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 Plus, get more bra fitting tips by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Celine, your Bra Doctor


  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.
    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
    I welcome any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to ask.

  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
    Balconet like this one
    Please let me know.
    Thanks again

  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


  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 You can also consider push-up pads to insert in your exisiting bras. 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.
    I hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
    Have a great day.

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