A few weeks ago I was part of a heated discussion (or what felt like one) on a Facebook bra-makers group about underwires, and in particular, this discussion was about cross-grading and sister sizing and how wires are sized.
To make a long story longer, here’s pretty much everything I know about underwires in a ‘short’ little blog post. Laughs. This has now become a series of posts. Watch for Underwires 102, 103 and 104!
How are wires sized?
Underwire sizes can be confusing for the home sewist. 32, 34, 36, 38, 40…these sound like band sizes, not wire sizes…? Well, that’s because they are! Wire sizes are based on the sizes of B cups…so a 32 wire is the size of a 32B bra, 34 is a 34B, 36 is a 36B, and so on.
So how does this work for all the other sizes of bras? Well, that comes down to what we call in the industry, ‘cross-grading’ or what you may know as sister sizing.
A 34B bra is the equivalent in cup volume to both a 36A and 32C. The chart below shows wire sizes with their UK cross-grade equivalents. Yes, their UK equivalents. This is important to note as many regions have their own size systems. The UK uses many double letters as the cups get progressively larger, so we see D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, and so on.
This UK wire chart shows the wire size required for each bra size. In small cups & bands, wires start at a size 30 - the depths of the cups will be different, the smallest sizes being the shallowest in depth. Ready-made wires available for home sewists will only go to a size 60. Brands that utilize these larger cup and band sizes will design and manufacture their own underwires.
In Europe, sizes follow the alphabet with D, E, F, G, H, I, and J cups available.
In North America, sizes can be a bit more erratic. We see some brands use D, DD, DDD, F, G, H, and others D, DD, DDD, G, H and others D, DD, DDD, DDDD, DDDDD…D's until your eyes fall out.
Standard ready-made wires come in a whole range of sizes, from sizes 30 to 60. Wires start at a 30, for even the smallest of cup sizes. The width of the breast root for a small bust and small frame will be similar enough to a woman with a deeper cup, the deeper cup size being just that. Deeper and more projected. The base of the breast is still a similar width. At the other end, a 60 wire is a very long and wide wire. It’s not necessarily going to be suitable in shape for those needing such a large wire, instead the wearer needing something with that width and shorter, or a narrow wire for increased cup projection.
At the end of the day, there is no consistency with bra sizing. There is no standard, and each company can do as they choose. It makes it frustrating for us as shoppers, but it does give us variety!
So that's it for Underwires 101. Stay tuned for 102 where we'll discuss these popular 'new' narrow wires from Poland!
Educating women on the benefits of proper fitting bras is important to Kim. Designing lingerie that complements the fuller figure, and is comfortable, on-trend and beautifully constructed is her mission.
We are in charge of our bodies, and we make the decisions that are right for us, with no judgement. Kimtimates supports those who make their own choices about their own bodies. #yourbodyyourchoice #mybodymychoice