Let’s admit it, girls, this has happened to each one of us. You spot the perfect bra in your favorite color, perhaps with a cute little ribbon or some nice lace. The overall fit is okay enough, even though it seems a bit tight. And you buy it because it’s gorgeous. You go home, put on the bra, and surprise – it’s far from perfect now. Because you loved the design, color or pattern, now you’re left with a bra that’s not comfortable and definitely not flattering on your figure.
This is especially true for those of us who wear DD cup sizes and above, and it’s why I suggest that you buy your bras online. To help you in the quest for the perfect bra, here are some signs that can show you that your bra doesn’t fit well.
Bras are the support systems we invest and trust in for our breasts. They take strain off of our necks and backs from the weight on our chests and give us a lift when we want to show off the girls. There millions of bra styles, brands, etc on the market of a multi-billion dollar industry. You’d imagine that
But how do you know when your bra doesn’t fit? Lucky for you, the answer is easy. Here are 5 tell-tale ways to identify if your bra is actually an overpriced torture device instead of a useful support garment.
1. Discomfort Under the Band
If you are facing chapping and reddened skin, then it is likely your bra doesn’t fit like it should. Dermatitis (skin inflammation) can have a wide range of causes, but if your bra isn’t tight enough and your skin is angry, then your bra doesn’t fit. A quick fix for chafing is to lubricate with an oil such as coconut oil and apply cold.
The cold cloth should reduce skin swelling, and the oil should ease the discomfort as well as act as a anti bacterial and anti fungal to prevent possible infection. The long term fix is to find a tighter band on a bra that fits you correctly!
On a side note about skin: If left unattended a rash and broken skin can lead to serious skin infections and a trip to a doctor. Going to a dermatologist isn’t a bad idea if you believe your bra fits and you still develop a rash. It could be that you are allergic to specific fabrics or detergents.
2. Back Fat
If your band marks your skin, even when you fasten it on the loosest hook setting, then it’s too tight. This way the bra causes the so-called back fat. Yes, we all hate it so be on the lookout for it.
When trying on a new bra, always remember to adjust the band into the right position, pull it flat and smooth it round as much as possible. My advice is to always hook the bra on the loosest hook. I do it because when the bra stretches with wear, I still have two rows of hooks in the back to move in. Then you put two fingers underneath your band in the back.
If you feel like you can fit more, or if you can stretch the band more than a few inches from your back, you should try a smaller size. If you can’t fit any fingers back there, you might be wearing a size that’s too small. You can also lift your arms or lower the straps to check if that affects band placement. If you raise your arms in the air, the bra shouldn’t move on or away from your body.
If you’re still left with back fat, you might want to try a bra band extender. Just make sure to have the right support for your chest and back.
3. Back Band Is Riding Up
The result from wearing a bigger size bra is that the band is not staying at place, and is riding up your back. If this is the case, then your bra is not providing the 80% of the support it should. To solve this problem, you might want to go down a band size, like from a 36 to 34.
Remember, the band should sit straight and parallel to the floor. It should start with the underwires or top portion of the band sitting directly underneath the bust, at the breast root, and go directly back. The back band shouldn’t be higher than the underwire.
4. The Straps Are Falling Down
You try and try but the straps just won’t stay in place. You find yourself sliding them back up over your shoulders throughout the day. Usually, the band is responsible for giving you 80-90% of the support which leaves about 10% to straps. So if you have to keep straps super tight to lift up your breasts, that means your bands too big to give you proper support. A lot of bras are only half adjustable which means that slimmer shouldered women can really struggle.
One thing you can try to solve this issue is moving or shortening the straps. If that doesn’t work, try changing the position of your strap adjustors or just convert them to cross-back styling.
5. Strap Digging
Sometimes even if the bra fits perfectly, the straps start digging in and leaving red marks on your shoulders. This is another scenario that tells you that this bra might not be for you.
The best way to figure out if your straps would be causing you discomfort is to slide them off your shoulders and see if your bra still stays up. You may also want to check if they are tightened to a two finger tension. If they are too tight, just ease up a little. If they don’t cause pain or discomfort, then don’t worry too much.
6. The Underwire Migrates
If the underwire is sitting away from your chest wall, then your cups are probably too small. Your underwire should fit firmly against your chest without any gaping. Assuming your straps are properly adjusted, you’ll know you’ve found the right band fit when you can lift your arms over your head without the underwire rising up with them.
Another indication of a bad fit is if the underwire in your bra pokes you. Not all underwire is uncomfortable. You should perhaps go up a cup size to keep it from digging into your skin.
To sum it up, a well-fitting bra should encapsulate the whole breast, it should have no spillage, it won’t ride up, it sits firmly around the ribcage, and the straps don’t dig in and slide. Otherwise, your bra doesn’t fit well, and a great fit is important for those of us who are well-endowed.
