Thursday, November 4, 2010

Signs of a Poor Fitting Bra

You know your bra doesn't fit when...

    • The straps are digging into your shoulders
    • The straps keep falling off your shoulders even when you tighten them
    • The center part in between the cups does not lie flush with your ribcage
    • Your 'breasts' are causing you shoulder or back pain
    • the underwires dig in or hurt anywhere
    • you get rashes or soreness where your bra was
    • your breasts hurt after you take your bra off at night (If not PMS related)
    • The line of your nipples sits below halfway between your elbow and shoulder
    • your underwires frequently pop out and stab you
    • You have scarring along where the underwires go, or on your shoulders from your straps.
    • You can't run or jog without pain and a lot of bouncing
    • You have “armpit fat”
    • You have “back fat” around your band
    • You have to go readjust your bra during the day
    • Your underwires are sitting on top of breast tissue
    • Your bra's band rides up in back or is not level
    • You had to start at the tightest hook
    • Your bra or breasts are causing you pain or discomfort in any way

If you have any of these, your bra doesn't fit and you need to go down in the band and up in the cups. Period! Click here to learn how to measure yourself for a bra.


  1. Hello, I wear a 28F and I have little bruises under my armpit in the place underwires end. I have been fitted twice and I honestly don't think I'm wearing the wrong size. The bands fit snug, the wires lie flat against the sternum, the bras don't move when I raise my arms, the cups are fine with no wrinkles nor cutting in the brests.
    I think 26 would be too tight (some 28 are already a little on the tight side, like Masquerade Polka). The thing is I don't have any fat around my rib cage, could the bruises be lack of "padding" under the wires? Or do you still think I need to go down a band size and u a cup size to 26FF (though I wouldn’t be able to find it once no-one makes it...)
    Thanks for your time, I enjoyed the blog, you can reply to my e-mail if you wish: an.exquisit.corpse(at)gmail(dot)com, or just leave it here in the comments

    1. I have the exact same problem. All three of my perfectly fitting bras become painful to wear after just hours of wear. The end of the underwire at the sides literally stabbs me. I am about to try this out, fingers crossed!

  2. Have been wearing a Jockey 34D (unpadded) love them, but discontinued (on last fastener) tiny bit tight around band. Just measured as you said and came out that I was about a 32E. Wouldn't that be awfully tight around? I've never even seen a 32E! Please help!

  3. Cool Limey, I was wearing a 34DD for years until I found out I'm really a 32F (same as DDD), so it's a similar situation -- up a cup size and down a band size. When I first tried one on, I thought it was too tight, but that's only because it was so different than what I was used to. Even before I tried it, I thought, "No way is that going to fit! I'm not that small." Now I love my 32 bras and can't imagine wearing 34s again.

    My fitter said you want your bra to fit on the loosest setting, so if it gets stretched out over time, you have room to tighten it. I was always wearing my 34 bras on the tightest hook and thought that was all I could do, since I couldn't find a lower band size anywhere.

    I had a great fitting experience at Nordstrom and they carry lots of "unusual" sizes, online and in store. There are probably other online retailers that specialize in bigger sizes, which you can use once you know which size works best for you.

  4. My rib cage is 28 and my breasts are 32 around. But here's the kicker- I went from an F/G cup and then an H/I cup at the peak of breastfeeding and have shrunk considerably since high school (I haven't lost weight, just breast fat after 4 years of breastfeeding). My breasts are two completely different cup sizes. WTF do I do?! The best bra I have is a 32D, but the underwires gauge my arm pits, one breast pokes out, and the other breast is severely covered by the bra.

    1. This is exactly why I am reading this. I hVe no idea what to do. I couldnt imagine going down a band size!

  5. @Anonymous: You should always cater to the bigger breast. It's more important that it's covered, supported and happy because although the other side may be swimming there are things to be done about it. Your problem is actually really common, though not usually so extreme. If it bothers you to wear one side very loose there are pads and inserts you can buy (yes, stuffing technically, but way more sophisticated) in many different sizes. This is similar to the inserts designed for victims of breast cancer. Your problem is less potentially lethal, but no less of a blow to self-image, confidence and comfort. Good luck!

  6. I'm currently in a 32 DD from Victoria's Secret and after reading your fitting post, ordered a 28 F (Freya deco). I haven't received it yet but my underwires on my current bras leave marks under my breasts as does the center gore, but the band rides up in the back even on the tightest hook. Will going to a 28 help this or is my band too tight already which is what I was told by a fitter at Dillard's (although she also said the the back of the band should be lower than the front and attempted to make me buy 3 32 d's

  7. Oh and my current measurements are 27.5 ribs and 34.5/35 bust

  8. I have so many of these issues,my bra band moves around (i can fit my whole hand in between my band and myself without any tightness), I always start out on the tightest hook,the middle part never touches my ribcage, it hurts when I take it off, the band is hiked up, breast tissue spills out from the bottom, it gaps open, needs to readjust frequently, bouncing, underwire digs in and ugly red places from my straps. Oh and I get bulging from the cups, not one of my bras is without several of these problems.

