very well having to "pull" the underwire back into the correct position every hour or so because my breast kept on slipping out on the sides).
    It was a big revelation when I finally went to a professional bra fitter in Japan (where they "scooped" me as well, BTW...) and learned what my correct size is and realized that all the armpit fat that I had had all these years is in fact breast tissue and should be inside the bra.
    I strongly recommend you ladies to go to a professional bra fitter once and to follow the instructions on the website PetiteXXS posted above on how to put on your bra (leans forward, scoop, ...). This is exactly what the sales person in Japan taught me and it works just perfect.
    Also, it might be interesting for you to know that Asian bras run smaller than those in the US (I am a 30E in Japan but a D in the U.S.) and the cups are positioned closer together. So, the fit of Asian bras is comparable to a petite bra in the U.S. Also, for those of you ladies suffering (like me) from armpit fat, I recommend buying demi-bras (3/4 cup), because they provide more support on the sides and prevent breast tissue form moving toward your armpit.

  19. Anon - Thanks for sharing your experience and helping to validate the accuracy of the calculator! I wish there was a good resource for buying Asian bras online, because it seems like they're a lot more petite-friendly.

  20. wow it said im a 28DDD lol i'll stick to my 30D. But great article

  21. Great article! .. and thanks for the calculator. It is so timely I came across your blog. I suspected I needed to change my bra size when gaps between my breast and bra started to appear on the upper half of the bra early this year but there is no professional bra fitter in my country so I didn't know what to do. I am also a petite. last bra size was EU30F. Now the calculator tells me i'm EU28F or EU30DD which I think I am. Now, to shop online co'z there is no place here that sells bra below 32 much less in cups bigger than B.

  22. I had a "professional" fitting at a dept store but I think she lied to me since they didn't have the next cup size up. My left monster was still bulging out over the top but she told me it was just the style she had grabbed. She told me 34G but I put my measurements into the calculator it told me 34J. Is that even a real size?!!
    I know that smaller-chested women have just as difficult a time finding a bra that fits as much as larger-chested women do, but be thankful that you can get away with not wearing one if you want.

  23. The calculator tells me I'm a 32AA based on my 29.5in (74.93cm) underbust and 31.5in (80.01cm). So what would this convert to if I were to purchase a TLBC bra?

    1. You'd want to probably start with 30B and see how that goes. 32AA will likely be too big of a band and too small of a cup, especially since that's not your leaning measurement, which is usually more accurate for those of us who are small busted.

  24. wow the calculator said 32DDD i usually wear 34C but i always have this problem with the underwire moving upwards and it's quite annoying, also the straps slide off. Maybe i should give it a try.

  25. Boy was I ever wearing the wrong size! For years I thought that I was an A cup or even an AA cup, because quite frankly, I look like I am flat chested. Most calculators actually put me in something like a 38AA or a 36A. So I took my measurements again and put them in this calculator. My under-bust is 32" and across the nipple line is 36". I was shocked that this calculator said that I was supposed to be wearing a 34C! So today I went shopping and tried different sizes on. Obviously anything in A cup just didn't work at all. The B cup felt a little better but there was still some tissue spilling out the sides near the arm pit. I actually wear a 34C!!! I tried on sooo many different sizes and styles, but the only thing that truly, truly worked was 34C. Who'd have ever thought that? :)

  26. This was super helpful thank you! I wore 34B for awhile because that's what most places carry, and then realized 32B fit me better. But lately I've realized that 32B only fits if I wear it on the first hook, and as soon as it stretches out, it doesn't fit! The calculator you posted says I'm actually a 30B.
    Thanks again!

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Oml.
    Your bra calculator is amazing!
    Thank you so very much!
    I've been hunting for one and it never gives me proper sizes and they're always off a bit...
    In NZ we size with 10, 12 etc for band so 30, 32, 34 means nothing to me!
    But thanks to you, I know! :D

  29. HI - sorry but which picture is the "wrong" underwire picture? Both? or is one of them the "correct" picture?


  30. I know I'm late here...but oh my goodness. No wonder I have problem! People measure me time and time again as 32 calculators put me at 32 AA a lot of the time....

    According to this I am 28 I have no idea what to do about that.

  31. This post is the only one that makes any sense to me. For my entire life I've been wearing 32A, because that was always the smallest size I could find in stores (Gap, Victoria Secret) so that was what I wore even though these bras were clearly too big for me. I'm of average height but small framed (Asian) so it never occurred to me that petite bras might be a better fit. Loved your detailed post and the calculator you posted. Before finding this I'd been feeling totally pathetic for having negative measurements (yes, if you take 28" and add 4" you get 32", but alas, the fullest part of my chest only measures 30 or 31" rendering me a negative cup size by most calculators). I just ordered some 30A bras and am keeping my fingers crossed. Thank you!!!

  32. I am a 26A according to the calculator. Do they even make that size?The smallest I can find is a 30A so that`s what I wear. I am now trying camis with built in bras. They seem to work.

  33. Thanks so much for this post! As a preteen/teen I wore a 34A, then later 36A, then settled with a 34B (obviously I had no clue at that time how bra sizes worked!). Then I would try various bra calculators and I'd get confused and upset every time they told me I'm a 34AA/36AA/34A/etc... I spill over with a 34A and the 36 bands feel so loose on me! Until reading your blog entry I've always thought that the tissue under my arms was just my natural breast shape when it had actually migrated! The calculator you've posted a link to says I'm a 32D... Last time I went shopping I tried a 32D bra on and after scooping the side tissue it fit perfectly!

  34. There are so many myths about bra sizes and cups, partly b/c only limited sizes are mass produced (in the US anyway). Then there are some differences between some different countries, how they label sizes- but that's more true in bigger cups.

    There's also a calc at Curves and Corsets site, A Sophisticated Pair and at Butterfly Collection. I think Butterfly calc works best above a C cup though. On you can fill out a form requesting fitting help. Again they are more focused on D+ cups but may be able to advise smaller sizes. You can also try calculator. You can look at, which has a variety of bra info like brands, all kinds of sizes, measurements.

    I'm not exactly small chested, but have had a lot of frustration trying to find a bra that fits well. I think both small and large chested girls/ women have difficulty finding one. Plus both tend to be stereotyped or a target of ridicule.
    Usually most brands/ regular stores just have 34-38 A-D. Sometimes there's DD, or 32 only as A, B possibly C, & 40-44 C-DDD. If you're anything else, good luck unless it's from online or specialty shop. And you feel like some anomaly. Yes, there are 28 bands (sometimes 26) and cups from AA to far beyond DDD, up to K and beyond. They're just hard to find. A lot are plain or ugly but some can be pretty also.

    In general, you shouldn't add inches to determine band size. Or if at all maybe one inch or if you're odd number or between, round up.
    To KayCee - who said ribs are 32" and full bust 36", you may fit 32D.

    Sorry this is long, I've just done a lot of research.

  35. OMG!!!!! As a tennage girl( im 13,btw), I had been forever worrying about my size cuz im still wearing a large size sports bra. But it felt really tight at the breast part! I had tried a lot of online calculators but they all gave me a negative size, like since my band size is 27.5, add 5 and it became 32.5 but the size across my breast is just 31!!! But after trying out this calculator, it actually showed that im 30B!!! This article helped me a lot and im proudly to say that im a B cup too!!! XD

  36. I know I am four years too late but is there a way you can fix your link to the calculator?

    1. Here's one that I've found is more accurate than the calculator linked:


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