Common Bra Fitting Problems & Solutions

By  |  226 Comments

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

226 Comments

  1. Karen

    October 27, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks so much.

  2. Alice

    December 5, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Hello, my problem is that everytime I raise my arms to grab something high up or just in general, the bottom (underneath my breasts) of my sports bra rises up to where a big gap forms and I can see through it. Does this mean I need a bigger size of bra? It really annoys me and when I get Christmas money this year I’m planning on going back to the store and actually getting a size bigger and getting a regular bra instead of sorts bras. Is this what I should do or? I’m 16 by the way.

  3. admin

    December 11, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Hello Alice,
    Thank you so much for reaching out to us. The reason why your band rises up is because it is too big. You need to decrease the number from 38 to 36 and so forth. Would you be able to let me know the exact size you are wearing? It would help me give you an indication as to what size you require. It is certain that the bra you are currently wearing it too big. Looking forward to your answer. Celine

  4. yvette

    December 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    hello, i am not sure what is wrong. i am a plus size women and trying to find the right bra size. i never get the right store with the right person to size me nor am i able to get it right when i do it myself. i current wear a 44c but i have problems with the bra back to not raise up but it curls into my fat LOL. i am not sure if i need a bigger size or is it just because of my size? thank you in advance.

  5. admin

    December 17, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Hello Yvette,
    Thank you so much for contacting us. I hope all is well.

    If the band raises up say when you lift your arms, it means that the band is too big. If you hook your bra at the loosest hook and it is comfortable then your size is 44. Now if the band curls into the side it means that you need a bra style with a longer side like the following style https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/35056-on-your-side-2-ply-underwire-bra-with-side-support-by-olga-lingerie.html. It is not necessarily the size you need to change but the style. I welcome any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to contact me. Have a great day. Celine

  6. emz

    December 17, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Help – tall woman with miniature fried eggs here (currently wearing 34A). I find that when standing up straight shoulders back that everything fits right. However the minute I recline or lean over I have problems with the cups gaping. If I tighten the straps then everything is fine for a few mins until the wire rides up as there’s just not enough there to hold it in place, but if not tight enough I might as well not bother. Also with padded bras I sometimes find my nipples so close to the top that I don’t feel secure. It would be nice to find something that doesn’t make me feel like a boy but doesn’t risk ‘exposure’.

  7. admin

    December 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Hello Emz,
    Thank you for contacting us.
    Basically in order to increase cleavage I would recommend a push up bra which means that at the base of the cup there is a bump pad that lifts the breast tissue. You mentioned that sometimes your nipples are close to the top and you don’t feel secure. I need to address the issue with the band first. If you hook your bra to the loosest or middle than your band is 34, however if you hook your bra to the tightest I absolutely recommend you trying a padded 32B bra. If the 34A is the proper band than I feel that the cups of the bras you are wearing maybe a little big so you would actually need a bra is made a little smaller in the cups. Would you be able to let me know first which hook you close your bra? Thanks and have a great day. Celine

  8. Ria

    December 28, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Hi the problem I’m having I the extra material at the front on the bra rolls up under my breast from time to time. I prefer bras with that extra bit of material at the front but why does it roll up

  9. admin

    December 28, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Hello Ria,
    Thank you for contacting us. If you are referring to the center gore which is the material that lies flat on your breast bone it means that the band is too big. What size are you currently wearing? If the band is the correct size then it won’t roll up. If you are able to let me know the size, I will be more than happy to suggest the correct sizing. Looking forward to your response. Have a great day. Celine

  10. Ria

    December 28, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    I wear between 32-36DDD or FF depending on where I get it from and style, and weight gain and loss. I think the band of currently wear now is 32&34DDD. I wear bra extensions if I have to.

  11. Ruthjane

    December 28, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Hello, my problem is with the underwire cutting into the skin under my breasts. I was recently fitted with a 34D. The cups fit perfectly and are supportive but it is so uncomfortable because of the underwire. Help!

  12. admin

    December 29, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Hello Ria,

    Thank you for responding so quickly. I can understand from your explanation that you wear different sizes and styles because of weight gain and loss. The issue you described in the initial comment indicates that somes bras may be a little bit bigger in the band which is why the band is rolls up. If you wear bra extensions this will make the band even wider. Which bra size would you say is the most comfortable without the extensions? I am trying to figure out the closest if not the best size for you. Have a great day. Celine 1-855-521-4244

  13. Ria

    December 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    A 34DDD

  14. admin

    December 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Hello Ruthjane,
    Thank you for reaching out to us. I have 3 questions. Which hook do you close your bra in the back, the loosest, middle or tightest hook? Do you experience this issue with all your bras? Last question, when you raise your arms, does the band move?
    Please let me know.
    Have a wonderful day Celine 1-855-521-4244

  15. Ruthjane Willow

    December 29, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Celine,
    Thanks for getting back to me. I have the bra on the loosest hook. I do have this problem with all my bras even the non-underwire ones. By the afternoon I feel like the bra is cutting me in half. When I raise my arms, the band does not move. I was recently refit and they said I should go from a 36C to a 34D underwire. It supports great and looks better than my non-underwire bras, but is not very comfortable.
    Thanks for any advice you can give.
    Ruthjane

  16. kim

    December 30, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I always wear push up bras which is either 34b or 32c. my problem is that im afraid that its too big for me bc when im sitting or standing ul straight, the cups fit me perfectly. however if i hunch over or lean over to one side, there are gaps. should i change to a smaller size

  17. admin

    December 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Hello Ruthjane,

    Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.
    In the first email the issue was that cutting into the skin under the breast and I thought it might be an issue with the band. In this email though you do indicate that by the afternoon the bra is cutting into you.

