The new Jockey bra sizing method has intrigued the internet of things (and boobs), and the stat that 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra is, we wager, a conservative estimate — but do you really need to pay $60 for a “custom” Jockey bra to have happy breasts?
The new Jockey bra sizing made a splash this week, with a complex and seemingly revolutionary way to save womankind from ill-fitting bras. But a funny thing happened in the coverage — a niche “subreddit” dedicated to helping every woman find a bra that fits began to show up in the reporting.
First Huffington Post’s Jockey bra fitting story centered heavily on Reddit’s arguably superior method, and then the Daily Mail hopped on board. But as Jockey readies their new “volumetric” bra fitting system (which requires preordering a $20 cup fitting package) for retail, the keen-eyed and knowledgeable Reddit bra fitting community isn’t all that impressed with the “innovation.”
Jockey says most women are not wearing the right size bra (even if New York Magazine‘s Maureen O’Connor takes umbrage), and with that, Reddit’s r/ABraThatFits agrees. But as for how to address the issue, the community has a different position.
Growing steadily over the past year or so, “ABTF” (as Redditors call it) seems to have sprung largely from the posts of a user with the handle “MyWifesBusty,” and a comprehensive fitting guide that with the help of a measuring tape and 60 seconds, will match you with your actual bra size. For free.
Before the ABTF community began to show up in Jockey-related news stories, I myself happened upon the community just recently in Reddit travels. And found out I too had been wearing a grossly inaccurate bra size my whole adult life.
It happened accidentally, when I linked to a stock picture of my (old) bra of choice in another thread. A user kindly pointed out that the brassiere’s “gore” wasn’t “tacking,” and invited me over to ABTF to find a bra that fits. It was pretty shocking to learn I’d been off by five (five!) cup sizes, but ABTF will tell you that my situation is more common than not. (For the sake of accuracy, I will admit to not being a chesty sort at all — not a factor in proper bra sizing!)
It seems that Jockey’s bra sizing system and the wrong bra size problem goes back to, in part, mall bra retailers who find it more efficient to stock the A, B, C, D models we’re so used to cramming our poor breasts into day in and day out. When you don’t know different, this feels normal, but as ABTF will tell you, finding a bra that actually fits is a total gamechanger. (Anecdotally, it looks like I lost 15 pounds, and my figure is perfectly defined.)
When you get fitted for a bra at the mall, “bra experts” will generally measure your band size and add four — and here is where the trouble starts in earnest. As the user MWB points out, women are then wearing bands that are four inches too large, bands that float away from the body and provide no support to breasts.
To compensate, smaller cup sizes than are necessary are used to (poorly) encompass the breast, leading to side and underwire leakage we’ve all come to accept as normal. It’s not normal, and a properly fitting bra (fastened using the “swoop and scoop” method) doesn’t have uncomfortable leaking of boob. Cup size is relative to band size, ABTF explains, so a larger band’s C is actually a smaller band’s DD.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle ABTF users have in converting their sister sizing sisters is that the new measurements you get without the plus four chaos are … often not sold in the mall’s big shops. They sound crazy. After all, a woman wearing a 34B under the old system may very well end up in a 30F — a size you may think sounds like something found only in porn — but it’s actually the norm.
But what ABTF users want every woman to know is that bra sizing is, to quote on, “not an absolute measure of volume but [indicates] the difference between the bust and underbust measurements.” The quick and dirty is that band measurement (raw) plus bust measurement converted to letters is your actual bra size. [Edit: ABTF would like you to know that many factors influence this measurement, and the initial calculation is a great starting point -- but don't get discouraged if you have to try on a range of sizes. Every bust is different!]
(See how the center of the bra lies flat against the sternum and doesn’t budge? Success! No side boob!)
You can definitely spend $20 on the Jockey “fit kit,” but if you have a tape measure handy, you can get your real size in minutes with ABTF’s comprehensive fitting guide. There’s even a visual fitting guide that show you how to (without a bra on) measure yourself, and you can even use an online calculator to plug in your numbers and receive US and UK measurements. Did we mention that’s all free?
(Below, a woman is incorrectly fitted for a bra on national TV. Note the oversized band measurement as well as the measuring over what is undoubtedly an ill-fitting bra. Don’t do this!)
It bears repeating that after years of plus four confusion, your real bra size will seem off and … well, very big. But the Bra Band Project shows real women in real bras who have made the shift from the old sizing method to one like ABTF’s more accurate way.
For users who seek a bra that fits, the community also offers helpful suggestions for brands that are best suited to your breast shape (I was laughed out of Cacique with my new measurements in hand Saturday afternoon because I required a demi or balconette, not a full-cup model), and when you do receive your new, better-fitting bras, fellow users will do “fit checks” to help you settle upon the perfect bra.
ABTF’s tagline (“because everyone that wants one deserves a bra that fits”) humbly states the 12,000 user strong community’s mission, and while Jockey’s bra sizing innovation is admirable, it seems once again everyday internet users have already crowdsourced the secret to finding a bra that fits.