The importance of picking the right bra is not only associated with you looking and feeling better. Ill-fitting bras can often give you pain in your neck, back or shoulders. A perfectly fitted bra gives you the right support so look after your health and good posture and don’t settle for bras that don’t fit.
7. General Soreness
If your breasts are sore at the end of the day, and you’re sure it’s not hormone related, then you may have an issue with the cup shape of your bra. The sizing could be wrong, or the design simply may not cater to your breast shape. Underwire is a blessing sometimes, but when it isn’t your ideal shape it can be an absolute curse.
If the underwire is poking you or putting too much pressure on your sternum in between your breasts, you’re sure to really feel it after 8 hours or more of wear. Soreness isn’t fun, and it can be a little unnerving at times, too.
The same goes for back and neck pain. If your body is straining against the weight on your chest with no helping support, then you are likely to face a sore neck and back. Go to a professional to be fitted for a bra, they can help identify bra problems and solutions. Certain brands and styles of bras are better for specific shapes of breasts and a professional fitter should have good recommendations.
Make sure your bra is snug in the band, and that the shoulder straps are adjusted well for better neck and back support. You want to fit two fingers under the strap, with no shoulder grooves or indentations. No need to suffer through a problematic bra, go find a replacement that agrees with you.
8. Under-filling the Cups
This is a problem that I myself have from time to time. Under-filling the cups of a bra leave you with limited to no support, and it doesn’t look all that great either. This problem could be due to a few different factors. One issue is being shallow-breasted. If your breasts don’t project roundly out from your body, then filling cups of a bra can be problematic.
Cheaper bras typically utilize cups molded for one type of breast shape, and one type of breast shape only. Trying a different style may yield better results, but this can be a gamble. Get professionally fitted if possible, and try for a higher end bra. Be sure to try on many styles and brands, just dropping the bucks doesn’t guarantee a perfect fit. The whole process takes plenty of trial and error.
9. Spilling Over the Cups
Similar to under-filling the cups of a bra, over-filling a bra can be embarrassing and a little unsightly. Nobody wants to look like their boobs are trying to forcefully tear their way out of your top. The extra bulge over the top of the cup becomes very pronounced when wearing a plain t-shirt or blouse.
To avoid this, keep in mind that you need a cup with more depth. Your breasts most likely stand out from you body more than someone who is shallow breasted. Bras with shallow cups will cause your chest to take the path of least resistance – over the top of the cup, around the side, or under. This can cause other problems with support, or points of friction against your skin which form painful rashes and chafing. Avoid this by going in to a professional fitter. Knowing your bra size is key, and will save you a whole lot of pain and money down the road.
10. Restricted Movement
I know I rant and rave about making sure bra bands are tight and secure enough, but how do you know when a band is too tight? If you struggle with restricted movement, or a constricted chest, maybe your band is a bit too tight. Bands are meant to stretch, and over time they will loosen and lose a lot of their elasticity.
But if you’re still wearing your bra on the loosest hook and it’s strangling you or pulling at the seams, maybe you should revisit another size. I always recommend going to a professional to be fitted properly. Someone who can recommend you to a particular style or brand based on your individual needs.
Buy a replacement bra that fits snugly on the loosest hook. This way, you can tighten it as it stretches over time. When picking out a bra based on tightness in the band, make sure you can still squeeze two fingers between your body and the bra.
The majority of women don’t know their true bra size, and thus face many of these issues listed above. As many as 95% of them! By identifying a bra that doesn’t fit, and figuring out your correct bra size and breast shape, you will find life becomes a little easier.
You’ll save time and money, and bra shopping will be less of a struggle. Of course, wearing a bra hopefully becomes less of a pain!
Bra sizing can be a little tricky. The cup size and band size mean nothing without each other, and bra sizes are on a sliding scale of proportion. A cup size example that many find interesting: A 36B and a 34 C are exactly the same cup size. Weird, right? One of those bras is a B cup, and the other is a C cup, but the band size makes the two cup sizes identical. They’re what we call “sister sizes”. And they’re a good thing to be aware of in case you can’t find your one size that fits you in a department store.
Identifying the Perfect Fit
- The band should be firm and snug around your body, but comfortable to wear. Standing side-on at a mirror, the band should be horizontal and should not be creeping or pulling up your back.
- There should be absolutely no poking, rubbing, or digging anywhere. The underwire at the front should lie flat against your rib cage. If they stick up or out funny, they’re the wrong shape for your body and breasts.
- Each cup should completely encompass each breast. There should be a smooth line where the breast and the top of the cup meet. Even if you are wearing a low cut style or balconette, there should be no ridge or spillage over the top of the cup.
