Beginner’s Guide

Beginner’s Guide

As bra fitting is a very complicated process, we have a lot of information contained in our various guides in the ABTF (A Bra That Fits) subreddit wiki. We know this can be overwhelming for those new to brafitting, so this guide has the bare minimum information that we think you need to know to find A Bra That Fits.

If you wish to rehost this information, please contact us.

1. Determine Your Size

Before you can do anything, you need to determine if you’re currently in the right size. We highly recommend measuring yourself regardless of how your current bras fit if you’re new to this page or the ABTF subreddit.

Measure Yourself

To determine your size, first take the following 6 measurements.

Please note, all measurements should be taken without wearing a shirt or bra. Bare breasts only. We most often use UK sizing, which is based in inches, but feel free to use cm if that’s what you’re comfortable with. If you do not have a soft measuring tape, a non-stretchy string/cord and a regular ruler are a good alternative.


1. Your underbust taken loosely. Neither inhale nor exhale for this, take it in a neutral position. Wrap the tape around your underbust and hold it loosely so it is just staying up but not indenting the skin at all.

2. Your underbust taken “comfortably snugly”. Neither inhale nor exhale for this, take it in a neutral position. Wrap the tape around your underbust and hold it in a comfortably snug position. It should indent the skin slightly, and you should hold the tape as tight as you would want a bra to feel.

3. Your underbust taken as tightly as possible. Breathe out as much as possible for this, and pull the tape as tight as you can, as though you’re trying to break it.


Note: All bust measurements should be taken without distorting your breast tissue. If your nipples are prominent, they may be squished down a bit.

4. Your bust while standing. Neither inhale nor exhale for this, take it in a neutral position. Wrap the tape around the fullest part of your bust while standing (or sitting) up straight.

5. Your bust while leaning forwards 90 degrees. Neither inhale nor exhale for this, take it in a neutral position. Wrap the tape around the fullest part of your bust while leaning forwards as much as possible.

6. Your bust while lying down. Neither inhale nor exhale for this, take it in a neutral position. Wrap the tape around the fullest part of your bust while lying down on your back.

For clarification on where/how to take these measurements, refer to our Visual Measuring Guide and/or our Manual Sizing Guide.

Calculate Your Size

Please note that these calculations will result in your UK bra size. UK sizes are standardized (unlike US sizes) and many of our recommended brands use this system. The system used depends on the brand NOT the location, so even if you are in the US you will still benefit from knowing and using your UK size.

To figure out your size from these measurements, you have a few options.

  1. Enter the 6 measurements you took into this Bra Size Calculator. Please note that while this calculator is the most accurate one that we know of, it will not be accurate for everyone. There are many factors that contribute to bra sizing and any sizes given by the calculator are always just a starting point. For a more personalized calculation, consider submitting a measurement check (see below).
  2. Submit a Measurement Check post to /r/ABraThatFits, and our members will help you calculate your size. This can be an especially useful option for people with larger breasts, underbust measurements around or above 36″, or if you have any disabilities that affect taking measurements or wearing bras. If you plan on making a post, please be sure to read the section of this guide on interacting in our community.
  3. If you’re having issues accessing the calculator and are not comfortable making a public post, you can use the directions in our Manual Sizing Guide to manually calculate your size.

Trans Guides

This guide contains bra fitting and measuring advice for trans women, and this one binding/compression resources for trans men/other people looking to minimise their busts. We have a new measuring method listed for AMAB people, which can be found in the manual sizing guide or on the calculator, and in the guide for trans women listed above.

Believe Your Size

Many people find the size they receive from our guide shocking, and don’t necessarily believe it. Generally this is due to the “sticker shock” of the letter of your cup size, since our society promotes a misconception that “small breasts must be A/Bs” and “DDs are only for huge breasts.” This is not the case at all, particularly since cup size is not static; a 28E is much smaller in volume than a 38E.

Here are a few resources for you – aside from this current website –  to see what other people in your new size look like and the transformations that other people in our community have experienced:

  1. Collage of Real D’s and G’s [NSFW]
  2. Our Before and After Pictures  [NSFW]
  3. Our Before and After Thread [NSFW]
  4. Our graphic showing how cup size relates to band size – by /u/ErrantWhimsy and /u/noys

2. Determine Your Shape

For a more in-depth read, please read through our full Shape Guide

Unfortunately size is only half the battle; bras come in different shapes as well and a bra that is incompatible with your shape will not fit correctly no matter what size you try it in. There are two aspects to shape: projection and fullness. Shape can be extremely hard to determine so if you find yourself confused after reading this section, feel free to make a post to ask for help on the /r/ABraThatFits subreddit. If you plan on making a post, please be sure to read the section of this guide on interacting in our community.

