Lingerie shopping (as opposed to underwear shopping, which is just grabbing your everyday undergarments) is supposed to be fun. It's an indulgence and a chance to make yourself feel attractive. Too often though it turns into a miserable experience as you find the articles don't fit.
Whether shopping in the real world, or online, the trick is to get accurate measurements before you start so that you can see whether something that catches your eye is available in your size before you go any further.
How to measure yourself
Stand in front of a mirror with a cloth tape measure. Take the tape measure firmly around your chest just under, or at the crease, behind your breasts. It should be horizontal around your back and firm, but not overly taut. Note this measurement down in inches. If the measurement number is even, add 4 -- that is your band size. If the number is odd, add 5 and that is your band size.
Now repeat and measure this time around the fullest part of your bust. Again keep the tape firm, but not tight.
If the measurement is the same as the first measurement, you are an A cup. If the measurement is:
1" greater then your are a B cup.
2" greater then your are a C cup.
3" greater then your are a D cup.
4" greater then your are a DD/E cup.
5" greater then your are a F cup
and so on.
We're all sorted then? No, wait, come back! Nothing is ever that simple, because you will find that different manufacturers have different sizes for their lingerie, especially if you get to the larger sizes and plus size lingerie. Some include delicate, but not particularly useful terminology such as "Queen Size".
Try and find the website for the manufacturer of the lingerie you are looking at, and hopefully they will have a sizing guide that fits your measurements to their sizes. It has to be said that some manufacturers are not particularly helpful, and even if they do have a sizing guide, it's hidden away.
The best thing to do is find a lingerie website that includes sizing guides for all the different manufacturers they sell. On any site, any piece of lingerie you look at should have some sort of item ID with it which tells you what the manufacturer or range is, and you can then use that information together with your measurements and the right sizing guide to get the correct fit. If the site you find only has one sizing guide (or none) and yet sells from different ranges, then either don't shop there or ask them for guidance.
A good lingerie site should ensure that it is clear which sizing information you need to use for each individual product. Only that way can you avoid taking chances on sizing when you purchase.
Lastly, if you're thinking of buying lingerie as a present for someone, don't try and guess their size! It's almost impossible. You'll only either hurt their feelings or offend them. If you can, sneak a look in their underwear drawer and find the sizing from a piece of lingerie you know they wear a lot -- if it's not worn often, the reason might be that it doesn't fit, so beware. If you can't do that, consider a gift voucher from your favourite site. It's better than buying something that's not going to fit.
Many standard retailers stop their sizes for lingerie at very small sizes. BigSmalls is a UK retailer specialising in plus size lingerie.
Established in 2006, BigSmalls sells attractive underwear in sizes 18-36, and supplied corsets, babydolls, bodystockings, hosiery and more from multiple high quality manufacturers, rather than relying on a single range. It enables BigSmalls to offer an incredible range of over 500 different pieces of lingerie for the larger woman. Since its launch, BigSmalls has grown to be one of the UK's leading site for plus size lingerie, and it continues to add to its range regularly.