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How Should A Bra Fit? Top 5 Tips

A Black woman with curly hair stretches and smiles while wearing a green bra and underwear.

Attention bra-wearers! Eight out of ten of you are wearing the wrong bra size. So chances are, you reading this right now, yes YOU, are in a bra that fits incorrectly. And, of course, this isn’t a problem easily solved, because it’s also tough to tell how should a bra fit in the first place.

So, what to do? Instead of suffering in silence or going braless, here are five excellent tips for finding that unicorn bra that actually fits and is comfortable to boot. So whether your main issue is that damn bra strap falling down or you’re wondering what to do if your bra outline shows through shirt, I’ve got the answers. Once you’re able to answer the question: how is a bra supposed to fit, that unicorn bra won’t seem like such an endangered species anymore.

Today, I’ll cover why you need a bra that fits, how to tell if your bra fits (or doesn’t fit), and the top five things to look for in bra fit.


WHY DOES BRA FIT MATTER?

A woman in a black top gets measured by someone holding yellow measuring tape.

A bra that fits properly helps prevent:

  • Back and shoulder pain
  • Bad posture
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion (from too-tight bands)
  • Discomfort during movement
  • Ill-fitting clothes
  • Other body pain
  • Breast tissue breakdown (aka saggy breasts)

As you can see, it’s kinda important to wear a bra that fits! So, it’s even more alarming to know that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size. Yikes! Let’s fix that, right here, right now, and figure out if your bra is the wrong size, and what to do about it!


7 TESTS TO SEE IF YOUR BRA IS THE WRONG SIZE

The torso of a woman, partially reflected in her bathroom mirror, as she looks over her shoulder, while wearing a black bralette.

To figure out how a bra should fit, first you have to know if your bra doesn’t fit. (Stay with me here). First, here are seven super easy tests you can do from the comfort of your own home to test if your bra is fitting as it should:

  1. The Bend. Make a right angle (ish) with your body. If there are gaps in the cups, or you can clearly see under the bra, you’re probably in the wrong size.
  2. The Lie Down. Lie on your back and push the center of your bra down, in between the breasts. If your boobs don’t stay within the cups, somethin’ ain’t right!
  3. The Jogger. Run lightly in place, and pay attention to what happens to your breasts. If your breasts fall out, you probably need a bigger cup size.
  4. The Arm Raise. Adjust your bra to the tightest hook and raise your arms over your head. If your bra rides up or a boob pops out, your size is wrong!
  5. The Roll and Relax. Roll your shoulders up and then relax them. If you lose a strap in the process—or if they tighten painfully—you need some adjustments.
  6. The T-Shirt Test. Put on a tight t-shirt, and if any part of the bra is clearly visible, it doesn’t fit well.
  7. The Finger Test. How many fingers easily fit between your back and the band? If it’s more or less than two (fingers), your band is either too small, or too big. Two fingers = about half an inch, which is ideal!

Here are some more telltale signs your bra just doesn’t fit:

  • Your cups are wrinkly.
  • You get skin marks or chafing.
  • You have any kind of body or breast pain.
  • There are gaps in the cups or the band.
  • Your straps are digging in.
  • You dream all day about taking it off.
  • Your cups runneth over (literally).
  • You’re constantly wondering “why does my bra hurt my ribs?”
  • Your straps won’t stay up.

Now you know if your bra is actually fitting you or not. But how to tell if your bra fits, then? Stay tuned: the answer may surprise you. (Or, maybe not, but I’m going for drama, here).


HOW SHOULD A BRA FIT: TOP 5 TIPS

A woman looks off to the side as she opens a cream-colored shirt to reveal a black triangle bralette.

To find a bra that fits you like a little (boob) glove, you need to look at five different aspects: the band, the straps, the cup size, the shape, and the lift. These are key to finding out how should a bra fit! If some or all of these parts don’t fit, well, welcome to the ill-fitting bra club. Now it’s seriously time to disband (haha) this particular club, am I right, or am I right??


TIP #1: YOUR CUPS SHOULD NOT OVERFLOW

A Black woman with curly hair stretches and smiles while wearing a green bra and underwear.

I’m sure you’ve heard the new self-care mantra to “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” but this also applies to bras—you gotta fill your cup(s)! They do have to be filled correctly, though. If your boobs are overflowing said cups, whether on the top or the sides, you likely need a bigger cup size. If your cups aren’t full enough? Then you want to go smaller.


