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how should a bra fit

If you’ve read even just a handful of articles about bra fit, you’ve probably run across the statement that 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. That hasn’t actually been proven by a statistically-significant research study. But, as any bra fitter can tell you, there are many women out there wearing bra sizes that aren’t ideal.

There are various signs that your bra is poorly-fitting. Some are obvious, such as aches and pains; a well-made, well-fitting bra should never be uncomfortable. Others are harder to spot, such as a band that’s riding up – you may not notice that one if you don’t dress in front of a mirror.

If you have no clue whether you’re in the right or wrong size, it ‘s worth considering a professional bra fitting. But if you’re pressed for time, feeling nervous (hint: this list of things to expect may help calm your worries), or don’t live nearby to a good boutique, you can also do a DIY bra-fit check at home. Plus use these tips to evaluate the fit of a bra yourself in the changing room!

Bras are made up of typically dozens of different components, but they all come together to create three main ‘parts’ – the cups, the band, and the straps.

Here’s how each of them should fit:

The Band

Turn to the side in front of a mirror. The band should continue horizontally across your back, not curve up in the middle. If it is riding up, that’s a sign you need a smaller band size. Check also that it’s not too tight. Lift your arms up, twist side to side, bend over… you should be able to do all of this comfortably and with ease.

If you have a lot of soft tissue around your ribcage, it’s perfectly normal to get ‘rolls’ above and below the band. It’s not a sign that it’s overly-tight if it’s still comfortable to wear. But if it bothers you aesthetically, choosing a bra with a wider band will help smooth things out.

Related: How Tight Should Your Bra Band Be?

The Cups

There are three fit aspects to check here. First, check the wires (if the bra has them). They should lie in the curve just below where your breast begins. Ensure the wire isn’t sitting on top of your breast tissue by leaning forwards, reaching into the cup and pulling your breast upwards.

It’s important to make sure your breast is fully inside the cup before moving onto the next step, which is checking that the cups’ upper edges lay flush against your skin. If there’s a gap, you’re not filling them out fully and should try a smaller size. If they dig in, creating a bump rather than a smooth contour, there’s not enough room and you should try a size up instead.

Finally, check the gore. It’s the area between the cups, sometimes a part of the band but other times a separate piece of fabric. This should also be lying flat against your skin. If there’s a gap between it and your sternum – that’s also a sign you need a larger cup size.

The Straps

If you’re trying on a new bra, expect to have to adjust the straps a little. You may also need to adjust them on a bra you already own since they can work themselves loose over time. They should be comfortably snug, neither loose nor digging in.

If they’re fully shortened yet still slipping off your shoulders, it’s most likely that the band is too big and is riding up (meaning the straps are not anchored in place sufficiently low down on your back).

But if you need to pull them painfully tight in order to achieve sufficient lift, this could also mean the band size is too big (because it’s not providing enough support). Straps can also dig in simply be because they’re too narrow – strap cushions or switching to a bra with wider straps can help.

Found your perfect bra fit? Great! Just remember that it’s the correct size for that bra only. It’s totally normal for your size to vary between brands, or even between different styles by the same brand; two 34Es can fit quite differently. But now that you know how to check if a bra fits well, you’ll be able to find your perfect size in all of them!

Related: Why Do My Bra Straps Dig Into My Shoulders?

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!

Featured image lingerie:
Matilda Contour Plunge Padded Bra P5311 in Bisque
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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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