How to measure chest size

Updated March 23, 2017

Whether buying clothess off the rack or having pieces tailor-made, accurate chest measurements ensure that clothing will fit properly and comfortably while enhancing your appearance. While clothing manufacturers utilise a set of general sizes, clothing often varies due to fabric quality, cutting procedures and construction methods. Chest measurements, especially in women, determine sizing in various items of clothing including bras, blouses, suit jackets and sweaters. Factors such as weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy and exercise all change chest size; therefore, measurements should be taken regularly to ensure proper fit whenever you purchase new garments.


Wear a close-fitting shirt or bra when taking chest measurements. Loose garments will add to the measurement and render it inaccurate.

Wrap the cloth measuring tape around the back, at the shoulder blades, and under the arms, keeping it parallel with the floor.

Bring the measuring tape around at the front, at the fullest part of the chest, holding the tape firmly but gently. Refrain from pulling the tape together too tightly as this squeezes breasts and results in an incorrect measurement.


Wear a non-padded bra when taking measurements for new undergarments.

Measure band size by placing the cloth measuring tape directly under the bust line. Breathe out and take the band measurement, as this measurements should reflect the torso at its smallest size.

Measure the cup size by wrapping the tape around at the fullest part of the bust line, without drawing the tape in tightly. The tape should remain parallel to the floor for all chest measurements.

Round any fractional measurements to the nearest whole number. For the band measurement, add 10 cm (4 inches) to even-numbered measurements and 13 cm (5 inches) to odd-numbered measurements.

Calculate the correct bra size, using adjusted measurements by subtracting the final band measurement from the final cup measurement. The difference between the two measurements determines cup size (AA to J), with each 2.5 cm (1 inch) increasing cup size. For example, a band measurement of 95 cm (38 inches) -- 105 (42 inches) when you factor in the 10 cm (4 inches) you have to add -- subtracted from a cup measurement of 115 cm (46 inches) would result in a bra size of 42D.


Undergarment brands tend to differ in size when the cup size exceeds D.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth tape measure
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About the Author

Based in Ohio, Deborah Waltenburg has been writing online since 2004, focusing on personal finance, personal and commercial insurance, travel and tourism, home improvement and gardening. Her work has appeared on numerous blogs, industry websites and media websites, including "USA Today."