Tip #2: YOUR BAND SHOULD NOT RIDE UP OR SQUEEZE

I was today years old when I learned that most of the support in bras doesn’t come from underwire or straps—but from the band! In fact, 90% of the bra support should come from the band! That is no small change. So that means the band fit is super important—and also super hard to get right.

First of all, the band shouldn’t ride up in the back, as this means it’s too big (or too old). It should fit on the first hook when you first wear it. And the key word here is SNUG. Not too tight, not too loose, but just right: we’re looking for the Goldilocks of band fit here.


TIP #3: YOUR STRAPS SHOULD NOT FALL DOWN OR DIG IN

A woman with a black afro turns angles towards the camera, while modeling a black bra and black underwear, standing against a cement wall

That’s right, your straps should stay put! And not be painful in any way. If your straps are sliding down or diggin’ in, go ahead and try to adjust ‘em. I for one always forget about this step, but it can make a world of difference! If that doesn’t help, you probably need a different size.


TIP #4: YOUR BOOBS SHOULD BE LIFTED AWAY FROM YOUR BODY

Of course this depends on the type of bra, and your type of breasts, but the general rule is that your boobs should be lifted up and away—as opposed to smashed down.You also want to avoid the uni-boob here, since that’s just no fun for anyone (or any boob). Also, it’s super important to pay attention to the center part of the bra, between your boobs. You want this lying flat against your skin, sans digging or gaping.


TIP #5: YOUR SHAPE SHOULD BE ENHANCED OR HIGHLIGHTED

A woman walks away on a jungle path, her arms over her head, her back exposed as she wears a green and black bra.

We’ve all had a bra or two with weird pockets of space in the cups, often due to the shaping of the bra. While this may sound like it would give you a more uniform shape, it actually means your bra doesn’t fit well!

Instead, make sure your bra is simply highlighting your natural breast shape—embrace it, baby!—or enhancing your boob shape and size. A
triangle bralette is a great example of a bra that highlights your shape, while giving you gentle lift.


EXTRA TIPS TO KNOW HOW SHOULD A BRA FIT

A woman with messy brown hair looks out a window at a busy city, wearing a black bralette and holding a white coffee cup.
  • Get measured or measure yourself regularly. Grab some measuring tape, get topless, and relax! To find your band size, measure your rib cage right below your breasts. Leave about a pinky’s worth underneath. Round up, then add four for even numbers, and five for odd numbers. Next, measure your breasts at their fullest to determine your bust measurement. Take this number and subtract your band size number, found above—this will give you your cup size. So, let’s say your bust size is 44, and your band size is 40—there is a four-inch difference between your bust size and your band size, which correlates with a cup size D. (AA is a 0-inch difference, A is one-inch, B is two-inch, and so on). Sticking with a band size of 40, and a bust size of 44, you’d be looking at bra sizes in 40D.
  • Figure out your breast shape. While it might seem like all boobs are the same shape, there are actually nine different breast shapes. Take a look in that mirror and decide which descriptive fits your unique breasts.
  • If your boobs are two different sizes, round up. It’s totally normal to have two different sized boobs! Buy the bra that fits the bigger one, for more comfort.
  • Listen to your body. It will tell you if the bra doesn’t fit, either by the red marks, the pain, or with that wearing-a-bra-dread (much worse than the Sunday scaries).
  • Throw out your old bras. As bras age, the material loses its elasticity and shape, which means they will fit poorly.
  • Invest in several well-fitting bras. Ah, yes, we’ve all asked ourselves the question: how many bras should I own, anyway? That number can change, but seven is a good number, so you don’t wear them out too fast (or give yourself an infecsh by re-wearing too often).
  • Hand wash your bras, or wash carefully. Bras are delicate and can easily be damaged in the washing process, so proceed with caution. (Here’s how to hand wash bras, if you need a handy lil guide).
  • Wear it correctly. Can you wear a bra wrong? Yes, you can! Make sure your straps and band are adjusted for you.  

Now, my friend, you know the answer to the question: how should a bra fit? Take these tests, follow these tips, and your ta-tas will be perfectly supported. So, go forth and prosper, young grasshopper! Or find yourself the correct fitting bra, anyway. Which is totally prospering, if you ask me.

Would you rather wear a too-small bra, or a too-large bra? And do you think you’re wearing the wrong size? Sound off in the comments below!




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