    1. At a guess I would have to say that your band is WAY too big for you and your cup size is WAY too small.

      I have noticed that it's been over a year since you posted this but if this helps even one person it will have been worthwhile

      If you have room for a whole hand under your bra band, the band hikes up, you start on the smallest hook and/or you have ugly red marks from the shoulder straps your band is toooooooo big.

      Ideally you should be able to fit a maximum of 3 fingers under your band as it is where you get 90% of the support. you should also allow for the eventual stretch of the band and have it fitting on the largest hook to begin with.

      The ugly red marks on your shoulders are actually related to the band hiking up. When your band size is too large you don't get adequate support. So then you get bouncing. In an attempt to fix this a LOT of people simply assume that their straps need tightening. This means that the full weight of your breasts is put onto your shoulders not spread out onto the underwires and band (90%) and the rest onto your shoulders (10%). This causes back pain and neck strain.

      When your cup is too small you can suffer from "underspillage" and underwires digging in. Another really common one is the middle part not touching your chest. To get the full support you require (even for smaller boobs) you NEED the middle part and the entire band to be in contact with your ribcage and LEVEL. this spreads the weight out and allows for less back strain.

      The reason for underwires that dig in can vary a fair bit. I am guessing that, in your case, the back hiking up in combination with the "under-spillage" has caused the underwires in your bras to sit tilted on an awkward angle. Something like your breasts are pushing the bottom front part out and the back is pulling the wire right into your armpits. Ouch.

      Simple rules of thumb when fitting bras:
      - If your boobs are not contained within the confines of the cup, it is not big enough. Unless it is also caving or wrinkling in the other parts of the cup. then you have to *cough* re-adjust your girls within the cups. Still spilling out? Go up a cup.

      - If the cup wrinkles, caves, echos when you yell coo-ee or simply feels ridiculous you may be wearing a cup size that is too large. To be sure you have to readjust your "positioning" within the cup. That may solve some wrinkling issues and caving in. If they still happen try smaller cup sizes.

      - If your band can accomodate more than 3 fingers underneath it, it is too big. Full stop. THE END

      - If your band can't do up or is restricting your breathing it is too small.

      BUT - If your band size is slightly irritating but the next size up is not passing the 3 finger rule use a bra hook extender until the band "gives". Trust me, it works

      I'm pretty passionate about people wearing correctly fitted bras. So please just do it. Wear a properly fitted bra because not only is it much, MUCH better for your health and posture but a correctly fitted bra can also make clothing look much better on you. Which is phenomenal for anyone's self esteem :D

    2. This is so helpful!
      Just when I think I have found my bra..I'm proven wrong....can't imagine I was brainwashed by faulty fitting guides to wear a wrong size..32D
      I measure 28 under bust. ..and 36 around bust area...
      That makes me 28G..just one doubt 32 fits me snugly ..but I do get shoulder and back pain..
      I have close set,projected with slightly splayed nipples(may be due to central fullness)wide roots,fairly even(between even and full on top) with central fullness,average height ..any suggestions? ?

  9. I'm still trying to find my 'perfect' size. I currently wear a 32F but don't think it's the best size for me. The centre doesn't always sit on my ribcage and my boobs, especially my left one, seem to want to overspill the cup. I measured myself to be a 28". So, I thought I'd go down gradually and instead try a 30FF, but this was totally tight all over, really uncomfortable. What would you suggest I try next? A 30G? I'm totally going crazy over this! Becky x

    1. FF is only a half size up from F in most brands, so if 32F cups fit you and your ribcage is 28", you should be in a 28H.

    2. Double letters aren't half sizes, a FF is a full size up from a F, and so on. However, there are other reasons to why this could be happening. You may not be used to a bra that fits well. However, I would consider the points below first!

      -The brand/style may run small in the cup. In some brands you may need a 30G, in others a 30FF, in others a 28GG, etc! For example, I have a Cleo Lucy in 28FF, a Freya Deco in 30F, and a Ewa Michalak in 30FF, and for the most part they fit pretty well (although I could use a 28FF in the deco).

      -The style may not suit your shape. For example, I have extremely close-together boobs, so I don't do well with balconettes since the center gore digs into my breast tissue. I usually have to bend the wires so they don't poke me, or get a plunge instead.