    I truly believe that going from a 36c to a 34d is not the way to go. This is definitely a sizing issue. Going to 34d will increase your discomfort because the band is smaller which is most likely the reason why you are also using bra back extenders. By the end of the day the body has a tendency to swell a bit which is why when you put your bra in the morning you don’t feel the discomfort but you do later on in the day.

    This is what I do suggest. With your fingers, very gently bend the underwires outwards, try the bra on again and repeat until you feel more comfortable. I suggest you stay with the 36c band. The 36c is equivalent to a 34d cup but the only difference is that the 36 has a bigger band.

    Now if the breast tissue overflows on the sides you need to try a 36d. This would mean that the cups are slightly smaller.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Have a great day.

    Celine 1-855-521-4244

  18. admin

    December 30, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Hello Kim,
    Thank you for contacting us. I hope all is well.
    A 34b is equivalent to a 32c in the cups. If you go down from a 32c to a 32b the cups will be equivalent to a 34a and will be uncomfortable.

    I would suggest you tightening your straps.

    As you mentioned in your comment, when you are sitting straight the cups fit you perfectly, I truly believe the issue is with a slight adjustment to the straps.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Have a wonderful day

    Celine 1-855-521-4244

  19. Kris

    January 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Hello,

    I have a few issues finding the right bra for my girls whom I think have increased from 38DD. My straps fall over, my breasts are spilling over, my skin is irritated in the back, nipples are showing thru the cups. I have scoliosis. What do you recommend?

  20. Melissa

    January 9, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Hi,

    I am currently wearing size 40f non wired because last time I was measured they suggested wired and 38ff and they were too painful so I got measured elsewhere and went to non wired 40f. However I have since gained weight and the band is digging into me it’s so tight but the cups are getting too small too. It’s getting really sore under my boobs where the material is rubbing from being tight.

  21. admin

    January 10, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Hello Kris,

    Thank you so much for contacting us.

    Given the fact that the breast tissue is overflowing indicates, as you mentioned, that the cups have increased in size, from a 38DD perhaps to a 38F. This would explain your discomfort. If when you raise your arms the band moves I suggest you reducing the 38 to a 36. If however your band does feel tight I would recommend a 40 band in that case a 40dd cup size. I would also suggest perhaps a front opening bra.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Have a wonderful day. Celine 1-855-521-4244

  22. admin

    January 10, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Hello Melissa,

    Thank you for reaching out to us.

    Given the fact that you have gained weight and are feeling uncomfortable in your bras, I would defnitely suggest a 42f. This size is bigger in the band and the cups. You can view some styles on this page that features both wireless and underwired bras https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens/lingerie/bras.html?size_1=454. I welcome any questions you may have, so don’t hesitate to ask. Have a great day. Celine 1-855-521-4244

  23. Sue Cooper

    January 13, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Hi, I have recently had breast augmentation (8 weeks ago)and my surgeon has given me the ok to be measured to get non underwired bra. i have been measuread as a 32D and a 30E at different stores but both band sizes really dig into me and cause me discomfort on my rib cage. I have red marks into my skin and look like I have the indentation of bra when i remove it. Should I go up a band size and down a cup size. I am a UK size 8 and dont really think im a 34 band. shuld i take the bras back. I was so happy to have the augmentation but the bra shopping has been terrible as I am constantly uncomfortable. I had teardrop shape implants under the muscle and my scars are under the crease of my breast. Thanks

  24. admin

    January 15, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Hello Sue,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    I hope all is well.

    Given your description, the band is a little small for you. You should try a 34c or get an extender, https://www.nowthatslingerie.com/all-styles-catalog/womens.html?cat=130, for your existing bras. That would definitely make a difference. If you do try a 34c, raise your arms and see if the band moves or rolls up, if it does the band is too big, if not, that is the size to go with. You may also experience discomfort perhaps because you have a sensitivity to certain fibers or materials. The elastic may be nylon or lycra. I would check that as well. It would be my pleasure to answer any questions you may have. Have a great day. Celine 1-855-521-4244

  25. Kristy

    January 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Hi, I usually wear a 32D but I have been having the problem where the bra underwire painfully cuts into the bottom of one breast and a small amount of breast tissue spills toward the centre. I have also tried a 32DD and am experiencing the same problem and I actually find that bra more painful. It may be because my breasts are not the exact same size. Any suggestions?

  26. Bevery

    January 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    I just got fitted for new bras and the strap fits perfectly. Theread is a small.gap in the cup at the top. I tried going down a cup size and was spilling over. So my question is, is a small gap normal? Or what else can I try

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *