How To Check If Your Bra Fits Properly

Some background: There are many articles out there about this, but it is estimated that more than 80% of women are in the wrong bra size. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth found that 76% of women overestimate their band size and 84% underestimate their cup size. The support from a bra should come 80% from the band and only 20% from the straps, but many women overcompensate for lack of support by tightening the straps too much, causing the band to rise. Due to the core market sizes being 32-38 A-D, many women are buying bras that don’t fit – in fact, these sizes are actually not as common as you think, most women are outside these size parameters! But that’s another post in itself!

A correctly sized bra will not only give you the support you need, stopping back pain in larger breasts and supporting your shape for smaller breasts, it can also make you look 10 times better. When I wore incorrectly sized bras, I would slouch all the time with the weight of them, and they wouldn’t be uplifted because there was no support. This can make you look bigger than you are, look at the difference, wearing a 32DD in the left, 28G on the right.

How to check your bra fits properly How to check your bra fits properly

Let’s get started:

  • Put on the bra properly – the best method is to fasten it around your back.If you can’t do this and use the swivel method, it’s shouldn’t be easy to twist it round – that’s a good indication the band is too big.
  • Remember to ‘scoop and swoop’ to get all the breast tissue into the cup, even from the sides and underneath. If you have been wearing a wrongly sized bra in the past, it’s likely that the tissue will have moved around and is not used to being in the cup. This can give an illusion that a bra is fitting if you don’t scoop and swoop – there are great examples of this in Bras and Body Image’s post I linked to above.

This guide will explain basic issues with bra fitting and will touch on how different shapes may need different styles of bras, but we’ll go more in depth on this later. Remember too that just because you’ve been measured in store, it doesn’t mean your bra will fit. Many stores (M&S, Victoria’s Secret) use outdated or just plain wrong methods of measuring. You also change shape and size, so even if it was only 6 months ago, it’s possible you’ve changed. So keep an eye on all of these factors every time you put on a bra.

Does the band fit right?

How to check your bra fits properly

How to check your bra fits properly

  • It should not be rising on your back. Solution: go down a band size.

  • You should not be wearing it on the tightest hook to start with (it’s made of elastic and will stretch). Solution: go down a band size.

How to check your bra fits properly

  • It should not be painfully tight. Solution: go up a band size.

  • It should be firm on loosest hook; you should be able to fit no more than 2 fingers under band with immediate resistance if you try to pull it away from the body; and the band should be parallel all the way around on the narrowest part of your rib cage, never higher than your breasts. Like so:

How to check your bra fits properly

How to check your bra fits properly

How to check your bra fits properly

Do the cups fit?

How to check your bra fits properly

  • There should be no ‘quadboobing’. Solution: go up a cup size (or more).

How to check your bra fits properly

  • There should be no gaping. Solution: go down a cup size.

How to check your bra fits properly

  • There should be no wrinkling in soft cups. Solution: go down a cup size (or this may not be a bra that works with your shape).

How to check your bra fits properly

  • The gore should sit flat on your chest, not be ‘floating’ or sitting on tissue, nor should you be able to pull it away more than a couple of centimetres. Solution: go up a cup size.

  • The gore should not dig into your breastbone. Solution: go up a band size (or try lower gore or different style).

How to check your bra fits properly

  • The wire should encapsulate the breast properly (the above is too narrow). Solution: go up a cup size. If cup fits properly, try a different style; different brands/styles make their wires different widths.

  • The edge of cup should lay smoothly over the top of the breast; the wires should fully encapsulate breast, and the cup should be smooth and comfortable. Like so:

How to check your bra fits properlyHow to check your bra fits properlyHow to check your bra fits properlyHow to check your bra fits properly

 

How do the straps look?

How to check your bra fits properly

  • They shouldn’t be falling off your shoulder. Solution: tighten them.

