Skinnier with bigger boobs

For the 1% of men who read this blog, avert thine eyes. This post might offend your delicate sensibilities. Or, it might be completely enlightening. You know what, stick around. You should probably hear this too. Besides, I know you want to read this after seeing that post title.

The first time I ever got “officially” sized for a bra, I was 14. Previous bras had been feeling a little uncomfortable, so I popped into my local Victoria’s Secret, which in my limited lingerie universe, was the only place one bought their underthings. They expertly sized me over a nubby cable knit sweater I was rocking, and declared I was wearing the wrong band and cup size. I got set up with two new bras, and was on my way. And so began a nearly 14 year relationship with the incorrect bra size.

Getting sized once when you’re 14 (in PUBLIC no less…oh the teenage embarrassment!) is traumatic enough, so ever since that fateful day, I’ve all but screamed at lingerie sales associates to GET AWAY FROM ME when they approached. Last year, something clicked in my head when I was in a Victoria’s Secret, probably miserable from scrounging through panty bins during one of their semi-annual sales, when a sales associate offered to size me. Over the pea coat I was wearing. Who doesn’t wear a bra over a pea coat these days? It occurred to me that I was probably wearing the wrong bra size. At the same time, replacing all my bras seemed like a lot of work, and I felt like I was comfortable enough, so meh.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when my lone bridesmaid Susannah and I were chatting about my bra situation for my wedding gown. She mentioned she’d had an epiphany when she visited the lingerie chain Intimacy, which appropriately sized her by not using a measuring tape. Turns out those measurements, even if done on skin, often lead to mis-sizing. Since correcting her band and cup sizes, her brassiere life had completely changed, and for the better. In fact, she told me, many times, by wearing the correct bra size, your girls will actually look better under your clothes. Even more so if you’re a bit busty. Could it be true?

Hit the fast forward button again, and we’re in Neiman Marcus last Thursday, picking up a specialty bra contraption that I’ll be wearing under my wedding dress. “I think you should try on some different bras and get re-sized,” Susannah told me. What the hell, I thought. I live dangeorusly these days.

That explosion you heard last Thursday around 3pm? That was my mind being blown. My size for the last fourteen years had been off. WAY off. On average, most women go down a band size and up at least one cup size. For me, this was the case, and then some. If I told you my new size, I would sound like a porn star, but promise, the bras I ended up getting were a revelation. I didn’t know your bra band shouldn’t be able to slide around. How snug and comfortable it’s supposed to feel. And yes, how much better the twins will look under clothes when you’re wearing the right bra.

So, if your interest is piqued, and you think you can fight the urge to bat away sales associates’ hands as they help get you set up, here are my recommendations:

1. As sad as it sounds, do not go to a Victoria’s Secret. They typically measure over your clothes (strike one), with a measuring tape (strike two), and basically will never get down and dirty with you in the dressing room to make sure things are fitting propertly  (aaand you’re out). Also, in my experience, their bras are all about pushing things up and making you look extra busty, less about providing a great fit.

2. Make sure that you can’t slide the bra around your chest. If you can move the band around your body very easily, your bra does not fit. Which isn’t to say it should be tight to the point that you can’t breathe, but you shouldn’t be able to lift it up and away from your body and slide the whole thing over your chest.

3. Profile yourself. Stand sideways in front of a mirror so you can see the band of the bra as it curves around your side and to your back, where the bra hooks together. The band should be parallel to the floor. If it angles upward as it circles around your back toward the hooks, your bra does not fit.

4. Check for excess boobage on the sides. Any excess tissue that’s spilling over your bra cups on the sides of your body or close to your arm pits does not mean you need to lose ten pounds. It means you need a bigger cup size. And often, a smaller band size. You’re not a 36 C, you’re probably more like a 34 D. Yes, you are skinnier, with bigger cup sizes. I know, your mind is blown.

5. Where to shop: I’ve had great luck and great service from good department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Nordstrom especially cares a HUGE selection of sizes. You can also check out specialty stores like Intimacy!

Have any of you had a similar re-sizing experience? What are tips you use when shopping for bras?

{All bras pictured from Journelle}


Leave a Comment


  1. 7.12.12
    Tara said:

    Sounds like I need to get myself to a Nordstrom, and quick! Thanks for posting this, I look forward to better fitting bras soon!

  2. 7.12.12
    Rachel said:

    Love this post!! I grew up going to Petticoat Fair with my family (yes, it was a family affair – mom, sister and grandma in tow). They fit you properly there, I can tell you it was quite uncomfortable as a teenager – but I’m already looking forward to going home next weekend, because my bras aren’t fitting me great and can’t wait to go get fitted there!

