Open Letter to Bra Manufactuerers

To whom it may concern:

This is a ribcage:

Heart sounds auscultation areas

This is a breast:

Illu breast anatomy

The reason they look like entirely separate body parts is because they are… entirely separate body parts. Therefore, they can grow separately on any given individual. No, I don’t mean that breasts will wander off and migrate to the top of the shoulder or anything. However, one’s breast size is not inherently dependent on one’s ribcage size, nor vice versa.

Do you maybe need a picture?

Coordinate plane labeled with rib cage and bust size for axes.

Math plus boobs.

Essentially, it is possible for someone to have a ribcage and bust combination in any of the four quadrants, not just one and three. Please stop assuming a linear relationship between band size and cup size. It is hurting my boobs. There are 42AAs and 28HHs — and plenty of sizes in between and outside — who would appreciate it if you could understand this simple relationship and design your products accordingly.

Similarly, those sports bras and bikini tops in sizes like small, medium, and large? Not specific enough. Small where? The ribcage or the cup? I mean, I imagine this system works out okay for folks who are close to the same size in band and cup — but I wouldn’t really know what that’s like. It’s decidedly less workable when you are, say, a medium through the band but an XXL through the bust (or any other combination where boob and rib are more than one size apart).

At this point, I don’t even really care if they’re pretty. I just want to be able to have a sports bra that supports without trying to crush my shoulders down into my boobs and my boobs down into my lungs.

Think we can work on that?


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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27 comments on “Open Letter to Bra Manufactuerers
  1. As someone who used to wear a B cup (that was the right size) and now wears a 34DD–I can confirm that those small/medium/large sized sports bras and swimsuits do fit better if you’re in the “expected” size quadrants. Sports bras don’t work very well if the band is loose.

    I really like Enell sports bras, and they don’t have separate band and cup sizes, but that only works because they’re designed for a relatively narrow range of cups sizes, C-DDD (but a different relatively narrow range of cup sizes than the mainstream ones). And I’m pretty much in the middle of that range. They at least bill themselves as “for larger cup sizes” not for “everyone”. (Although that’s not ideal either, because they don’t go up all that high.)

    • Tori says:

      Yeah, I’ve had Enells recommended to me, but I end up with the same band/cup issues I have with other sports bras. Theoretically, they will make a custom bra for just such an occasion — but I have a feeling that for me, it could end up needing multiple alterations, which would cost additional $$ I do not have.

  2. theplayfulteacher says:

    I don’t know which way you go (larger band and smaller breasts or smaller band and larger breasts) but I ADORE Freya’s sports bras. I think they run from a 28 to 40, with all cup sizes, so they still don’t go all the way up into higher territories rib-size, but they are much more customizable within that.

    I am a pear-shaped girl with a BIG! bottom, but am 36 or 38F on top and have always had a very hard time finding that size, at one point being a 34F, and they have always made sports bras with underwire and all these beautiful, wonderful things that make my active life so much better.

    • Tori says:

      Freya sports bras are the ones I use now for running. However, I’ve only been able to find the underwires in stores, and those — while supportive — are too stiff for a lot of the yoga I do. I keep hoping to find their soft cup model online for less than retail, but no such luck yet.

    • G says:

      I’m also a devotee of the Freya underwire sports bras! They fit well and keep everything in place when I run but they chafe like a mofo at my ribcage and therefore I have a lifetime supply of Bodyglide.

      Tori– the Anita compression bras work really well for me doing yoga and weight lifting; they’re firm but comfortable, though they don’t do enough for bounce to run in.

  3. Great post! I also suffer on a regular basis trying to find a bra that will at least marginally take my body shape into account.

  4. Lauren says:


    — 34G

  5. Tapetum says:

    As a legit 42A (two websites and three bra fitters all agree) AMEN!!!

    I need solid sports bra support too, since my preferred sport is often violently ballistic (full contact karate), and with the weird relatavistic band/cup measurements, an A cup is still large enough to need real support to be comfortable. Compression bras intended to compress breasts *to* my size from a larger chest are not actually helpful!

    • Doctor_Tinycat says:

      I’m also a 42A, and I can’t understand why it is SO HARD for bra manufacturers to understand that some women have larger ribcages and smaller boobs. Even when I was much slimmer, the band / cup ration never worked for me. I needed a 36 band but the A cup that went along with that was always too big.

      The only sports bra that fits me now is the XL Hanes with the gathered front. I bought it after reading reviews at and two other women said they were also A cups with larger bands.

      • Doctor_Tinycat says:

        Ooops, it’s the fruit of the loom gathered front racerback with adjustable straps (that last is also important for small sizes!).

  6. Meredith L. says:

    Oh, HELLZ YEAH! I am tired of having to go to specialty shops and spending big bucks for bras because I am a 34FF.

    And bikinis? Forget it.

    • Tori says:

      At this point, I will even go to the specialty shops and pay the money if they can promise me they will actually have bras in my size. Given my current city and size, I’m at the outside range of what even my specialty shops carry — so even going there is hit or miss.

  7. progressivelements says:

    100% yes! The only place I can find bras and swimwear that fits is Bravissimo (UK). I’m a 28F.

  8. Maria says:

    As a 28J – AMEN!

    Even at bravissimo it can be a bit of a chore getting bras in my size

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