Bra Fitting Tips
If you’ve visited our step by step guide to choosing the correct bra, then you should hopefully be well on the way towards knowing your correct standard bra size. Sadly, however, these things are never quite so simple and, as a result, different brands are likely to fit drastically differently. In fact, even two bras from the exact same company might differ in size depending on the individual style and fit.
At Brastop though, we’ve got your back and we’ve put together this handy set of tips and tests that you can try out in your new bra to ensure that it’s absolutely perfect. Stand in front of the mirror and let’s begin!
The Band Test
There are a number of tricks that can help you towards back band fitting heaven. The following guides will give you practical advice for a back band that properly supports your boobs and rib cage.
Step 1: The 80:20 Rule, Know Your Percentages!
The back band of your bra takes on a big responsibility!
More than 80% of the entire bra’s supportiveness should come from the band with less than 20% coming from the shoulder straps. As such, if it’s too loose then the straps are going to have to do a whole lot more work, which is bad news for your shoulders, and if it’s too tight then you’re in for an uncomfortable day!
Step 2: Before You Begin, Fasten Your Bra
First things first, a brand new bra should always be tested on the loosest possible fastening. Since the elastic becomes looser after a bra has been washed and worn for a while, you will then be able to gradually decrease the size over time by fastening it on tighter hooks.
Step 3: Rising Back-Bands are a No-No!
The first test on our list involves having a look in the mirror to check out the bra’s star player. When you are checking the fit of the bra band, ensure that it is not too tight and digging into your sides. To check that it’s also not too loose, have a look at the bra band’s positioning horizontally along your chest and back.
It’s bad news for a bra if it’s higher at the back than at the front, causing the cups to sag down and giving you no support whatsoever, so make sure that the band is completely straight the whole way round.
Step 4: Keep Your Back Bands Close...
One further check to see if the band of your bra fits involves a bit of flexibility! The less dexterous amongst us might need to ask a volunteer for help with this bit.
With the back of your hand against your back and underneath the back of your bra, try pulling the band away from your body. In doing this, you should not be able to move the band more than approximately one inch away. If it’s looser than this then it’s definitely time to go down a back size!
The Cup Test
As if it wasn’t complicated enough, we also have to contend with the difficulties of choosing the right cup size. Again, never fear! The task of correctly fitting your boobs to the right cup comes with its own set of handy tips and tricks.
Step 1: No Extra Space Required!
It’s fairly easy to see if your cup size is too large, especially if you are trying out a non-padded bra, as there will likely be wrinkling and puckering on the top of the cup due to it not sitting flat against the breast tissue. If you are trying out a padded bra, just look down!
You will likely see large gaps just below the shoulder straps which means that these will not fit properly either. Keep going down a cup size, in this instance, until there is a smooth and uninterrupted line across the top of your bra and the top of your boob.
Step 2: Banish the Quad Boobs...
Similarly, if your boobs are trying to make their great escape out the top of the cup then it is undoubtedly too small, resulting in the dreaded quad boob effect! Go up in cup sizes (and down in back sizes if needed) until no breast tissue bulges over the top or the side of the bra and you’ll be just fine.
Step 3: Jump for Joy!
If you’re still unsure, however, a good jump up and down will really serve as the ultimate test, and this is one test that you absolutely shouldn’t skip if you are trying on a new sports bra!
The Underwire Test
Third on the list, it’s the turn of what many women consider to be the natural enemy of the boob; but it doesn’t have to be! When fitted correctly, the underwire of your bra should fit perfectly against your ribcage, resting comfortably on your sternum and finishing just before your armpit.
Step 1: Keep Your Boobs Underwire Free
Underwire and cup size tend to go hand in hand, and therefore it can sometimes be quite difficult to simultaneously make sure that both are correct. As a rule, however, if the side of the wire that is closest to your underarm pokes into breast tissue then the cup is too small. It’s absolutely imperative that this does not happen as it can damage breast tissue so go up in cup sizes until the underwire is comfortable.
Step 2: Bigger is not Better when it comes to underwire...
Likewise, if the underwire goes too far beyond your boobs then it’s going to poke into your armpit. This generally means that it’s time to go down a cup size but it could also indicate that you’re wearing a bra that’s the wrong style for your breast shape. Read our handy guide to breast shapes and their perfect bra matches to find out more about this.
Step 3: Centre Panel Test - Keeping Things Grounded
The centre panel of any bra needs to become acquainted with your sternum in order for it to fit perfectly. This means that the cups will then start in the correct place and if there’s an underwire to the bra, then this will also point in the right direction.
As a test, it’s time to stand in front of that mirror again, and put one finger against the bra’s centre panel. If this causes the entire bra to move then you don’t have a solid foundation here! In this case, going up one cup size will almost certainly provide you with a much better fit.
The Straps Test
Many women use their bra straps as a way to achieve uplift and cleavage. When a bra fits correctly, they should definitely not be doing this! Instead, your bra straps are a great way to keep the cups of your bra in place while the back band provides most of the strength. These final tips and tricks will ensure that your bra straps are doing their job correctly!
Step 1: Don't Make Your Bra Straps do all the work...
We’re finally onto the final component! As mentioned earlier, the shoulder straps of a bra should be responsible for less than a mere 20% of its overall support. If they are working overtime in any way then you’re unfortunately going to experience annoyance at the least, and shoulder or back pain as a worst case scenario!
Step 2: Shoulder Dents... No, Thank You!
Once your shoulder straps have been adjusted to fit you correctly, there should be no reason why you should be getting dents appearing in your shoulders or experiencing any pain in this area. If this is happening then the back band of your bra needs to start pulling its weight! Go down a back size until the band is giving you the correct level of support.
Step 3: The "Strapless Bra" Test
Similarly, your shoulder straps constantly falling down can also be a sign that the back band is not tight enough, especially if you happen to have more sloping shoulders. We can now provide you with one final test to ensure that your back and shoulder supports are working effectively, which we like to call the ‘strapless bra’ test.
With your bra comfortably on, remove the shoulder straps from your shoulders and stand straight. In this instance, if the bra is fitting correctly, then there should be little to no slipping down occurring. If it does fall down then this is a sure sign that those straps are shouldering too much of the work so going down a band size or two is necessary.