We're super lucky to have *amazing* experts on our support team here at Prairie Wear, and this month we had a chat to Dr LaJean Lawson - the original OG of sports bra and breast movement research - about all things fit, size & measure when it comes to bras!
PW: Why are bra sizes so complicated?
Dr LaJean:First, a little history. The ‘modern bra’ as we know it has only been around for about 100 years, and the ‘band/cup’ sizing system most of us grew up with didn’t come into wide usage for bra makers and consumers until the early 1950s. In bra companies’ efforts to design and manufacture bras that fit a majority of women, a system of combining the band length around the chest under the breasts with the measurement across the fullest part of the breasts to estimate breast volume gave us our familiar 34C, 38DD, etc. sizing system.
PW: But are those sizes accurate?Dr LaJean:Because it’s near-to-impossible to actually (and accurately!) measure breast volume outside of the research lab, conventional bra sizing schemes estimate your cup size based on the difference in length between your under-bust measurement and your fullest across-the-bust measurement. This could be a wonderful system for bra shoppers if it reliably worked, but in real-life use this method has often been found inaccurate for finding a good fit. To make things worse, actual band/cup measurements for a given bra size can vary considerably from one manufacturer to another, and even among bra styles within the same brand!
PW: So if I'm a 38D in one style, that won't necessarily be true with a different bra?
Dr LaJean:That's right. And a further complication is that ‘old-style’ bra design philosophies using conventional fabrics and more rigid constructions means that a given bra size (such as 38D) only fits a certain narrow range of body measurements and breast shapes, which makes an individualized fit inherently difficult. Prairie Wear, in contrast, uses innovative design strategies and responsive materials so that each size unit (such as Large) is guaranteed to adjust in fit and support to a diverse and wonderful range of body dimensions and conventional band/cup sizes.
PW: Ok, so how do we find our actual bra band sizes?
Dr LaJean:Prairie Wear’s research (and my experience measuring thousands of women representing a wide range of body types and bra sizes) has found that the single “under the arms and across the top of the bust” measurement is a remarkably reliable predictor of both bra ‘band size’ and correct fit in a Prairie Wear bra.
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us, Dr LaJean...