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4 Questions to Ask for A Better Fitting Bra

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

Online bra fitting is practically a religion these days. There are private Facebook groups where you can upload photos of yourself in your bra to get personalized advice and forums with pages upon pages of information to accompany very specific measurement suggestions. Sometimes it feels like finding the “perfect” bra size means picking up an entirely new hobby.

But bra fitting truly doesn’t have to be complicated.

I don’t believe in a “perfect true bra size” because fit is subjective and there’s no standardization of sizing in the lingerie industry. I also don’t believe bras are “poorly-fitting” if those bras are comfortable and make you feel good.

However, if you’re uncomfortable in all of your bras and buying new ones in the same size doesn’t solve the problem, you might want to try a new bra size. Bras stretch out over time and if you no longer like how they fit, they should be replaced.

If you don’t want to spend hours taking measurements, going to a store to get a fitting, or asking strangers for advice on the internet, these four questions will help you troubleshoot a better size. Answering them won’t solve everyone’s problems, but it’s a good place to start if you hate all your bras and want to figure out why.

Put on your best-fitting, newest bra, stand in front of a mirror, and ask yourself these four questions to figure out what size you could try instead. (And don’t forget: when you size down in the band, make sure you size up in the cup to keep your cup volume the same! A 34B has the same cup volume as a 32C or a 30D.)

Instead of sitting parallel to the ground, this band is riding up, which can be uncomfortable and offers less support. The Great Eros Canova Underwire Bra, $98 via Journelle

1. Is your band too loose?

Do you always wear new bras on the tightest hook? Do you have to pull the band back down every time you lift your arms up? Does your band move around, making you fidget with it all day? If you turn to the side, does it ride up in the back instead of sitting parallel to the ground?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, try a band size down. A smaller band means you won’t have to readjust constantly during the day. And since most of a bra’s support comes from the band (instead of the straps), you’ll get more lift too. Make sure your new bra fits nicely on the loosest set of hooks, so you can make it tighter as it stretches over time.

If you're used to wearing loose bands, a smaller band might look too small, even if it feels perfectly snug and comfortable. A good thing to remember: bras are support garments. So when it comes to fitting, how a band feels is more important than how it looks.

This bra is cutting into the top of the model's breast tissue. Victoria's Secret Multi Way Bra, $59.95

2. Does your underwire encase only part of your breast tissue?

Is your tissue spilling out of the top or sides of your cup? Does the top edge of the cup cut into your breast instead of creating a smooth line? Does the wire sit on your breast itself, instead of sitting flush against your chest where the underside of your breast meets your ribcage?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the easiest fix is to try a cup size up. For the most comfortable bra-wearing experience, and for the best support, your underwire should cradle all of your tissue without any space between the wire and your chest, and without sitting on any of your breast tissue. If you find your breasts spilling out of your cup, a bigger cup size is the first thing to try.

These bra straps are tightened all the way; as this bra stretches out, the straps will start falling off the wearer's shoulders. Freya Forest Song Underwire Plunge Bra, $60

3. Are your bra straps tightened all the way?

Are your straps falling down all day, despite being tightened all the way? Do you feel like you have to get your straps altered or buy a racerback hook, just to feel supported or to keep your breasts from falling out of your cups?

If your bra is new, this is a good sign that you should try a band size down. Just like how a band stretches out, so do the straps. That means as your bra ages, you’ll have to tighten the straps further to get them to fit like new. However, a new bra’s straps most likely don’t need to be tightened all the way. A snugger band will keep everything in place, and will let the straps do the small amount of work they were meant to do.

The center gore of this bra is being pushed away from the model's body. Mimi Holliday Angel Face Half Padded Push-Up Bra, $83; Hipster knickers, $55.

4. Is the center gore, or bridge, standing up from your sternum?

The sturdy triangular part of your bra that connects your two cups at the center of your chest is called the bridge, or gore. It is a good spot to troubleshoot when your bra is uncomfortable or you find yourself re-adjusting your breasts throughout the day. It depends on breast shape, but for most people, the center gore feels best sitting flush against your chest, not hanging off or being pushed out by your breasts.

If your band isn’t tight enough according to step 1, size down in the band. This will pull the band closer to your body, making the gore sit snugly.

If your band is snug enough but your breasts are pushing the gore away from your body, go up in the cups.

Since there is so much variation between human bodies, there are, no doubt, many exceptions to these not-at-all-fast rules. And if your bra fits into one of these "concerns," but you love how it looks and feels, then that bra is totally the right size for you! But for many people who find bras uncomfortable, these straightforward tips can set you on a path towards bras that feel comfortable, supportive, and uninhibiting. Best of luck!

Do you have any easy-to-follow bra fit tips? Share them in the comments!

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Quinne Myers

Quinne Myers is a lingerie expert living in Brooklyn, NY, where she creates quippy written content, crafts dreamy illustrations, and runs the ethically-made loungewear line, she and reverie.