Small Bands, Big Support: The Ultimate Guide to Small Band Large Cup Bras

February 12, 2023

Small Bands, Big Support: The Ultimate Guide to Small Band Large Cup Bras

Have you ever mentioned your size to your friends and it’s met with looks of jealousy? If only they knew, right?

Having a large bust on a small ribcage may reflect a commonly sought-after beauty standard, but easily finding the perfect bra in these sizes is definitely not the norm. If it’s not a bra digging into your shoulders and sides, it’s the underwire prodding into your armpits. 

Annoyingly, many bra brands make basic bra shapes that doesn’t do anything for those those with a petite frame and large boobs.

More people than you think struggle with the same issues. And, luckily, more and more online stores are realizing this!

That’s why most people needing a small band with large cups to go straight to online stores. But before you jump away, searching for these stores, read on to make sure you're in the right size. 

Discover our fabulous range of Polish bras and learn about workarounds to alter the bra you’re in now!


 pictured: EM's stunning BM Balconette in Porcelain


What Qualifies as a Small Band, Large Cup Bra?

There is no industry standard for a small band or large cup. But, the general consensus is US band sizes 32 or below with a cup size of DDD and above.

If you've only seen 32-40 bands or A-DD cups in stores, you're not alone.

These are matrix sizes. Bra sizes everyone falls into, according to many companies. And anything outside of that simply doesn't exist.

Due to this thinking, many bra brands don't stock sizes outside the matrix range. Meaning countless ladies have to drive hours to big cities in the hopes of finding their size in a department store there.

Why is It Important You Have the Right Fit?

Not only is wearing the wrong size uncomfortable but a poor fit can potentially cause pain. Breast pain can lead to poor sleep at night. And this is even more true for those with a small band with large cup bras.

Without the proper support, the weight of your chest relies on the shoulders. Not only does this dig into your shoulders but it can also lead to rounded posture. 

Your body is adjusting for that weight. And that just leads to other problems like back and neck pain. 

That’s a lot of knock-on effects for just wearing the wrong fit, right? 

How Do Band Sizes and Cup Sizes Relate To Each Other?

At one point, you may have thought that cup size doesn't change, no matter the band. A 34DD bra has the same cup as a 38DD. That sort of thing...

Maybe it was media influence or bra bands making us think that way. And the underlying belief (among many) that the smaller the band, the smaller the bust. So, how does it work?

How Does Cup Size Work?

Getting the right cup size for your bust all comes down to measuring your band size correctly.

To find the perfect cup, all you need is a measuring tape. Just subtract the band size from the bust size. For each inch difference, you go up a letter. A is an inch difference, B is 2 inches, etc.

white measuring tape on a white background

What is A Sister Size Bra?

Essentially, sister sizes are bras with different band sizes but the same cup volume. 

The general rule of thumb when holding cup volume equal: every band size you go down, the cup get larger by one size. And then, vice versa!

So, for example, if you have a comfortable cup fit in a US 32G, the sister sizes would be 30H or 34DDD.


infographic showing 3 sister size bras


When you're shopping for your next bra but struggling slightly with the fit or how supportive it feels, consider whether your sister size could be a better fit. Band is too loose? Drop the band size and up the cup. Band too tight? Up the band and drop a cup size!

It's important that both the band and cup in the sister size are still comfortable and not restrictive. You want ultimate security and coverage!

Some Challenges Small Band, Large Cup People Experience

You already know the struggles you go through to find the perfect bra that fits your shape.

close up of a woman clasping a bra in the back

Limited Size Ranges

The biggest one is availability of sizes that provide a proper fit. Many don't even try trawling through physical store lingerie racks anymore. You already know the disappointment you face.

Or, even worse, you search and get approached by a well-intending store clerk trying to wrangle you into the closest bra they have in stock to get sales.

Most try their luck with online shops, as they usually have a better range of sizes. But then, if you find your size, the returns policy may be non-existent or not worth the gamble.

(Don't worry, ours is great!)


Aside from the lack of availability, many bra brands think past a specific size doesn't deserve beautiful colors and designs.

