Small Back Large Cup Explained

Bras are strangely baffling things. Or at least, that's how it can feel when confronted with a whole new language to get your head around. After years of believing that bands and cups refer solely to the Spice Girls and small peanut butter confectioneries, all of a sudden adolescent realities dictate that we learn a whole new vocabulary. It can be incredibly unnerving and just plain inconvenient.

So, here at Lara, we thought we'd lend you a helping hand in dissecting some of this bra-lingo, and in particular, the term small back large cup. But, firstly, we just want to preface this post by highlighting that we hate this term. Small back large cup is just another way of lumping women with individual measurements and different bodies together and of justifying the absence of these sizes on the high street by side-lining them as “abnormal”.

At Lara, we recommend wearing the exact band and cup that fit your body, and so terms like small back large cup are irrelevant, as is any category that seeks to alienate or marginalise. But, since it’s a term that is bandied around so much, we thought that we would take a moment to think about what it means and why women with this particular frame often end up not being able to find bras in their size.


Small Back Large Cup

So, small back large cup. What does it mean?
The back size is simply referring to the underbust measurements, in other words, your band size. High-street retailers tend to stock a very limited size range in order to minimise costs and maximise profits, and so typically only carry 32-38 band sizes, with anything outside of this range being classified as “abnormal”. Thus, women who actually measure 26-30 inches around the back are classed as a "specialist small back size". So they either have to go to specialist retailers or just wear bands that are too big if buying from the high street.

The cup size, meanwhile, equals your over-bust measurement minus your band size. So, at Lara, if your underbust measures 30 and your bust 34, we'll give you a 30D. Whereas, at a high-street retailer, they would most likely give you a 32B, because the smallest band size they would stock is a 32.

So, what’s the problem? Well, when you wear a band that's too big for you, it  means that most of the weight from the chest (which should predominantly be supported by the band) falls upon the shoulders and neck, causing severe back pain. This can also cause your boobs to fall through the under band, or the bra to feel too loose in general.
This is a particularly big problem for women who have a small back size and large cup, because their band size isn't available on the high street, which leaves their shoulders to carry all the weight of their bust.
Here are some stories of small back large cup women in their own words.
small back large cup, Ella Grace Denton, lingerie, specialist bra fitting service
Ella Grace Denton shared her frustrations about her experiences of bra shopping for small back large cup styles, saying: "I thought I was a 32B, but my Lara size is a 30DD [...] But I've kind of realised that the letters don't mean anything. [...] The lingerie industry makes peoples' bodies fit their bra sizes. Whereas, here, it's like "Ok, what's your body like? Let's make a bra for it!"
small back large cup,, lingerie, specialist bra fitting service
Becky, of Cruelty Free Becky, said: "I didn’t wear a bra a lot of the time because I found them so uncomfortable. And my friends would say to me, you’re probably wearing the wrong size, but I was fitted twice! I tried underwired. I tried non-underwired and I just wasn’t a fan.”
At Lara, we custom-make our bras to give ample support, yet without necessitating uncomfortable underwires or hefty straps which dig into the neck and create more strain than they prevent pain.
Our favourite styles for women who’ve experienced this problem are the Wren, Coral and Crop for various reasons:

small back large cup,, lingerie, specialist bra fitting service

The Wren has wide double-layer straps and under-band elastic, providing optimum support without focusing the weight on any one particular point. It comes in grey, black and hot pink.

small back large cup, lingerie, specialist bra fitting service

The Crop is made up of double layers of soft mesh, a wide under-band elastic and low back. The double layers also mean that weight isn't resting on one particular point, thus creating a balanced and super-comfortable fit. It's a really lovely minimiser, perfect for layering.

small back large cup, lingerie, specialist bra fitting service

The Coral is an incredibly versatile style, suitable for big and small cups. The triangle shape, halter-neck and thick under-band create a snug fit and prevent back pain. The Coral also comes in every colour and is dress-friendly due to its low back and thin straps.

A word to those of you with a small back large cup size-we believe it's time that you find a bra that really fits you and makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. Remember that the key is wearing the perfect band and cup size for you, it makes all the difference.

To get started, grab your measuring tape and use the Find My Size tool online. We are also about to extend our band size range to include 26 so stay tuned for the launch!


  • Lucy Ellis

    I cannot go bra shopping as I have a small back and ribcage and main stream shops start at 30 my size is 28dd ..

  • Marina Jankovic

    Dear Lara or whom ever I m talking with on the name of the shop I m sending a prrsonal hi. me toI do belong to that abnormal ribcage circumference age and I was trully offended that you call it lije that. Abnotmal means not not complying with average b6t unnatural ir deformed., and since it is not abnormal fora tall cocasion woman to have thick short ribbs i wouldn t dare koling it abnormal but would rather call it un standard a, like covsdions lesser number of teeth , mongolian race longer bowels, or blach race additional muscles. i guess thst a person zhat wrote this hasn t taken ito consideration that when addressing others one muststay polite and true. As you say we are treated as abnormals, dince they don t really design anymor bras fir chest under 28 inches. tge 32 size bra is designed for a 28 inch chest orused to be and it wad a normal standard inthe us and all over Europe. Grand motgers saying or great grand mother s used tosay if youwear , nozive wear it means it was common to wear it a size under 34 ie if your chest , ribcage is under 30 inches then you are too small a 34 is a perfect m6ddle and a 38 a eye catching woman.

  • Cady McGhie

    It is so hard for me to try and diy some bras of my own so that i can wear them e.g. i have a bra that is a 12 b but i am a 10 b and i am too lazy to buy a new one (obviously i have other ones…) but do you have any tips on how i can maybe make this bra work?? If i tighten the band size will the cup size fit?? It is around a 1/4 of a cm too big for my chest. Plz help and maybe send a prxvt email on what i could do or if i cant do anything at all?? Thx -Cady!

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