Year 2 Stats: Cup Sizes

Hello Ladies,

Our statistical series returns today, and after dissecting demographics and band size, we’re ready to examine cup size.  We know that cup size means nothing without a band to give it context, but for the purposes of our analysis, I want to compare how sales across cup sizes differ. Below is a graph plotting the sales distribution of each cup size.  (Note: For my discussion, I will refer to cup sizes using the UK sizing system.)

Cup_Size_Sales_2Observations and Notes:

  • Cup sizes E through G account for over 65% of our sales, which is down 5% from last year, and if I factor in D and DD cups, the number jumps to 77.68%, also down from last year’s 80%.
  • The GG+ cup sizes account for over 21% of our sales while C-E account for nearly 29% of sales.
  • Best-selling cup sizes E-G are all within 2% of each other with the UK F cup (US G) edging out the competition. 

The C-E Sizes

When we originally opened, the majority of our inventory focused on DD+ cup sizes because we fully expected Victoria’s Secret to dominate the A-DD market.  As a result, we decided not to stock much inventory in this range so that we could give our target customers a better selection instead.  Our first year sales suggested we made a wise choice, partially because we inadvertently created a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We became known as a bra store for plus size women and/or larger breasted women on account of our reduced selection in mainstream sizes.  However, in our second year of operation, we discovered that women in the VS size range, especially those who should be wearing 28-32 bands, want alternatives to the lingerie titan.  These ladies crave more unique lingerie or bras with less padding, and in some cases, too large bands contributed to years of fighting with their bras.  Consequently, our A-DD selection has expanded slowly through working with Natori, Josie, and Affinitas, and in the future, we hope to expand to b.tempt’d, Felina, and Parisa Fe.

GG+ Cup sizes

Last year, we often went weeks without a single purchase of a GG+ bra, but this year, we’ve seen impressive growth, mostly attributable to non-local customers finding us through the web.  The influx of larger cup customers made me more aware of both the demands and limitations of the fuller-bust market.  While I have ideas for expanding our inventory, we need more options in these sizes if we truly hope to satisfy the needs of this consumer.  Special acknowledgement is due to Parfait by Affinitas for recognizing increased demand and expanding some of their sizes, but more lines need to follow suit and innovate.  On this HH cup woman’s wishlist?  A longline bra!

The Mainstream

Clearly, the sizes we sell the most fall within the standard D-G cup size range, which intuitively makes sense.  Most dress patterns allow for a 5 to 9″ difference between waist and bust—an allowance in line with the D-G market.  What interests me while examining this year’s statistics is how the best-selling cup size dropped from a UK G to a UK F cup, and given that we saw more women wearing smaller cup sizes this year, I think the shift downward reflects are evolving customer base.  As with bands, we will focus more of our budget on satisfying this market, but I am pleased we are seeing greater diversity in the G+ market as well as in the C-DD range too.

Your turn:  Were these cup sizes in line with what you expected?  Do you think the average woman falls into the D-G market?

Erica

P.S.  For a detailed look at last year’s statistics, check out the following links:  Demographics, Band and Cup Sizes, and Bra Sizes.

Year 2 Stats: Cup Sizes
Erica
Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.
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26 thoughts on “Year 2 Stats: Cup Sizes

  • August 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm
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    I’m not sure. Several women I know above a G cup including myself as I wear a 34KK or 32LL and others that I know are smaller than a D so I’m not entirely sure what the average size is.

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    • Erica
      August 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm
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      Jean, it sounds like you’re one of the women who could benefit from an improved selection of higher cup sizes too. It’d be great if there were better options, and with Panache discontinuing KK cups, there’s even less available. 🙁

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      • November 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm
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        I’m curious which brands are doing KK cups (or higher) still? The best I’ve found is to get the sister size and have it altered down to the required band length by a good seamstress. Would love to know if there are any “off the rack” options.

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        • Erica
          November 14, 2013 at 11:08 am
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          Hi Kacey! I know Bravissimo has some KK and L cups, and I think you can order those sizes from Ewa Michalak. However, a lot of companies are dropping them from rotation. Panache upset quite a few women this year with their decision to drop KK cups from their sizing, and as far as I know, there aren’t any plans on the horizon for other companies to pick them up. 🙁

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  • August 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm
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    Have you found a decent Tshirt bra in the HH yet – I’m a 34HH and my biggest wish is to have support while not popping nips in a Tshirt.
    PS – I love your blogs, they’ve helped me greatly in my own research for a start up lingerie boutique.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm
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      Jennifer, I am not big on tee shirt bras, so I’m a bit of an oddball there. However, in your size, have you tried the Elomi Hermione? My customers love it for the smoothness, and the spacer fabric gives extra protection. The Fantasie 4510 can run a bit generous, so you may be able to wear the 34H in it. Other than that, I really haven’t found much in that range. Now, if you’re looking for extra padding, you could always try the new Parfait Charlotte. It’s not as discreet as a tee shirt bra, but it offers nipple protection.

