Bras that Bother, Part 1: Incorrect Band Size
Every bra fit issue stems from one of three root causes:
- The band size is incorrect.
- The cup size is incorrect.
- The style of the bra isn’t the right match for your body structure.
Although you can certainly have more than one of these issues occurring at the same time, it’s easiest to understand what’s happening by addressing them one at a time. This post addresses common fit issues that stem from having the incorrect band size. If you are having trouble with the cups—poking wires, gaping or overflowing cups, etc.—read Part 2: Incorrect Cup Size (coming soon!). We’ll address the third root cause of incorrect style along the way.
Keep in mind, these bra fit issues are common and they are not your fault, nor is it that your body is challenging to fit. No body is challenging to fit. As long as you have the right stock and a knowledgeable fitter, you can find a bra that feels comfortable and fits your body. These fit issues are common because most stores only carry a small selection of sizes and because expertly trained fitters are tough to find.
Common fit issues due to having the incorrect band size:
- Slipping, sliding straps
- Band moves around or climbs up your back
- Breasts falling out bottom of the bra
- Band leaves painful marks on body
Slipping, Sliding Straps
A lot of first-time clients who come into La Lingerie comment that their straps constantly fall off their shoulders, no matter how tight they make them. The first thing to know is that this is not because your shoulders slope or they’re too narrow. Unless you have had a surgery that changed the anatomy of your shoulders, your shoulders are perfectly normal. There is never a reason to blame your body. The fault lies with the bra.
Straps usually slip and slide because the band size is too big. The band around the body is the part of the bra that does the heavy-lifting (about 80% of the support) when it fits properly, not the straps. When you have too big a band size, it means that the band was made for a bigger, broader person and the strap placement is also intended for a bigger, broader person. Thus, the straps will be too wide on your body and fall. Additionally, when the band is loose around you, the straps take on more of the weight of your breasts, which causes them to stretch and pull on your shoulders.
If you find your correct band size and still have this issue, you might have the wrong style. The straps may be set too wide or at the wrong angle for you. Your fitter can find options with straps that are set closer or that convert to racerback (crossed straps).
Band Moves Around or Climbs Up Back
The band riding up on the back and sliding around throughout the day is another common issue, typically found in conjunction with sliding straps. Alongside this issue can also be a reference to “back fat” and a suggestion that a looser/bigger band is needed because it feels and looks tight.
Counter-intuitively, a tighter band size is needed because if the band is moving around on the body, the band size is too big. With a tighter band, the band will stay in place with the bottom edge of the band parallel to the ground, even when you raise your arms. When the band is too loose and rides up in the back, it can actually feel tighter because it is going around a broader part of you, closer to your shoulders rather than just above your natural waistline. This is also why we hear complaints about “back fat”: the band is cutting into a broader part of the body that it isn’t supposed to and it creates lumps. With a proper fit, the bra will hold you, stay securely in place, and press into your skin a little in order to do its work. Some slight indentation is normal, lumps and bumps are not.
In the picture on the left, the band cuts under my shoulders and rides high on my back. The bra on the right is the correct size and securely sits lower on the back.
Falling Out the Bottom of the Bra
If you find that your breast tissue falls out from the bottom of the cup or if the wire hovers in front or on top of your breast tissue instead of resting on your ribs, the band size is too big. This can be very uncomfortable and can lead to you pulling your bra down and around as it moves throughout the day.
More than that, if your breasts fall out the bottom of the cup, then the skin of your breasts touches the skin of your ribs. With this skin-on-skin contact, air flow is reduced, moisture increases, and you can end up with a yeast infection in the crease under your breast! By wearing a tighter band, the fabric of the band and the wires come into that crease and lift your breast tissue up and off your ribs. This allows air circulation and keeps you dry, cool, and more comfortable.
The wires of the bra on the left are resting on breast tissue, and the band is riding up at an angle. The bra on the right is the correct fit, with the band staying parallel to the floor and the wires separating breast tissue from the ribs, even when I raise my arms.
Band Leaves Painful Marks
Even though the most common band problem we see is the band being too loose, we have also seen bras that are too tight around, which can cause pain and discomfort. If a bra band leaves painful welts after a short time, the band size is too small.
The goal is to find a band size that is tight enough to give the correct support and loose enough to feel comfortable all day. We all want bras to feel supportive and comfortable. With the correct size, bras can be worn all day without much concern or thought attached to them.
~ Trillian & the la lingerie team