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Are You Wearing the Wrong Size Bra?

Apparently 80% of us are

Photo by Womanizer WOW Tech on Unsplash

When I first read this figure, that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra, I thought surely that can’t be true. I decided to try to find the source of this claim. Every article I looked at repeated the same figure, but didn’t give a link back to the original source.

My suspicions were aroused.

Surely any reputable study should be easily found? Anyone with a scientific background wants to see statistics and data to back them up. Not known for giving up easily, I carried on my search.

Eventually I found the study!

It comes from a study written for Chiropractic and Osteopathy in Australia in 2008. In this study 30 women aged between 18 and 26, none of whom had children, were asked whether they had back pain and whether this might correlate to badly fitting bras.

Well, for a start, a study of 30 women is hardly statistically significant. Also note their ages. 18–26. Would you consider that representative of the general female population?

So 80% of 30 women were wearing the wrong size bra. That amounts to a grand total of 24 women.

As an aside, whether they had the wrong size bra or not seemed to have no effect on the incidence of backpain. So that myth has been exploded.

Reading on further, the authors came to another staggering conclusion.

Bra fit is affected by hormonal changes. Yes, depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle, your breasts may be a different size. How do bra manufacturers deal with this? Well they don’t. They ignore this fact that probably applies to up to 100% of all premenopausal women.

How is it that this study is still being quoted when it was published in 2008? There is only one reason.

Bra manufacturers are still using it to shame us into buying new bras.

If we have all heard the figure of 80% wearing the wrong size, then most of us will have a niggling doubt about how correctly we have assessed ourselves. If 80% get it wrong, then very likely I am part of the 80%.

Another study, a bit more recent, published in 2012, investigated whether the ‘traditional’ method of measuring for bra size was adequate when compared to a professional fitting. Published in the journal ‘Ergonomics’.

This should give some useful information, I thought.

Could the conclusion be that the traditional method we all use with a tape measure actually gives inaccurate results, and so we still end up with the wrong sized bra?

Let’s examine this study in more detail. The abstract opens with a sweeping statement.

‘A correctly fitting bra is essential for good health’

Again we are being shamed. Ladies, you are not looking after yourself adequately if you don’t wear the right size bra!

So how did they undertake this study? They chose 45 women who self- reported to have a bra size of 34DD. It was found that the traditional method of measuring underestimated the cup size and overestimated the band size. The conclusion suggests that larger breasted women should use professional bra fitters and not rely on their own measurements.

How can we relate this to the world population? Of course we can’t. Any study based on 45 women is entirely inadequate.

What can we conclude from these claims?

1.An entire industry is pushing their products based on false assumptions. That is just my personal opinion, but it is a conclusion I have come to from observing the real basis of their claims.

2.Find a bra that is comfortable for you and a good fit, regardless of what your measurements suggest.

3.Use a professional fitting service by all means if you wish, but remember that only you can really know what is best for you. Do not fall for their recommendation that fitting should be done every 6 months; that is just a ploy to sell you more products.

4.If you are unlucky enough ( or lucky, depending on your preferences) to have unusually large or small breasts, anticipate paying more for your bras. There will be limited production and availability of unusual sizes.

5.Professional bra fitters are likely to be sponsored by particular companies and so you may not get unbiased recommendations.



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Carol Price

Carol Price

I used to be something else, but now I can hold my head up and say I am a writer. Retired doctor. Passionate about empowering people. Editor of Illumination