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      • August 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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        I second Erica’s recommendation on the Hermione. It seems to work for many women. I am a 36HH/J and it is great on me. Also, I have recently helped 2 friends (one 36H and the other 40GG) with very different boob shapes find bras and the Hermione is both of their favorites. I am so excited that the Amelia which is almost identical will be coming out soon in black!

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        • August 14, 2013 at 9:14 pm
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          Jennifer I generally wear a 38GG and I also like the Hermione under t-shirts, but I have to say I don’t really like the shape in more professional clothing as I tend to favor things a little more forward projecting.

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          • August 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm
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            I agree with Ashley. Hermione does give me( and others) kind of a wide, “teardropish” shape. It has it’s limitations but the comfort is superb. I certainly concur that there is little or no forward projection. Not a t-shirt bra and very full coverage but Elomi Renee has more forward projection than other Elomi bras I have tried.

        • Erica
          August 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm
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          The Amelia in the Ocean color looks stunning in person! There’s more contrast with the lace, and the sides are supposed to be a little firmer for added support. I can’t wait to see this new soft cup wired plunge bra they have on the horizon for spring!

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    • August 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm
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      I know I probably sound like a loon, but my favorite t-shirt bras are from SugarShape, a German company. As a US customer, I have to order by email, but it’s totally worth it. The customer service is fantastic and they are lovely people. I’m a 34HH in UK sizing and order an 85/110 in SugarShape sizing. I could go down to an 80/105 in the Pure Ivory, but in their darker colored bras, the 85/110 is perfect.

      Reply
      • Erica
        August 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm
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        Laura, I’ve heard some good things about SugarShape from other bloggers. It’s great the full-bust market has so many great options coming out now. 🙂

        Reply
  • August 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm
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    Your cups size report x your band size report makes me feel rather mutinous towards big box stores and department stores. That’s what I think.

    Do you think your stats differ much from big box/department stores (assuming they sell the larger cup sizes)?

    The other issue is selection (which I know you covered in your first post a week or so ago). I spent two hours locked in a department store dressing room, tried on more than a dozen bras and only ONE came close to fitting. It’s like the styles are on repeat across manufacturers, then they only stock larger cups in a few brands (and even fewer styles). So, the chance you’ll hit a style in your size that fits? SLIM.

    I think lingerie and clothing designers are both guilty of shoving US women into items that are designed too small/wrong proportions. I see plenty of women in poorly fitting clothing, and if I ripped their shirts off I may find equally bad bras underneath.

    The biggest culprit, in my opinion? Poor design couched in “comfort”. I noticed all of the unsupportive bras (specifically US brands) I tried in my size had wires padded with 40 layers of fabric, super soft materials inside the cups for comfort, and squishy velvety bands that promised “no back fat”….because they HAD TO because otherwise women wouldn’t buy the shoddy things. Same thing with clothes…hardly any of them are tailored, and by design they’re loose and could fit anyone from Jessica Rabbit to King Kong.

    I am pleasantly surprised I am so “normal” in a 38F/FF UK. I just wish retailers near me would figure that out.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm
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      My personal thoughts on other retailers derives from years of being improperly fit and shoved into the wrong size bras, so take the following with that in mind. I think it’s easier to carry 30 sizes and also offer duplicates, multiple colors, and multiple styles than it is to carry over 80 styles and try to offer a diverse inventory. I know some of our customers have been disappointed we don’t have a bra they like in multiple colors, and we’ve seen the same disappointment when I say we aren’t carrying a fashion style in the shop. I know relying on orders sucks, but the sheer cost of trying to represent all the sizes we carry with even one or two styles is pretty steep. However, if you can use poor fit techniques to essentially map 80+ styles into 30, then you can make a lot more money for less overhead.

      Having said that, what I do when I buy inventory is a use a sizing cluster method. I’m sure retailers in business longer than me have a name for it, but I essentially look at clusters of sizes and try to find at least one or two bras to represent the different kind of customers contained within it. For example, I might look at the 32-38 E-G market (which encompasses our best-selling sizes), and try to find a few different molded cup tee shirt bras, a couple non-foam cup smoothing bras, some seamed cup bras, and a bra or two in a fashion color. I’ll compare fits across the styles too so that there’s a better spread for a customer in that range, meaning I’ll aim to have styles that work across different breast shapes. It’s pretty time-consuming to map out and verify, but it really has helped us mold our inventory to our customers.

