As if finding a bra in the US along wasn’t difficult enough! The variation between all the different styles and cuts, and then the size differences between brands is enough to make anyone want to give up. These variable i combination with the unique and individual shape of your body makes finding a highly specialized garment extremely difficult.
Now throw in even one more variable – shopping European sizes instead of US sizes. There couldn’t possible be that much of a difference, could there? There is! Before you guess and buy a Euro-sized bra online, give this a quick scan to make sure you’re on the right track. If you’re trying one in the store, still have a brief look. It’ll save you a few trips to and from the dressing room!
Brief History of Bras
Since around the 14th century, corsets were the primary item women used to enahnce their breasts and overall figure. But women have always had an arsenal of specialized garments to shape, hide, and display their breasts. Records go back to the first century, and possibly even earlier. By the 19th century and beyond, the bra had replaced the corset in popular choice, and is more similar (but still very different) from what we’re used to seeing today. These garments, and the bra as we know it today have all seen many forms.
With the changing opinion of what the “ideal” woman and her breasts should look like, bra styles and shapes have evolved over the more modern decades. We’ve seen conical bras, enlarged and pushed together breasts, breasts that are lifted and separated, the more “natural” look, as well as a more flat-chested lean transition. This will never stop changing, and not only does the opinion change with the times, but also by the region. Just like with anything, tans for example, some regions of the world like bronze skin, other favor fair and ivory skin.
Converting between cup sizes isn’t as bad as you may be imagining. It’s pretty straight forward, I promise! American brands follow the typical sizing pattern of: AA, A, B, C, D, DD, DDD, DDDD. European manufacturers typically size their cups as: AA, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. So, what this means is that for anyone who is a A-D, your size is the same (though slight brand differences may occur).
Anyone larger than a D cup just counts how many sizes larger, and then counts that many sizes on the foreign sizing scale. For example, if my cup size in US sizes is a DDD (2 sizes larger than a D), in EU sizing I would count 2 sizes larger from a D, to get to an F cup. Make sense? See, it’s not so bad!
Lucky for us, the band sizing is really the same method across all manufacturers. Some EU brands will mix it up and make a band size in centimeters instead of inches. But the conversion is 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters. With this in mind, a 34 inch band would be a 75 centimeter one, etc. Easy, right? If you need help, look at the first two charts here. Japan sizing systems should be the same.
One quick note if you happen to be shopping for a bra in Belgium! Belgium’s system is exactly like that of the EU, with one major (and simple) difference. The system adopted in Belgium, Spain, and France (shortened, BEF) makes the band number exactly 15 centimeters greater than that of the EU. For example, if your band size is 60 centimeters in EU, then it would translate to a 75 centimeter band measurement in BEF.
How to Easily Convert
Once you are familiar with the two systems and how similar they are, it’s not so difficult to go from one to another. To do several conversions across different countries’ size charts might be a little messy, but it’s basic arithmetic and I’m sure you can do it! Just keep in mind all of the individual rules and exceptions.
If you really aren’t keen on calculating yourself, or you want to check your answer, go here. Her room is a great place to check your math if you’re a little unsure with the unfamiliar sizing. They go over the band sizing conversion, as well as cup sizing conversions. They’ll also go over panty sizes, dress sizes and pretty much anything you can possibly think of. How convenient! There’s also a bra fit center link, if you’re unsure about where to start in your sizing. Remember, as many as 95% of women are wearing the wrong bra size and don’t know it! Make sure you know your ideal bra size before you bother calculating your international sizes and buying new bras! Now’s as good a time as ever to double check and be sure.
Pay very close attention to the labeling of the bra. The labeling by country goes as follows: US = USA, UK = United Kingdom, EU = Europe (also Japan), AU = Australia (also New Zealand), FR = France (also Spain and Belgium), IT = Italy (also Czech Republic). You don’t have to worry so much about some of these sizing systems, as most European companies have switched to the EU system of measuring and sizing (makes it a tiny bit more universal).
Future of Bras
Now that you’ve got a brief history of bras and your international sizing, how do you see the garment changing in the next decade? In the next ten decades? The industry is a multi-billion dollar one, and likely won’t disappear overnight, perhaps it will change and adapt to changing views about body image, breast health, and fashion. Leave a comment with your thoughts or sizing questions below! I’d love to hear your feedback!If you enjoyed this article, then we're probably very similar. I'm Victoria Melo, and I know what it’s like to be busty and struggle finding the perfect bra. Not long ago, I was just another girl wearing the wrong bra size. When I finally discovered my real size and found great bras for my busty figure, it felt like a miracle. Now, I'm a bra fitter helping hundreds of women like you find their own miracle. Click here to read my lists of my favorite bras for you.