Common Bra Fitting Problems FAQ: Bra Doctor's Help
Every day, I receive dozens of questions from women around the world, of all shapes and sizes, who are perplexed by the discomfort they feel in their bras. You're not alone!
Always remember: Your bra shouldn't be uncomfortable! Your bra should make you feel confident and supported, so you can focus on other important things.
Here are some common bra fitting problems and my solutions to fixing them.
For more in-depth help tailored to your needs, contact me. Please note that these answers may not apply to all women experiencing the similar bra fitting issues.
Question: Why does my bra crease at the top?
Answer: Your cup size is too large. Try to decrease your cup size by one (e.g. from D to C, from B to A, etc). You may also be wearing a bra style with fuller cups, so you can try to switch to a bra style with a lower neckline. A demi bra (half coverage) or balconette (three-quarter coverage) shape will better accommodate the shape of your breasts, by taking the fullest part of your breast (the bottom) and lifting it to better fill out the cup. You could also try a slightly lined or padded bra, which will help minimize any creasing. If your bra cup only creases on one side, your breasts may be slightly uneven (see below for more info on this).
Question: How can I prevent my breasts from spilling out of the top of my bra and under my arms?
Answer: Your cup size is too small or cut too low for the size and/or shape of your breasts. Increase your cup size from A to B, C to D, D to DD, etc. You may also want to try a bra with a fuller cup to give you better coverage and support. If your bra leaves red marks around your back as well, your back size may also be too small for you.
Question: Why are my straps falling off my shoulders?
Answer: First, adjust the straps to make them tighter. Your straps are properly adjusted when you can comfortably slide a finger between the strap and your shoulder, without feeling too much pressure. You can also try wearing racer-back style bras, or convert any bra into a racer-back or criss-cross with a Hide-A-Strap bra accessory. I also suggest wearing silicone shoulder cushions to give you a no-slip grip and comfort (recommended especially for fuller-figured women). If you're already at the tightest adjustment for your straps and they still fall off your shoulders, try wearing a bra that has fully adjustable straps, which have a slide adjuster that allows adjustment from the top of the cup to the back of the bra (also suggested for more petite women).
Question: One of my bra cups fits well, but the other one puckers. What's wrong with me?
Answer: Nothing is wrong with you! It's really quite normal to have two differently sized breasts (see the next question).
Question: My right breast is larger than my left breast. The difference is very noticeable under my clothes. What can I do to even out both sides to minimize the unevenness?
Solution: Uneven breasts are the rule, rather than the exception, for women. In some women, the difference between the right and left breasts is negligible, but for others, the difference can be more visible.
Uneven breasts can often be a source of embarrassment for women, especially growing girls who haven't yet finished their development. Remember that it's crucial to always fit the larger breast, because if you get a bra that fits the smaller one, your larger breast will be painfully and unhealthily constricted by your bra (and create unsightly bulging). Even if you wear a wire-free bra, the elastics or seaming may bother you if the bra was too small.
Try wearing a lined or padded bra with removable cookies (pads) - just keep one pad in the smaller side, or double up on the smaller side if one pad if you need more volume. Silicone or fabric pads can also be helpful, and you can wear them in any bra (although I typically suggest wearing them with a lined or slightly padded bra): just put one pad into the smaller side. Different types of bra pads are available to increase your cup size by a half size up to two full sizes.
Always keep in mind that the back of your bra, the cups and the straps all work together to provide comfort and support (with the bra back doing the majority of the work). When one of these aspects isn't fitting right, then the others probably won't either. The majority of us take more than just one size or shape, depending on the bra company, the style of the bra (e.g. demi-bust, full coverage, etc.), the fabric or lace (stretch, no-stretch, max hold, sheer) they use, and so on. For instance, some 34B bras can fit more like a 36B, while others will fit more like a 34C, even if all these bras are from the same exact company! It's not rocket science, but often it can seem just as complicated.
Contact me and I can help guide you in your quest for your perfect fit.
Question: How come my bra band rides up in back, even when I adjust it at the tightest hooks?
Answer: When you first purchase a bra, you should be able to hook it on the loosest hooks and feel supported, without any ride-up or bulging in back or at the sides. As you wash and wear your bra, the elasticity of the fabric tends to diminish, so purchasing a bra you can hook at the loosest hooks means you can extend your bra's shelf life (because you can gradually adjust your bra more tightly over time if necessary).
If your bra rides up in back, your band size is too large. Decrease your band size by one size. If, for example, you wear a 36 and it rides up, try a 34 instead, or a 34 with a bra back extender to give you a back band that ranges between 34 and approx. 37, so you can adjust based on your daily comfort. Your bra's underband should fit snugly against your body, and stay at the same level in front and in back, even when you move around and lift your arms. Make sure your straps aren't adjusted too tightly, because this could also cause even a properly fitted back band to ride up slightly.
Question: My underwire is poking me and it is uncomfortable. I feel so hopeless that I'm thinking of switching over to wire-free bras instead, but will they give me enough support?
Answer: If your underwire pokes into either or both of your breasts, your cup size is too small, or the underwire for the particular style you're purchasing is not wide enough to accommodate the width of your breast tissue. Increase your cup size from A to B, C to D, D to DD, etc. Or try a wire-free bra instead; many wire-free bras offer comparable support even without the underwires.
Question: I have pain in my shoulders and my back. What can I do, and why does this happen?
Answer: Your bra is not supporting you enough. The bra back offers the majority of support of your bra, followed by the cup shape, and then the straps. Making your straps tighter is not the solution! A bra that is badly fitted or doesn't offer full support, forces all the weight of your breasts to press down uncomfortably on your shoulders and neck. The result is bad posture as you must shift around constantly in your bra, creating lower (and upper) back pain. All this can be avoided! Purchase a full-support bra, possibly with wider "comfort" straps and a wider back band. Also try shoulder cushions to get extra comfort and support for any of your bras.
Question: My shoulder straps are digging in and cause discomfort, leaving red marks when I take off my bra. Is this normal?
Answer: You're not supposed to feel any pain or discomfort when you wear a properly fitting bra. The underband and shape of the cup provide much of the bra's support, so if you find yourself tightening your straps too much just to feel supported, chances are you are either wearing the wrong size (e.g. your back band may not be tight enough, or your cup may be too big), or your bra style doesn't offer adequate support for you. Try a full support bra, preferably one with wider "comfort" straps, or try comfortable and reusable silicone shoulder cushions on any bra for no-slip comfort that helps evenly distribute the weight of your breasts to minimize pain and make red marks from your straps disappear.
Question: I am small-breasted and I have a difficult time finding a comfortable bra that makes my bustline look fuller, but still natural-looking. Help!
Answer: Try a lightly padded bra with a good stretch, or a flattering bra shape like a demi-cup (half coverage) or balconette style (three-quarter coverage). Many petite bras can have a lightweight padding that can give you a bit of extra volume (very nice for your lower-cut tops and dresses) but won't look or feel unnatural. You could also try slipping fabric or silicone bra pads into your bra for a customizable fuller look you can enjoy in any of your bras.
Question: I'm pregnant! When should I purchase a nursing bra?
Answer: Congratulations! Pregnancy is an incredible time. You may be excited to purchase all your maternity garb all at once, but remember that the appropriate time to purchase a nursing bra is no sooner than one month prior to your due date. Your band size will not change much during the three weeks prior to delivery, but your cup size might. Wearing cups that are too small is never recommended, especially for women who are pregnant or nursing.