Sometimes, it's immediately obvious that the bra you have on doesn't fit right. Other times, there are more subtle signs that your bra isn’t doing enough to optimize your shape.
Some of these signs are commonly overlooked, but can make a world of a difference. Even if a bra "feels right" to you, it might not be giving you proper support. It might not enhance your assets as much as it could or should. It might even be the wrong style bra for you altogether (see our Know Your Breasts™ Bra Finder).
To help you determine if you have the right fit, use our Bra Fit Checklist below. A well-fitting bra will pass all these checks. So, take a few minutes to understand what a bra should look and feel like – and then you can assess whether you’re wearing the wrong size or wrong style bra for your breasts.
Smooth Fitting Cups
If you don't fill out your bra cups – if they’re wrinkling or gapping – you need a smaller cup size (assuming your bra straps have been properly adjusted). If you’re "overflowing" in your cups, or the top of your bra cups are cutting into your breast tissue, try a larger cup size or a style with a fuller cup design. The edges of the cups should also lie flat against your breast. Some women complain the cups look "pointy" (when the bra design is not meant to look this way). This can also be another sign that you are not fully filling out your cups and need to go down a cup size.
Center panel lays flat against your breastbone
If your bra’s center panel is not resting on your sternum, this could be a sign that your cup size is too small. If the underwires are pointing outward and away from your body, this too is a sign that your cup size could be too small. Also, how far apart your breasts are from each other can affect how your center panel rests on your sternum. To address this in more depth, please see our Know Your Breasts™ Bra Finder.
Note: Minimizer bras tend not to rest against the sternum, and this is fine.
Bra band is parallel to the floor or slightly lower in the back
The lower edge of your bra band should anchor below your shoulder blades. The lower the back fits, the better the support. Women with spine curvature can have special issues with where the back of their bra will land. Please see our Additional Considerations section for more information about proper bra fitting for women with spine curvature.
Straps stay put and don't dig into your shoulders
Only 10 percent of your bra's support should come from your bra straps. If your straps are working harder than this, you probably need a smaller band size. Women with sloping shoulders need to look for specific bra styles and features to keep their straps up and on their shoulders. Please review our Additional Considerations section for an expanded conversation on bra fitting for narrow and/or sloping shoulders.
Cup fabric is stable
The cup fabric should give support as well as a good breast shape. Bras with cups made from stretchy fabric will be comfortable, but your shape and support will be compromised.
Underwires encircle your breasts
Underwires shouldn't poke, protrude or pinch. If your wires bend away from your chest in the center, this usually means your cup size is too small. However, your unique breast placement, shape and size can also impact how bra underwires will fit you. Please see our Classify Your Breasts section for more information about possible causes for underwires not fitting comfortably.
Good breast uplift
The apex of your breasts should be mid-way between your shoulders and your elbows. Uplifted breasts look more youthful and give a slimming appearance.
Breasts point forward and don’t sag or fall to your sides
The correct bra style will have your breasts pointing forward so that you may freely swing your arms forward and backward without obstruction.
A finger can be run under your front band
Your bra should be snug, but not too tight. If you find it difficult to get your finger between you and your bra band in front, you need a larger band size or a looser hook position in back.
Feels comfortable when seated
Our ribcages tend to expand when we are seated. If you're not sure your band is big enough, sit down while wearing your bra. There are bras on the market with an arch design at the center front to accommodate a tummy moving upwards when you sit down. If sitting makes your bra uncomfortable, consider a bra with arched center panels. At HerRoom, you can filter on "arched center panel" under bra styles.
STILL NOT THE RIGHT FIT?
We alter our clothes for a better fit, why not a bra? One woman in our office really measures to a 35 band size. She therefore buys a 36D and has a dart put in at the sides. A bra is something you wear every day, so it should fit well. Investing in its alteration, if needed, is a sound investment toward your daily comfort.
When zeroing in on your correct bra size, it’s better to first find your best band size, then adjust your cup size until you find the one that fits best. Find out how to find your perfect bra size in this expert video.
Going up or down a band size is a 2 inch circumference adjustment. Going up or down a cup size is a 1 inch adjustment. The point here is that changing your bra's band size is a significant size change. Changing your cup size is more of a fine-tuning change. So, get your band size first, and then adjust your cup size to further refine toward your perfect bra size.
A LIST OF BRA FIT PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
CREATE THE QUINTESSENTIAL LINGERIE WARDROBE
FIGURE OUT YOUR BRA SIZE YOURSELF BY LOOKING FOR SYMPTOMS