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Buying Bras in Europe

by Leah Eades on August 4, 2014

To say a bra can make or break a trip might seem extreme – but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. I’m sure anyone who has had to endure the discomfort of a dodgy underwire for the length of a six-hour flight, or the self-consciousness caused by lack of support during sports, will agree with me!

If you find yourself needing to buy a bra in Europe, the good news is: you’re in luck. By and large, a diverse range of sizes and styles are available across the continent. Of course, if you have a particularly usual size (such as a very small band size and/or larger cup) you may need to shop around, or else visit a specialist store – but it’s still nothing like the nightmare tales you hear about fuller figured women trying to buy underwear in Asia. I can still remember being chased down a side street in a Chinese market by a women who was brandishing the most miniscule pants I’ve ever seen and shouting “They stretch! They stretch!”.

The other good news is that most of Europe uses the same sizing system, which means that you don’t need to do tricky conversions every time you cross a border. However, there are a few exceptions. The different sizing systems in operation across Europe are as follows:

  • Standard European
  • UK
  • Belgium, Spain and France (BSF)
  • Italy and Czech Republic (ICR – we’ve listed these measurements for reference, but these days you’re more likely to find them using standard European measurements)


First, we have the band size:

USA       UK          EU          BSF         ICR

32           32           70           85           1

34           34           75           90           2

36           36           80           95           3

38           38           85           100         4

40           40           90           105         5


Then, for the cup:

USA       UK          EU          BSF         ICR

A             A             A             A             A

B             B              B              B               B

C              C              C              C              C

D             D             D              D              D

DD/E       DD           E              E            DD

DDD/F     E              F              F              E

G             F             G              G             F

H             FF            H              H            FF

I               G             J              J              G

… and so on.


Happy bra shopping! And remember: if in doubt, you can always ask for a fitting (or, you know, awkwardly mime that’s what you want).

Swap your bra shopping stories below!

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