Six signs you're wearing the wrong bra
One of the biggest reasons so many women wear the wrong bra is the fact we're constantly confronted with images of women wearing ill-fitting bras masquerading as 'perfect'. Push-up bra manufacturers are particularly guilty of this, squeezing models into bras that are too small in the cup to give mega-cleavage and a 'spilling out' look that might be sexy, but isn't supportive. This might be ok for the odd night out, but it leaves many of us without the support we need day to day.
A good fitting bra should have a band that sits flat and straight around the body. The band takes most of the weight and provides almost all the support - the straps are there to help, but that's all. The cups should fully enclose the breasts, including all the flesh from the sides (this is why many women find themselves dropping a dress size when they're correctly fitted). And most importantly, it shouldn't rub, dig in or cause pain in a day's wear.
Here are some of the most common fitting errors and how to solve them!
1. It sits away from the body at the centre front
The centre gore (ie. the bit that sits between the breasts) should sit flush to the sternum, and the band should sit tight against your body all the way around. You shouldn't be able to slide more than a couple of fingers underneath (and even then, it should be difficult to squeeze them in). If the bra sits away from the body at the front, or if you can easily slide your hand under, it means you're not getting the support you need from the band. See the above for examples of ill-fitting bras that don't fit tight all the way across the front. These bras are definitely too small in the cup, and probably too big in the band as well.
2. The band rides up at the back
A lot of people think that a bra band rides up at the back simply because boobs are heavy and they weigh down the front naturally. Most of the time this isn't the case - it's because the band is not tight enough to provide the right support. If the band of your bra is riding up, you need to go down at least one, if not two or three sizes so the band takes the strain of your breasts (not the straps). Remember to buy a bra that fits comfortably on the loosest hook - then as it stretches over time, you can tighten it up to make it last longer whilst ensuring a good, supportive fit.
3. The straps dig into your shoulders
There are two reasons this might happen. The first is simply that you have a lot of flesh around the shoulders; if you're a fuller figured / plus sized woman the chances are your bra straps will push into the flesh a little tiny bit. But the important thing is that they're not taking the strain of the breasts and hurting you. If your straps hold everything up and dig in causing pain, you need to get re-fitted. As stated many times above, it's the band that should hold most of the weight, the straps are just there to help.
4. The straps fall down all the time
"Oh, it's just because I have narrow shoulders / sloping shoulders, it can't be helped," I hear you cry. Yeah, I thought that too, and had resigned myself to hoiking up my straps every ten minutes for the rest of my life due to my bad posture. Then, something magical happened. A woman fit me in a 34 band instead of the 38 I'd been wearing. My straps haven't fallen down since. I'm not saying this will work for everyone - some people do have very narrow shoulders, but it will work for a lot. Think about it - the straps sit in position relative to the width of the band...so if they're falling down off your shoulders, it's like to be because they're set too wide apart. The easiest way to fix this? Change your band size to something smaller, where the straps sit further inwards. You'll need to change your cup size too, try going up one cup letter for every band size you drop.
5. The underwire and cup doesn't encase all the bust
All cups are cut differently, but in general, you should look for one that fully encases all the breast tissue (everything from your armpit forward) with the end of the wire sitting far back, almost under your arms, not towards the front. A lot of the pain that comes from underwires is caused when the cup is not wide enough to fully encase your boobs, meaning it digs into breast tissue and causes red marks. Both the above bras are too small in the cup - that flesh shouldn't be 'hanging out' at the sides next to the straps, it should be pulled forward into the cup.
6. You're spilling out of the cups
Overspill, or 'quadriboob' is a common issue when wearing a cup that's too small for your bust, or one that's not the right shape for your body. It happens when the top of the bra digs into the flesh on your bust, creating a crease that makes it look like you have four boobs, or smooshing the breast tissue into a position it's not meant to be in. Sometimes the problem can be solved by loosening the straps slightly, but more often than not the fix is to go up a cup size or more until the top of the cup sits smoothly across your bust.