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

68 Comments

  1. Nicole

    January 17, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    This is the best advice! My daughter and I tried the up-a-cup/down-a-deuce technique with excellent results!

    I feel so balanced and light! My posture instantly improved!

  2. admin

    January 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Hi Nicole! Thank you for the compliments! That is so wonderful and I am very glad that my bra fitting advice was helpful to you and your daughter! If you need any help with more specific bra fitting issues, I am only a quick e-mail away: celine@nowthatslingerie.com.

    Take care and hope you’ll check back soon for more fashion and bra fitting tips,
    Celine the Bra Doctor

  3. Pingback: How often should you renew your bras? | Bra Doctor's Blog

  4. sarah bouchard

    April 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I have recently lost 30 lbs. I used to wear a 32g. (equivalent to 36DD?) but now I have huge gaps of space at the tops of the cups. I bought a 36D bra but now i have muffin boob. What should I do????

  5. admin

    April 23, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Hi Sarah,

    The first thing you can do is NOT wear a 36 band size! If you’ve been wearing a 32 in the past and then lost MORE weight, there is no way a 36 band size will ever fit you. Since a 36 will offer you no support in back, because it’s frankly far too big for you (you’re definitely closing it at the tightest and it’s riding up in back). Most of the support of your bra comes from the back band, so that HAS to fit you. A 32G is (more or less) equivalent (in terms of the CUP SIZE ONLY) to a 34F, which is approximately the same cup size as a 36E or 36DD, but that does NOT mean that you can wear a 36DD with any confidence because obviously the back will be too big and the cups too small.

    “Muffin boob” – great term, by the way! – happens when the cups are too small.

    The first thing you should do is try a 32F, which is a cup size smaller than your original 32G bra. If the cups are still a bit too big, then try a 32E. There should be no reason unless you GAIN significant weight that you should go up in band size. In fact, if you lost weight, you should evaluate whether your 32 band size actually still fits you (because your back size may also be a bit smaller). Your back band fits properly when you’re hooking it up at the loosest notches in back and it stays in place (doesn’t ride up or squeeze/pinch you).

    I’m here to help you find any bra size or style you’re looking for. I can give you more personal guidance if you email me at celine@nowthatslingerie.com. šŸ™‚

  6. Sarah bouchard

    May 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Ok, I got two 32f bras to try. The center gore on one digs in real bad! The other feels like the band is squeezing me on the loosest hook. I measure 32 but should I try 34? Getting so frustrated!

  7. admin

    July 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

    hi Sarah, it sounds like you may need a 34 but the problem is that it also sounds like your cup size may be a little too small. Are you trying only underwired bras? The center gore is where the underwires meet, so if there’s too narrow a space there, you may need to try a bra with fuller coverage or maybe a bra that has a bit more space between the underwires so they don’t dig in. When they do dig in, that means the cup size is at least a little too small. If your back is digging in but you think your bra cups are actually the right size, you can try a bra back extender to give you a few extra inches to your back band size, without compromising your well-fitting cups. Check out our bra back extenders here: http://www.nowthatslingerie.com/en/search.php?query=extenders&x=-1301&y=-102 You can also contact me personally for more help: celine@nowthatslingerie.com.

  8. Tamika

    August 4, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I have a dilemma a 36DDD is to big for me in a demi but fits like a glove in push ups and full coverage not to mention going down to a 36DD in a demi fits however does not look like a DD cup what size should I stick with?

  9. admin

    September 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Tamika, In that case for a demi bra, I’d try a 36DD or 34DD (which can also be equivalent to 34E or 34F in other companies) to get the cup size of the 36DDD and the proper support in a demi bra. For push-up or padded bras stick with a 36DDD because these types of bras often have a less generous fit.

  10. Jade

    March 11, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Hi, I have a 36 DD U bra but the CUP is too small.. would I be a 38 DD instead?
    Thanks,

  11. admin

    March 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Jade, thanks for your question. Usually you would go from a 36DD to a 38DD if
    a) the 36DD cups are too small AND
    b) the bra back of the 36DD is too tight

    Otherwise, you may just need to go up a cup size without changing your back band, so like from a 36DD to a 36E or a 36F (depending on the specific sizing guidelines of the brand you are wearing).

