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Are You Wearing The Right Size Bra?

We know you have probably heard about getting fitted for a proper bra size. And maybe you have been fitted, but were you measured correctly? We stumbled across a YouTube video by a woman named Caty and our minds were blown! Bending over for measuring? The 7 issues that mean your bra is not the right size; the fact that the UK has different sizing charts than the US (and might be much better)? We learned a lot.

Why To Get Properly Sized

Asian woman with long hair in yellow shirt thinking. Wondering.
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Wearing a properly sizes bra will help us look the best we can be. But it also will alleviate bra straps from digging in, from slipping, and will put an end to all that fiddling we do when we wear an ill-fitting bra.

When To Get Sized

Woman's back in white bra showing marks from bar that is too tight.
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If you have never been sized, it is time! Also consider getting sized if:

  • You have gained or lost more than 5-pounds
  • You have not been sized in years
  • You are having issues with your current bras, such as always picking up falling shoulder straps, or the main band digging into your back
  • You have always just felt like your bras were not supporting you enough, or giving you the profile that you want

7 Signs That Your Bra Doesn’t Fit

Colorful bras hanging on clothesline.
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Here are the 7 most common signs that your bra is not doing its job.

Band Riding Up Your Back?

Woman's hand feeling bra on hangar.
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  • Issue: If the band of your bra rides up your back, it’s too big.
  • Solution: Go down a band size and consider going up a cup size if needed for a better fit.

Band Cutting Off Circulation?

woman with red manicure putting on blue bra.
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  • Issue: If the band feels too tight and restricts circulation, it’s too small.
  • Solution: Increase the band size and decrease the cup size to ensure both comfort and support.

Breast Spilling Over the Cup?

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  • Issue: When your breast spills over the cup, it’s a sign that the cup size is too small.
  • Solution: Opt for a larger cup size for proper coverage and support.

Cup Not Fitting Properly?

woman holding drawer of bras.
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  • Issue: If the cup doesn’t adequately hold your breast and wrinkles or ripples, it’s too large.
  • Solution: Choose a smaller cup size to ensure a snug and flattering fit.

Armpit/Back Fat Visible?

woman pinching back fat.
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  • Issue: If you notice bulges around the armpit or back area, it may indicate that the cup size is too small.
  • Solution: Increase the cup size and potentially decrease the band size (try a smaller band size) to address this issue. Don’t forget to use the “scoop and swoop” technique for optimal comfort when putting your bra on.

Gore Not Touching Your Chest?

woman touching center of bra on hanger.
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This one threw us for a loop. Gore? We didn’t even know what that was. The gore is the piece of fabric or area that is between the cups. Apparently, it is supposed to lay flat against our chest. Who knew?

  • Issue: When the center gore (the piece between the cups) doesn’t touch your chest, the cup size is too small.
  • Solution: Go for a larger cup size to ensure the gore sits comfortably against your chest.

Straps Digging into Shoulders?

Stack of colorful bras.
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  • Issue: Straps digging into your shoulders can be uncomfortable.
  • Solution: Loosen the straps to relieve pressure. If you notice noticeable sagging, consider going down a band size and up a cup size for better support.

Underwires Causing Discomfort in the Sides/Armpit Area?

bra underwire being inserted in bra.
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  • Issue: If underwires dig into your sides or armpit area, it can be bothersome.
  • Solution: Bend the underwires to your desired comfort level if possible. If not, try a bra with shallower underwires that don’t extend as far into your armpit area for improved comfort.

How To Get Properly Sized

Coil of white measuring tape on wood table.
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You need a soft, cloth measuring tape, and while you can do this yourself, having a friend or family member help might be easier. Once you get your measurements, of both band and bust, you can move to the next section for our chart, which will help you calculate bra size.

  • Wrap measuring tape under the bust, where the bra band sits, exhale, and take that measurement. Do this when naked. The measurement tape should be flat, snug and horizontal to the ground. Write down that number. For the sake of discussion, let’s say this is 32-inches. This is going to be your band size (the band that goes around your chest horizontally).
  • Now, this next step might be easier if you get on all fours on the ground. While on your hands and knees, allow your breasts to hang freely facing the ground. This helps the fat and tissue on your sides and under your arms to come forward. Measure around the largest part of your bust, loosely, and write down that number. For the sake of discussion, let’s say this is 39-inches.
  • Take the difference between the numbers, which is a 7-inch difference in this case. This number will help you determine cup size.
  • Based on this 7-inch number (or whatever your number is), you will now refer to charts. There are UK cup sizes and US cup sizes.  While there is much overlap, Caty suggests using the UK model, because as she puts it, “they just have their shit together”. She goes as far as to say, “US bra manufacturers have no idea what they are doing”. 
  • The measurements given mean that the person would wear a 32F bra.

Use This Bra Chart

Bra Chart.
Bra Chart from The Queen Zone.

This chart should help you navigate all of the different bra sizing options!

Where to Buy Bras

Bras in a shop.
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Caty suggests Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. We have had great success there as well. They have actual bra fitters, so make a trip into a store.

You can also try brastop.com.

How To Try On A Bra

Young woman shopping for bras.
Image credit Artie Medvedev via Shutterstock.
  • Always try bras on the loosest hook. The additional hooks are there for when the bra begins to lose elasticity. At that point you can tighten the bra by moving to the next hook, but also assess at that time whether the bra needs replacing. 
  • Also, when putting on a bra, use the scoop and sweep method. Gather your breast tissue into the cups, gently firmly in from the sides. 
  • The gore should lay flat against your chest, even if you raise your arms. 
  • The band should be snug but comfortable, and horizontal. 
  • The straps over your shoulders should also be snug, but not digging, or slipping. 
  • An underwire should completely encompass the breast tissue, including the tissue that is near your sides. 
  • The cup should encase the breasts and there should be no digging into the top of the breasts, creating “quad” boob. 
  • There should be no armpit fat or backfat being pinched by the bra.

What Does a Properly Fitted Bra Look Like?

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There is a “bratabase” – a bra database – with loads of helpful images of what works and what doesn’t. Take a look.

Caty’s video shows great examples as well.

The Takeaway

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While we are sure some US bra companies know what they are doing, we have to say that the UK chart is much clearer and also why have our bras always fit so poorly? Maybe we were fitted incorrectly, or maybe the numbers were translated wrong, and we ended up with the wrong size bra. 

Remember, finding the perfect bra fit may require some trial and error, as individual preferences and body shapes vary. Keep these guidelines in mind to ensure your bras provide the comfort and support you deserve. And thank you Caty!

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Author

  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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