Are you a D or a G?

Yesterday at work a few of us lady folks somehow got to talking about bras and breasts. I find it always to be a fascinating conversation (I am sure some men might find it fascinating too, but in different ways). One of the main reasons I find talking about bras, breasts, boobs, breast reductions, breast increases so interesting is that we all come in different shapes and sizes and we all have such different and rich experiences from puberty to adulthood.

AND…I believe that most of us are not wearing the right sized bra. How can we really know with sub par service and support? I have two places in Portland that have real knowledge about bras: Nordstrom and a local bra store that cater to women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, women who have had a mastectomy, or women that have a strange size (28D to 56K) – yes those sizes really do exist. Most department stores like Macy’s do not carry the correct bra size, and even Nordstrom at times has had to order my size.

A C cup size was average when I was growing up, and anything larger meant you had big boobs. I can remember a few years ago watching an episode of Oprah dedicated to bra makeovers. Here is a photo gallery + explanation of some good examples. So often we are wearing a band size that is way to large and we sag way more than necessary. A 34D might better fit as a 32E or F (depending on if the bra is a European bra). Just as this Empowher article says:

“D is small, G is average, N is off the charts, so if you think you are a D, you are probably a G. Most DD’s end up as a G or H cup when fits properly.”

The article also mentions that only 15% of all women are wearing their bra correctly. I am part of that small minority. I would pay good money to have a bra that feels invisible, is comfortable, does not hurt my back, and is not atrociously ugly.  Often the ones that are attractive are also not supportive. More and more there are boutique shops that are popping up and carrying more accurate sizing. There is chain of stores called “Intimacy” that assist with bra fitting, however we do not have one in Portland. It is a good name for a bra store, as it is an intimate experience to have someone measuring + sizing your wobbly top half.

So, do you know if you are wearing a D but really should be sporting a G?


Recently Chris and I were talking about how easy it is for men to pick out clothes. Obviously there are many reasons, and you can yay or nay them based on the person or your personal opinion, but the most glaring or obvious to me is that for a man a size 34 is a size 34 is a size 34. No, those are not typos. I wrote in that way for emphasis. A woman’s size 8 is not a woman’s size 8. Even within the same company a women’s size 8 is vastly different, and from company to company it is grossly different.

Chris can go into a store, not try on a single item, make a purchase and be happy. I do not have that luxury. I have to try everything on and even then I am slightly (or maybe more than slightly) indecisive about making a purchase. Sometimes the day I try something on it fits fine and when I come home and try something on a day or so later it fits differently.

Alas, the dilemma of shopping as a woman. Our conversation about clothes, sizing, and fit made me think about Marilyn Monroe. I started wondering about her and what was considered beautiful in the 1950’s. After a bit of research, what I learned was a bit mind-boggling and I think that says something about our society. You can read full details here, but in the 1950’s Marilyn was a size 12-16. I know that is a big range, but as you look at pictures (or if you were around to remember her) you would think “she was not a 12-16.” As the article states in the 1980’s, the Department of Commerce changed our sizing (umm…can we say how vain we have gotten). A size 16-18 in the 1950’s is equivalent to a size 8 today. A big difference. The article even states:

“Those measurements were 5 ft. 5.5 inches tall; 35 inch bust; 22 inch waist (approximately 2-3 inches less than the average American woman in the 1950s and 12 inches less than average today); and 35 inch hips, with a bra size of 36D.”

Marilyn had a 22 inch waist, and the average today is 35 inches. Shocking. That is a crazy difference. Regardless of all the changes to sizing from the 1950’s to today, it is still a man’s world. Most of the time a woman cannot go into a store, grab her size, pay and leave. Is it time for a size revolution?