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Why We Need 28 and 30 Bands and GG+ Cups

2012 March 14
by Sarah

While I saw some amazing new offerings at Curve, as a first-timer, I did come away with some unexpected impressions (as did Holly at Full Figured Chest: read this excellent post on the difference between the full bust and plus size market; and Claire at Butterfly Collection, who tackles US cup sizing). At this expo are the full-busted brands who we rely on to make bras that fit us and keep our breasts and backs in good health. So how do they view us?

CONFUSION AROUND BAND SIZES

Being recently fitted into sizes around a 28J (for now, until the baby changes that!), I of course asked all the brands I spoke with about any plans to add or expand 28 and 30 size bands to their lines. A brand rep for one of the most prominent brands in the full-busted market (who also *produces* said 28 and 30 bands!) said, Well, those sizes are for Juniors. Other brands told me there was “no market” for these sizes.

A few reasons why I totally disagree:

1) I don’t believe in the misleading one-size-fits-all Plus Four or Plus Five measuring system for band size. It’s confused so many women about their proper bra size and made it seem like figuring out your bra size is this crazy mathematical formula best left in the hands of the experts. Wrong. Simply put, the measurement of your underbust will likely roughly correlate to your band size. You may have to add 1 or 2″ or subtract 1″, but I like how Beckie at Busts 4 Justice puts it in her War on Plus 4 Manifesto: the underbust measurement should be the neutral starting point you use to find your band size, “with high emphasis on using that as a base from which to find your perfect fit - be it +0, +2, +4 or even -1.”

2)  I have to assume you’d arrive at the conclusion that 28 and 30 back bras were for Juniors only if you were using the Plus 4/5 system. If you have a girl with a 23″ underbust, and you then add 5″ to it under the old outmoded system, then I suppose you would think a 28 back would be a “junior” size. Then if you’re starting with women measuring 28″, you’d add 4″ and put her in a 32 band. One brand even came right out and advised this, circulating a chart that advocated adding from 2″ to 5″ to get your band size during a fit seminar at Curve Las Vegas.

3) If you ditch the Plus 4/5 system, plenty of *regular women* (not just Juniors!) measure for a 28 or 30 back. I’m one of them. Your underbust measurement is not dictated by your age! You could be 15 or 45 and have a 26, or a 34, or a 30 underbust measurement. Just look at this amazing survey by June at Braless in Brazil, who surveyed 205 women and found that 66% of them measured 31″or less. 

Here's what the "mythical" 28 band size looks like -- and she's even pregnant!

For brands who still don’t want to believe that women and not just juniors ARE part of the smaller band full-bust market, they only needed to walk by the Curvy Kate booth and pick up a catalog. Three of the 4 models in the Curvy Kate Fall/Winter 2012 catalog wear 30 bands. And here was their in-booth model Lauren Colfer, a 30G, in the flesh:

Hey lingerie industry: here's your market! Curvy Kate Star in a Bra model Lauren Colfer wears a 30 band.

4) Say you truly did think that 28 and 30 bands were for juniors. Then why the heck wouldn’t you want to expand this market? Do teenage girls not deserve a selection of well-fitting bras, too? 

And, while we’re on the topic, if you ditch the Plus 4/5 measuring system, wouldn’t you need even more band sizes that could also fit Juniors, like 24s and 26s? I know my teenage self was desperate for a bra like this, instead of the 34Cs I finally managed to find at a department store with cups that fit, but that I could lift up over my breasts with the band done. At 30 pounds lighter, I imagine I would have needed a smaller band than the 28/30 I wear now.

5) Finally, the idea that there is definitively “no market” for 28 and 30 bands doesn’t make any sense. It’s nearly impossible to find any 28s or 30s in-store or online anywhere in the U.S. If no one stocks them, then no one buys them. Voila! No market. What a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there truly were no market for 28s or 30s, then how do stores outside the US, like in the UK and Poland, manage to sell them?

 

SOME RELUCTANCE TOWARD THE GG+ MARKET

Along with the pushback around 28 and 30 bands, I also heard some of the same “there’s no market” rhetoric around GG+ cups. On the one hand, I’m truly over the moon to see several new additions to the D-G category–the more selection, the better! But on the other…that’s only part of the full-bust market! As more women in the US market in particular become aware of sub-32 band sizes in their quest for good-fitting bras, those who need to move down in band size will likely have to move up in cup size, and for some of them, that means crossing the GG+ cup line.

Again, June’s amazing survey on Braless in Brazil confirms the market for GG+ cups in small bands, even in size 24 or 26 bands (GG+ would start at 10″ difference between underbust and bust measurement for brands with UK sizing).

I also wondered, if, say, a 36G cup is equivalent in volume to 32H, or a 28J, couldn’t you ostensibly make the bras you produce in a 36G in a 28J? I know it couldn’t be as simple as just having a shorter band, but I’d like to think it’s not an impossible feat. Curvy Kate’s size chart seems to point to this:

NEW BRANDS MEETING FULL-BUST MARKET NEEDS

With all that out of the way, I have to say how exciting some of the new brands are. They’re dead set on meeting as many needs for the full-bust market as possible.

