Bra Sizes – Taking Measurements
It is not to be excluded from the wardrobes of the women – the brassiere briefly bra. Whether with or without underwire, elegant, sporty or provocative, it is available in many shapes, colours and for many different purposes.
- In the ancient world and ancient Greece women covered their breasts with straps. This breast bandage was called Strophium.
- In the 15th centurey, the luscious cleavage became fashionalbe and remained up until the 19th century. Large, firm breasts were considered beautiful – the beginning of stays and corsets was created. Upper-class women wore elaborate corsets and prefered to have their children been breastfeed by wet nurses.
- In the 19th century, the petite waist came in fashion. The ideal measurement: The man should be able to grasp around the women’s waist with two hands. Sticks made from whalebone provided support and shape to the woman’s body. Because of too tight lacing, health problems like fainting, nausea, shortness of breath, eating disorders and miscarriages occured.
- 1896 physicians and feminists advocated for the women: The “Allgemeine Verein zur Verbesserung der Frauenkleidung”, a society for improvement of women’s clothing” was opposed to the oppressive women’s clothing.
- 1914: The American Mary Phelps Jacob invented the today’s bra. She made the bra from whalebone, silk scarves and some straps and had it patented. After the self-distribution failed, she sold the patent for $ 1,500 the Warner Bros. Corset Company.
- First upswing of the bra by the First World War: Due to the scarcity of raw materials women were called to switch from corsage and corset to the fabric-saving bra.
- In 1920, bra sales generated 12.6 million Dollar profit.
- In the 40s: Introduction of the “Wonderbra”. This bra promised to conjure smaller breasts up to a luscious decollete.
- In 1968 the image of women changed and the bra became a sign of (sexual) oppression of women. Feminists supposedly have burned bras in public to protest the Miss America elections.
- For most women, the bra is considered a necessity – for practical and health reasons. The bra exists in a variety of materials, colors and shapes.
Underwire Bra (the classic style)
Shaping and supporting.
The cups mainly encloses the bust yet not quite at the top. The straps on the cups are attached more towards the side. Ideal for a larger décolleté and dirndl dresses.
The straps fit around the neck, leaving the shoulders bare. Ideal for neckholder tops. For larger bust sizes it is recommended to look out for an enough supporting back piece. Otherwise the whole weight is carried in the neck which can cause muscle tension.
Ideal for shouldefree and backless garments. It should fit tighter to prevent from sliding down. Often silicone trim is applied to the edges for additional support and more grip.
Basically an elastic band without any closures and straps. Less supportive for larger bust sizes. More suitable for smaller bust sizes.
Push Up Bra
Due to silicone or foam inserts, the bust is pushed up and emphasized. Ideal for obtaining a large and appealing décolleté. Especially suitable for smaller bust sizes. The pattern is designed to push up the bust from the bottom and in from the side.
Often mistaken for the neckholder bra. The difference: The triangle bra doesn’t come with an underwire and is not tied in the back of the neck. The cups are of triangular shape and the straps are attached more towards the side like for the Bikini style.
Bustier (Soft Bra)
Similar to the Bandeau Bra yet with straps. Little supportive and most suitable for rather small bust sizes.
Ideal for athleticism due to the extra wide straps and it fully encloses the bust. Most are designed with a ‘wrestlers back’ to prevent the straps from sliding off the shoulders. To optimally absorb the movements, it is made of special elastic yet firm fabric.
Cone Bra / Bullet Bra
Very popular in the 1960s. Nowadays worn very seldom. Cups are cone-shaped, enclosing the entire bust. Comes with front closures most of the time.
Especially developed for pregnant women and nursing mothers. The cups can be individually unfolded and are made of stretchy fabric to allow adjustments to the changing bust size. Due to the sensitive bust, the cups do not have any seams. The nursing bra should not be purchased prior to month eight of pregnancy due to the still growing bust.
The Anatomy of the Bra
You will find even more unique practical knowledge from the design to the production stage of laundry models in our new e-book LINGERIE Fundamentals. The pattern constructions of various bra shapes and a range of slip variants are explained in detail. In addition, grading, cup size determination, calculation of material elongation and the processing method are explained. As a special bonus, the author Dorothé Klotz gives exclusive tips for optimizing the fit from her decades of practical experience.
Frequently occurring fit problems
- If the wearer always slips off the shoulder > By the way, this is the case with many women. Usually the basket is too small or the shoulders are too narrow for the model.
- If the underbust band cuts into the skin > The circumference should be larger.
- If the edges of the cup are loose > The cup is too big.
- If the bra is pricking under the armpits > Wrong cup size.
- When the chest is pushed over the cup > The cup is too small.
- If the bar is protruding > It should be in contact. Cup too small or underbust band too wide.
- When the bra makes an unsightly back > When the straps cut into the back and the band also slips up at the back.
The perfect fit of the bra is primarily determined by the correct size. This is determined by taking the right measurements.
Bra – Taking Measurements
The difference between the bust girth and the underbust circumference determines the bra size.
Measuring the Bust Girth
Measure around the widest part of the bust with the tape measure held parallel to the floor. The tape measure fits rather loose, allowing room for one finger width.
Measuring the Underbust Circumference
Place the tape measure right below the bust, making sure it fits firm but not too tight.
Cup Size Calculation
Over 70 percent of all women are wearing the wrong bra size. To determine the correct size, two variables need to be defined: the underbust circumference and the cup size. Firstly, round the underbust measurement up or down to the next number divisible by five (f. e. 75, 80, 85). Secondly, calculate the cup size by subtracting the underbust measurement from the bust girth.
Pattern Construction Bra and Panty
The Pattern Construction for a cup bra with frame and matching panty, dimension tables in size 40, an elongation diagram for determining the material elongation as well as instructions for processing a bra can be found in Damen-Rundschau 12.2018.