Projected vs Shallow

Having a shallow shape can often “override” your fullness, so determine whether or not you are shallow before trying to determine your fullness.

We do have a very comprehensive Shallow Guide, but again this contains a lot of information so we will try to consolidate the most important points here.

Basically, shallow breasts have the tissue spread out over a wider or taller root (where your breast meets your chest), while projected breasts have tissue that sticks out more and generally has a narrower or shorter root. A supported shallow breast could be represented as a dinner plate, a supported projected breast could be represented as a drinking glass. Both may hold the same volume (have the same cup size), but have very different shapes.

See here for a visual (SFW – no real breasts) comparison of shallow and projected breasts. This image is a NSFW spectrum of real projected and shallow breasts. Note that there is a middle ground between the two extremes. Also note that this resource is most useful if you are a similar size range to the people in the spectrum – small band, small/medium bust – this size range is the most common for both shallow and projected breasts to occur in. Make sure you support your breasts when judging projection.

If you’re still unsure if you’re shallow or not, here are some characteristics of shallow breasts:

  • Many bras, particularly those with horizontal or diagonal seams, cut into your breast tissue at the top edge of the cup, but you never seem to be able to fill out the cup itself.
  • The bra size you received above seems to be giving you a size that is much too large from what you look like. Note that this is different than the sticker shock of learning your new size (for example, going from a 36D to a 32FF). What we mean is that when you look at other people who wear the same size bra as you (see the Bra Band Project [NSFW] for comparison), they seem to have much bigger breasts.
  • Shallow shapes are extremely common in cupsizes A-E. However, shallow breasts outside that range are definitely not unheard of, and just because you fall in this range does not mean you are definitely shallow.
  • Pendulous breasts are almost always projected.


As mentioned, if you are shallow, that is what will determine which bras fit you best, not necessarily your fullness. It can still be helpful to determine this as well, and for projected breasts fullness will be the determining factor of which bras to look for.

To determine vertical fullness:

  1. Lean over 90 degrees and look at a side view of your breasts in a mirror. Examine where your breast tissue is in relation to your nipple. If more breast tissue is above your nipple, you’re likely full on top. If more breast tissue is below your nipple, you’re likely full on bottom. If there is about the same amount of breast tissue above and below your nipple, you likely have even vertical fullness. This article goes into a bit more detail if you need it.
  2. Use this visual breast shape guide, being sure to follow it based on the shape your breasts take while supported (as though you were wearing a well fitting bra – you can use your hands to simulate this).
  3. Breasts act almost weightless in a bath or pool so that can help simulate how they’d act in a bra.
  4. If you are still unsure about your fullness, it may be useful to try out some diagnostic bras that are known to fit a particular shape. Cleo Lucy is recommended for FoB breasts while Cleo Marcie is recommended for FoT breasts. If you find that Lucy cuts in and Marcie has space at the top, or both Marcie and Lucy seem to fit OK, you likely have an even shape.

To determine horizontal fullness:

  1. Lean over 90 degrees and look at a front view of your breasts in a mirror, or support your boobs with your hands. Examine where your breast tissue is in relation to your nipple. If more breast tissue is between your nipples, you’re likely center full. If more breast tissue is on the outside of your nipples, you’re likely outer full. If there is about the same amount of breast tissue inside and outside, you likely have even horizontal fullness. This article goes into a bit more detail if you need it.

3. Get Bra Recommendations

Now that you know your size and shape, you’re ready to start looking into specific bras to try out.

If you are shallow, there is a very comprehensive list of recommended bras in our Shallow Guide. If you have a shallow shape, fullness distribution does not matter as much.

If you have above average projection, the following are bras that we often recommend for different fullness distributions:

UK sizing unless otherwise specified

Full On Bottom

  • Cleo Lucy (becomes more open on top in H+ sizes) (28-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Kali (28-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Della (28 E-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Hettie in GG+ cups (28 E-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Bravissimo Alana (28DD-J, 30 DD-KK, 32-40 DD-L) (& most other Bravissimos)
  • Freya Hero (Plunge in 28-38 D-G, Balcony in 28 GG-J, 30-36 GG-K, 38 GG-J)
  • Freya Siren (Plunge Balcony in 28-30 D-G, 32-36 C-G, 38D-G, Balcony in 28-38 DD-J)
  • Freya Fancies Plunge (28-30 D-G, 32-38 C-G)
  • Panache Tango II Balconette (Please Note: This bra does not usually work well for those in the small band, small cup range) (28-40 D-K, 42D-J, 44DD-FF)
  • Panache Tango II Plunge (28-38 D-H)
  • Panache Nouveau Balconette (Please Note: This bra does not usually work well for those in the small band, small cup range) (30 D-HH, 32-40 D-K, 42 D-J, 44DD-FF)
  • Panache
  • Panache Envy (28F-HH, 30-38 D-K)
  • Panache Ava (28F-H, 30-38 D-H)
  • Panache Clara (30-38 D-J, 40 E-J)
  • Panache Idina Balconnet (30-38 D-J)
  • Sculptresse Flirtini (34-38 E-H, 40DD-H, 42-46 D-H)
  • Goddess Keira (Note: Goddess uses US sizing) (34 I-N, 36DDD-N, 38-44 DD-N, 46DD-K)
  • Elomi Etta (34G-JJ, 36-42E-JJ, 44E-G)
  • Elomi Caitlyn (taller than Etta) (36-36 E-K, 36-42 DD-K, 44-46 DD-HH)
  • Curvy Kate Ellace (28-40 D-K, 42-44 D-G)
  • Curvy Kate Princess Balcony (28-40 D-K, 42-44 D-G)
  • Fantasie Alex (30-38 D-J, 40-42 D-FF)

Even Fullness

  • Cleo Hettie (28 E-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Kayla (28 E-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Blake (28 F-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Panache Andorra Full Cup (28-40 D-J)
  • Panache Ava (28 F-H, 30-38 D-H)
  • Panache Envy (28F-HH, 30-38 D-K)
  • Panache Clara (30-38 D-J, 40 E-J)
  • Panache Jasmine (28F-HH, 30-38 D-K)
  • Freya Deco Delight, Deco Darling, Deco Spotlight, Deco Vibe, Deco Charm (28-30 D-GG, 32-38 B-GG, 38B-G)
  • Freye Patsy Plunge Balcony (28D-GG, 30D-H, 32-36 C-H, 38 C-G)
  • Elomi Unlined Plunges (Size Range Variable, See here for more info)
  • Elomi Caitlyn (36-36 E-K, 36-42 DD-K, 44-46 DD-HH)

Full On Top

  • Cleo Marcie (28E-H, 30D-J, 32-38 B-J)
  • Cleo Skye (28 F-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Kayla (28 E-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Hettie (up to G cups) (28 E-H, 30-38 D-J)
  • Cleo Minnie (good for short roots) (28E-H, 30-38 D-J, discontinued in 28D-E, HH-J, 30-38 B-C)
  • Panache Floris (30-38 D-K)
  • Panache Thea (30-38 D-K)
  • Panache Jasmine (28F-HH, 30-38 D-K)
  • Panache Envy (28F-HH, 30-38 D-K)
  • Panache Penny (30 E-K, 32-38 D-K)
  • Sculptresse Chi Chi (34-38 E-HH, 40DD-HH, 42-46 D-HH)
  • Curvy Kate Dreamcatcher (28-40 D-K, 42-44 D-G)
  • Curvy Kate Portia (good for short roots) (28-40 D-K)
  • Freya Rio (28DD-H, 30C-H, 32-38 B-H)
  • Freya Gem Balcony (28-38 D-G)
  • Freya Deco (28 D-GG, 30C-GG, 32-36 B-GG, 38 B-G)
  • Elomi Plunges with stretch lace (Size Range Variable, see here for more info.
  • Elomi Caitlyn (may not work for very FoT shapes) (36-36 E-K, 36-42 DD-K, 44-46 DD-HH)

Not Sure?

  • Half cups, such as Cleo Mimi (28D-H, 30-38 C-H) or Freya’s vertically seamed half cups (eg Patsy, 28D-GG, 30 D-H, 32-36 B-H, 38 B-G) have low coverage, so multiple fullness distributions can find good fits in these. Alternatively, bras with stretch lace upper sections (particularly Panache Envy) are versatile and can fit a variety of fullness distributions.

Bra Data By Size Guide

Which bras have shallow cups in my size? Which have narrow gores? Which bras should I sister size up or down in? Which bras have medium width cups?

Check out our new bra measurement guide which takes user-uploaded Bratabase data and compares it to find things like “Most Projected Cups” or “Slightly Narrow Gore” or “Runs a band size tight so you may want to sister size up in this bra”. If you don’t see much in your size, then upload some bra info to Bratabase, then message /u/xuenylom so they can improve the guide!

For other recommendations, we suggest making a post on the /r/AbraThatFits subreddit, being sure to include all relevant information (measurements, shape information, etc.). If you plan on making a post, please be sure to read the section of this guide on interacting in our community.

