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The 6 Most Important Tips For Finding The Right Bra

A professional bra fitter can help you overcome the 6 common bra problems and help you pick out bras you will love.

These Bra Fitting Tips Make All The Difference

A few years back, and after decades of discomfort on my part, I made the very big decision to have breast reduction surgery. And while I feel much more comfortable and confident because of it, it also put me back at square one in terms of how to get a good bra fit!

But even if you’re not adjusting to new proportions, it can be hard to learn how to know if a bra fits properly. In this post, I’ll share the 6 bra fitting tips that I found most informative, so that you can use them to find your best fitting bra too!

Your bra fitter will likely have a huge variety of bras so you can find the best fitting bra for your unique body.

6 Common Bra Fit Problems & How To Avoid Them

In order to know if a bra fits properly, it helps to first understand how your bra shouldn’t fit. Read on to learn about common problems women experience with their bras below, and get bra fitting tips that will help you find the perfect fit!

Find your best fitting bra by learning how it should fit and the most common bra problems - a woman and her fitter discuss a bra

1. The Center Panel Doesn’t Rest Against Your Skin

If the center panel of your bra (AKA the “gore”) hovers over your skin, that suggests you need a larger cup size. To get the best fit, the center panel of your bra should rest comfortably against your skin.

A woman is getting a great fitting bra with the help of a professional bra fitter

2. The Straps Dig Into Your Shoulders

If your bra straps are always digging into your shoulders, you probably need a smaller band size. The band should be doing the lion’s share of the lifting and supporting, not the straps! This was a revelation to me!

Another revelation to me? When you buy a new bra, make sure the band fits snugly on its loosest set of hooks. Then as the elastic stretches out over time, you’ll be able to keep the band fitting snugly by moving to the tighter hooks. (Once you’ve reached the tightest hook, that’s your cue to start shopping for a replacement!)

Underwires are a common bra problem when it comes to a good fit - underwires should not hurt.

3. You’ve Lost/Gained Weight

Regardless of how you feel about a recent weight change, having to shop for new bras can make it feel like a punishment! So here’s a couple of guidelines that will give you a place to start:

  • If your band size has gone down, go up a cup size
  • If your band size has gone up, go down a cup size

As strange as it may seem, cup sizes aren’t universal — they’re relative to the difference between your band size and the measurement around the fullest part of your breasts. (That means sizes 32DD and 34D actually have the same cup size. Mind-blowing, right!?)

One common bra problem is having the back of the bra climb up your back when it is too loose.

4. The Band Crawls Up Your Back

Does the band of your bra end up somewhere near your shoulder blades by the end of the day? If so, you probably need a smaller band size.

The band should sit snugly in the middle of your back, and that may mean it ends up sitting a lot lower than you’re used to. (That was definitely the case for me.) But bra fitters liken bras to a see-saw, because the lower the back is, the higher the front will be (and that means properly supported and perky breasts!)

Underwires are a common bra problem - if they hurt, the cups are probably too small.

5. The Underwire Hurts

I disagree with the notion that “beauty is pain” for many reasons, especially when it comes to bras! If the underwire of your bra stabs, pokes, or pinches your skin, you probably need a bigger cup size.

According to Courtney, who runs one of the premiere bra stores in Utah, underwire placement is the single most common problem women experience with their current bra. The underwire should surround and contain all of your breast tissue, so you may need a bigger cup size than you’re used to.

A bra fitter explains to a client how to overcome the most common bra problems.

6. Your Breasts Don’t Fill The Cups (Or Your Cups Runneth Over)

Gaping cups and breast spillage often come down to the same thing: your cup size just isn’t right! The cups of your bra should perfectly accommodate the size of your breasts.

Think “Goldilocks and the Three Bears;” not too small and not too big, but just right! :-) (Keep in mind that cup shape differs between brands and styles, so it may just take some fine tuning to find the right one for you!)

Finding the perfect fit in a bra makes you look slimmer and younger, as these before and after photos demonstrate.

Bonus Bra Tip: Get Fitted By An Expert!

I had a great experience during my fitting with Courtney, the expert behind Bra Fittings by Court, a blog-turned-business based here in Utah. As a Certified Bra Fit Specialist, she has personally fitted over 1,000 women, so I figured I was in the best possible hands with her.

(For those who live too far away for an in-person fitting, Courtney also has a website called Bosom Besties with a useful bra fit calculator tool and an online shop that offers the same bras she recommends to her in-person customers.)

