Common Bra Fitting Problems & Solutions, Part 2: Your Back Band

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Updated May 15, 2013

Welcome back, everyone. Thanks for tuning in for another one of my bra fitting advice blogs!

Last time, I wrote about one of the most common bra fitting problems, the bra cup size. Today I will discuss the back band of your bra, and how to know if it’s properly adjusted or just not right for you. Always keep in mind that the back of your bra, the cups and the straps all work together to provide comfort and support. When one of these aspects isn’t fitting right, then the others probably won’t either. The majority of us take more than just one size or shape, depending on the bra company, the style of the bra (e.g. demi-bust, full coverage, etc.), the fabric they use, and so on. For instance, some 34B bras can fit more like a 36B, while others will fit more like a 34C, even within the same company! It’s not rocket science, but often it can seem just as complicated. Here’s some advice that I hope will guide you in your quest for your perfect fit.

When you first buy a bra, it is always best to adjust your bra either to the loosest hook in the back, or to the middle notch. NEVER buy a bra if you have to attach it to the tightest hook to feel adequately supported. Your bra band will stretch naturally with wash and wear, so you want to reserve the tighter hooks for later on. When you start off at the tightest hook from the get-go, you will be left with no room to make it fit more snugly when your bra’s elastic stretches out.

So, while you’re hooked at your middle or loosest notch in the back, the band should be aligned straight around your rib cage when your shoulder straps are comfortably adjusted. If too much flesh is spilling out around the sides, and you feel asphyxiated, then you need to increase the back band by a size. If your bra rides up in the back, or even in the front, then you need to decrease the band size accordingly. As a general rule of thumb, your bra should move with your body and not let you pop out of it as you go about your day!

I am constantly seeing women who are wearing a bra whose band size is too large, just because it was the only way for them to attain the right cup size. Let’s say you usually take a 38D but your back is too loose, while the cups fit just fine. To find your optimum size, you would need to increase the cup size while decreasing the band size. In this case, you should try a 36DD instead of a 38D, which will fit more snugly around your back while offering a large enough cup to encase all of your breast tissue.

Let’s try another example using the previous 36DD bra, but in this case, the back band is just a tiny bit too small, while the cups fit properly. Although you may be tempted to try a 38DD, you will find that the cup size of a 38DD will be bigger than the 36DD and your back band will be much too loose. Instead, you can try using a bra back extender, which is a small accessory that attaches directly to the back of your bra without needing to be sewn. This ingenious little device will give you more hooks to use with the back band so that you can adjust your bra (looser or tighter), according to your daily comfort. By attaching this extender to your 36DD bra, you are maintaining the correct cup size, while giving yourself some more wiggle room in the back.

Check back next time for the next installment of bra fitting advice when I’ll be discussing how to properly adjust your bra straps and why some types of straps are better than others. In the meantime, please contact me with any other fitting questions at: bradoctor@nowthatslingerie.com.

See you soon!

Celine The Bra Doctor
bradoctor@nowthatslingerie.com

www.nowthatslingerie.com

82 Comments

  1. mona

    July 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Hello I’m currently wearing a 38dd but the back is loose and the centre of my bra doesn’t sit against my chest, and the cups seems small because my boobs pop out.what size should I try next?

  2. admin

    July 13, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Hello Mona,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    I hope all is well. It seems to be that your ideal size is a 36E or 36F. Let me explain. If you hook the 38 band size bra at the tightest hook and the bra rides up in the back, you need a 36 band size bra. Given you wear a 38DD, when you decrease the band to a 36 then the cups need to be increased as well because you mentioned that the breast tissue is overflowing. I would suggest trying a 36F https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?size_1=321. I welcome any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to ask. Have a great day. Celine 1-855-521-4244

  3. Sasha

    July 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Hi my 34g bra is now to loose on the last hook , and does not hold me up, do I buy the same size in a new bra , I tried a 32gg but the cups are not big enough

  4. admin

    July 23, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Hello Sasha,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    Size 32 is good however you would need to try a 32H or 32I which is bigger in the cups than 32GG. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?size_1=261.
    The reason why I indicate “or” is because for certain brands the H can be big enough, you would need to refer to their respective size charts.
    I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
    Have a great day.
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  5. Jane

    July 25, 2017 at 5:56 am

    If I wear a 36DD the straps on my shoulders dig into me and the band is too tight BUT the cups fit perfectly. If I wear a 38D the band fits only on the first clasp and I spill out of the cup if I bend over; a 38DD was so big my boobs fell out of the bottom. What size do I wear?