      -Since you've been wearing such a large band size, you may have been wearing too-small cups in the first place, and just didn't notice because the band was loose enough. This happened to me; I was wearing a 32DD so I thought a 30E would fit me just fine, but it turns out the 32DD was too small in the cup too.

      -On that note, I've also noticed American brands tend to run very big in the cup. My Natori 32D is still too big for me, even though I should really be a 32E (two sizes bigger) in that band size. This just goes with different brands having different sizing, if you've switched brands/styles/models, consider playing with sizes a bit!

      The best thing to do is research blogs like this and learn some tips from them.
      Good luck and hope this helped! :)

  10. Help! I am having so much trouble finding a bra that fits, and I need some guidance! I recently measured myself the correct way, and my underbust is about 27 inches, maybe a little less. In the past I've gone to Intimacy and have been fitted in size 32D and 32DD bras. The cups fit well, but the tailor at Intimacy has to remove 4 inches from the band to supposedly make the band equivalent to a size 28 band. While this has worked in the past to some extent, I've been frustrated with the fact altering the bra so much kind of seems to make it lose some of its overall shape and fit.

    So I recently ordered some size 28 bras from Freya, Panache, and Curvy Kate. The bands fit ok, but even some of those are a little loose depending on the stretchiness of the band itself. But, the major problems are

    1) The straps on the Panache and Curvy Kate balconette bras are set way too wide for my frame. The cups seem wide too.

    2) I'm having trouble finding a bra that works for my unevenly side breasts. One is about 1/2 to 1 cup size bigger than the other. The plunge and balconette bras I ordered in size 28F fit the smaller side. However, I have that four boob look on the side with the fuller breast. However, the size 28FF cups seem too big for both breasts!

    Please help me find a bra that will work for me! Preferably a size 28 band that runs tight with straps that will work for my narrow shoulders. I'd also love some help on figuring out what to do with the uneven breast issue!

    Thanks so much!

    1. Aww, I've had a lot of those same problems with bras, too. :-)

      It sounds like Ewa Michalak is the way to go for you. You probably need a 26 band (you could maybe wear a 28 in some of Ewa's less stretchy/tighter styles) and Ewa Michalak also has narrower, better proportioned cups and strap spacing. The plunge styles are the best in terms of strap placement.

      The general advice for uneven breasts (which is extremely common!) is to wear a bra that fits the bigger breast, and then add a small pad to the other side to fill in the extra space. Ewa Michalak is also awesome there, because they have are the only company for larger cup sizes that include a removable pad in the bottom of the cups! You can remove the pad on the larger side and you can even add it to the smaller side if you need to.

      You can read about Ewa M here:

      I would suggest emailing them and asking for maybe the PL Malachit in a 28FF (60FF) or the PL Onyks/Lilia in 26G. Then let me know how the bra you choose fits and we can go from there. :-) I have both styles and highly recommend them. If you need more help, you can also email me.

  11. I don't know what bra size I am!!! I have measured and remeasured myself for a while now. my waist is 27 inches and bust 34inches. I went to victoria's secret and got measured and they said I was a C so I tried it on and it was wayyy too tight then I got a D and now it's really uncomfortable. I don't know whether to go up a size or band size. I was a 34D but I don't know for sure. My boobs always hurt and I just want a comfortable bra. Help!!!

    1. You're probably a 28F. Go to a Nordstrom's or something to get fitted, they can help you and they will most likely carry your real size.

      Never ever, ever get fitted at a Victoria's Secret, they will give you a completely nonsensical size so that they can sell you a size they carry rather than what actually fits you.

      I went to a Victoria's secret once and the sales lady tried to tell me I was a 36B. No way honey, I'm actually a 32E thank you.

  12. I read that "back fat" is a sign of an ill fitting bra. I have that & hate it. Do I need to go up a band size?

    1. Contrary to popular belief, back fat is usually from a band size that is too BIG. What happens is that the band rides up in the back (since it's too big). First of all, the band is in a place where it doesn't belong (where more fat is), and second of all, all the tension that makes the band ride up also pulls fat up with it, creating the bulge we call back fat.

      The best way to check this is to see if the band runs horizontal (and parallel to the ground) across your back. If it's higher up in the middle, you probably need a smaller band!

      Another thing to check is whether you are properly adjusted into the cups, as the "back fat" may just be migrated breast tissue being squished back to your back. Here's a good link about that:
      The wording is a little tricky, but basically you just have to lean forward and scoop all your breast tissue into the bra so they don't get squished by the band :) You may find this bumps you up a cup size, but it makes the fit much better!

