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how to tell if a bra fits

If you’re here, it’s probably because you’ve had a niggling feeling that you need a different bra size. Many people aren’t wearing the size they should be, but how do you tell?

You could get a professional bra fitting, of course. But if you don’t have a boutique nearby or are simply pressed for time, here’s a helpful checklist.

Take a look through and see if any of these 11 signs or symptoms apply to you. They all indicate that your bra likely isn’t the correct fit, especially if you can tick off multiple issues.

1.  You constantly readjust the bra

A bra that fits well will feel secure, holding your bust firmly in place all day long. If you’re forever shifting the cups, yanking on the straps or pulling at the band, it’s not your size. The specific problem could be one of many fit issues however, so read on to discover more.

2.  Your band arches at the back

One of the most common bra fit problems is wearing a band size that’s larger than you really need. You’ll be able to tell if this is the case because the band will curve up at the back, instead of lying horizontally all the way around the body. The band is responsible for most of the support in a bra, so getting a good fit is crucial for lots of lift.

3.  Your straps slip off

There are a number of reasons that your bra straps can keep slipping off your shoulders, but a common one is that your band size is too big. As described above, that makes your band ride up at the back, pushing the straps higher and therefore making them fit looser.

4.  Your straps dig in

If you’re having the opposite problem, that the straps feel far too tight, this could also be due to a too-large band. Because a looser band is less supportive, more of the weight from your bust pulls down on the shoulder straps instead.

5.  Neck, shoulder or back pain

This too can result from wearing a band size that’s too big. Instead of the weight of your bust being distributed around your ribcage by a firm-fitting band, more of it gets put on your shoulder and neck, straining those muscles. The lack of support can also affect your posture – especially if you’re full-busted – and that can lead to back aches too.

Related: Ask A Bra Fitter: Here’s How To Have The Best Bra Fitting

how should a bra fit

Problem: The band is riding up their back and the bra is being worn on the tightest hook. | Solution: Replacing this bra with a new bra that is one band size smaller and a cup size (or more) larger.

6.  The cups look wrinkly

It’s pretty obvious that if there’s a gap between your breasts and the cups, they’re too big for you. However, on some styles it’s less clear that you’re not filling the cup out fully. Stretch fabrics for example will probably still lie flat, but will look wrinkled instead of smooth.

7.  Your profile looks bumpy

If you put a t-shirt or stretchy top over your bra and your breasts don’t look follow a smooth line, it’s most likely because the cup size is too small. Your breast tissue can’t all fit inside the cup, so it spills over the top and creates that bump in your silhouette.

8.  Your skin feels chafed

A poorly-fitting bra band can lead to skin irritation and abrasions. It’s no different to getting blisters from a pair of poorly-fitting shoes. If the band is too loose, it will move around more than it should, and if it’s too tight it will rub when you move. As a grown-up Goldilocks probably would have said, you want your bra band size to be just right.

9.  The centre doesn’t touch your skin

The front-centre of the bra, between the cups, is called the gore or bridge. In an underwired bra, this should always ‘tack’, meaning it lies flat against your skin. If there’s a gap between it and you, that signifies that the cups are too small. They can’t fully encase your breast tissue, which is instead pushing the bra outwards.

10.  The wires dig in

Underwire discomfort is often caused by a cup size that’s too big or small. If it’s too big, the wires will be longer than needed and may poke in at one or both of the ends. If it’s too small, instead of wrapping neatly around the curve under your breast, part or all of the wire will end up sitting on top of the breast tissue. This also leads to poking and rubbing.

11.  A painful, ‘bouncing’ feeling

Although a regular bra isn’t designed to keep you comfy during an intense workout – you need a sports bra for that – it should feel firm and secure enough when you’re going about your daily life. If you can feel your breasts bouncing painfully about when you go downstairs or run for the bus, you need more support – which may mean that the band is too big.

My bra doesn’t fit, what now?

If you’re only experiencing one of the above problems, it’s hopefully easy to solve. For example, if the issue seems to be cups that are too small, just try a size up. However, if your bras are causing you all sorts of hassle, it may be easier just to get remeasured and start from there. You may well need a different band size and a different cup size, and it could be that they’re more than one size out from what you’re wearing now. It’s not unheard of for someone who thinks they are a 36B to discover they should have been wearing a 32DD all along!

As mentioned at the start of this article, booking a bra fitting is the ideal option. A professional can not only help you work out your size, but also recommend specific styles or brands that may work better for you than others. Just remember that sizing varies between bra brands, so even if you get fitted as a 38G in one bra, that size may not provide your best fit in another lingerie brand.

Related: Bra Shopping Guide: Tips For Buying New Bras

how to know if a bra fits

Problem: The cups are too small. You can see the wire digging into their breast tissue on the side of the left cup. Because of this, the band is pulling away from the body, too. | Solution: Replacing this bra with a new bra that is at least one cup size larger.

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Need more bra fit advice? Ask your questions in the comments below!

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Published by

Estelle Puleston

Estelle Puleston is the founder of, a blog dedicated to her love of lingerie. She works full-time as a copywriter and digital marketer for the lingerie and swimwear industry, and when she’s not doing that, she’s probably sewing or enjoying a good cup of tea.

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