  6. admin

    July 25, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Hello Jane,
    Thank you for your comment.
    If when you wear a 36DD the band is too tight, you are correct you should be wearing a 38 band. To have approximately the same cup size as a 36DD a 38D (E) would be the correct size however in this case you are indicating that the 38D is too small and 38DD the breast tissue fell out of the bottom. If the breast tissue falls from the bottom this regards the band not the cup. Perhaps the band should be tighter and it could be that you are in between a 36 and 38 band in which case I would suggest a bra back extender https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/fe2hook-bra-back-extenders.html which is ideal for this issue. I would retry a 38DD or a different style bra in that same size. I hope this helps but don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.

    Sincerely,

    Celine

  7. Ash

    July 26, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    I don’t know what my bra size should be. I have a 38 DD bra, but the sides of the cups stick out, as the cups aren’t completely being filled. A 38 D bra seems too small, as it tends to overflow or dig and droop downwards in as I wear it throughout the day. I even notice the sides will stick out on the sides of the 38 D bra. I know a 40 DD is definitely way too big on me. I have been wearing the 38 either on the second and the DD on the third set of hooks. What is my bra size?

  8. admin

    July 27, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Hello Ash,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    You may be in between sizes however I would suggest that perhaps you try a different style such as a balconet in 38DD https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?cat=203&size_1=364.
    I also suggest you try a 40C and or 40D size bra. Make sure that the style has a wider band. As well the 40 band bra should be hooked at the middle and when you raise your arms the band should not move.
    It would be my pleasure to answer any questions you may have.
    Sincerely,
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  9. Felicia

    August 11, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    I bought a 38c but I spill out at the top. Should I try a 36dd?

  10. admin

    August 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Hello Felicia,
    I hope all is well.
    If the band is comfortable, the next size up would be a 38D. If the band is too big then a 36DD.
    Let me know if you have any questions.
    Have a great day.
    Celine

  11. Rachel Ball

    August 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Hello I have a hard time finding a bra that fits me. Before I had my youngest I was wearing a 38D and it fit very well. But since I breastfed my youngest till he was old enough for solid food my bras don’t fit right. They are uncomfortable and my breasts end up popping out. What size should I try?

  12. admin

    August 27, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Hello Ms Ball,
    I hope all is well.
    Since the breast tissue is overflowing you need a bigger cup size. The first size you should try is a 38DD and increase from there if the cups are small go to 38E, 38F and so on and so forth.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions.
    Sincerely,
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  13. Felicia

    August 27, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I tried a 38dd and the band is too tight. I tried a 38e and the band is too tight. What size should I try next?

  14. admin

    August 28, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Hello Felicia,
    Thank you for contacting us.

    I hope all is well.

    If you are wearing 38DD and the band is too tight you need to increase the band to a 40. Since the cup of the 38DD is good than your new size should be 40D. 40D corresponds to a 38DD in the cup however the band is a little bigger. I hope this helps, if not please feel free to ask me questions.
    Sincerely,
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  15. Khendra

    September 7, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    I picked up a new bra recently at a store. My old 34b bras are too tight and press too hard against my skin/rib cage. Everything for sale was bra size 34 at the lowest, no 32 or 30 regardless of cup size. Since 34b was too tight, and everything was 34 bra size at the lowest, my only other reasonable options seemed 36b and 34c. 36b was way too roomy in the breast area, so I didn’t get that one. 34c fit much better than either 34b or 36b — band wasn’t pinching my rib cage the way it did with 34b, and the breasts fit in snug without all sorts of room the way it did with 36b — so I got the 34c. However, I have it on the tightest hook setting. I’ve read on another site that the bra should fit best at either the middle or furthest hook setting. Problem is, if I’m really, say, a 32c instead of 34b, I can’t find many bras in this fit at the store, because everything is 34 or above. So I’m thinking 34c is just what I’ll have to accept, at tightest hook setting, because it’s very difficult to find anything under size 34 anymore.

  16. admin

    September 11, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Hello Khendra,
    Thank you for contacting us. Not too many stores offer sizes below 34. It is true that when you wear a bra it should be hooked at the middle because if you hook it to the tightest, the band will become a little larger and then ride up. Since 34C is comfortable in the cups then I presume your ideal size to be a 32D. 32D corresponds to the same cups as 34C however the band is smaller.
    Please don’t hesitate to email me should you have any questions.
    Have a great day.
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  17. Jo Smith

    September 14, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I’ve worn a 40C bra for ages, but recently had a bra fitting which moved me into a 38D. The band feels rather tight and I’m told this is a normal reaction. Is that correct?
    Thanks, Jo

  18. admin

    September 14, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Hello Ms Smith,
    I hope all is well.
    Yes it is a normal reaction. It is tighter because you are used to a bigger band. The bra you are wearing will stretch and will be more comfortable. If the band is too tight, I would suggest in the interim to get an extender, https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/bf50504-bra-back-extender-2-hook-special-european-bra-back-extender-fashion-essentials.html, you will feel more comfortable as the bra stretches. I hope this helps. If not, please let me know. Thanks, Celine

  19. Naomi

    January 3, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    I recently went bra shopping. I first brought a 38D, and my boobs did not fit into the cup. This had been my size for some time. So I went again, but this time I got a 38DD. The band is tight and my boobs overflow from the top as if it doesn’t fit. What should I try?? This is frustrating.