4. Buy a Bra (or Five)

Now that you know which bra to buy, you’ll need to know where you can find it! This is obviously dependent on where you are located, as well as what size you are. Here are a few guides that have been put together based on various locations/needs.

  1. United States
  2. Worldwide
  3. Brick and Mortar Stores (also worldwide) – Please note that smaller band sizes (sub 32) and larger cup sizes are often difficult to find in stores, particularly in the US. Often your only in store option for these is going to be local specialty boutiques. This page also lists the size range that each store carries so you’ll know if your size is available near you.

Shopping Tips

While shopping, keep the following in mind:

  1. Not every bra in your measured size will fit you perfectly, for a few reasons: A) our guide may have provided a slightly inaccurate size, these calculations are always just a starting point, B) shape plays a huge role in how a bra fits, so a bra that is incompatible with your shape won’t fit well in any size, and C) bras vary in their construction, so while you may need one size in a particular bra, you may need a size up/down in the cup/band in a different bra that runs differently.
  2. We find it very useful to take notes while trying on bras, both in store and those you ordered online. This is particularly important if you plan on posting here for advice on fit or recommendations for your next purchase. Be sure to write down the brand, model, and size of each bra you try on, as well as some information on how they fit/how you feel while wearing them. You may consider taking pictures, even if you don’t plan on posting them, to reference later (especially if you’re trying on bras in store).
  3. Fitters are very hit or miss. If the fitter measures you as a size far from the size our guide provided, we recommend trying to stand your ground and insist on the size you calculated for yourself. Chances are the fitter is using a less ideal method.
  4. When ordering online for the first time, we often recommend buying the same bra in multiple sizes around the size our guide provided you with. If none of the bras fit (and particularly if one cup size seems too small but the next size up seems too big) then you’ll know that your shape is likely incompatible with that model, instead of it being a sizing issue.

5. Determine if Your New Bras Fit

Signs of Good and Poor Fit

As with most other steps in this process, you can either tackle this by yourself or make a post on the /r/ABraThatFits subreddit.

Please see here for some information/guidelines on making “Fit Check” posts. Also if you plan on making a post, please be sure to read the section of this guide on interacting in our community.

To determine if a bra fits well or not, you must look at each part of the bra. This includes the band, the straps, the cups, the wires, and the gore (which is the piece in between the cups, over your sternum).

Make sure you scoop and swoop as well as position the underwires correctly before assessing fit! Here are a blog post and a video tutorial explaining scoop and swoop and its effects. Make sure all new bras are fastened on the loosest hooks (unless you are pregnant, as your ribcage will likely grow it’s best to start off on the tightest hooks) and feel comfortable on those hooks.

Please note that the most important aspect of bra fit is comfort; if you are not comfortable in a bra, even if it meets all of the below standards, it is not a good fit. If you find this is the case for you, our members may be able to provide some insight on why you are uncomfortable and what you can do to fix it.

Good Fit Poor Fit Notes
Band Does not ride up the back (or front) and is not uncomfortably tight. Rides up in the back or is uncomfortably tight Red marks from a band are normal when it is tight enough, as long as the band is not painful. Too small cups can make a band feel tighter than it really is – to test the fit of a band by itself, put the bra on upside down and/or backwards so that the cups are not over your breasts.
Straps Are not painful and do not fall off the shoulders Dig into or fall off of the shoulders People with very narrow or sloping shoulders may find that their straps fall off even in a well fitting bra – racerback clips are a possible solution to this.
Cups Are filled completely but not overflowing Have wrinkles, or spill out on the top, sides or middle to create “quadboob” If your cups do show signs of poor fit, be aware that this could be due to either a size or shape issue. Try the exact same bra in a size up or down, depending on the fit issue, to see which is the problem.
Wires Follow the root of the breast (where your breast tissue attaches to your chest wall) Have empty space on the outsides (are too wide), sit on breast tissue (are too narrow) or sit below the breast root.
Gore Tacks (touches your sternum) Floats (does not touch your sternum) People with very close set breasts or with medical conditions such as pectus excavatum may not get a tacking gore even with a properly fitting bra. People with close set breasts may need to stick to plunges, and people with PE may need to accept a floating gore as an unavoidable fit issue.

Remedying Fit Issues

If you find that you have some signs of poor fit in your bras, the following chart outlines what the typical explanation for each issue is. Please note that this chart is not absolutely definitive and just serves as a general guideline on the first step to remedy common fitting issues. For more specific suggestions on how to fix any fit issues you may experience, we suggest submitting a [Fit Check] post on /r/ABraThatFits.