When I put on the bra that Courtney picked out for me, I felt the difference immediately. The band sat lower and felt tighter than I thought it would (though not uncomfortably so), and it had a brace-like effect that made me want to stand up straighter! Finding your best fitting bra may take a bit of work, but it’s well worth the effort!

You might also like these brilliant bra hacks:

Have you found your best fitting bra, or are you still searching?

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Beauty Tips

  • Good article. I’ve had breast reduction and a few years later, breast CA. As I’ve aged, gravity has decided my right side should head toward my armpit. My shoulders have sloped, too (gotta love getting old!). I’ve never cheaper out on bras since I was an early bloomer & remember getting scabs on my shoulders as a kid. My dr. suggested a nearby lingerie store. I had never gone there, thinking the bra prices were out of sight!! To my surprise, they were the same as the Dept. store. I was measured and tried on different styles/sizes. I had to get some more bras but mentioned to the lady about the right side and she brought out another bra with a prosthesis to tuck in a pocket. It brought the girls in line (I never noticed they weren’t in line). Now I’m experiencing strap slippage. Annoying when you’re out and pulling the straps up! I bought silicone pads – they don’t fit the strap. I’ll have to find some that do. I managed to tape them on for a couple of days & they do work. Now I have to find pads that fit the straps. If you’re paying $40 for a bra at a dept. store, I found the lingerie shop had the same prices and more brands. They’re experienced. They took one look and instinctively knew what size I needed. They measured everything. So no more underwires for me!! They have been my go-to for years, thinking they would hold me up. These are so much better & I’m more than pleased. Now for the pads that actually fit the straps!!!!

    • And now, 1 yr. later, I’m back. I headed to my local lingerie store for new bras. I was tired of the straps slipping so thought it was time for new ones. My dr. had sent them a script so my medical would pay for a new prosthesis (if necessary). The lady took out my records and proceeded to give me the same size but a different model. No luck. Seven bras later, different band & cup sizes and I’m not happy. Most had a satin band so they slipped up, no matter what size. No bra has ever hit my chest bone which is the least of my problems. I walked out with 3 bras – all the same brand/model but none hold the prosthesis. Due to my age, the left side hangs down & the lumpectomy side heads for my armpit. Gravity isn’t my friend!!! For some reason, every bra I tried gave me that ‘fat back’ look which none have ever done. I haven’t gained weight I’ll wear one, see how it goes. If I’m uncomfortable with wearing it or feeling like everyone is looking at me, the other 2 are going back. If I have to, I’ll go back to my underwires. It’s my ‘wait and see’.

  • I’m extremely small busted and lop-sided. I can’t find a real bra my size, much less one that fits comfortably so I gave up years ago. I wear sports bras all the time, unless I am in the shower.

  • There’s a new type of adhesive bra out- two separate cups that adhere to the chest- I would love to see an honest review from someone who has tried who is larger than a 38 C

  • Why was nothing mentioned about the strap falling off one’s shoulders? So annoying! I might have to get my niece siobhanbarrett.com to custom make me one. She also makes swimsuits at aleaswimwear.com. I just need to get on with it I guess. I also found patterns on Pinterest to make my own.

  • I was the opposite from you. I wear a 40DD, but the sales lady measured me, and handed me a 44C. I had to prove to her that it did not fit. She had never been wrong before. I have to try on several before I find the best fit.

  • This is such an awesome description of how to get the right fit! Usually when I’ve had a fitting, they don’t really tell me what they are doing lol. Thank you so much!

  • Great topic! One thing I would add is that most places that carry bras do NOT carry bras for larger sized breasts, so it’s quite difficult to find one that actually fits! I’m a cup size H or I, depending on the bra, and even specialty shops don’t carry these sizes. Mail order, you have to guess, and if it’s not right, you are stuck! Athletic bras? Forget it, unless you want to spend a fortune on your bras.

  • Great and informative post. I have to admit, I’ve simply given up finding the right size bra. I decided to just wear my western bra, hitch em and move em out. You’ve inspired me, thank you!

  • What a good topic! I was fitted a couple of years ago by someone and I got so frustrated. She insisted I was a 36 C even though it was much too tight. Have to go to someone who knows what they’re doing! :)

    • You are in the wrong style if your straps are falling off shoulders. You need a style where the back straps are “kicked in” towards the center of the back band. You do not need to be uncomfortable to have stability in the straps. Most of us have “back fat” ( or angel wings as I like to call them-lol). Depending on the style , the back and the side and wire height, can make a difference in the calming of the angel wings!

