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Your Bra Fit Problems Solved

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The last time I talked to you about bras, I talked about how to find a bra that fits well. This time, I want to talk about some common bra fit problems and how to solve them. (Which I totally wanted to do in my last post, but I ran out of room. I love talking about bras!)

One thing before I get started. The first step for any bra fit problem is to have a recent fitting. Once you’ve done that, if you’re still having issues, it’s time to troubleshoot. Let’s go!

  • Spillage. Does your breast tissue spill out of the side of the cup? Do you end up with a muffin top of breast above your bra cup? Your bra is too small—but the problem isn’t necessarily the cup. You should definitely try on a cup size larger (for example, if a 36B isn’t working, try a 36C), but you should also check out your sister sizes. These are bras whose cups hold the same volume. Sister sizes for someone who measures a 36B include a 38A and 34C. Sometimes you just need that tiny bit of tweaking to get the best fit.
  • Band riding up in the back. Your band should make a neat circle (oval?) all the way around your ribcage and parallel to the floor. If the circle sits on a diagonal, there’s something wrong. The most likely culprit here is either an old bra whose elastic is shot or a too-large band. In the first case, get a new bra. In the second case, try:
    • setting your band on a tighter hook. Remember that your bra should close comfortably on the middle hook when you buy it.
    • adjusting your straps. If they’re too short, they might be pulling your band up.
    • checking out the next band size down. For example, a 38DD whose bra band is constantly riding up their back might want to check out a 36DD.
  • Straps won’t stay up. First things first: make sure your straps are adjusted correctly. They should be snug, but not tight. If that’s not the case, well, no surprise here, but it could be a fit problem. If your band is too big and is riding up, your straps could become too loose as the band rides higher. You could also try a different style like a racerback or bralet whose straps come together towards the middle of the back—you could even try a multi-way bra with straps you can wear in a criss-cross style. Consider avoiding styles with wider set straps, like the balconet.
  • Cups aren’t full. This usually shows up as gapping between your breast and the cup or puckering in the cup, typically at the top. This is another great time to try a sister size. You can also try a different style. If you’re trying to rock a full coverage bra, but are experiencing gapping, give a demi bra a try. (Don’t let the “demi” part scare you—some offer more coverage than others.) Remember that breasts come a variety of shapes; a demi may offer plenty of coverage while eliminating that pesky gap.
  • Straps dig in. As with loose straps, the first thing you should do is adjust your straps, in this case, to make sure they’re not too short. If short straps aren’t your problem, it may be that a larger band is. If you’re tightening your straps to compensate for a band that rides up or a bra that won’t stay in place, chances are your bra band is the wrong size. Remember that most of the support from your bra should come from the band and cups; you shouldn’t need the straps to hold everything up. You may also want to try going up a cup size (or checking out a sister size). Cups that are too small won’t support your breasts properly and can be the cause of sagging that tugs on the straps and makes them dig into your shoulders.
  • Poking underwire. If your underwire is visible because it’s poked through the fabric of the bra and the wire itself is rubbing on your skin, it’s time for a new bra. But if you’re simply finding the enclosed underwire is rubbing and poking under your armpit, chances are you need to check out a different style with a cup that has less coverage, like a demi bra. While the cup size you’re wearing may be the right size for your breast, the style you’re trying may be the wrong shape.
  • Chafing under the bust. This could be a simple problem, in that you need a bra in a natural, breathable fabric like cotton, or a synthetic fabric with moisture wicking technology. It could also be a sign that you need to try a larger cup size and/or a style with more lift, both of which can help to lift the breasts off the rib cage.

So there you have it: my (not-at-all-exhaustive) guide to troubleshooting common bra fit issues. I hope this helps you to stop hating your bra and empowers you to find one—or a whole wardrobe—that both works and feels better for you!

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