    Don’t get a 38 back band unless you really need it, because although the cups may get a bit bigger, the back will too. Most of the support of your bra comes from the back band, so if the back is too big and doesn’t support you, you will experience other problems like back ride-up, lack of support, floating cups, etc.

  12. Ann

    March 21, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Hi, I’ve been wearing a 38DD which felt perfect and I was told by a sales associate a the store that it fit me perfectly. I have since lost 75 lbs. I started on the loosest notch and now at the tightest the cups are gapping. Which size should I try now?

  13. Samantha

    March 22, 2014 at 1:54 am

    Hi, I have previously been wearing a 32B but it had been a long time since I was measured & I didn’t seem to be getting a good fit at that size anymore. So I was measured at a store, the lady measured me as 28DD, though she also said I would find it hard to get 28 so may have to try 30d. So the thing is, firstly it was incredibly tight, it felt like it restricted my breathing and though I am quite thin I had flesh bagging out at the back. 2 store assistants agreed it was right & said I just needed to get used to it so I went with it. When I wear it I can’t stop thinking about how uncomfortable I am, surely that’s not right?? One more thing – when she measured my band size she pulled the tape extremely tight, any thoughts?

  14. admin

    April 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Hi Ann,

    That depends on how much gapping there is at the cups. It’s totally normal for your breasts to get smaller as you lose weight.

    You will certainly need a 36 in the back now, and a smaller cup size. However keep in mind that a 36DD already has slightly smaller cups than a 38DD.

    If your cups are gapping just a little bit, then try a 36DD first before a 36D. A 36D will be approx 2 cup sizes smaller than a 38DD.

  15. admin

    April 1, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Hi Samantha,

    When you wore the 30D, where were the store assistants closing your back band? At the tightest, middle or loosest hooks?

    If the cups fit properly, and the back was closed at the loosest hooks already, and you were still feeling tight in back, then you should try a bra back extender. This is usually my recommendation to easily and inexpensively create in-between sizes (like between a 28 and a 30 or between a 30 and 32 band).

    Bra back extenders are wonderful because they add 1-3 extra inches in the back of your bra, without changing your cup size. All you have to do is clip it onto your bra back band, no sewing required.

    Please let me know if you need more specific help by emailing me at bradoctor@nowthatslingerie.com.

  16. mrs e sutherland

    October 5, 2015 at 3:56 am

    i wear a 38d cup fit perfect but tight on the back do i need to go up or down a size please

  17. Maria

    October 29, 2015 at 4:53 am

    I wear a 36 e bra which fits great in cups but to small in back to close so I use 2 extenders what size would I need to get to close at back thanks

  18. Kelsey

    December 8, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Hey, so I went to VS and they told me I wear a 32DDD. I have been wearing 36C and it has been fitting okay. I only wear full coveraged bra’s except maybe 2. I decided to go get a second opinion and they told me that I am a 36b/c The VS bra fits great at the tightest hook ( not knowing you supposed to buy them at the loose hook) what should I do? I have tried a 34D and boobs were spilling out.

  19. admin

    December 8, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Hello Kelsey; thank you for reaching out to us! One thing that makes bra shopping for the perfect size is that different companies/manufacturers/shops have different standards for sizing, as ways to size vary from country to country. Also, one thing many don’t know about bras is that we can have sister sizes; that means that you can wear more than one size. Your measurements were most likely very similar to both those sizes you were given; sometimes you can go down a band size and up a cup size. Wear what size you feel supports you, is comfortable, and what doesn’t make your back or chest hurt.

  20. Ruby

    March 20, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Can someone help me I did my measurements and everything i wear 50i, the cup size it perfect but the wings are too loose. what should i do

  21. admin

    March 21, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Hello Ruby!

    Thank you for reaching out to us. I am sorry that you’re having issues finding your perfect bra size. May I ask, first of all, how you measured? We have a guide on our website to help you if you are in the position where you have to self-measure. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/how-to-measure-your-bra-size

    Now, if you are positive that this is your size, then my next question is which hook you have that bra on? Perhaps tightening it could be helpful. If this is not possible, then my next recommendation would be trying to go down a band size. It sounds like the band is the part that doesn’t fit. On occasion, this might mean you go up one cup size, but you’ll only know that when you try on bras.

    I hope this helps. If none of these suggestions do, please reach out to us again. Thank you again, Ruby!

