Common Bra Fitting Problems & Solutions

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Revised April 11, 2013 by Celine the Bra Doctor

In my experience, more than 90% of women wear the wrong bra size. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Many women also take several different bra sizes, depending on the shape, cut, fabric and brand of the bra. To add to the confusion, most women are not entirely symmetrical, meaning they may have uneven breasts – click here to read my blog on how to easily fix your uneven breasts.

Bra Fitting Problems: When Your Cup Size is Too Small or Too Big by Bra Doctor - Now That's LingerieYour shape is unique, making it sometimes difficult to find bras that are made in standard sizes. Many large-scale lingerie stores do not have experienced salespeople to help you find your best personal fit. Today I offer you one of the most common bra fitting problems, with tips on how to fix it. Over the next few blogs, you will find a comprehensive guide on how to diagnose and solve each fitting problem, along with some images that will demonstrate the proper or incorrect fitting for bras.

But first… In a previous blog, I asked you to try on each of your bras and go through a checklist of items to see if your bras were the wrong size. It’s fun to do this with your girlfriends too, and they can help you see things you can’t. If it doesn’t fit, or if the elastic is stretched out, toss it or even better – RECYCLE it! Ask yourself these questions when you try on each bra.

Bra Fitting Checklist by Bra Doctor - Now That's Lingerie

One of the most common issues with bra fitting is the cup size, which is what I’m going to cover in today’s blog. (You can read about how to fit your bra back and bra straps in Parts 2 & 3 of Common Bra Fitting Problems & Solutions.) I have seen some women with red lines underneath their arms and breasts from where their too-small underwires dug into them painfully. This is NO GOOD!

Time for a reality check. It’s normal to change sizes and shapes over time. If your bras don’t fit you, don’t keep buying the same size. I have actually met women who refused to wear D cups because in their minds, that was too big. Size doesn’t matter as long as you’re comfortable in your bra. Seriously. If you don’t like it, cut out the tags! It’s not worth walking around all day long in discomfort, not to mention unhealthy!

Here’s how to find out if your cup size is working for you. First, make sure the rest of your bra is properly adjusted to be able to evaluate. This is where the bra fitting checklist above can come in handy.

How do you know if your bra straps are adjusted properly? Adjust your straps until you can comfortably slip your index finger between them and your shoulders, and without the straps cutting into your finger or slipping off your shoulders when you remove your hand.

How do you adjust your bra back? Your bra back is adjusted when you are able to comfortably fasten it on the middle or loosest hooks of your bra back closure without any bunching or causing bumps and lumps to appear. When you lift your arms, your bra back should not lift up.

Now it’s time to check to see if your bra cups fit properly!

Once your bra straps and back are properly adjusted, you should notice that your bra cups lie flat against your breasts without any bunching or space between your breast and your bra cup. Your bra also should NOT be cutting into your breasts in front or at the sides to create an unattractive double-boob effect or overlap. Your underwire should contour and envelop the entirety of your breast tissue under your arms, and lie flat against your ribcage and breastbone.

Bra that fits properly - Bra Doctor

Your bra fits when the underwire lies flat against your body under your arms, below your breasts and at your breastbone, without any spillage or gapping in the cups. Style shown: 4001 Brigitte bra by Bra Doctor

You know your bra cups are TOO SMALL when…

You can visibly see your breasts spilling out of the top and/or sides of your bra. Never, ever wear a bra if the underwire cuts into you or leaves red marks on your breasts or under your arms when you remove your bra at night! Underwire that is painful usually signals that your bra cups are too small. This can cause you serious problems aside from discomfort, like cutting off your body’s natural circulation to the breast tissue.

If your bra cups are too small BUT your bra back fits, start by increasing your cup size by one (e.g. from A to B, B to C, etc.) or finding a bra style that offers a wider and more flexible underwire. Or, even go wire-free: contrary to what some of you ladies may believe, wire-free bras can have comparable comfort and support to an underwired bra.

You know your bra cups are TOO BIG when…

If you’re experiencing gapping or folds in the fabric of your bra cups BUT your bra back fits, this can signal that your cups are too big. There shouldn’t be any space between your bra cup and your breasts; your breasts should completely fill the space without any spillage. Your girls should never slip out from your bra when you move around or lift up your arms (this is uncomfortable, not to mention this can make for an embarrassing fashion mishap!).

To fix these bra fitting problems and to make sure your bra cups aren’t too small, try to go down a cup size, like from a C to a B, until the underwire fits more snugly and your bra fits against your breasts without causing discomfort or gaps. Use the guidelines above to make sure you ¬†have a perfect fit.

More bra fitting tips!

