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The Most Common Bra-Fitting Problems & How to Fix Them

Your back is sore. Your neck is killing you. And you seriously can’t wait to take your bra off after a long day. Does this sound like you? No one hates to hear it more than we do. If something feels off about your bra, you should take it off. Forever.

A bad bra fit is often worse than no bra at all. It can cut into your skin, leave you achy, and ruin your posture. So it’s time to cut the cord on your old brassieres and slip into something that has your back (in every sense). Let’s get into some bra sizing nitty-gritty and help you find a bra you love.

The golden ratio

Before we walk through how to fix a fit, let’s review some bra sizing basics. The numbers and letters have a direct relationship with each other. If you go up or down on the band size, the cup size changes, too. That’s because the cup size is calculated by subtracting the difference between the bust measurement and band measurement. Every inch of difference equals one cup size. For example, a 2” difference between the bust and band size is B cup, while a 4” difference is a D cup. 

That means any fluctuation in your band size will likely shift your cup size. Since everyone fluctuates in size and shape, you should make the effort to take your measurements every time you need a new bra. Now let’s get down to the business of tackling your topside concerns. 

Troubleshoot your bra troubles

Keep an eye out for these common issues that crop up if your bra is too tight, too large, or just too old. Toss the perpetrators and buy a bra that’s worthy of you. 

1. Curving band

There’s a common misconception that the straps are doing the heavy lifting for your bosom. The truth is that 90% of your bra’s support comes from the band. If the band curves up in the back, you’re either over-tightening your straps or the band size is wrong (or possibly both). 

When a bra is well-fitted, the band will stay straight across your back, with the straps merely helping it stay flush against your chest. The band and straps should both fit snugly, so give it the finger test. It should have just enough slack to let you slip two fingers (side-by-side) snugly beneath.  

2. Bulging skin

If your skin is bulging around the straps, your bra is too tight. Try adjusting the clasps in the back. If you lose too much support - or you start dealing with some of the other issues on this list - it’s time to ditch the bra and get a bigger band size. 

3. Overflow

If your cup runneth over (i.e. if your breast tissue is spilling over the top or the sides), you need to get a bigger cup size. Sometimes, spillover from the sides of a bra cup is the result of an older bra losing its shape - so take that into consideration before you commit to buying a different size.

4. Creased or gaping cups

If your bra cups are creasing, your bra is too big and it’s not giving you adequate support. It could also be the case that you damaged it in the washer or dryer (but you should never dry your bras!). If your breast is resting comfortably in the bottom of the cup but the tops are gaping, you can try tightening the straps - but going down a cup size may be the better solution. 

5. Straps digging into your skin

Remember, bra straps are only there to support the band. If you have to tighten them so much that they start to cut into your skin, you either need to go down a band size or your bra is exhausted and should be retired. 

Making the switch

Now that you’ve found the problem, it’s time to make the fix. But remember the ratios we talked about earlier? You can’t change the band size without taking cup size into consideration. So how do you proceed?

Let’s simplify it for you: if the band fits fine but the cups are all wrong, you can go up or down a cup size and stick with the same band size. If your cup works great but your band is too loose or too tight, then you need to go up a cup size for each band size you go down (and vice versa). 

Lastly, if your cup and band sizes are too big or too small, start with going up or down a band size and leave the cup alone. If that doesn’t work, you might need to take your measurements again. 

The bottom line

Tommy John has bras that aren’t a chore to wear. Soft, light, and breathable, we use the same high-quality fabrics as our best selling underwear, with just a few tweaks to make sure you have the support you need. Find your new favorite bra today.