Is the ill-fitting bra statistic an urban myth?

The founder of a British lingerie brand has questioned the reliability of the widely-reported statistic that the majority of women are wearing the wrong bra size.

Since the mid-1990s, the “statistic” that says 70-85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra has made the headlines around the world, but this may be little more than an urban legend, according to Emily Bendell, chief executive of Bluebella and fuller-bust sister brand More by Bluebella.

“I have always felt that this statistic has been slightly exaggerated. It makes a good story for journalists but is it really true?,” she said.

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“I think it is a confusing stat, too – not all stores size in the same way so a woman can buy two bras of different sizes from rival stores which both fit her. So the stats may say that one of those bra sizes is the wrong size for her, but she knows they both fit. How does that experience fit into the statistics?”

This is not the first time that the ill-fitting bra statistic have been called into question.

In 2015, Ali Cudby, a bra fit expert and founder of Fab Foundations, an online bra fit training and certification programme based in the US, said the statistic was originally pulled from some anecdotal quotes in Women’s Wear Daily Interviews in 1995.

One quote said: “Foundations makers like to claim that 8 out of 10 women are not wearing the right size bra and retail sales help is frequently blamed for this.” (WWD “Dial F for Fit” by Karyn Monget, October 30, 1995)

“That’s right, the hallowed number is not based on any survey or study,” said Cudby.

“By the late 2000s it was further entrenched in the minds of consumers with more information from a single boutique’s internal research,” she continued.

“My guess is that the more people heard the statistic, the more they used it. I, myself, included the statistic in my book because it was already so well accepted in the world of lingerie and beyond, but using the number was an aspect of Busted! that always bothered me.”

Last year, author and breast expert Elisabeth Dale said she could prove that 100% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.

“How do I know? Because 100% of bra brands have different fit standards, not to mention use different methods to calculate bra size. Plus each bra style fits differently (compared a contour cup bra versus a cut-and-sewn bra),” she said.

“Women need to wear what fits them and focus less on arbitrary numbers and letters. That’s why I advocate knowing your Bra Zone (brands and styles that fit you—-including equivalent cup & band sister sizes).”

What do you make of the widely-reported statistic that 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size? Leave your comments below.



  1. Deborah Doyle said:

    As a lingerie and Swimwear design and technical consultant I do believe this statistic is out of date- I do believe that there will be a percentage of women who are wearing the wrong size but not as high as the 70/80% as predicted in the 90’s. The industry has gone to great lengths to inform customers on how a good bra should fit- the product range available now is much greater than the 90’s and customers have become less daunted in looking for the right bra. The internet shopping has opened a huge opportunity for new brands and I think it’s time the industry took up the challenge to prove this statistics has improved and if nothing else give them a pat on the back for doing a great job for a very complex and diverse product type.!

  2. Lori kaplan said:

    I’ve been in the Bra biz for 40 years, and to this day, 9 out of 10 women who come to my shop are wearing the wrong size. It’s not as simple as a 34DD having an equivalent fit of 36 D in another brand- women who wear 40D may actually be 34G; 36C’s are really 32E. Women can tell you their social security or checking account numbers sooner than they can tell you their bra size.

  3. RM said:

    It is and always has been a fictitious stat. If pushing pushing pushing women into a fitting is the only sales experience you have, then best to close up shop. (same with offering boozes and food, instead of real lingerie customized value). What does personal customized value mean/define to your customers?… about time each & every store figured that out for their own based on real customers. Do not wait for research or an article to be written for you. Do research every day with your own customers. Have a roundtable discussion with highest set of your shoppers, the middle and the least frequent.
    Leave the bogus stats back in the century the rumour was started.

    Name 1 woman who wants to be told she is any “%” of women, instead of 1 person in her own right.

  4. Joanne said:

    I remember first hearing this statistic back in the U.K. around 1996. My Father was a shoemaker by trade – he learned it back in the 1930s when there was very little mechanisation, and I remember him telling me in the 70s that it was perfectly possible to buy six pairs of shoes from six different manufacturers which were marked the same size, and no two pairs would have the same fit. That, IMO, can equally apply to bras. You’re “tailoring” something to a body part that has little, if any, “give”. Any slight variation will manifest itself as a poor and/or uncomfortable fit. Perhaps it’s time to return to the corsetiere coming to our homes? Bespoke brassieres, anyone?


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