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French, European, or American bra sizing: What's the difference?

Clothing sizes can be pretty complex. Europe alone has four sizing systems for both clothes and lingerie. Some fashion brands use their own system, which makes it almost impossible to determine whether you're a size 38, 40, or 42. In addition to a number system, there’s also a letter system that ranges from XXS to XXL. Women’s sizes also have three different standards, each geared towards a specific body type: Petite (164 cm or shorter), standard (between 165 cm and 170 cm), and tall (170 cm or taller). Then there are also plus sizes and maternity sizes. It can be pretty confusing, and that’s not even including bra sizes.

The difference between French and European bra sizes

Before we explain the difference between French and European bra sizes, it’s important to understand how bra sizes are measured. The first measurement is your torso, as measured just under the bust. The second measurement is your cup size.

If your torso measures 85 cm, that’s your European band size. To determine your French band size, add 15 cm to your European size. Your cup size is always calculated in relation to your band size: It’s the difference between the measurement at the fullest part of your bust and the measurement of your rib cage. Your cup size is the same in the EU and French size chart. For example, if you are a European 85D, you would be a French 100D.

What about American sizes?

In Anglo-Saxon countries, clothing sizes are measured in inches. The United States uses a different bra sizing system than we do. Band size is measured under the bust and then five inches are added. Uneven numbers are rounded off to even numbers to determine the band size. A European 75 would therefore be an American 34. Like us, the cup size is determined by the difference between the measurement around the fullest part of the bust and the band size measured just under the bust. Starting from an E cup, the US and the UK use double letters in their sizing. For example, our E cup is a DD and our F cup is an E cup.

So which sizing system should you use? European or French?

What's the best system to measure your bra size? To be honest, it really doesn’t matter, as bra labels always include FR, EU, and US sizes. In Belgium both the French and European sizes are most common. There are differences between these two sizing systems, so be sure to pick one when trying to determine your bra size or your sister sizes. If the whole size system has you confused, feel free to stop by your local lingerie boutique. The lingerie stylists would be happy to help you find your perfect size and style!

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