  • They shouldn’t be digging into your shoulders. Solution: this is often a symptom of a band that’s too big as you’re compensating by tightening the straps too much, so go down a band size. If you feel your band is fine, loosen the straps and you should have adequate support.

NB: If you’re wearing cups that are too small, the band may *feel* too small also because cups are being pulled forwards and part of the band will be on breast tissue. I was sure a 32D band fitted me once, but in fact the cups were 2-3 sizes too small (the overbust of the bra would have measured about 36in, but I measure around 38in overbust) meaning that the band was stretched over breast tissue. A great example showing this is here – she was previously wearing a 32B that was too small in the cup, squashing the breast tissue out and into the wire or under the band (ouch! That’s why it feels tight!). The reason she is a bigger cup size overall now is because the cups encapsulate all of the tissue that was forced to be misplaced.
Easy diagnosis for this: try your bra on upside down, so the cups point to the floor, or backwards with the cups on your back. If it feels any more loose than it did before, you need to go up at least one cup size and down a band size.

Most women are asymmetrical – in fact most bodies are in general, which means you’ll most likely have one breast that’s larger than the other. For me, it’s my right one, but apparently it’s usually the left! You should always fit to your larger side, and if the smaller side gapes, you can add an insert pad.

Overall, the bra should be comfortable for you to wear – if you’re still experiencing issues with your bra even when it fits the good criteria, you may need to try a different style altogether. There are lots of different shapes of breasts and therefore different styles of bras to try to cover as many shapes as possible – there’ll be one out there for you somewhere! It also may be that you’re not used to wearing the correct bra size; it’ll usually need a few wears for it to feel ‘right’ – I know it felt strange for me at first, but I realised I wasn’t tugging the bra back up every 20 minutes during the day, my back wasn’t aching anymore and I actually felt supported rather than the bra was just covering me up.

 

2 Comments

  1. jenni February 22, 2014 / 6:51 am

    Hi, thanks for this blog post, I think we need plenty of these in the internet so they can reach as many women as possible 🙂
    It was very infomative to see the link to 32B – 28FF pics, also your pics with the texts were good 🙂

    However I´d like to comment on some things.

    In the quadboob section I don´t think the quadboobing is very obvious in the pink bra with white dots. Maybe a side view would be better? Some people might not get the idea from the pic.

    The coral (Freya?) bra with white dots, I think it would be good to add that if the cups wrinkle in the center, the cup shape might not be good, and going down a cup may result in some other fitting issues, like the top of cups cutting in. (I know you said you´ll write more about the shape later, but still).

    About the gore digging in, even finding the right size and fit , or lower gore, might have a digging and painful gore. I know you know this, maybe it would be good to add this comment just for clarification. Also a good tip that sometimes it helps to bend the wires away from the gore does the trick!

    There is a writing error in the section of falling straps!!:
    “They shouldn’t be digging into your shoulders. Solution: this is often a symptom of a band that’s too big as you’re compensating by tightening the straps too much, so go UP a band size.”

    I hope you find my comments justified and helpful 🙂 Keep up with the good work by blogging!

    • admin February 22, 2014 / 10:06 am

      Hi Jenni,

      Thanks so much for your comment and the useful feedback! I’ve edited my error in the strap section (woops! It gets a bit confusing when you’re writing ‘go up’ and ‘go down’ over and over!).
      With the quadboob picture, unfortunately I’ve got rid of all my bras that quadboob properly (no point having them hanging around!), so unfortunately this was the best picture I could get! If I manage to get a better one in future, I’ll replace it 🙂
      And we’re trying to keep the guide as simple as possible, so didn’t want to add in too much about shape at this point as this is the starting point for our fitting guides to help people finding the right bra, so we were trying to limit it as much as possible, but I’ve updated it to reflect the bits that weren’t as clear.
      Thanks again for pointing these bits out – it’s always helpful to have outside feedback on what could be clearer 🙂

      Sian (Big Cup)

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