  • Newcomer Claudette, who now produces bras in 30-34A, 30-38 B-G, plans to expand to a 28 band in Spring 13 and hopes to roll out up to a K cup, then, too.
  •  As the chart above shows, Curvy Kate is one of the most inclusive brands I’ve seen. They don’t have the arbitrary size availability bra-to-bra that other brands can have (this pattern only up to an F, this style only starting at a 34). In general, bras within a certain range (their classic or their Showgirl) are offered in all the sizes they make. How refreshing.
  • And even though Panache isn’t new, all of the bras in their newer Cleo line are 28-38 bands, with almost half of the styles available from D-J cups.

All of these are encouraging signs, but we still need to do our part. Help show the lingerie industry what you need. Talk to your local lingerie store and ask them about stocking more sizes. Leah at Hourglassy mentions here how some order minimums are pretty small, which may be more manageable for small businesses. If you only have a department store nearby, don’t be intimidated by their size. Ask them to stock more sizes, or email corporate. There are so many assumptions about our market and what we need, but opinions aren’t going to change unless they hear feedback from us otherwise.

UPDATE: To address some of these attitudes, myself and several other bloggers have started the Bra Band Project. If you want to help change these perceptions, please consider joining us! Read more about the project on my post about it here.

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16 Responses Post a comment
  1. March 14, 2012

    Thanks for including my Curve write up Sarah! Your review of the different attitudes towards small backs, full cups is fantastic. You illuminate the lack of consistency and knowledge around this subject beautifully. I especially like your comment that if these sizes are for Juniors, why not make more! Teenage girls need to develop good bra skills and knowledge as early as possible. Great blog! And BTW you look crazy beautiful in the photo, pregnancy and blue suit you!! xx

    • Sarah permalink
      March 14, 2012

      Thanks, Claire! I couldn’t *believe* the size chart they circulated at your fit seminar — it’s no wonder so many in the industry have these impressions about what a 28 or 30 band “should” be. The marginalization of these sizes helps explain, to me anyway, why finding 28s and 30s and GG+ cups has been so difficult in the US, even when brands are making them.

      Aw, and thanks for the compliment :) You are too sweet! Funny, because I hardly ever wear blue!

  2. March 14, 2012

    Great post! I so wish I had a store nearby that I could tell to stock my size. ;) But I agree so much that 28 bands are NOT for teenagers. I’m a mom who is still 5lbs overweight and I need a 28 band! Anything bigger gives me a lot of back pain…

    • Sarah permalink
      March 14, 2012

      June, I can’t thank you enough for your amazing underbust survey that helps illustrate with concrete data that we do exist, and for pointing to the military surveys that show similar results, too. We are adult women who wear these sizes, and we’re not all that rare! The “junior” label just baffles me.

      And, congrats on your weight loss and being only 5 pounds away from your goal! So exciting.

  3. Jonel permalink
    April 13, 2012

    You have hit the nail on the head! I’m a petite build woman of 30. Most of the 30B bra’s I find are either a boring black or white underwire bra or a ‘junior’ bra -non-underwired, cotton with silly patters. How am I suppose to feel seductive or confident in these? When will the manufacturers get to a point to realise women comes in all shapes and sizes which include our bra sizes?

  4. Aileen permalink
    July 27, 2012

    I’m 28F, and struggled for years to find the right size. I used to adjust bras by cutting and re-sewing the backs to make them smaller – until , that is, the opening of ….

    http://www.Bravissimo.com

    A UK company that delivers to the USA and Europe.

    Couldn’t recommend them more highly.
    Good luck to all.

  5. Mars permalink
    August 3, 2012

    hi. the problem with me is that is extremely slim. my age is 24 n my weight is just 32kgs i.e just 70 lbs. i really dont know wat my bra size is. plz help me out, here is my measurements, my band size is 25 inches n my cup size is 28 incehs. plz thell me what exactly is my bra size, n also that m i sexy or not with this size?

    • Sarah permalink
      August 6, 2012

      Hi Maria! It sounds like a good starting point for you would be a 26B, but I don’t know any companies off the top of my head who make that size for you to try that on! You might want to consider starting with The Little Bra Company (http://www.thelittlebracompany.com/bras.html) in the sister size, a 28A, and seeing how that fits you. If the cup is a good fit but the band of the bra is too big, you could have a tailor take in the band by 2 inches. With that alteration you’d get a 26B if that’s what you need! And I think ALL womens’ breast size and shape are beautiful. A great fitting bra can help you see just how gorgeous yours are!! I’d also recommend two blogs for your size range: Small Bust Big Heart and 32AA Bra. Good luck! Xx

  6. kathryn permalink
    June 6, 2013

    I AGREE! I have been looking everywhere for a bra that isn’t for fuller-busted women as I am a 26E-28DD (which is really quite a small bust), and have been having trouble even finding a custom designer who will make a nice set. I would also love a push up bra, but everyone stops making those at a D-cup anyhow :(
    So frustrating that I’m considering starting my own lingerie company so I can have a push up and strapless bra.

    So far the only brand I have found that fits is Fleur of England, as they have styles other than fuller bust, but no push up.

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