Some women have come to me with their doctor’s advice not to wear underwire because it’s “unhealthy”. If you’ve heard this before, know that it’s mostly because women typically wear bras too small for them, which can cut off circulation to the surrounding lymphatic areas. Since your body needs to clear itself of its toxins, it is necessary to ensure proper and natural circulation, and squeezing your breasts into a small bra may prohibit your body’s natural functioning. As long as you are wearing the right size, and your breasts are being supported but not squished, wearing an underwired bra should not be a problem. Also make sure not to wear your bra 24 hours a day. It’s important to let them relax and “breathe”!

Always remember that you should do self breast exams periodically, but these should never replace regular breast exams with your doctor. Click here to view images from the American Cancer Society on how to conduct a self breast exam.

Stay tuned for the next installments of Bra Fitting Problems to learn how to fit your bra back and bra straps properly, and discover more helpful tips to find your perfect fit!

Need personalized help to diagnose your bra fitting problems? Want me to guide you to find the right bra size for you? Contact me! Comment here below, or email me personally at bradoctor@nowthatslingerie.com. Plus, get more bra fitting tips by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Celine, your Bra Doctor

bradoctor@nowthatslingerie.com

109 Comments

  1. Makayla

    July 4, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    The bra I currently wear is a 44DD, and it is way to big in the band like extremely big. I’m not sure if I should go to a 38G , 36G or a 40DDD

  2. admin

    August 12, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Hello Kirsty,

    The 28dd-28e is very accurate. However, when you increase the band to a 30, the cups need to decrease to 30D-30DD, depending on the style. The 30F would be comfortable around the band. However, the cups are about 2 sizes 2 big which is why the wires are digging into you.

    As for your second question regarding the non-moulded bra, when the breast tissue does not entirely fill the cup, it could be that the cups are slightly big or the style itself is not suitable for your breasts’ shape.

    Even if your size is 28E, it does not mean that all the bras in that size will fit.

    I can offer you more personalized bra fitting help via email or on the phone.

  3. admin

    August 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Hello Dani,

    If the bra rides up in back, it generally means that the band size is too big.

    You mentioned 38 and 40 band sizes. If the cups fit you well when you wear a 38, I recommend a 36DD or 36E. If the same is true for the cup sizes for the 40 band size, try a 38DD or 38E.

    I welcome any questions you may have if you contact me directly via email.

  4. admin

    August 12, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Hello Jana

    Having read your description I find 2 issues, the first being the style and the second is how you can alter your bras to make them more comfortable.

    Regarding the style, I would try styles that are more demi bras or push-up bras, because the styles are wider in the front and would best suit your needs.

    As far as the second part of your question regarding the underwires digging into your breasts. I would try to bend the underwires outward in this way you will not feel the underwires digging into you, or try a style with a wider underwire that will encompass your breasts more comfortably. Or, you can try a wire-free bra.

    Let me know if you have any questions or contact me directly via email.

  5. admin

    August 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Having read your description of the issue you are having, you are definitely not wearing the correct size.

    If you are closing the bra at the loosest hooks in back and the bra is still leaving red marks, the size of the band you are wearing is too small. You need to increase the band to a 34 or add a bra back extender to the back of your bra, which will preserve the cup size.

    Do you have the same issues with all of your bras or just one?

    You also said that the bras presses in under your breast, does it press also on the sides. If it is under your breast tissue only, you should try a 32b. If the bra is tight both under your breast and on the sides, you should try a 34a.

    Let me know if you have any questions or contact me directly via email.

  6. admin

    August 12, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Makayla, if the band is so big, how’s the cup size? Is the bra laying flat on your breasts? Or do you think the cups need to be bigger as well? But I think you would need to measure your bust and underbust, and get back to me with your measurements so I can help you more specifically.

  7. sophie

    August 14, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Hello. I wear a 28dd but I have lost a little weight/toned up so I think I need to go down to a d cup, but my underwires are pressing against my body and I have red marks when I take my bra off. I cant go up a back size as they feel too big and ‘slip’ down my ribs. What do you suggest?

  8. Masia

    August 17, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Hello, I have a problem with some spillage in front or top in some bras, but buckling, wrinkling, or something in the bottom or side. I got resized in brands (Natori, Chantelle, or le Mystere) as 32D or sometimes DD/E but I think it may be off. I cannot even wear a Chantelle t- back at all now in any of these sizes, the line where I spill over in front is so embarrassing and visible, as well as the emptiness/wrinkling on sides or bottom. And the wires hurt.
    Can you tell me what shape I may have, and what brands are good? My best fit is Affinitas, going up 1 size in band and cup (34 DD) but I don’t know how the sizing and fit compare to Panache, Freya, etc. I tried Panache 32D, Andorra anyway, is a bit small and tight in band and cup. I’d love to have some more options in case they (Affinitas) are low stock.

    Thank you!!

  9. Kriti

    August 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    my band size is 26 and my bust size is 33 what is my bra size??? What is my cup size???

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