The Surprisingly Common Phenomenon of Sizing Up for Depth

Back when I was 14 and just learning about how bras should really fit, I measured myself at home by /r/ABraThatFits' guide at a 26FF, then was fitted by a friendly in-store fitter into a 28G/26GG . I remember thinking during the fitting that the Cleo Maddie fit very well, and left the store happy in my Bravissimo Satine - having just come from a 32D! 

But then as the weeks progressed, I became confused. The bras I was trying in 28G - and even 28FF - were... too big. For my next bra, I settled in a Freya Piper Plunge Balcony in 28FF, my breast tissue sinking to the bottom, convinced I was very full on bottom because why else would these bras have so much space at the top?

I had unknowingly become a victim of "sizing up for depth", and it took me years to actually figure out what had happened - and that I actually have tall roots that make me functionally full on top.

So what IS sizing up for depth?

Let's say you have projected boobs but are trying on a shallow bra. While the shallow bra has the approximately same volume as your breasts, this volume is distributed differently - the bra is overall taller and wider, and so does not have as much absolute depth as what your breasts need.

Diagram showing that while a projected breast may have the same volume as a shallow cup, the shallow cup has less absolute depth than the breast requires
This can be uncomfortable and cause obvious fit issues like quadboobing and a floating gore. So a solution is sometimes taken - either by people who know what they're doing or people without an in-depth knowledge of breast shape - where they size up in the cups enough so that the absolute depth is more suitable for your breasts, which can reduce these fit issues. However, there is now extra volume in the cups - the bra is often positioned such that the extra volume sits at the bottom and outsides of the cups, which makes it comparatively "hidden" - particularly in moulded cup bras.

Sizing up for depth is most commonly utilised in those wearing large cup sizes/those with very projected breasts.
Diagram showing how a shallow cup can be upsized so its absolute depth is enough for a projected breast, and the extra volume in the cup is positioned to the outsides of and below the breast so it is "hidden"

Sizing up for depth is not the same thing as wearing a parachute bra - where a cup is too large but a too small band makes it "appear" to fit better, but they are closely related - you could say that a parachute bra is the extreme result of sizing up for depth coupled with reducing band size to attempt to hide fit issues.

Intentional vs Unintentional Sizing Up for Depth

Used knowingly, sizing up for depth can be a useful tool to manageably wear bras that otherwise wouldn't be deep enough, however, used unknowingly (such as in my case), you can set yourself up for misery and not knowing your shape.

Sizing up for depth can be intentionally used so that a person with projected breasts can fit in shallower bras like moulded cups and strapless bras, which some people find necessary for certain outfits. It may also be used by people wearing very large cup sizes/have very projected breasts who find that no commercial bras fit them perfectly, and consider the extra volume a compromise they have to make.

Some fit issues that can arise from this are discomfort from the wires being too wide, discomfort from the bra being pushed away by your breasts at the deepest point (causing the bra to dig in at the bottom), straps being too widely placed, or a feeling of compression around the rib cage. Many people who size up for depth to fit into specific bras feel that these are worth it or don't experience many negative effects at all.

When it's unintentional, such as what happened to me, the fit issues mentioned above may occur, but additional problems can emerge when that person tries the same size in different bras. These more projected bras can feel unsupportive (due to having too much space at the bottom or apex), there will often be lots of space at the top of the cup, and someone might misdiagnose their shape - either thinking they're more full on bottom than they are due to how projected bras fit, or thinking they're shallower than they are due to how the original "sized up for depth" bra fit.

On a larger scale, people sizing up for depth out of necessity or out of a lack of knowledge impacts the bra industry as a whole. Companies continue making bras that may not fit a majority of their customers as the customers keep on buying them. Customers end up sizing up for depth repeatedly over time due to a lack of representation of their shape and size combination in the bras they want to wear. It's a bit of an infinite cycle and nobody wins.

Let it be clear that I am not blaming individuals who choose to size up for depth here, but rather criticising the environment that leads them to size up for depth in the first place. I am also aware that in many cases it's impossible to make certain bras (particularly moulded cups) that fit a variety of breast shapes, so sizing up for depth in these will probably always happen until that style falls out of favour.

So, have you ever sized up for depth? Did you do it on purpose or by accident, and would you do it again? 


  1. Excellent post. I have sized up for depth because I have very projected breasts and narrow roots. I'm also functionally full on bottom and, with middle age, my even breasts are a bit less full on the top. I've been known to maximize less lower cup depth styles to push my breasts up to the top of the cup. But technically that's using shaping to manage depth, not increased size. Sometimes I've had to increase size (in shallow styles) as well. But the older I get, the more I stick to the brands that work for my particular shape. I wish they weren't Empreinte and Prima Donna! (Well I wish those brands were able to be made more affordably so that they could be more accessible because, if they work, they really work!)

  2. I haven't sized up for depth but I do find that I wear wider than what my tissue is. To use your diagram as an example--the one where it looks like boobs are wearing eye-glasses--the red lines would be (are) touching the top, bottom, and inner portion correctly so the cup is, in fact as tall and nearly as deep as it needs to be but there is space to the outside. So, my "boob glasses" are more oval than round as depicted in the diagram.

  3. So! Much! This!

    We're finding that there's an underserved population of those who are sized/shaped out due to projection, especially narrow frame + large bust (omega). I'd imagine the same would apply to those who are shallow. There is an assumption in the industry, and I think it is based in a reasonable assumption, that most women want a hemisphere for breasts. But... when you're presented an ellipsoid, you have to work with that!

  4. Great post! I LOVE your diagrams! When I was first sized in a store I was told I would never get wires that followed my breast line or a gore that tacks. I now know that what that really meant was that they didnt carry anything with narrow wires and projected cups. So, as you know...I went to Poland ;)


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