Bras Don’t Fit. Could This Be the Solution?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 31 2013 4:55 PM

In the Future, There Will Be No 36C. Jockey to Debut 55 New Bra Sizes.

bra size
It fits!

Photo by kaarsten/Shutterstock

The poetry of the bra size was on display in the New York Times this morning. “On they go, the canonical brassiere sizes, up to at least a 50N,” wrote Stephanie Clifford. “They have been around since the 1930s, maddeningly unconventional standards, varying from brand to brand, from demi-cup to strapless—a kaleidoscopic vision, in lace and elastic, of fashion, culture and the enduring power of marketing.” It is a strangely beautiful and breathless way to talk about a system of bra measurements so imprecise as to hardly manage to fit anyone.

Each breast is a snowflake, says my editor (words to live by), but for years, our bras have failed to respect the individuality of the breast. Rather than pampering the girls with tailored fits, we’ve shoved and shimmied them into unforgiving, fabric-and-wire prisons. Here’s how the current system works: If the difference between your ribcage and your breast at its roundest point is 1 inch, you get an A cup. Two inches yields a B cup, and on up to N (who knew?) at 14 inches. That’s it: Differently shaped busts are treated identically. No wonder the Internet teems with tales of liberation, in which women decide to go full boob anarchy and abandon the undergarments altogether.

Advertisement

Now, though, according to the Times, we may no longer be forced to choose between awkward constraint and total lawlessness. After eight years of research, the underwear company Jockey International plans to introduce 55 new bra sizes—“a mass market answer to custom fittings that have become increasingly popular in boutiques and high-end department stores,” Clifford explains. These sizes take into account both contour and amplitude: They consist of 10 differently scaled cups in varying shapes. For $19.95, Jockey offers potential customers a sizing kit—replete with a measuring tape—with which they can experiment. The bras themselves come in black, white, and beige. They have numerical descriptions like 5-34 and 9-32 and cost $60.

I think I may have just lost some of you. Sixty dollars, no lie, is kind of pricey for a bra, and with all those numbers, who can keep track? But consider the totalitarian bent of the current taxonomic system, and consider how you feel about your current snowflake holders. As a longtime underwear discontent, I am ready to lift my cup(s) to a new world order.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.