Notes on Bra & Binder Fitting

When it comes to fitting bras and chest binders, the goal is for you to feel as comfortable as possible in your new underthings, regardless of measurements.  We will gladly make recommendations and suggestions as to what size and style might work best, but we are not experts on your body—YOU are the only expert on your body!

If you're in the Portland area, we encourage you to schedule an in-store fitting. Appointments can be made either over the phone or right here on our website!

Book an appointment with Étaín using SetMore

 

Bras

First, determine the band size.  Measure around your "underbust", the widest part of your ribcage just below the breasts.  You may need to lift up the breast tissue in order to get an accurate ribcage measurement—a great reason to enlist a helper!  For optimum support, you'll want the band size to be as close to this measurement as possible.  If you measure at 34" around, start with a 34 band.  If you measure at 35", try either a 34 or 36 band, depending on your sensitivity to constricting garments.  The smaller size will be more supportive, but it may not be as comfortable.  It’s all about your priorities and preferences.
Now it's time to pinpoint the cup size, which can take some trial-and-error.  We don't typically work from bust measurements for our in-store fittings, but the method described below will provide you with a great starting point, and may even be right on the dot!

 

 CUP-SIZING INTERLUDE

    • Keep in mind that the letter attached to a bra size represents the difference between the underbust measurement and the bust measurement.  It is a relative label and will indicate vastly different sizes depending on the number attached.  For instance, a 38C is equivalent to a 36D, or a 34DD, or a 32E, or a 30F. . . or a 28FF!
    • These numbers and letters may take some getting used to because we are frequently faced with a very small size range when it comes to bra shopping.  Some fitters will use "sister sizes" in order to accommodate this small range, which is how we end up with bras that are much too loose in the band and too small in the cup.
    • Don’t let labels scare you!! In the end, a bra that fits well and feels great will be vastly more comfortable and empowering than something that reflects very narrow mainstream sizing norms and bra fitting assumptions.  You are still the same fabulous person, with the same fabulous body, who walked into that changing room/bedroom/livingroom/kitchen/treehouse/meadow/wherever you end up getting fitted.

 

 
Ready?  Here we go!  You'll want to wear a bra when taking the bust measurement, ideally something with minimal to no padding.  Measure around the fullest part of the bust, taking care to keep the tape measure level (another excellent job for your assistant).  Combined with the band measurement, the following formula will provide a solid starting point for bra sizing:

BUST MEASUREMENT − BAND SIZE (ROUNDED) = CUP SIZE INDEX

 

Use the cup size index to count off the letter of the cup.  For example: You measure at 33" around and decide on a 32 band.  Your bust measurement is 40", so your cup size index is 8.  I like to count on my fingers for the next step—1(A), 2(B), 3(C), 4(D), 5(DD), 6(E), 7(F), 8(FF), so the estimated size is 32FF!

 

  A B C D DD E F FF G. . .
cup size index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. . .  

 

How to Put on a Bra:

  1. BEFORE putting the straps on, hold the bra in front of you and drop your breasts into the cups.  You may need to “shimmy” into the bra to ensure that there is no extra space at the bottom of the cup, leaving the wire sitting flat against your ribcage.
  2. Clasp the bra on the loosest setting and slip your arms into the straps
  3. In the back, bring the band down basically as low as you can get it.  The band should sit parallel to the floor, possibly even lower in the back.
  4. Anchor the wire on the outside of the cup with one hand.  Use the other to scoop the breast tissue out from under that wire and into the cup.  The wire should sit flat against your ribcage so that no breast tissue is left underneath it.
  5. Gently sweep any breast tissue out from under the center gore (the wire between the cups), and smooth the top of the cup so that it sits neatly.
  6. Adjust the straps: they should be tight enough to stay put, but loose enough that you can easily run an index finger underneath.

Does it fit!?

  1. Does the band sit nice and low in the back, without riding up?  For optimum support, there will be about an inch-worth of give when you tug on the band.  The majority of support should come from the band so that you are not relying on the straps to hike yourself up.  Move around and make sure things stay put.   If you are concerned that the band is too snug (i. e. : you can't stand wearing it), feel free to size up.  Just keep in mind that an extra-loose band will offer little support and may cause the garment to shift around on your body.
  2. Is all of the breast tissue contained in the cup?  There’s more to it than obvious overflow.  Try pressing on the underwire—Does this feel painful or uncomfortable?  There may be breast tissue stuck underneath the wire.  The underwire should extend back and line up approximately with midpoint of your armpit.  The center gore should sit flat against your sternum.  Our number one priority when fitting a bra is to ensure that the wire is not digging into breast tissue, as this can cause serious discomfort as well as various health issues.
  3. The most important question: Does the bra feel comfortable and supportive to YOU?  We’ve laid it all out, now it’s up to you.  What are your priorities and expectations for a bra? What’s non-negotiable, and where are you able to compromise?

Please note that we use UK cup sizing as our default sizing system.  Feel free to contact us with any fitting questions—It’s what we’re here for!

 

Binders

Be sure to take binder measurements either topless or over a snug-fitting shirt.  Unlike with other measurements, you'll want to wrap the measuring tape tightly so that it's about as snug as a binder would be. 

Refer to the Danaë sizing chart below to get an idea of what will work for you.  As with other undergarments, you are ultimately in charge of determining what fits best. Can you breath? Is the fit gender-affirming?  Is it relatively comfortable? (Let’s be honest, chest binders are not the most comfortable garments around, but consider how you’ll feel wearing it for more than a few minutes/throughout the day.)  All of these factors are important, but be particularly careful not to bind too tightly.  Ill-fitting binders can lead to breathing issues, cracked ribs, or even a punctured lung.

 

 Sizing (in. )

XS S M L XL XXL
 chest 26-30 30-33. 5 33. 5-40 40-43 43-45 45-46. 5
 waist 20. 5-23. 5 23. 5-27 27-30 30-33 33-35 35-38
 shoulder 10-12 12-14 14-16. 5 16. 5-19 19-22 22-23

 

When getting into a binder, be sure that your body and the garment are completely dry.  The styles we currently offer on our site should not be worn in water (with the exception of our swim binders).  Remember to continue checking in with your body, and be particularly aware of your ability to breath during physical exertion—for certain activities, you may want to skip binding.  Try not to bind for more than 8-10 hours at a time.  After removing the binder, cough a few times to loosen any fluid that has built up in the lungs, and take some deep breaths.

Tips from Danaë

  • If there is a big difference between your chestwidth and waist (your waist is much smaller than your chest). Choose the size according to your waist size.
  • If you are in between sizes we encourage you to consider your shoulder measurements; If you have broader shoulders, definitely go with the larger size.  
  • Do not intentionally go down in size; you will not be able to put the binder on.
  • Binders are meant to be tight, like a second skin. You should be able to breath and the material should not be cutting into your skin

 

Binder Fitting Sources:

Danaë: https://www. danae. info/en/female-male/size-charts-female-male

Qwear: http://www. qwearfashion. com/home/intro-to-binding-health-brands-and-care-tips