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

317 Comments

  1. Kris

    August 8, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Hello I am not sure how these posts work so I don’t know if maybe you missed my post. I’ve always thought I was a 36DD but recently began reading about how bras should fit and have been on a mission to find my size ever since. I am currently squeezing my boobs into a 34DDD. The gore is nowhere near my sternum, I have terrible quad boob, and the band is riding up some I the back. My underbust is about 34.5 in and my bust is 43.5 in. I’ve currently tried on up to a 34H and again, the gore isn’t flat against my sternum, and I get some rolls while the cup is kind of digging into my armpit. Please help!!! Thanks in advance and hope to get a response soon! 🙂

  2. admin

    August 9, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Hello Kris,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    If the 34 band is comfortable meaning is not tight or does not ride up then the 34 is the good size.
    For the cup size, if the DDD makes it so that you have overflowing of the breast tissue then you need to go up a cup size so 34G would be the next size. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?size_1=295
    Since not all of the bras are made in the same way, I suggest perhaps looking at different styles. I am not sure if you are wearing padded bras, wirefree or underwire, balconette of full cup. I would suggest a style similar to this one https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras/p5191-padded-bra-by-affinitas-parfait.html.
    I welcome any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to ask.
    Sincerely,
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  3. admin

    August 9, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Hello Kris,
    Thank you for posting your question. I answered your previous question but given this post, I would like to ask you a couple more questions in order to resolve your issue.
    Are you wearing a padded bra?
    Are you wearing a wired or wireless bra?
    For the 34 band bra, where do you hook the bra in the back, loosest, middle or tightest hook?
    Is the style of your bra, full cup like this one https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras/3102-carole-wire-bra-affinitas-parfait.html
    Balconet like this one https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras/p52312-estelle-balconette-bra-by-parfait-intimates.html
    Please let me know.
    Thanks again
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  4. Kris

    August 9, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Good morning thanks for the reply! I wear full coverage, non padded, and underwired bras. As for the hook, I usually use the last hook and tighten it as the band stretches. The band feels pretty good. It’s just that my breasts are overflowing out of the cups on top mostly with a little side boob. I had a little overflow of tissue with a 34H that I ordered also. My breasts seem to have exploded after having my 3 children.

  5. admin

    August 9, 2017 at 9:10 am

    A very good morning to you Kris.

    With the information you gave me right now, the 34 band is definitely your size and as far as the cup size is concerned, you indicate that you have little overflow of breast tissue which is good. If however the breast tissue would increase the next size up would be a 34J.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best

    Celine

  6. Rara

    August 14, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Hi Celine,

    I have the most embarassing problem and am losing hope at finding the perfect bra. I am 27yo and I have extremely small boobs.

    (Without bra)
    Fullest part of bust: 29.5inch Underboob: 27.5inch.

    According to measuring guides I am a 32B. But there is a gap in my 32B bras. I don’t have a full breast so I wear half cups & lightly padded bras. However, 32A is too tight on me.

    I think the problem is that I don’t have a full breast so it can never fill the top part of my 32B cup. (eventhough I only ever wear half cups).

    This is so frustrating cause I can only wear crewneck t-shirts to avoid exposing my (non-existence)boobs 😔

  7. admin

    August 18, 2017 at 6:23 am

    Hello Rara,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    When you indicate that the 32A is too tight for you, do you mean the band?
    I would like to address the style and cup size. For the style you indicate that you are wearing half cup bras and lightly padded bras. You should in fact try push up bras. This is an example of the style you should be looking for https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras/p13021-lynn-super-push-up-bra-by-parfait-intimates.html. You can also consider push-up pads to insert in your exisiting bras. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/febf39010-silicone-flirt-enhancers.html. Those will lift and enhance the breast tissue and make it appear fuller thus bigger.
    If the 32 band is small and 34 band is too big, you may be in between sizing so I suggest bra extenders which really do the trick. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/bf50504-bra-back-extender-2-hook-special-european-bra-back-extender-fashion-essentials.html.
    I hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
    Have a great day.
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  8. Ruby

    August 26, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I have got uneven breasts and my right side is smaller. Currently wearing a 75A which fits my left breast but unfortunately not the right. There is always a gap on my right side. When I bend down, my right nipple can be seen from the top.I can’t find any smaller cup size already… I’ve also tried a smaller 70A but it’s tight so I gave that up. Heeeelppp

  9. admin

    August 27, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Hello Ruby,
    Thank you so much for contacting us.
    It is very normal for one breast to be a smaller than the other which is why breast pads are available. https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens.html?cat=135 Since the difference is not a full cup size but less I would suggest the push up I would suggest the Umph or the Flirt. I hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.
    Sincerely
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  10. T. G. Raja Kumari

    September 10, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Hi, my right side breast was made timid Ed and when I use false breast in that place it is not fixed n sit properly n both breast are in straight line, I mean right side moving up . Pl give a tip how to set it right.

