Posted in History & Literature

Bra Size

Like most clothes, bras (brassieres) come in different sizes. But the sizing system can be quite confusing for men as it involves seemingly random digits and some “obvious” lettering grade, such as 34C.
The bra size gives away two pieces of information: band size and cup size.

Band size is the circumference of the woman’s ribcage, not accounting for the breasts. Each brand measures band size differently, but usually the measuring tape is placed around the woman’s torso under the breast where the skin folds, while some companies measure above the breasts. The number refers to the band size in inches, centimetre or dress size (e.g. 34″ = 75cm = size 10). A similar number is bust size, which includes the breasts. This is measured with the measuring tape around the torso and the fullest point of the breasts.


The letter in the sizing refers to the cup size, which describes the breast volume. This is calculated by taking the difference between the bust size and the band size. For example, if a woman’s bust size is 36 inches and her band size is 34 inches, the difference is 2 inches and therefore, her cup size is C (UK system, in the US, it would be a B). The corollary to this is that a size “D” does not necessarily mean the woman has big breasts. A 28D will not be much bigger than a 32B, but the breasts will be bigger compared to the torso. In fact, band size will typically affect actual breast size more than the cup size. Cup size measurement differs depending on the country, with the US system being 1 inch larger. The following is a table showing what each cup size letter refers to:


Bra size is not an exact science as there are many other factors such as physical constitution, breast shape, asymmetry and pendulousness. Some surveys show that up to 80% of store bra fittings result in poor fit, showing how difficult it is for women to even know their own proper bra size. As for men looking to buy a bra for their significant other, it will probably save you much effort and brainpower asking them instead of trying to work it out yourself.


Posted in History & Literature


There is an extremely simple way to tell if a shirt or jacket is designed for a man or a woman – buttons. A male garment traditionally has buttons on the right side while female garments have them on the left side.

The reason for the male garment is that having the button on the right side is easier to button up when dressing oneself (given that he is right-handed). So why is this not the case for female garments? This is because during Victorian times, women were usually dressed by a maid or servant so it would be easier for them to button up a dress if it was on the left side. This theory is very plausible as zippers were not available then and dresses were mostly buttoned from the back. Even when women’s clothing started having buttons in the front, tailors were already accustomed to the traditional convention.

Alternate theories are quite interesting too. It is hypothesised that buttons on male clothing were modelled after a knight’s armour that would be latched on so that a right-handed opponent could not jam their pike through a seam. Contrary to the military origin of the male buttons, female buttons may be placed in such a way to allow the lady to easily expose her left breast – which is closer to her heart – to nurse her baby.


Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Couvade Syndrome

A patient comes to a doctor complaining of the following symptoms: “I can’t sleep because my teeth have been aching for the past few weeks. My head is killing me and whenever I wake up in the morning my stomach hurts and I feel nauseous and want to vomit. Sometimes I have no appetite and sometimes I crave a certain food. My breasts have gotten bigger and my stomach is bulging quite a bit.”
The patient has been married for three years and in a few months will have a beautiful daughter.
What is the diagnosis?

Most people would immediately say “Pregnancy!”. But there is one small detail that was left out: the patient is a man.
It is common sense that men cannot be pregnant. So what is this man suffering from?

Couvade syndrome is also known as sympathetic pregnancy. In other words, the husband subconsciously copies his wife’s pregnancy and suffer the same symptoms. This syndrome can be severe enough to cause labour pains, nosebleeds and even post-partum depression.
The cause has not been established, but it is likely to be psychosomatic, where psychological symptoms are expressed through physical symptoms, or due to changes in hormone levels.