The Myth About Bra Fitting

By Ali Cudby


I received an email from a woman recently, and she was very upset. “Ali, Can you please help me understand what I’m doing wrong with my bra?” She went on to tell me about a shopping experience she’d had at a specialty boutique. She’d had a fitting, and the concept of sister sizing had come up. The fitter told her the smaller band/larger cup combo was better while the customer thought the larger band/smaller cup combination was more comfortable.

“I just want to know which was the right size so next time I’ll know what to look for,” she said.

The email got me thinking.

While there are often good reasons why a customer might do better in the long run with a smaller band, all I could think about was this woman’s fear that she chosen the “wrong” bra

The word kept buzzing through my head…wrong, wrong, wrong.

For many years, at least since Oprah’s Bra Intervention show in 2006, we’ve been telling women about THE NUMBER. You know the one – 70-85% of women (or 90% or whichever number) are wearing the wrong bra. Nobody really knows where that number came from. When I wrote my book, Busted! and researched the origin of THE NUMBER, I couldn’t find a great source. I used it anyways because it’s so widely accepted…but it’s an aspect of my book that has always bothered me, just a little bit. Where did THE NUMBER come from?

The truth is, no matter which number you choose, you’re right. 70% 85% 90% – heck, 100%! We’re all right. We’re also all wrong, and you know why? Because at the end of the day, anyone can find some fault with the way a bra fits if they look hard enough. Everyone has a different standard for band or strap tension. Every fitter can have their own opinion about which style is right for a woman’s shape. Most of all, only a customer knows what’s most comfortable on her body.

I know THE NUMBER was originally used to inspire awareness – and there are clearly still lots and lots of women running around in bras that are truly tragic. Tattered and in-arguably ill-fitting. So after all of the magazine articles, bra makeover segments on daytime TV and fit blogs, how is it possible that the industry has not moved the needle more substantially?

Maybe there’s still a lack of awareness.

bra-sizesPerhaps product in an adequate range of sizes still hasn’t proliferated into enough markets to make a difference.

What if it’s something else? What if all of the talk about THE NUMBER has had a shaming effect for women who already feel bad enough about their bras, their breasts and their bodies. Despite the best intentions, what if our industry has unwittingly contributed to women feeling worse about themselves, and not better? If that’s the case, then the way I’ve talked about fit may have even been part of the problem.

But no more.

Because the woman who emailed me deserved – and deserves – to feel amazing in her bra. It would have been more valuable for her to walk away feeling great than it was to buy a bra with a band that might have been a little better fitting for a longer period of time.

I’m not saying that fit standards go out the window – far from it. The feeling women have in their bras directly impacts thoughts about their bodies, and fit matters. However, how we talk about fit in terms of “right” and “wrong” matters deeply.

I’m finished with THE NUMBER

Do you want to help your customers feel even more amazing when they shop with you? Let’s chat about ways to downplay THE NUMBER and uplift the women you serve.

If you are ready to inspire your customers while taking your business to the next level, you can apply for a free 1:1 consulting session with me.

Apply now to request your free session


7 Discussion to this post

  1. […] Aricie Lingerie, we found this blog from Ali Cudby so pertinent that we would like to share it with our readers. We would like to […]

  2. Ali Cudby says:

    Hey Nicci!
    Thanks so much for the comment. I agree with you completely, there is no such thing as a SINGLE right size. There are just too many variables.


  3. Nicci Workum says:

    Ali, I agree too. I always tell my clients that there is no such thing as their correct size. I give them a starting point size and the information on sister sizing to help them find a comfortable fit in different brands and styles. As a fitter I can tell them if something is technically a good fit, but if they’re not comfortable it’s a waste of time and money and as you rightly say will leave them with a range of negative emotions. Empowering women with knowledge and confidence is really important.

  4. Joyce Baran says:

    Ali I completely agree with you. I often say in my presentations..If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then fit is in the opinion of the wearer!
    Yes, we can all lead toward what we believe is an improved silhouette but until we can ‘feel’ her comfort and emotions we have not understood her.
    Our business is about women and our diverse/treasured emotions and opinions.

    • Ali Cudby says:

      Hi Joyce
      Just saw this comment, so sorry for the delayed response.

      Totally agree with the power of connecting to a woman’s FEELINGS about her bra – and by extension, her breasts and her body.


  5. Robin M. says:

    I agree “the number” (the percents most bandied about) should have changed after years worth of “awareness” to the general public. Shaming people into buying & buying new things is not the answer.
    I also think there is a misconception that a woman only has 1 “number/letter” for her lifetime. Even without weight gain/loss/body shape change, a woman can have multiple sizes between brands (not to mention international conversion sizes).
    Just like a # on a scale does not tell your fitness level, the sheer focus on “a size” is not healthy.

    • Ali Cudby says:

      Hey Robin –
      Just saw this comment so sorry for the late response!

      You are so right that the focus on size isn’t limited to bras…but when women feel amazing in their bras it can change SO MUCH about how they feel in their bodies!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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