More accurate measuring and fuller figures mean our cups are running over
For every boom there is a bust but, by any measurement, it would seem Britain’s bras are getting bigger.
According to research, the average cup size in the UK has grown to an ample 36DD, a significant increase since the 1950s when the average woman was buying a 34B.
But are we actually getting bigger? According to Emily Bendell, of Bluebella lingerie, our bigger bras may be to do with how we measure and fit our underwear, as well as changing body shapes.
She said: “It’s probably a combination of both. Women probably are getting a bit bustier, but the way we measure has actually changed.
“We used to measure around the body then add four inches to that measurement, and your cup size would be the difference between that number and across your bust. “Now that has changed, but not with all retailers, so there’s a bit of confusion in the market.
“The increase in size is partly due to the different ways of measuring, partly people being better at getting measured and getting the right bra size, and partly because women have actually got bigger boobs as well.
“It’s a real combination of factors.” Unlike dress sizes which increase sequentially, bra sizes are a little more complex to calculate, and can often leave women confused in the changing room.
Emily said: “People often look at the letter on the end of the size and think that it related to your boob size, but it’s only the combination of the letter with the back size that gives you a proper idea.
“For example, if someone is a 36B, the volume in the cup is the same as a 34C or a32d.
“So you can have one lady that’s a D cup and another lady that’s a B cup, and actually the volume is pretty much the same but with different band size. “We need to get away from thinking DD means big boobs and B cup doesn’t because actually it depends on the other measurement.”
Although Emily admits women are now better at getting measured, it is estimated that more than 80% are actually wearing the wrong size of bra, something which Marks and Spencers’ technical manager
Women started telling us and asking, ‘I love this style, why is it not in my size?’
and “bra fit expert” Julia Mercer says she has witnessed first hand.
“We know that 84% of women that we have fitted are in the wrong size, with the under band being the most common area that women get wrong – it’s quite often too large,” she explained.
“The second most common mistake is choosing cups that are too small.
“Selecting the correct bra shape to your body shape is key.
“There are four main bra shapes – plunge, balcony, full cup and strapless. Most women can wear a full cup or strapless, but if you have a smaller frame and closer cleavage, a plunge will always fit better. If you have wider shoulders and a gap between your breasts, a balcony will always fit better.”
Despite increased demand for larger sizes, many women still find it difficult to find fashionable or flattering underwear, and Emily agrees that some brands in the market need to catch up.
She explained: “There’s definitely been a time lag within the industry. At Bluebella we’re lucky that we have a very direct link to our customers through Instagram, and they can tell us what they want.
“Our customers were often saying, ‘I love this style, why’s it not in my size?’ and that’s how we realised that, although the market was relatively well served in terms of functional lingerie, there wasn’t fashion-focused lingerie in a larger range of sizes.”
Alongside an increase in bra size, women’s figures have also become