      Hope this helped! :)

  13. Just a note. Some people have concave sternums (a cross section of their rib cage would look a little like a "B"). Because of the dip created by a sternum that is lower than their rib bones, the center section will never lie flat. A flat surface, such as a ruler, laid across the ribs below the breasts will show the gap.

  14. Hi! My bra cups sit firmly against my breasts (almost bulging!) but I can't seem to get the bra to lie flat at the areas under my arms. I can't figure out if my bra is too big or too small, please help! Thank you!

    1. Too small in the cup, you may need to go up multiple cup sizes by the sounds of things...and it is entirely possible you need to go down a bra size too

  15. Im a 12DD (in Australia, not sure what that is in Europe or America) And I get a lot of back and sholder pain, and I hate doing bouncy physical activity as my breast jiggle a lot. They also hurt when I take off my bra (its not PMS). But they seem to fit fine(no bulging, am on the last(biggest) hooks at the back and the cups lie flat against my breasts and sternum). I used to enjoy physical activity, but have given it up almost completely as even the simplist tasks, like walking, make my breast jiggle. It is very emmbarrassing, as I am only 15, and all my friends have way smaller chests than me, so they have no idea what I'm going through. Do you have any advice? Should I get a smaller bra, or would a bigger one help my problem?
    P.S: I have always been professionally fitted for a bra.

  16. I would say some of the problems you listed are connected more with the style not the size eg.:
    - straps: differs from brand to brand, sometimes from style to style
    - line of nipples: style should be more supportive, pushing your breast more up (but without using inserts like in push-ups, but using different sewing method)
    - center part: the cups should be deeper to enclose all your breast tissue
    But of course all of that you wrote down means you're waering the wrong bra :)

    1. Thanks :)
      The thing I hate most, is that you go into a store to be fitted, and have the bra on for all of five minutes, and then take it off. So when you get home and actually wear it around, thats when you discover it is not comfortable or supportive. Due to my size, the bra's are never cheap (AUS$50-$60) SO I end up with usless bras.

  17. i got fitted last year and was told i'm 32D... bra felt great... suddenly now i feel like the cups don't fit and i thought maybe bc the bras are old and have to be replaced but there's definite spillage and bra lines visible through shirts. i measured according to this and got rib 28 cup 34. does that make me 28E? and where can i get such a small band size from?
    any help is appreciated, thanks!

  18. I don't have any scarring along where the underwires go, but rather I have a bit of wrinkling... is that something I should be worried about?

  19. i wear a 30A bra size and lately my boobs have been hurting where my underwire is and i only wear wired bras i also have red marks underneath my boobs and on the side do you think i need to go a bigger size bra?

  20. Recently I was professionally fitted for a 32K bra. I love the bra, I don't fall out, I don't slip under. But for the last few months (both before and after I got fitted) I have gotten red marks under my breasts from the underwire. I don't go a whole day without them, and they are very painful. It has not resulted in scarring yet, but it still hurts. I have tried a few different brands and different band/cup sizes. Is there anything else I should look for? Or should I invest in putting padding along the underwire in my bra?

  21. Hi I am wearing a 34 g and the underwire doesn't rest flat it sticks out in the front and the side of it goes almost all the way to my back and pokes into the back of my armpit.. how can I fix this im 5 1 and 130 lbs so it hard to find a decent bra.. I've never had a bra that fits perfectly..

  22. Hi, I am currently wearing 34C/36C. 36B is always way too tight in the chest area (side boob and back fat). 34C is very constricting - I get side boob and overspilling in the front and back fat, and the straps dig into my shoulders. 36C just fits awkwardly and shifts around a lot, but it's more comfortable than 34C. My rib cage measurement is 29 and chest measurement is 37. I don't like my bras to feel constricting. Do you think a 30H would work for me?

  23. I was trying to find a bra today, but I was having a lot of trouble with finding a style of bra that corresponds to a size that's correct ...

    The lady who fit me said 32C, but then kept saying the cup size was too big - it wasn't. My issue is that I never fill out the TOPS of cups - the bottom is always fine. But the end result is that the cups always look too big and when I go smaller, they are too small for the bottom of my breasts. These would be styles that are full-cup or plunge ... but I am having difficulty finding other styles that work for me.

    I'm getting kind of sick of feeling like my options are really limited to sports bras just because the bulk of my breast tissue is at the bottom of my breasts.