  20. admin

    January 4, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Hello Naomi,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    Upgrading from a 38D to a 38DD is the right thing to because as you said the breast tissue did not fit in the cups. Now you indicate that the band is tight and the breast tissue is overflowing.
    First and foremost not all bras are sized in the same way.
    If you are wearing a 38D and the cups are small but the band is good, try a 38DD
    If you are wearing a 38DD and the cups are good but the band is small, try a 40D
    If you are wearing a 40D and the band is good but the cups are small, try a 40DD
    If you are wearing a 38DD and the cups are small and the band as well, try a 40DD.
    When you go from a 38DD to a 40DD both the cups and band are bigger.
    When you purchase a bra, you should hook the bra in the middle, when you raise your arms the band should be secure and not move, if it moves, you should try a smaller band.
    I hope this helps, if not,please let me know.
    Sincerely
    Celine

  21. Name

    February 4, 2018 at 8:52 am

    I use 38dd.. Cup size is perfect but band is loose what should I do?

  22. Jim

    February 4, 2018 at 11:38 am

    I wear a 38A but my breasts are pretty far apart, so it does not fit well. Fully adjustable tops (like a bikini) work great as I can move them more to the side. What is the best bra for me?
    Thanks so much

  23. admin

    February 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Hello

    In order to keep the same cup size and reduce the band size, you would need to try a 36DDD or 36E. Some brands do not have a DDD and have an E which corresponds to the same size.
    Please let me know if you have anymore questions.
    Sincerely,
    Celine

  24. admin

    February 5, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Hello Jim,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    I would recommend a push up or plunge bra. These bras particularly have underwires that bring the breasts together. You can see some of those styles by clicking on this link https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?cat=67&size_1=370&underwire=2515. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to ask. Sincerely, Celine

  25. Jessica

    February 16, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    Hello,

    I am wearing a 36C but I still out a little in the cup and the band is too loose, I have it on the tightest it goes. What size should I try next? I’ve tried multiple sizes but almost always the band is too loose and the cup is either a lot too small or too big. Thanks!

  26. admin

    February 20, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Hello Jessica,
    Thank you for contacting us.

    If the 36 band is too loose than you need to decrease the band to a 34. You indicated that there is some spillage in the cups. If this is the case, you should be looking at a 34DD or 34E cup size.
    I hope this helps, if not, don’t hesitate to contact me.
    Sincerely,
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  27. Anita Jude

    February 22, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I am a 44DD but it is way to tight in the back so what size should i try ?

  28. admin

    February 23, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Hello Ms Jude,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    If the 44DD is too tight you have 2 options. The first you can add a bra back extender https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/bf50504-bra-back-extender-2-hook-special-european-bra-back-extender-fashion-essentials.html. The second if the cups of the 44DD are comfortable and you do not have spillage of the breast tissue, than you should try a 46D, if the 46 band is still too tight, than you should try a 48C.
    I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions.
    Sincerely,
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  29. Addy

    April 14, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Hi I am currently wearing a 38D but the cup size is too big , the band is also too big from the band tests I’ve tried , it doesn’t dig into my skin but it’s also not a snug fit on the loosest hooks, it’s like I’ve tried on every bra there is they are either too big or too small. The band is closer to fitting than the cup size though so what should I try.. I’m not comfortable with getting sized by people..

  30. admin

    April 15, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Hello Addy,
    I hope all is well.
    If the band of the 38d is comfortable, meaning you raise your arms and the band does not move, then stay with the 38, however if the cup are too big, then try a 38c.
    If both the band and the cups are too big, then try a 36d. A 36d will be a complete size down from the band and the cups.
    I hope this helps, if not, please let me know.
    Thanks
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  31. Jennifer

    April 23, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Hi,
    I have been a 36E for a long time (like 10+ years, except when I was pregnant and was a 40E). I’m done having kids and have a bit more tissue as they are not full anymore. I can still wear one of my old bras comfortably but its time for new ones. So I bought a 36DDD and the band is great but the cup is too big. The band is on the middle hook. I bought a 36DD and I am falling out the top. As I said they are not full anymore from having 3 kids, a lot of tissue. I wear a full coverage bra. What size would you recommend?

  32. admin

    April 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Hello Jennifer,

    Thank you so much for contacting us. You were right in trying the 36DD however you should be trying 36E. Not all brands make the sizes in the same way so perhaps a 36DDD would fit in another brand. I would try a 36E though. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?size_1=340

    Please let me know if you have any questions.
    Have a great day.

    Celine

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