  • Another change that might happen (other than surgery) is the natural increase in breast size that comes with age-related hormonal shifts. I went up a cup size in my early ’40s for no apparent reason, and after a trip to the doctor to make sure there was no need for concern (and there wasn’t – no pain, no discharge) I went bra shopping. The girl at VS measured my band size above(!) rather than below my bustline, which calculated to a larger cup size than measuring below, but I found that the smaller cup seemed to fit better as the larger seemed baggy. I just realized that the gore(?) does float over my chest, but everything else fits well and comfortably. I actually prefer the support of a bra over going “commando” around the house!

    A few other tips I came across during this experience: 1)Invest in quality bras that will “perform” well and last for several years rather than going cheap at a big-box place, even if you’ve already found your correct size at a boutique. 2)Buy several and rotate them daily to let them air out and last longer. Don’t wear the same bra two days (or two months) in a row! 3)Wash and store underwire bras properly to let them keep their shape. Hand wash or gentle cycle in a pillowcase or mesh bag (which is what I do as the spin cycle lets them dry so much faster) and hang to dry. Store them spread out with the cups of each bra nested inside the one above and below. I’ve had my “new” ones for 5+ years now and they still look and perform like new.

    • There are many ways to fit bras. Going to a store where training of the fitters is a must. Measuring and fitting are 2 different things. We get 85% support from the back band on a bra, so it must be snug ( not tight) to do its job- thus Jillee’s info on the see saw effect – if band is too big, it will ride up the back and fall in the front -thus loosing breast support) also keep in mind that when bras are brand new ( like shoes) they will relax to your body shape after a couple wearings. The trend now is comfort and support and you can now get both in a non wire, which is better overall for the breasts, then going “commando “. Remember, when bras get to that Furthest inside set of hooks-time to retire the bra and get a new one, as its done its job. MOST Bras area made of man made materials and unlike clothing- stretch not shrink from washing and wearing over time . Keep the girls happy, safe and lifted!

  • Good for you on having the reduction! Thank goodness my parents had enough smarts to know my sister (at 16 in the early 80’s) needed to have one since the discs in her back started to breakdown because of the weight strain! My daughter just had the same surgery a couple years ago as she had the same thing happening with her back. She was lucky enough to have the best plastic surgeon on Long Island he was a miracle worker with her! Big boobs are literally a pain in the back! I love this post and am going to forward to my daughter since she struggles with cup size (her mindset is if it’s a double size she’s getting bigger!) now she’ll know what to look for in NY! I love your blog and have forwarded your articles to many family and friends! Keep up the great work love you!

  • I always if Im going out have to pin my straps to my tops to get them to stay in place . I do adjust the straps occasionally . I think a lot of it is just having small shoulders. My family – mom and us girls are just built this way.

  • I found Courtney several years ago after a friend shared a piece Courtney had written on social media. I was wearing the wrong size and adjusted by wearing a smaller band but with a bigger cup per her website recommendation. I’ve had a few trial and error with different bands (seriously, can’t brands just agree on a size?!) but found one that is so dang comfortable I don’t dread wearing it!

    • Hopefully, Tina will read this! I urge you to check with your medical carrier. Depending on how much needs to be removed (different carriers have different requirements), they will pay for it as a necessary medical procedure, not cosmetic surgery. I did spend 3 days in the hospital but that was yrs. ago. I was out of work for 6 weeks but my employer covered sick time. I felt so much better – I was always self-conscious since I’m short & they weren’t proportionate with my size. You *do* need a mammogram before doing this. If your dr. doesn’t say anything, it’s up to you to tell him you need one!!!!

  • YIHAAAA!!!! I learned A LOT from this (and I will have 64 this tuesday so some experience. Indeed… so many unknown details. I know in Europe research pointed out that a lot of women wear bra’s that are much too small. This article shows that there is a lot to say why… Another thing my osteopath taught me. With big boobies and too loose bra’s, the weight of the darlings puts a lot of strain on the collarbone etc. (I(that was really painful) His trick: pull the straps together in the back, I sow them together – the plastic rings sold on internet do’nt work for me, too weak.
    I also have to try several bras of the so called same size, only one out of 5 or 7 really fits. Amazing how different the brands are.

      • My right breast is quite a bit larger than the left. Do I fit the cup size to the larger one and if so, what do I do with the excess material on the other breast?

      • I would think using one extra piece of padding. Sometimes you have a loose “half moon” in an old bikini. Or just buy some padding in a shop or on the internet

      • sometimes you can cross the straps (undo them first), or you sow 2 cm together in the back, or fix it with a safety pin or a ring..

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