  3. 7.12.12
    alexa said:

    Oh my God. I totally had this same experience the other day. I actually knew I was wearing the wrong size – post baby re-sizing – but kept delaying doing anything about it. I finally wandered into Nordstrom and they do a really fantastic job. The sad thing is that I went down a cup size and I’m sort of in between cup sizes anyway, which is a pain when I’m looking because I feel like I can’t grab and go, I definitely have to try on the different brands, because sometimes I fit in a larger and sometimes a smaller. I just realized I am writing a novel. But I’m really glad you did this post. Once you know what you fit into, you feel so much better about your body no matter what! :)

  4. 7.12.12

    a revelation! seeing as how i will be trying on wedding dresses today (eek!) i should probably have a good bra with me before i go. thanks for these tips!

  5. 7.12.12

    Mind officially blown. I’m getting resized, stat. By professionals.

  6. 7.12.12

    You know what, now that you mention it, I probably should go down a band size… I know you’re supposed to only clip it to the farthest click and I always clip to the closest… That being said, if I get properly fitted, I’m pretty sure they won’t suggest I go up a cup size, or else I’ll probably end up getting a gap the size of the grand canyon between my boobs and my bra ;)

    • 7.12.12
      vmacandcheese said:

      Honestly, I thought the same thing, and my cup size went up by 3!! The cup won’t
      get so full so much as the underwire will get wider to support…everything. It’s CRAZY.

  7. 7.12.12

    I’ve been sized several times but I always end up the exact same size. I agree with someone else though, that you have to try on each individual bra. There is so much range!

  8. 7.12.12

    Sold. I’m waaaaaaay overdue for this!

  9. 7.12.12

    I, too, remember indulging in a chocolate shake once my band size went down! Great post!

    • 7.12.12
      vmacandcheese said:


  10. 7.12.12

    Fabulous. The bra I am currently wearing is making an angle like nobody’s business up my back! Bye bye VS. Thanks so much for the tips!

  11. 7.12.12
    Phoebe said:

    Yes, thank you — VS is awful about sizing!

    I’ve found, though, that for me, it depends on the bra, too. In some bras, a 34 B fits way better than a 34 A, and vice versa. It probably also doesn’t help that my two are different sizes.

  12. 7.12.12

    Hold the phone. I seriously had this same exact mind-blowing experience about 1 month ago. I could NOT believe that I am in my 30’s and am now just realizing what my real bra size was…cray-to-the-z. I came home and told my husband what my “real” bra size was and he looked at me all weird and made some comment about a porn star.
    What a great post Victoria!
    XO – Marion

  13. 7.12.12
    Jess said:

    Ah I went up a cup size and down a band when I got sized at Bloomingdales a few years ago! It was amazing. And ta-da…all my bras fit! haha I rarely buy bras at VS now – I think I have one strapless and one push up from them but that’s it.

  14. 7.12.12
    azrakun said:

    Bra shopping horrifies me! yeah, i am gearing the energy to head to nordstrom to get some proper sizing. Usually I just try thousands of bras and go with the most comfy one. I am anywhere between 34C and 36D.
    Great post!

  15. 7.12.12
    julia said:

    thanks so much for posting this victoria! my bras tend to fit fine when i sit or stand with good posture, but leaning over or other similar movements there is a huge gap between the cup and boob! my boyfriend loves it but i doubt its a good thing!


  16. 7.12.12
    Annie said:

    LOVE this post!!!! Hilarious and sooo true!!! You have newly inspired me to properly outfit my girls.

  17. 7.12.12
    Milynn said:

    Oh my goodness!! This is such a hilarious post! But this is true! I should really stop in one day and see if I

  18. 7.12.12
    alyson said:

    Love this! So true, and I dealt with that last year…e except the downside? Nordstrom actually had very few bras in my size and suggested other bras, simply I think because of inventory/to sell me. I’d definitely go back there but that was a bit of a downer. Testing out again when they have their anniversary sale next week.

  19. 7.12.12

    I feel enlightened and inspired

  20. 7.12.12
    Annie said:

    Oh I had this problem last year and I know you said don’t go to Victoria’s Secret but that’s exactly where I was last year when my revelation happened. The lovely girl who helped me in the fitting room came in to my change room looked at the bra I had on and fitted me a great fit just by looking at me. No measuring tape needed. I didn’t have a top on so she could see where I really need a better fitting and it was amazing when I put the correct size on! Everything was so much more comfortable!