Fit Issue Explanation Remedy
Band rides up Your band is too large Go down a band size while maintaining cup volume*
Band is uncomfortably tight Your band is too small or your cups are too small Try the bra on backwards; if it still feels too tight, go up a band size while maintaining cup volume*. If it is now comfortable, your cups are too small, so go up a cup size in the same band size.
Straps dig into your shoulders Your band is too large (so you are compensating the lack of support by over tightening your straps) Go down a band size while maintaining cup volume*
Straps fall off your shoulders Your band is too large (so the straps are too wide set for your frame) Go down a band size while maintaining cup volume*
Cups have wrinkles Your cups are too large, or are the wrong shape Go down a cup volume, or try a different shape
Cups are overflowing somewhere Your cups are too small, or are the wrong shape Go up a cup volume, or try a different shape
Empty space between underwires and the outer side of your breasts Wires are too wide (either due to the cup being too large or simply because you have narrow roots) Go down a cup volume, or find a bra with narrower wires
Wires sit below where the bottom of your breast attaches to your chest Your cups are too small, or the wrong shape Try a bra with wider wires, more depth at the bottom of the cup, or a narrower gore.
Underwires are sitting on your breast tissue Wires are too narrow (either due to cup being too small or simply because you have wide roots) Go up a cup volume, or find a bra with wider wires
Gore does not touch your sternum Cups are too small or your breasts are too close set for the width of the gore Go up a cup volume or try bras with narrower gores (like plunges)

*Please keep in mind that cup size is not static. Remember the concept of sister sizing: to maintain cup volume, when you go down a band size, you must go up a cup size, and vice versa. For example, 34B = 32C, 28E = 30DD, 36G = 34GG, etc. Please pay close attention to when this chart suggests changing band size while maintaining cup size, when it suggests changing cup volume while maintaining band size, and when it suggests changing both.

Also note that each “remedy” operates under the assumption that the corresponding fit issue is the only one you experience. If you are experiencing more than one issue, combine the two remedies. For example, if your band rides up and you have spillage in your cups, you would want to go down one band size and up one cup volume. Keeping the concept of sister sizing in mind, if you were hypothetically trying on a 36B and experienced these two issues, you would want to next try a 34D.

We also like this archived article by Breakout Bras that discusses signs of good and poor fit.

Please also bear in mind that many fit issues are hard to spot to the untrained eye, and there are other solutions to the issues listed here. If in doubt, please make a fit check post.

Repeat steps 3-5 until you have as many bras that fit you well as you would like.

6. Take Care of Your Bras

Now that you have well fitting bras, you may choose to follow our care guidelines in order to make your bras last as long as possible. Here are a few basic points on how we recommend caring for your bras (for more detailed information please see our Care and Storage guide).

  1. Rotate your bras so that none are worn two days in a row; let the elastic in the band “rest” between wears.
  2. Hand wash your bras with a lingerie wash every 2-3 wears. If you must use a machine, we recommend washing your bras separately from other clothes, in a mesh lingerie bag, on the delicate cycle.
  3. For the above two reasons, we recommend owning at least 3 everyday bras. This way, you are able to do your “braundry” once a week while still following these guidelines. If you prefer to wash your bras every other week, we recommend owning at least 5 bras.
  4. Air dry your bras. This is the number one most important piece of advice in this list. Using any kind of heat to dry your bras is very harmful to the elastic and will cause your band to wear out quickly.

7. Interacting In the /r/ABraThatFits Community

Before posting to or commenting in the ABTF subreddit, please read through our Rules and Procedures.

If you are completely new to reddit, we suggest reading through our New to Reddit page for information on making an account, including pictures in your post, and troubleshooting posting issues.

Additionally, if you aren’t sure where to look for further/more in depth information, please refer to the following table:

For information about… Look in the…
Measuring yourself/calculating your bra size Manual Sizing Guide
How a bra should fit/signs of a poorly fitting bra Fit Guide
Where to buy bras Buying Guide
The difference between different sizing systems (US, UK, etc) Guide to Sizing Systems
Which brands use which sizing system Guide to Sizing Systems
Breast shapes/how to determine your shape Shape Guide
How to wash or store your bras Care and Storage Guide
Sports bras, nursing bras, or other special types of bras Special Types of Bras
How to alter a bra Alteration Tutorials Page
The rules of our community Rules and Procedures Page
Tags to use for posts/what to include in a specific kind of post How to Ask for Help
A Bra That Fits glossary Glossary
How to use reddit in general New to Reddit Page

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