      Reply
      • August 21, 2013 at 7:34 pm
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        Yes, I’m sure there’s a name for it.

        However, what I always witnessed was buying to perceived demand and “safe sellers”. And I’m talking about when I worked retail/catalog.

        I’m glad you take the time (I know it must be exhausting) to try to provide a diverse selection. I wish more retailers did the same.

        Reply
        • Erica
          August 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm
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          We definitely do safe sellers too (Hermione, Deco, etc.), but everything has to meet a certain fit criteria too. What gets tricky is when you have people in size clusters where selection plummets. Then, you start trying to figure what’s the lesser of two evils instead of what’s the best of two already good options.

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          • August 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm
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            There’s nothing wrong with bras that fit lots of people reasonably well (Deco, Hermione). But there needs to be the opposite to that, too…Panache selections or Claudette.

            That Eveden fit is so distinct…and it doesn’t work for people like me. I need the opposite, and it’s harder to find in retail stores.

  • August 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm
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    I love reading about your sales data — as a 28G, I’m really curious about how bra sizes are distributed throughout the population! I imagine that this knowledge is a closely guarded secret among manufacturers and most retailers, so I thank you for sharing it with us.

    I’d be absolutely fascinated to see a combined 3D plot of your size data, with band and cup on the horizontal axes and frequency on the vertical. Is that something that you’d be willing to share in a future post? I’m curious whether the cup size distribution varies across band sizes, or whether larger bands skew towards larger cups.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm
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      Hi Anna! I’ll be doing another post soon with all the details on cup size distribution across band as well as info on top sellers. Beyond that, I might be able to manage something extra, so let me see how things go with the next analysis series. I had hoped to get it up this week, but we were so busy I just didn’t have time. I can tell you that a G cup is by far our best-selling size for 28 bands. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 14, 2013 at 7:03 am
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    It surprises me some. I don’t believe I am very big, but I wear an HH or J cup. Granted, that is with a 30 band, but I see a lot of women who are much more slender than me with much bigger busts. I always just assume they are wearing the wrong size. So, yes, I am a bit surprised.
    On another note, I would really like to come down to your store sometime. I’d love to be able to walk into a store that carries my size! 🙂

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm
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      It is a little surprising to see how everything stacks up, and what continues to amaze me is how I get size clusters for customers. For example, every time I sell a 50 band, it’s to someone who wears a G, GG, or H cup. But, more on that in my next post. 😀 If you have ever have a chance, by all means come visit! We could even special order a few bras in your size especially for you to try when you get here. 🙂

      Reply
  • August 14, 2013 at 10:38 am
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    I’d say that these statistics seem to mesh well with what I found in the my Underbust Survey. I know that often it’s reported that the average bra size is a 36DD but considering that most women wear a too large band and too small cups my guess would be that in the states at least (considering the average size of women there) somewhere in the 32-34 range with a F-G cup sounds just about right.

    Here in Brazil I’d imagine that the statistics would favor a slightly smaller cup size. I’m not sure about the band size, though, because I’ve noticed a number of thinner women here with broader backs. I’d love to see statistics like these in other countries with different genetic make-up and distribution of weight. It’s great that you publish these, though!

    I need to get out my newest data from the Underbust Survey with over 1000 responses. Right now my results definitely have a different distribution than what you’d see in the states (60% of my respondents are within the healthy BMI range, for instance) so I’m curious to see what the band and cup size ranges are.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm
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      When we first opened the store, I heard the same statistics and tried to stack bras around that size (36DD-FF, 34E-FF, 32F-G), and at first, we weren’t seeing those as much because of our reputation. Now, however, many of our best-selling sizes are within that range, so it’s fascinating to see how the sales have evolved as we have become more established as a bra store. I can’t wait to see how yours have changed with the 1000 responses, and you’re right. It would be great if we could get some more statistics on bra size in other countries too to see how that changes. Speaking of statistics, I need to get the band/cup combo stats up! 😀

      Reply
  • August 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm
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    I know cup letters don’t mean a thing without the band, but I think this is pretty accurate. I wear 28Fs and I think my breasts are pretty average sized 🙂

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm
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      Thanks for weighing in, Vanille! Our F cups definitely sell out the fastest!

      Reply
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