When In Doubt, Get Professionally Fitted
Getting yourself professionally fitted for a bra will save you tons of trouble. Ask around, and look for professionals with good reputations, and go to a few of them. Victoria’s Secret fitters don’t count. They’ll measure you over the top of your jacket and whatever you’re wearing. And more likely than not, they’ll try to wedge you into a product they sell that doesn’t actually fit or flatter your body.
Your Must-Have Styles
T-shirt, Minimizer, Push-up
If you’re a busty girl, then you absolutely know that there are certain styles of bras that fit and support better than others. Ones that I would personally recommend you keep on hand and at the ready are the T-shirt, push-up, and minimizer bra. The T-shirt bra should be a “duh” one. They are by far the most comfortable and still flattering and versatile bra for you (if it fits properly). The push-up is a must have for when you need a little extra boost for a cute top you’re wearing. We don’t need to hike the ladies up to our chin, but push-ups can be a great addition to many outfits. Minimizer bras have been my favorite if I have to wear a button up, and I really want to reduse the exaggeration of button-pull or breast bulge in a top. They’re real life-savers.
Plunge, Full-Cup, Strapless
Three other bra styles that are wise to keep around are the plunge, full-cup, and a reliable strapless. I say “reliable strapless” because most of them aren’t. If you are have large breasts, you don’t want to risk a wimpy looking garment. There’s nothing worse that adjusting and readjusting all day long because your strapless bra can’t perform its one job in life. Make 150% sure that any strapless bra you buy will stay in place and fits you well (it will be a painstaking process). Plunge bras are good for the occasional flashy dress or top that requires a low front panel. The plunge bra I keep around is actually an adhesive. I like this style because it also doubles as a great bra for backless outfits. The cups of the bra give relaxed cleavage, almost no push up, but it keeps my boobs in place. I don’t wear it intending to run a marathon, or jumping fences, but it does well for its intended application.
Last, the full-cup bra, like the T-shirt bra is a comfy option. I differentiate it from the T-shirt bra because it is complete coverage. Many girls hate these because they have been marked as the “granny bra”. Granny bra or not, they are darn comfortable, and I don’t ever have to worry about boob migration or lack of coverage when I wear mine. Exactly as life should be with a full-cup bra. Keep one around. You won’t regret it!
Styles To Potentially Avoid
A couple of styles that I have continuously struggled with over the years are the balconette and the bralette. The balconette has long been a popular go-to stlye of bra. What I find typically with balconette bras is it gives me boob shelf or rocket boobs. Yes, I said rocket boobs. Either of these looks, are not what I intend my breasts to look like. I enjoy a natural curved breast profile, not pointed or overly-projected tatas! For women who have firm breasts, you might be able to pull this off better than I. However, if you have longer or softer breasts, the balconette will likely give you the same problems as I had. Another common issue is the dreaded quadraboob, or spilling over the cup.
Bralettes have become increasingly popular over the last 5 years or so, especially in the festival crowd. That’s great unless you have large breasts. Why? Well, to start, large breasts tend to be very heavy. Heavy things need support, and your back alone does not cut it. In addition to the support issue is the problem regarding finding one large enough to accommodate all of my chest. Bralettes aren’t typically adjustable, so anyone with a large torso or large breasts has an especially hard time. If the bra does not encompass the entire breast, you might face issues with spillage around the edges and too much skin contact. Avoiding back pain, or skin on skin chafing and rashes is really important. I’d love to go without a bra, or with little support every once in a while, but I’d have to go visit a chiropractor every evening in consequence.
There’s no beating going in to try a series of bras and sizes with the basic tops for fitting. Oftentimes, women are wearing a band size to large for their body and a cup size that is small for their breasts. Thus what happens is spillage over and around the cup, along with the band riding up the back, and the straps slip off.
Much of this sizing discrepancy come from women not knowing how a bra is supposed to fit in the first place. Add on the extra confusion of marketing and our mental block reminding us, “there’s no way I’m any bigger than a DD.” Why in the world couldn’t you be any larger than a DD? Remove this mind block and try on a size larger than you think you are, in a smaller band size. You might be surprised at the results. If cup spillage was an issue before, it likely isn’t with a larger cup size!
No matter what your sizes are, I always like to remind other women to love their bodies. it can be difficult when it seems that nothing is make to fit your shape, but that isn’t any fault of yours. Some manufacturer’s agenda isn’t yourIf you enjoyed this article, then we're probably very similar. I'm Victoria Melo, and I know what it’s like to be busty and struggle finding the perfect bra. Not long ago, I was just another girl wearing the wrong bra size. When I finally discovered my real size and found great bras for my busty figure, it felt like a miracle. Now, I'm a bra fitter helping hundreds of women like you find their own miracle. Click here to read my lists of my favorite bras for you.