  24. I'm wearing VS 34DDD or 36DD
    Yesterday I measure 32under and 39up
    What should I try?

  25. Sometimes I wonder if some people just aren't going to find a "perfect bra" and if I am such a somebody. Responding to the whole "most women were the wrong bra size" meme that's been going around, I got myself measured at Bloomingdales, which I figured seemed like a rather reputable place for such a thing. I measure 30 inches around my rib cage and 36.5 inches around my bustline. Was told I'm a 32 DDD. Bought bras in that size, not terribly long ago. Thought they fit fine, although I was annoyed with the armpit fat issue, but figured I was just genetically unlucky to have fat on my armpits. Moreover, my left breast is larger than the right and it has long complicated bra buying. Yesterday, I go into what is more of a boutique (this chi-chi place in the DC suburbs called Sylene in case you're familial) b/c I was in the area and wanted to buy a good bra to wear with white tee shirts. Also the sort of place that might seem like it would be good with fitting. It's basically what they pride themselves on and before I could even consider a bra, I found myself topless in a dressing room with a strange lady who insisted I'm actually a 34DD. She was very adamant about this. I know that some places give women a vanity # thinking we'd rather have a large cup and a small band. I don't really care, I just want a bra that fits and looks ok under my clothes. 32DDD, 34DD--whatever, it's all the same to me. I left with two new bras (and a large dent on my credit card--ouch. I had been buying Chantelles and these are even more $$$). I have a Prima Donna Couture and something by Simone Perele that seems to be popular. I have the PDC on today, and although the girls are well in place and the band isn't riding up at all (both wins at this point), it is not completely flush against my ribs in the front. I guess what I am saying is that I have been told I am wearing the absolute best bra for me, but it still doesn't meet these actual standards of perfection. Sometimes, perhaps we have to trust that "good enough" is good enough. Either that, or the fitter at Sylene doesn't know what she's doing.

  26. So in my bras my band rides up a bit, the center panel doesn't sit on my chest and I have spillage on the top. I am basically stick a fist up in the band. The straps also dig into my shoulders a bit. I'm currently a 34C or D. I put the hook on the tightest setting but it still needs adjusting. No matter what bra I wear there is always spillage on the top. Help?

  27. I have a push up bra that i loved until my cup size grew .... now i have to pull my boobs out from behind the padding every hour or so depending on how much i move around .... is there anything to do about this?

  28. Hi, im a teenager and im having problems getting a bra that fits right. Until a couple of months ago i was a 34A, and all of a sudden im wearing a 34C bra and my boobs still fall out all of the time. My mother is a 36C and my older sister a 34B. Do you reckon the problem is with my cup or am i ajusting my bra wrong?

  29. I have this weird bra. It has no underwire and the cups arnt common either.the size is a 34a. The loosest setting on the straps are over exaggeratedly loose and the cups are starting to get a little small. I'm always trying to ajust my straps. The band is too tight and I ajust band and straps together never agree. Loosening straps makes band loose at its last hooks and going to the middle hooks makes it too tight, then I go back to the last hooks at the end and tighten the straps alot and then everything is too tight. Now read the last sentence again to understand. I don't know wether to wait until my boobs get so big in the cups that my straps are at their loostest and I look like a stipper and skip a couple cup sizes OR wether I should I just wait alittle more. My mom wont listen to me or she forgets, and I'll ask again another day and she'll get agitated. But when my sister asks she gets her new bra right away.

  30. I was fitted at Nordstrom and the set me up with a Fantasie bra in a 32FF. However, the gore, does not lie flat against my chest. My breasts are always hurting. So I tried a 32I in a Freya plunge bra, but the cups seem too small, my breasts are always shifting out of the cup, and again, the gore does not lie flat. My band size measures a 32 but I could probably go with a 31, and my breasts measure 39 inches. Please help! I'm really struggling to find a bra that works.

  31. So I was measured at Nordstrom and they set me up with a Fantasie 32FF bra. But I'm not convinced that it fits. The gore does not lie flat against my chest and my breasts are always hurting when I take it off. I bought a Freya plunge bra in a 32I hoping that would help, but the bra still seems too small in the cup. The gore still does not lie all the way flat, and my breasts are constantly spilling out of the cup. My band measures 32 inches but I could probably go with 31 inches and my breasts measure 39 inched. Please help! I am having so much trouble finding a bra that fits!

  32. I am 28 on ribcage and 37 around bust, I am in need of dire help. The best I could get is a 34dd bra. I am in pain from the weight of my bust and I slouch
    To hide it, my family still don't think I am busty and need a custom made bra maybe because overall im average in weight and 5'6 tall. Help me


I always love to hear your thoughts! Please remember to be respectful. I may not publish comments that are rude, hateful, personal attacks, racist, sexist, or otherwise inappropriate. Dissenting opinions are fine, as long as they are respectful. Thanks!