  22. Denise

    March 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I am having trouble finding the correct size. Sometimes i can we are a 38D and it fits good, but not perfect. I recently tried on an old bra that was a 36DD and the cup size was perfect but the band size was too snug. ANY suggestions on what size I should try?

  23. admin

    March 28, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Hello Denise,

    Thank you for reaching out to us! We can completely understand the issues you are having with bras, as sometimes finding the perfect fit isn’t always easy. The first question I have is which hooks are you closing your bra on? Are they the tightest or the loosest? This is important because you always want to have it on the middle or the loosest. However, if you have it on the loosest and your band is still snug, then try some bra back extenders for now to get some extra room: https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/fe2hook-bra-back-extenders.html

    Your band will stretch with wear and so it may just need some more stretch. Also, what were the issues that you had with the 38D bra? That would be helpful as well.

    Thank you again for reaching out to us and please let us know if you have any more questions!

  24. Pingback: Common Bra Fitting Problems & Solutions, Part 3: The Straps – Bra Doctor's Blog | by Now That's Lingerie

  25. susan

    May 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    i have been wearing a 42e bra but it is to tight on my back do i go up in cup size ?

  26. admin

    May 19, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Hello Susan,

    Thank you for your question. If your bra is too tight in your back, chances are, the band size (the number) is too small. Depending on the severity of the tightness, you have a couple of options. You can try a bra with a higher band size, or you can try a bra back extender. We sell those on our website and it’s a very inexpensive way to add more room to your bra. You can find them here: https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens.html?cat=177 – we have some different sizes and options.

    Let us know if that helps you out and if you have any other questions.

    Thank you again and have a wonderful day.

  27. Carol Ferri

    May 23, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    I measured and I bought a 38D bra on line. The cups are okay but it feels too snug . What size bra should I wear?

  28. admin

    May 24, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Hello Carol,
    I hope all is well and thank you so much for your post.
    You have 2 options.
    The first you can get an extender https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog.html?cat=130 that will make the band larger and the second option would be to try a 40c bra size.
    I hope this helps, if not, it would be a pleasure to answer any questions you have.
    Have a wonderful day
    Celine

  29. Nicola

    July 17, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I have always been a 36f, bit this now feels too tight, especially underneath my Boob’s. I tried a 38f but it didn’t fit flat again my middle like the 36.used to.
    Any ideas?.I tried the online calculator AMD that have e at a 40f.
    Unsure what to buy…

  30. admin

    July 18, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Hello Nicola,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    When you go from a 36F to a 38F you increase both the band and the size of the cup. Since the issue was with the size of the band you should in fact be trying a 38E size bra. When you indicating that 36F was too tight, were you referring to the ban d only or the band and the cup? If it’s just the band then you need to try a 38E, if it’s both than a complete size up is 38F. If the center gore on the 38F does not lie flat and the band is comfortable you need to increase the size of the cup to 38G. I welcome any questions you may have. Have a great day. Celine

  31. Claire

    July 22, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Hi great article, my sports bra is currently 42e but have found the back band is really tight, what should I look at instead as I’m about to order new sports bras

    Thanks X

  32. admin

    July 22, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Hello Claire,
    Thank you for contacting us. A sports bra should be somewhat tight however with that said if it’s uncomfortably tight you should be looking at a 44 DD. If the 42 E you are wearing is compressing your breasts then you should be buying a 44 E bra size. A 44 DD has a wider band than a 42E and the cup is about the same. A 44 E is bigger in the band and cups. Please let me know if you have any questions. Have great day. Celine

  33. Nicola

    July 22, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Thanks Celine.
    Going to get measured at m & s tomorrow as am having no luck with things in shops as they fit in the shop changing room then seem to not fit when I’ve got home and worn them an hour.
    I meant the band, and slightly the cup. Yet the 36 sits flat in the middle as its meant too. Oh the struggles of boob’s!! Lol.
    I tried a 38 f. Didn’t sit right. Tried a 38g…seemed to big a cup.
    Nightmare ha

  34. admin

    July 22, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    You are most welcome Nicola
    Bra fitting is indeed very difficult. So many styles, sizes and fabrics. Perhaps in the 38 band, you can try 38E, 38F and 38G to see what is most comfortable. Depending on brands and styles you can most likely fit in a variety of sizing such as 36 and 38. Not all bras are made the same. Is is also impossible to wear the same size in all brands. There is always a variance due to sizing, style and fabrics.
    Let me know if you have any questions.
    Sincerely,

    Celine

  35. Claire

    July 24, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Thanks Celine for taking the time to reply.