  11. Caitlin Transue

    September 25, 2017 at 12:35 am

    If I’m understanding correctly, a gap in the cups means the cups size is too big. I’ve been wearing a 38h but I have a gap big enough I can stick my hand in and still have tons of room. So i need to go down to a 38g? I’m kinda in between band sizes honestly 40 is too big and 38 is too small depending on the style.

  12. admin

    September 25, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Hello Ms Transue,

    Thank you for contacting us. The issue is with the cup not the band so you are correct you do in fact have to go down a cup size from an h to a g. If the g is too small I would suggest you looking at other brands because sizing is not necessarily the same with all brands.
    I hope this helps otherwise please feel free to ask me questions.

    Sincerely

    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  13. Erica

    October 7, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Hi, so I have been trying to find a good bra size for a while. I’m pretty confident that my band size is 32, but I’m having trouble with the cup. I have some bras from VS that are 32 DD but I get some breast spillage/quad boob. And I have bras from Aerie that are 34 D and 32 DD which fit better than the VS ones but I still have spillage problems. In both sizes in the Aerie bras, my boobs seem to fit fine in the cup with not much gapping or squishing when static, but the V shape doesn’t seem to come far enough to the center to keep my nipples from shifting out when I’m moving and I find myself having to readjust constantly to avoid a quad boob situation. I tend to get lightly lined Demi styles rather than full coverage. So do I need a bigger cup or perhaps a change in style? Maybe both?

  14. admin

    October 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Hello Erica,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    If the bra you are currently wearing is 32DD and the breast tissue is overflowing then you need to increase the cup size to a 32E or 32DDD depending on the brand because some brands do not offer DDD sizes so you need to make the equivalence. If you are comfortable with the 32 band and you do not feel tight than the 32 is the preferred band size you should use. If on the other hand the 32 is too tight even at the loosest hook you should upgrade to 34.

    As far as the cups are concerned the breast tissue should not overflow so you would need to increase the cup size, one at a time, until you find the size that is the most comfortable for you.

    I hope this helps, if not don’t hesitate to let contact me.

    Have a great day.
    Celine
    1-855-521-4244

  15. Rebecca

    October 14, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Hello! I’m currently wearing a 38DD, which is what the folks at Lane Bryant measured me at. When I first put my bra on and tuck everything in, it looks perfectly fine, no gapes, bulging, etc. As long as I keep perfect posture, it stays fine. But my breasts are very fatty and not very firm, so when I sit/slouch/move my arms, they just seem to swoop down or shift and leave gapes at the top of my bra – sometimes very small, but sometimes big enough I could shove my hand in there. When I return to a more neutral posture, everything’s fine again. It could be a size issue, but I feel like I might just not be wearing the right style for me. I’m currently wearing tshirt bras, and i recently bought a balconette-style bra that is marginally better but still not great. Any suggestions you could give would be greatly appreciated!

  16. admin

    October 16, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Hello Rebecca,

    I hope all is well.
    You described the issue very well so I am able to answer your question. The issue is related to styling. Let me explain. Most of your breast tissue resides towards the bottom, not the top of the bra cups so if the t-shirt bra you are wearing does not have a cup that stretches then when you move top of the cups will crease or gap slightly. There are 2 things you can do. First if you are looking for a fuller cup bra than I suggest one that features a cup that stretches like the following https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras/9320-pure-plus-full-coverage-t-shirt-bra-by-montelle-intimates.html. The second and last thing I would like to suggest are balconette or even demi style bras whose cups are not conical, more round, and not too deep. It is very likely that you wear a smaller sized 38DD. I hope this helps, if not please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, Celine 1-855-521-4244

  17. Rachael

    October 21, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Hi,
    Currently I am wearing a 34B on the tightest hook but the band is still loose. My rib size is 28 inches and my chest size is 33.5 inches. What bra size would you recommend?

    Thanks!

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