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.

Your 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.

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.

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

156 Comments

  1. Nancy

    July 16, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Hello,

    I just bought a 40B bra. It seemed to fit well in the store. But when I wear it, after a few hours, the band rolls up and I’m constantly tugging on it. What’s up with that?

  2. admin

    July 17, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Hello Nancy,
    Thank you for contacting us.

    When you tried the 40b in the store it was comfortable however after wearing it the band stretched a little and is riding up because the band is too big. If the cup is comfortable then you should try a 38C size bra. A 38c would have a similar cup to a 40b but the band is smaller.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Have a great day

    Celine

  3. Amy

    July 20, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I have been fitted numerous times at a 32c before and after having children. I get gaps between my breast and cups. However, a 34b band is too big. How do I fix this problem?

  4. admin

    July 21, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Hello Amy,
    Thank you so much for contacting us. The gap or unfilled space in the cups means that the cup is slightly too big. A 34 band would not help because you did not mention that the band was too big. You basically have 4 options. The first get a padded push up bra in 32c https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?cat=67&padding=8&size_1=279. A push up bra will push the breast tissue upwards and fill the gap of the cups. The second option is to get a push up pad https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/febf39010-silicone-flirt-enhancers.html. You can insert the pad at the base of the cups and this will have the same effect as a push up bra. The last option is get a smaller cup size which means going from a 32c to a 32b. The last option is to try tightening your straps to see if the gap is less noticeable. You should try a 32b if the gap is significant because you will be change a full size. Don’t hesitate to ask me if you have any other questions. Have a great day. Celine

  5. Jamie

    July 23, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Hi there! I’ve been having the most awful time getting a good bra since gaining some weight during nursing school. It’s so bad that I’m wearing a 5ish year old bra because it’s the only one I have that’s supportive even though I know the size is wrong! I’ve tried plenty of stores and bras since and spent a lot of money on bras that I hate within weeks. My issues always seem to be:
    -everyone sizes down my cups when measured, but with the slightest movement I’m busting out and my cups run over big time. Generally want to put me in a D, I’ve been known to wear a DD-DDD.
    -despite that, I’m still gapping at the front with any movement.
    -my straps always dig in. I’ve attributed this to my larger bust, but I’ve never had a good example of what it should be.
    -I was a 34 band, now I measure in 36 apparently. In the latest bra I purchased, it’s riding up and is completely unsupportive.
    HELP!

  6. admin

    July 24, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Hello Jamie,
    Thank you for your email.

    I hope all is well.

    From your description it is evident that you are not wearing the proper size and style.

    Going forward DD+ cup size bras requires a full support bra. If the band rides up it means that the band is too big. The size of the brand is proper if you hook in the middle or loosest and it is comfortable. When you have the bra on you can lift your arms and if the band does not move, than the size is perfect. Let’s address the cups. You did not mention if you are wearing underwires. I would suggest an wireless bra so that you can be more comfortable. As far as the size is concerned I would try a 34E or 36E which is between DD and DDD. After having adjusted your straps, there is breast tissue overlapping on the sides increase the cup size, from DD to E or E to F and so on. A good example of a supportive bra is the following https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras/577-rhianna-wirefree-full-support-bra-royce-lingerie.html. If both the band and cups are properly sized you will not have the issue of the straps digging in. You can also find shoulder cushions for the bra straps https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/40007-silicone-shoulder-cushions-by-fashion-essentials.html. They will definitely help. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Have a great day. Celine

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