Bra troubleshooting is how to easily solve common problems with incorrect bra fit. Remember that the cup and band are not independent; cup volume changes if you change only the band size. If you are trying to correct for band size alone, not cup volume, then you need to make an adjustment to both elements at once. For example, if you're wearing a 34H and you feel the band doesn't fit well, your next stop should be a 32HH not a 32H (unless, of course, you're attempting to diagnose a poor band and cup fit at the same time).
A change in cup volume can be done by changing band size alone, but this is tricky, as it alters both variables at once. It is best to first find proper band size, then work off that to find cup size. Most importantly, a bra should be comfortable and flattering. Even if it meets all the requirements, such as breasts contained in cups, flush band, and comfortable shoulder straps, if it makes your boobs pointier than you'd like, gives them a weird shape, or otherwise affects your confidence, try another bra. You might find that changing the bra style gives you a better fit; depending on your breast shape, some cup shapes may fit better than others.
Asymmetrical breasts[edit | edit source]
If one cup fits well and the other is either too small or large, there is a difference of breast size. Ideally, choose a bra to suit the larger breast. With smaller cups, stretch fabric cups can help, but these bras usually do not provide enough support on larger breasts. Molded and lightly padded cups can also help to disguise the difference. Straps can also be adjusted individually: shorten the straps on the smaller breast, and lengthen them on the larger. If necessary, some bras are sold with removable padding; try a bra with the padding removed from the larger breast's cup. Always fit the bra to the larger breast.
Often, a lumpectomy as part of breast cancer treatment leaves patients with uneven breasts. There are specialized silicone pads manufactured by Amoena and Anita to accommodate this. A specialist dealing with breast cancer patients may be best equipped to help you find the perfect silicone pad for the smaller breast.
Back band riding up[edit | edit source]
If the band rides up in the back (i.e. curves towards your neck, not parallel with the floor), the band size is too big. Go down a band size.
Cups too wide on the sides[edit | edit source]
If the cup does not perfectly enclose your breast tissue on the sides and reached over too far, you may have close-set breasts or breasts with narrow roots. Pick a brand that is known for making narrow wires, and/or increase band size until the cup starts at the root of the breast.
Another possibility is the cups are too large, in which case size down in cup until the underwire lays just behind your root. If sizing down causes other fit issues, like quadboob or digging in, the bra shape is incompatible with your breast shape and you should try a different bra cut altogether.
Gore does not tack[edit | edit source]
If the gore doesn't tack (touch your torso), the cups are likely too small. In general, go up a cup size.
Another possible explanation is a band that is too tight. The too tight band pulls the cup flat, and the gore lifts up, despite the cup being the right size or even too big.
It is also possible that you have a slight case of pectus excavatum, where the sternum is sunken into the body, causing that area of the chest to sink in. In this case, it can be near impossible to get the gore to tack unless the band is way too small, so if the bra fits and feels great everywhere else except the floating gore, you shouldn't worry about it tacking.
Painful straps[edit | edit source]
If the straps painfully dig into your shoulders, loosen the straps to a two-finger tightness. If your breasts sag when you do so, then you were using the straps to over-support them. Your band should do most of the work supporting your breasts, not the straps. In general, go down a band size.
However, another possible explanation is that the cups are too large. If so, go down a cup size.
Painful band[edit | edit source]
Cups that are too small can make the band feel tight. To test the length of the band, either do the two finger test, or close the bra with the cups in the back. The band should be snug enough to support the weight of your breasts. If the wires move and rub, the band is too large. Go down a band size and up a cup size (your sister size for a band size smaller).
However, if you have a relatively fat-less torso (either mostly skin or mostly muscle), and the band feels too tight and underwire seem to be painfully "clacking" against your ribs, the band is too small. In this case, go up a band size, but only if you are sure that the cup size is not the problem. If this is an already purchased, non-returnable bra that you are trying to make work, a bra liner may be used to provide protective padding. Alternatively, you could use a bra extender .
Painful underwire[edit | edit source]
If underwire is digging into your sides/armpits, lays on top of your breasts, or isn't flush against your sternum and ribs, the cup size too small. Go up a cup size.
If the underwire stabs you in the armpits, the wires may be too tall, in which case you can alter the underwire so it's shorter, or try a different style of bra completely. Alternatively, the wires might be too short, which causes breast tissue or fat to spill out under the arms and the wire will poke at it, making the bra uncomfortable. If that is the case, look for bras with taller wires under the arm. It is also possible the band is too small and pulling too much, causing the cups to distort, so try the bra on with a bra extender and see if it alleviates the problem.
Quad-boob[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Quad-boob
Quad-boob occurs when breasts spill over the cups either on the tops or out the sides (like into the armpit area), giving an impression of four breasts. If this occurs, in general, the cup is too small. In general, go up a cup size.
In rarer cases, quad-boob can be caused by cups not suited to one's shape. If your breasts are soft, try full-cup bras. If your breasts are shallow and/or with a lot of fullness in the top, try a half-cup bra. If your breasts are wide, try a bra with wider wires in the same size, or go up a cup size.
If you have ruled out everything else, consider that your quad-boob is caused by too tight of a band. If this occurs, go up a band size or insert an extender.
Underbust irritation[edit | edit source]
If experiencing rashes, redness, or soreness on the underside of the breast, then the cup is likely too small. Increase cup size until the underwire rests in the breast crease instead of on top of the breast, separating the breast from the skin on the ribcage. Wear a bra with a bottom band, and cups with a supportive panel design. A soft-cup wireless bra may also be considered. Finally, if this is an already purchased, non-returnable bra that you are trying to "make work," a bra liner may be used to provide protective padding.
Underbust spilling[edit | edit source]
If the bottom of the cups rest on your breasts instead of your torso (also seen when the center gore does not rest against your chest), then the cup size is too small; go down a band size or up a cup size, possibly even both at the same time. 
Underwire pops out[edit | edit source]
If the underwire frequently pops out the bra, the band is too large or the wire has been overly distressed by too small of a cup. Typically, go up in cup size and down in bandsize. Never wash bras in hot water or put them in a tumble dryer. In addition, stretch the wet underwire casing just after washing to avoid shrinkage.
Wrinkly cups[edit | edit source]
If the bra cup is wrinkly, usually, the cup is too big or the style of the cup isn't suited to your breast shape. Go down a cup size, or try a different cup shape.
However, wrinkles in a starburst-pattern around your nipples indicate too small of a cup. Usually, this is caused by wires that are too narrow, causing an orange-in-a-glass effect, but this kind of wrinkling can also appear in wireless bras. If this is the case, go up a cup size.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Bra anatomy
- Bra-fitting method
- Bra style
- Breast shape
- How-to determine bra size
- How-to tell if a bra fits
- How-to know when to retire a bra
References[edit | edit source]
- The Butterfly Collection: "The Women Who Need to Add Inches to their Bra Band"
- Her Room: "Practical Solutions to Bra Fitting Problems"
- reddit: Breast Projection and Possible Overestimation of Root Width (NSFW) by wambrita
- Swimwearandlingerie: "Bra fitting problems of the Victoria’s Secret models"
- Public Pad: "Bra Fitting Problems and Possble Explanations"
- Uncommon Chick: "Do You Have Quad Boobs? Let it go Ladies!"
- Urban Dictionary: "Quad-boob"
- Fry Sauce & Grits: Bra Guide: How they should and shouldn't fit