    The cups seems fine it’s more the band that is hurting as its too tight and have have found that to be the same in my normal daily bras.

    I will try both a 44DD and 42E – I went to a well known shop a few months back but didn’t go tinny current size so have me a different size with a wire, not overly comfy!! I need to conquer this as i’m fed up with uncomfy bras

    Claire X

  36. admin

    July 24, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Hello Claire,

    Thank you for your email.

    If the cups are fine and it’s just the band then you need to increase the size to a 44DD. When you have the bra on in that size, lift your arms to make sure the band does not move, if the band moves than the size is too big. Ideally a bra should be hooked up in the middle or the loosest but never the tightest. Hope this helps if not let me know if you have any questions. Celine

  37. Sheila

    September 25, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I have lost a lot of weight due to a back injury so all my clothes do not fit correctly I am using a 40d bra this is fine on the cup size but the band is too tight bought back extenders but the front band is still digging in
    Can you advise please thank you

  38. Maya

    September 25, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    I’m a 38D but my breasts tend to spill over pretty easily… it’s been about half a year since I was fitted at VS. I don’t know what to buy and it seems like I never have a chance to get fitted. Can you guys help me out with some bra advice? Thanks šŸ™‚

  39. admin

    September 26, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Hello Sheila,
    Thank you for contacting us. I hope all is well. Since the front of the band is still digging in I would suggest you get a 42c size bra which is equivalent to a 40d cup but the band is wider. The extenders may not add sufficiently to the width of the band which is why it may be best to change sizing altogether. Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day. Celine

  40. admin

    September 26, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Hello Maya,
    Thank you for contacting us. It would be my pleasure to help you. When the breast tissue overflows it means that the cup is too small. You indicate that the breasts are spilling over easily. In that case I would assume your size to be a 38DD or 38E which is equivalent. When you are trying on new bras, I would suggest you bend down to ensure the breast tissue does not move. It is also a good idea to raise your arms to make sure the band does not move. If the band does in fact move you need to tighten it and if at the tightest hook the band still moves than you must go down a size to 36 DD which is the equivalent to a 38D bra or 36F which is equivalent to 38DD. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day. Celine

  41. helen curtis

    September 27, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Hi i order a 42d sports bra the back is a bit loose and the cup to big what size shall i try please ,any advise is greatly appreciated ,helen

  42. helen curtis

    September 27, 2016 at 2:57 am

    hi i measure 38 inches underneath and 42 across
    my breasts what size am i please .

  43. admin

    September 27, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Hello Ms Curtis,
    Thank you for contacting us. If 42 is too loose you need to go down a size which is 40 or even 38 but I would try 40 first. If the D from the 42 band is too loose and you should try 40C. Let me know if you have any questions. Sincerely, Celine

  44. admin

    September 27, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Given you measurement you should try 40D.

  45. Dannett

    October 9, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Hi I usualy wear a 36f but now the cup is slightly to big so
    do i buy a 36E ?

  46. admin

    October 10, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Hello Dannett,

    Thank you for contacting us. I hope all is well. It is correct you would size down a cup size from F to E. If you feel that the cup is then too small, I would suggest a different style. PLease let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day. Celine

  47. Rachna

    November 18, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Hi, I am Rachna from India.. my problem is I know my size which is 34DD but less brands in India bring 34DD size, I have read that you should go one cup down and one band size up 36 D but in that case will bra fit me perfectly, as band size will increase and cup size will decrease??

  48. admin

    November 18, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Hello Rachna,

    Thank you so much for contacting us.

    You are basically correct, you would have to go up a band size and decrease one cup size. If you feel that the band is still too big, I would get a seamstress to make a stitch on both sides of the band in order to make it smaller.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Have a wonderful day

    Celine

  49. Ashley

    November 26, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Which bra size is a little bit smaller than a 40d? The band fits perfect not the cups.

  50. admin

    November 27, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Hello Ashley,
    Thank you for contacting us.

    If the band remains the same size and you want a smaller cup, than 40C is the way to go. If you want both to me smaller than 38D is the way to go. Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day. Celine

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