How to tell you’re wearing your bra band too tight

Straining Bra Hooks and Eyes

In an (internet, lingerie blog) world of online calculators and a cacophony of forums dictating how you bra should or shouldn’t fit, I do get the odd email from you guys saying that despite following all of the bra fitting advice on the interweb and you’re still not satisfied with how your bras fit.

No bra calculator or fitting method will work for everyone, and when I’ve had emails from readers who ask about how they get painful red marks from their new snug-fitting bands or find their bras are now far too tight to be comfortable, I need to remind them of this simple fact: you can read all the fitting guides in the world but at the end of the day you need to listen to your body – it will tell you if something’s not right.

Only you can tell if you’re comfortable, a blogger, bra fitter or well-wishing forum user can only offer advice.

So, if you’ve read up on fitting yourself from home and have found yourself in this situation, you need to remember that there are so so many body shape factors that affect bra fit, including: ribcage size and shape, breast size and shape, breast tissue firmness, your own personal fitting preferences, bra shape, wire placement, gore placement, I could go on.

It’s also an absolute minefield when so many bras and brands fit differently, and we have to guess the best size when ordering online. It’s a nightmare but you need to know when ‘snug’ becomes far too tight.

So, how do you tell if your bra band is too tight? Read on…

Cup folding

Panache Rosa Distorted Cup

See how the cup is distorted as the breast tissue doesn’t reach the wire – this can be a sign of wearing your bras too tight. By pulling the wires outwards into an unnatural position, the cup doesn’t sit properly resulting in cup folds. Beware though, as this can simply mean a lack of compatibility with the bra and your bust shape.

Bra cup that fits well

Instead look for a smooth line at the bottom of the cup which encase the full breast, like this!

Straining hooks and eyes

Straining Bra Hooks and Eyes

If your bra’s hooks and eyes are straining then get it off right now – it’s far too tight!!

Bra band which fits well

Instead look for a snug yet comfortable fit, like this!

Distorted cup shape

Distorted Cups Bra Band Too Tight

Wearing a bra band too tight will distort the cup shape – it looks like I need at least one band size up and quite a few cup sizes too in this image. See how the wires don’t follow the contour of the bust and the cup shape looks pointy and squished?

Bra band fits well

Instead look for a smooth and natural line like this!

A band that digs in painfully

Bra band too tight

If the band cuts painfully into your ribcage, obviously that’s a no-go. This bra is in my ‘usual’ Panache size but runs extremely tight! It just goes to show that it’s practically impossible to measure yourself into a bra without trying it on first. Every bra fits differently.

Bra band doesn't dig in

Whilst if you’re a little bit squishy like me a little bit of squish is unavoidable, your bra band certainly shouldn’t dig in AT ALL, and should feel comfortable whilst still being supportive.

Painful red marks/grooves in the skin

Red Marks from Bra

I’m not about to say that red marks are completely avoidable when wearing a bra in either the right or wrong size, but if they are the cause of too tight a bra they will be angry and painful, and will cause a serious amount of discomfort from tight elastic and poking wires. Time to reassess your bra size if this is the case!

Remember, whether you’re using the +4 method, using an online calculator like those offered by A Sophisticated Pair or Butterfly Collection, or simply following my ‘How to Measure Your Bra Size Yourself’ guide; your body will tell you when a bra doesn’t fit right. And remember – no bra will ever fit the same – brands, styles, even colours can affect bra fit (yes really – the dye can affect fabric tension!), so never assume that all bra sizes are created equal.

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  1. Great post! I have added this to my file of fitting posts to use as reference in blog posts future. The band issue is such a tough one; for me, anything even slightly loose causes massive back pain within ah hour of putting it on, but where the line between snug enough not to make me die of back pain and too snug to be comfortable in the other direction is so hard to suss out sometimes. Thanks for posting this!

  2. I just want to also point out that, in addition to bras leaving red marks since they have elastic and it is unavoidable, when you’re getting them high up on the center of your chest like that from the ends of the wires, sometimes it’s because of your frame. I notice this with myself since I’m quite tapered, the tops of the underwires will always press in when I’m wearing a bra with a taller gore, but everything else about the bra with fit perfectly. My chest wall really flares out and since wires are flat it leaves me with pain, red marks and sometimes even bruising if I’ve been wearing the bra all day and running around. Damn hourglass shape…!

    I get the cup folding when I wear bras that aren’t deep enough at the bottom. The Deco is a big culprit for this since it acts like a push-up without the padding, the bottom of the cup is relatively flat so the weight from the top of my breast tissue pushes down on the apex of the cup and then it folds/dents in. But this happens next to the gore. In demis/half-cups it happens all along the bottom because they’re always too wide and shallow. I still have the band sliding up though.

    Btw, what’s the bra in the 4th picture? “Snug yet comfortable fit”? That back closure detail looks awesome!

  3. Pingback: Misa Blog» Blog Archive » 10 More Must Read Articles About Lingerie

  4. I NEED to know the name of the bra in the second picture! the rose print is so beautiful!

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