Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A Bra That Fits vs A Shoe That Fits: Compare and Contrast

If you have been a member of the bra fitting community for a while now, you probably know that in addition to band size and cup letter, we have to worry about level of projection, cup breadth, cup height, cup fullness distribution, and distance between the cups. I have come a long way in my own bra fitting journey, and the further I travel the more I realize that bra fitting is kinda like shoe fitting: there are multiple dimensions one must take into consideration. Two bras of the same band size and cup letter can fit wildly differently, just like how to shoes of the same size can fit wildly differently. 

Without further ado, here is a comparison between getting a good fit in a bra vs getting a good fit in a shoe:

1. Sizing - Most non-bravangelized people use only the band size and the cup letter to determine which bras to try on. Many people mistakenly believe that all 34B bras are supposed to fit the same way. Likewise, most non-shoevangelized people use only the size number to determine which shoes to try on. Many people mistakenly believe that all size 7 shoes are supposed to fit the same.

2. Undersizing vs Oversizing - A lot of different studies come up with different numbers as to exactly what percentage of people are actually wearing the wrong bra size or the wrong shoe size, but all of them are in agreement that the most common bra-fitting mistake is a too-large band and a too-small cup and the most common shoe-fitting mistake is a too small shoe. 

3. Aspects of Shape - As many of us know, ten different 34B bras will fit wildly differently in the shape of the cups, even if all of them have roughly the same cup volume. Commonly ignored aspects of bra shape include: level of projection, cup breadth, cup height, fullness distribution, and distance between the cups. Likewise, ten different size 7 shoes will fit wildly differently, even if they are all the same length. Commonly ignored aspects of shoe shape include: singular width, and combination width

4. What Manufacturers Make vs What Occurs in the General Population - If you have been a part of the bra fitting community for a while, you start to notice patterns in regard to which breast shapes are the most popular. More often than not, larger busted people have a narrow rooted and projected shape while smaller busted people tend towards a broad rooted and shallow shape. Matrix bra companies have a tendency to make bras all broad wired and shallow regardless of size. Similarly, the most common foot shape is NOT a singular width! Most shoes being sold today are "matrix shaped". They either come in medium singular width or if you're lucky, narrow singular width and wide singular width. The reality is, most people have combination width feet, yet most shoe manufacturers don't cater to these foot shapes! Combination width means that your forefoot width is of a different size than your heel width. For example, many people find that the the size that accomodates their forefoot width is 6W but the size that accomodates their heel width is 6N.

5. Inconsistency of size naming conventions - We all know how US bra size naming conventions are totally inconsistent. It seems that after the letter 'D', every US bra manufacturer has its own idiosyncratic size naming. Some use DD, DDD, G, some use DD, F, G, some use E, F, G. It's all a mess. Likewise, shoe manufacturers will do the same, even if their shoes come in different single widths or in combination widths. Some will use the EN, N, M, W, and EW naming convention while others will use the AAAA, AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, E, and EE naming convention. AAAA is equivalent to EN, AA is equivalent to N, B is equivalent to M, D is equivalent to W, and EE is equivalent to EW. If you need single width shoes, it might be 9AA or 9N. If you need combination width shoes, you might need 7B/AA or 7M/N. 

Here is a handy chart of the above information in a condensed form:

How does one go about on her/his shoe fitting journey? The first thing to do would be to get professionally fitted at an independently owned shoe store. I feel that these days, large chain retailers no longer have consistent and knowledgeable shoe fitting clerks. The three things you need to know about your shoe size and shape are a) length size, b) whether your feet fit into singular width shoes or combination width shoes, and c) what that singular width or combination width sizes are. If you find that your feet fit into singular width shoes, medium width, between size 5 - 10, congratulations. Your shoe size is in the Shoe Matrix. If you find that you need combination width sizes, look for shoes made on a "combination last". A last is the mould of the potential wearer's foot that they use in the shoemaking process. New Balance is famous for their various combination last shoes; they own the sub-brands Aravon and Cobb Hill.

So hopefully this helps you on your bra-fitting and shoe-fitting journeys.


  1. I bought some boots in Clarks the other week, and wasn't sure what size to get even though I ALWAYS buy a UK5, (narrow if they make it-which a sensible shoe company like Clarks do) They got out the foot-measurer-thing, like when you go for school shoes, turns out one foot is a 4 1/2 and one is a 5. Explains why I own so many insoles. (Now to try and get the same in bras)

    1. You should always buy shoes to fit your larger foot, aka UK size 5. Now, if Clarks is saying that your foot width is narrow, what it means is that your forefoot width size is narrow. Your heel width size may or may not be narrow. If it is narrow, then you will have a relatively easy time finding shoes. But if your heel width size is instead, say, extra narrow, then you will need to find combination last shoes.

  2. I rarely have problems with shoe length, but found out the hard way that not all W widths are the same. Some are a C and some are a D.

    1. Most singular width wide shoes are a 'D'. However, there is a distinction between singular width wide shoes and combination width wide shoes. Singular width wide shoes will be a 'D' in both the forefoot and the heel. Combination width wide shoes will be a 'D' in the forefoot and a 'B' in the heel. Most people who need wide shoes will need combination width shoes so they might be marked as D/B.