But why? Why can't we feel sexy and supported under our clothes? When you realize how many women fall into this category, it doesn't make any sense!

With only matrix sizes being in stores, it explains why there are so many people wearing the wrong size!

How to Find Your Perfect Fit

Trying to find the best bras for your bust can feel like you're about to dive into the racks in TJ Maxx.

But, thankfully, many US women who fall into this difficult-to-find category are finding more success with European brands, particularly Polish ones, over US brands.

Polish brands are making waves in the US, bringing high-quality comfortable bras for larger busts. 

They're focused on crafting bras that feel amazing against your skin, fit well, and are gorgeous to boot!

3 Tips For A Well-Fitted Bra

Before looking at some of the best bras for you, it's crucial you're in the correct size first.

If you want a local bra expert to fit you, that's a great option. Or, you can use the easy-to-follow guidelines on ABraThatFits Calculator. And use the recommended UK bra sizes to get the best fit!

To double-check you're in the right bra, you'll want to check the band, cup size, and gore by comparing yourself against the tips below.

woman's back as she tries to fasten her bra

1. Band Sizes:

When fastened, you bra band should be snug and parallel to the floor. If it rides up, you need a smaller band.

If the band chafes, it may be too tight or made of poor-quality fabric. When a bra is new, it should feel very snug on the loosest clasp. This is main source of the bra's support and the band will stretch over time. To extend the life of your bra, you'll be able to use the tighter clasps to maintain the original level of support as the band material softens over time. If you are able to clasp your new bra on one of the tighter clasps, you may need a smaller band.

A properly fitting band on a new bra should feel snug on the loosest possible clasp, and run parallel to the floor. 

2. Cup Sizes:

Whether your bras have underwire or not, the cup should be able to fully contain the breasts. If you notice spillage from the top (quad-boob) or sides, the cup is too small. If there's too much excess material, they're too big.

Cups that fit well create a smooth fit both over the bust and at the edge of the cup.

Properly fitting cups should smoothly cover the bust (no wrinkling). Where the breast meets the edge of the cup should also be smooth, with no tissue spilling out

3. Center Gore:

The center gore is the small front panel between each cup. It should lie flush against your chest. So, if it's gaping, it usually means the cup is too small, or a combo of the band being too large while the cups are too small. If the gore digs in and is painful, the band could be too small.

The center gore of the bra should lie completely flat, flush against the chest. No gaps!


Shop Ewa Michalak's BM Balconette style pictured above, in a variety of gorgeous lace colorways!


What are Popular Bra Brands That Cater to Small Bands With Large Cups?

European brands tend to win out over US brands for those who have a large bust, regardless of how big the band is. They tend to stock more large cup sizes than the US does.

Thousands of women go straight to Polish brands for their high quality and super comfortable bras.

Any high-quality Polish brand is solely focused on making comfortable bras. Giving the coverage and security that all women want. No matter your size or shape.

Thankfully, you don't have to go far to find a gorgeous selection of Polish brands that stock small bands. Our range of EM, Gorteks, and Gorsenia bras includes beautiful detailing, side boning, adjustable straps, and narrowly set underwire (or no underwire at all). Perfect for your small ribcage and large bust!

Other amazing brands that people love include Bravissimo, Freya, and Curvy Kate. They're based in the UK, but they have US websites too.

What If You Can't Find Your Perfect Bra?

Now, searching for your size can be extremely tedious or frustrating. Or maybe you've found yours, but it's outside of your budget.

Whatever the reason, below are some alternatives and solutions to try out.

Bra Extenders

Bra extenders are small pieces of fabric with extra clasps you can hook onto the band to give yourself more wiggle room. Luckily, the folks at Cosmopolitan have taken the hassle of finding the best bra extenders for you.

Custom-Made Bras

Custom-made bra services are becoming more popular, but it tends to be more expensive. Curious about custom bras? This Woman & Home guide has you covered.


If you're a crafty soul, why not try adjusting the bra yourself? Even though it's easy to adjust straps, the band and cups are a bit more complex. For those comfortable with sewing and mending, this bra-altering guide shows you how to alter the band, cups, and straps to get the perfect fit.

 close up of a sewing machine at work


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