Here's a story for ya:
Right after I graduated from college (the University of Wisconsin...Go Badgers!!) I needed an easy summer job and I ended up working at Lane Bryant for all of three months.
I gained a very valuable skill there, which still comes in handy to this day. The skill of properly measuring women for bras. Since making that fact known, I have had pretty much every one of my girlfriends ask me one of the following questions:
1. How do I measure myself so I know what bra size I wear?
2. I've noticed you have a rather large bust, Jamie. Where do you purchase your bras and how much do you spend on said bras? (ok I guess that counts as a two part question)
Here are my answers:
-You'll need a cloth tape measure.
-First, while wearing a bra measure yourself (in inches) around the band of your bra; over the band and not too tightly (but sort of tight). If you have an odd numbered measurement or any fractions of an inch, round up.
THIS IS YOUR BRA'S BAND SIZE
*The band of your bra, not the straps, is what is 90% in charge of holding up your boobs. You want the band to be tight without being painful. If it leaves a mark, then it is too tight.
-Then, still while wearing a bra, measure around your breasts at the outer most part (probably your nipples). Make sure you have really good posture. It should almost feel like you're sticking your breasts out. Keep your shoulders back.
Write down that measurement (in inches)
-Now, count the number of inches in difference between your band measurement and the measurement around your breasts. Write that number down.
For example, if your band measurement is 38 and the measurement around your breasts is 43, then the number you would write down is 5.
-Use this chart with your magic number:
less than 1 inch difference AA cup
1 inch in difference is an A cup
2 inches B cup
3 inches C cup
4 inches D cup
5 inches DD or E cup
6 inches DDD or F cup
7 inches DDDD or G cup
8 inches H cup
9 inches I cup
10 inches J cup
11 inches K cup
2. Where to buy Bras and Swimsuits if you have a big chest or are plus sized (aka you have a bigger band width than what is available in chain stores):
-First of all, right at home here in Eugene, Oregon there is an amazing store for all women and all sizes both large and small and everywhere in between: Ruth's Foundations! (they are located in the Southtowne Shoppes in south Eugene)
This place rocks! The women there are so helpful and they have pretty much every band size and cup size and more importantly if they don't they'll order it for you.
The bras I've gotten at Ruth's (I also bought a Speedo swimsuit there in a plus size) were a little on the pricey side although that may be because the brands that carry my size tend to be pricier. I think I spent about $60 per bra. But the idea with Ruth's Foundations is they want your bras to last you a long time. They offer repairs/tayloring of bras so if, for example, the under wire of your bra comes out or the elastic band is fraying/ losing its elasticity they can fix that.
Unfortunately, as a large-chested plus sized woman, this is the only store in town that carries my size so after that I head online for my shopping:
-Amazon! You can get to amazon from the banner right at the top of our page! You can get pretty much anything you need on Amazon. I've gotten all of my big 'ol nursing bras here and other bras as well.
I got an awesome strapless bra here but I wasn't a huge fan of what it was called, lol. They called it "The largest strapless bra in the world". Sometimes they offer said bra and sometimes they don't but this is a great place to buy plus size bras and they have a good range of prices. They have some really good deals on two packs of bras as well. (not to mention great deals on six packs of underpants)
Sometimes I'll find a great bra in my size here. Great prices...probably the least expensive option on this list. Nice swimsuits, too!
Huge range of sizes! I would probably say this is my favorite place to buy bras, shape wear, underwear and swimsuits.
La Leche League
Carries all sizes and all different kinds of nursing bras. I love their nursing cami and it was the only one I could find in my size.
*Why am I not including places like Lane Bryant and Torrid, you ask?...for the simple reason that I do not buy bras at those places as they do not carry my size. However, they may carry your size and if they do awesome! I really like their stuff.
In the comments section, please feel free to let me know if there's any great places I've missed. Thank you for reading!