    • 7.13.12
      vmacandcheese said:

      Hallelujah! A VS employee who isn’t handcuffed to her measuring tape! That’s great to hear. :)

      You can imagine my experience with the girl trying to “size me” over a winter coat was….weird.

  21. 7.13.12

    Enlightening. I don’t feel like I ever get the band size right. Or cup. Sometimes I just give up and go for a bralette. Oh the joys of not having big girls.

  22. 7.13.12

    LOVE this! I wrote a similar post recently too (revealing my FF cup size!) and have always believed that most women are wearing the wrong bra size. Victoria’s Secret once told my cousin she was an A cup when she was at least a C. It’s just so strange! I’m a big supporter (ha, get it?) of educating our friends about this. Happy we can bond over this! :)

  23. 7.13.12
    Beth said:

    I’ve been telling people this for years!! The right bra is definitely life changing.

  24. 7.13.12
    SamW said:

    I wore a 36A for most of my boob-carrying years, then decided to get fitted at Nordstroms one day. Lo and behold, I’m a 32B petite (yes, there is such a thing as petite boobs). My bras finally fit me!

    Unless you’re very full chested, I don’t recommend Victoria’s Secret for the same reason you mentioned — their goal is to get those gals as high and perky as possible. My strapless bra from there does the exact opposite.

  25. 7.13.12
    AndreaJ said:

    Don’t leave out the small boutique stores in your local town! The boutique here in town will host an evening for you and your friends w/ wine and snacks! A great wedding shower idea!

  26. 7.13.12

    lol! I got sized at a horrible VS as well. I’ll be heading to Nordstrom this weekend!

  27. 7.13.12

    i think having a poor fitting experience at VS must be some weird unspoken rite of passage – totally happened to me, and i also get very shifty and skittish now whenever salespeople approach! have been getting bras at target, but i really would love to get sized properly because i am positive i am wearing the wrong size! thanks for the tips!

  28. 7.13.12
    Sarah said:

    The Victoria’s Secret scene is all too familiar… haha going to get re-fitted. Thanks for the post!

  29. 7.13.12

    Oh my goodness, I had the exact same experience with a VS! Very frustrating. Now, though, I sometimes feel that no bra will ever fit me again, unless it has a special “sagging” contraption for my post baby bosoms! :)

  30. 7.14.12
    Luli said:

    I must thank you for writing about this topic. I agree with you that Victoria’s Secret is the worst possible place to buy a bra, especially if you are larger chested. Thanks to VS for years I walked around with the wrong size. Thanks to Nordstroms, I’m back on track. :)

  31. 7.17.12
    Cara said:

    Try Linda’s bra store in NYC, they have an amazing selection on beautiful bras and they do a great fitting. I went from a D34 to a G30.

  32. 7.17.12

    I always have bra problems. I guess I’ll be making a trip to Nordies soon!

  33. 7.21.12
    Emily said:

    Amen. I had this exact revelatory moment 4 yrs ago at Nordstrom. Thank god that darling sales girl man-handled me into the dressing room laden with an armful of bras. All of my attempts to shoo her away fell on deaf ears. Life changing. I spent 20 yrs in a 36DDD only to discover that I was a 32 – 32!!!!!! – F G etc depending on the bra. Talk about instant skinnification with the proper support around the band. And my back and shoulder pain all but disappeared. And still none of my girlfriends take my advice to get properly sized. I am now a huge advocate of investing in quality undergarments. Plus Nordstrom keeps your sizing for each brand of bra on file. Excellent customer service indeed.

  34. 8.2.12
    Erin said:

    I nearly went into cardiac arrest last year when I got professionally sized at Nordstrom and found out that I’m a 34G. I’d been wearing 34D since high school!! Once I got over the initial label shock and anted up the $70 each for 4 bras that actually fit (being busty is EXPENSIVE!), my boobs have been very happy, and ironically look much smaller. And yes – clothes do look much better now!

  35. 8.22.12
    Crista said:

    how about that one time when i took my little 18 year old friend to Victorias Secret and as they were sizing her for a bra, they were also recommending the Miraculous bra that adds 2 cups sizes. I said “ABSOLUTELY NOT! SHE’S 18!!!” WTH??

  36. 11.6.12
    Cassie said:

    The exact same thing happened to me when I was still in high school. I was wearing a 34B… imagine my total and utter shock when I got fit by a licensed specialist at Nordstrom, who informed me I was actually a 32D. I’ve been wearing 32D ever since (although sometimes I cheat and get 34Cs because 32D is annoyingly hard to find some bra styles in!).

    Great post!