Wearing the wrong bra is not only uncomfortable but it can also wreak havoc with your health. From breast and back pain to premature sagging, poor posture and skin abrasions, an ill-fitting bra can cause a plethora of issues.
Whilst I’ve mostly been going commando (under my tracksuit, ya filthy animals), I decided to make an effort by actually wearing a bra for the first time in aprox three months the other day and seriously regretted it. The whole ordeal was seriously uncomfortable but I’m hardly surprised; I can’t remember the last time I had a bra fitting and it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting one any time soon.
It seems I’m not alone. Over 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size and it’s little surprise considering that 50% haven’t bothered to have a professional bra fitting in several years – and, let’s face it, you probably won’t be getting for the foreseeable.
So how can you figure out if your lingerie is the wrong size when you can’t get out to a fitting? Thankfully, we’ve enlisted the expert advice of Emily Bendell, CEO & Founder of Bluebella, and the fitters at Panache to debunk the 5 warning signs that your bra could be the wrong size.
Wires not sitting correctly under the breast
This can be caused by bras that are both too big and too small. Cups that are too big have underwires that are too wide for your torso so women will then find that the wire will poke up because it has nowhere else to go.
If your cup size is too small, on the other hand, then it is impossible for the underwire to lie flat against your chest. Instead, the wire will then sit on your breast tissue which can be very uncomfortable.
In order to determine if your cup size is too big or small, look to see if you have an extra bump of breast tissue at the top or at the sides of the cups or if you have a wrinkle in the cups or extra space in the cup. It also depends on your body type too which can determine to what extent the wire will lie perfectly flat; in some cases it won’t. For example, women with a fuller bust will tend to opt for full coverage cups or balconette styles and they will find most underwires will not have enough for the cups to lie flat.
Double boobing means the cup is just too small. If your breasts are brimming over the top, sides, or bottoms of the bra cups, then it likely means you’re wearing a size too small. This could be due to lifestyle changes such as changes in weight or hormone changes such as the menopause. The cup should hold your entire breast without creating a “quad-boob” effect. To avoid the double boob, you often just need to increase your cup size by one letter.
You shouldn’t be able to fasten it on the tightest hook and eye
When you buy a bra, the back band should be firm fitting (you should only just be able to fit two fingers underneath) and the loosest setting should be the most comfortable. If you can fasten the tighter hooks comfortably in the first wear then drop down a back size! The two looser settings are then there for when your bra stretches out with wash and wear. They allow you to tighten the back band so that you get the same support as you did initially.
If you can get two fingers under your underband, it’s too loose
The band around the chest should be level front and back. It needs to be comfortable but firm. A good gauge to ensure that the underband fits well is being able to fit two fingers between the underband and your skin. Any more space and the band is too big and could cause friction.
The most obvious signs to look for is any kind of bulging, whether at the front or sides, which is a sure-fire sign the fit is not right. The bra should always sit smoothly on the body. And when you take your bra off, check for any marks on the skin, most typically on the shoulders. Most of the support for the bra should be from the under band, so marks on the shoulder suggest that under band fit is not correct and the straps are doing too much work.
One of the most common bra-fitting mistakes is wearing a band size that’s too big. Around 80% of a bras support should come from the under-band, and if your under-band is too big then you’ve lost all that support. Your straps will then try and support you and carry the weight of your bust, commonly resulting in shoulder and back pain. Check that your under-band sits firm and straight across your back, if it’s riding up then go down a band size.
Ultimately, it’s very important to wear a bra that truly fits, because it can offer you the support your bust needs. If your bra doesn’t fit properly, the support it should be offering can be compromised. Your breasts are made up of connective tissue called ‘Cooper’s Ligaments’, which help maintain their support and shape. Wearing a bra that is unsupportive for long periods of time runs the risk of stretching the Cooper’s Ligaments, meaning you could lose the shape and lift of your breasts over time. Can’t get to your local fitter? Try our at-home measuring guide and then check out our sexy lingerie shopping guide.