Bras that Bother, Part 2: Incorrect Cup Size
This is Part 2 of our two-part Bras that Bother series and addresses common fit issues that stem from having the incorrect cup size. If you are having trouble with the band—slipping straps, falling out the bottom of the bra, etc.—read Part 1: Incorrect Band Size.
Common fit issues due to having the incorrect cup size:
- Breast “bubbles” or spills out of the cup
- Poking or digging wires
- Wrinkly fabric in the cups
- Cups that gap
The “Bubble” or Spilling Out of the Cup
“Bubbling” out of a bra is where the top edge of the cup cuts into the breast and creates a bump or “bubble” that can be seen under clothes. Over time (or right away), the bubbling can turn into the breast spilling out of the top of the cup. This happens when the cup size is too small. The cup size indicates the volume of breast tissue, so wearing too small of a cup size means that there isn’t enough room in the cup for your breast.
However, it might also be that the bra is just the wrong style of bra. Bra styles that are lower cut don’t hold as much of the breast. If the angle of the cup hits the wrong place on your breast or it doesn’t encase all of the breast, that can lead to the bubble. The same is true for more rigid or hard-cupped styles. When the cup is more rigid, it means that the cup is a particular shape. The risk of bubbling or spilling is higher in this kind of cup because your breasts might not be the same shape as the bra.
This size/style combination not only creates a bubble at the top of the cup, but the wire also pokes into the side of my breast slightly.
Poking or Digging Wires
We’ll break this down by where the wire is digging...
Side of the breast. If the wire on the side, underneath the armpit, pokes into any part of your breast tissue, the cup size is too small. We tend to think of cup size as how far out your breasts come, but cup size is also about how wide your breast tissue is. Breast tissue actually comes back as far as the armpit. In the correct cup size, the cup and the wire will encompass your breast and the wire will rest softly against your ribs rather than on breast tissue. If the wire is on your breast tissue, not only will it be uncomfortable, but it is also not good for the health of your breasts.
Up into the armpit. If you sit down and immediately feel the wire poke up and into your armpit, the cup size is too big. Or if you can’t put your arms around to hug yourself (see photo below) without feeling the side of the cup cut into the front of your shoulders, the cup size is too big. As cup size goes up, the cups not only get deeper (extending farther forward), but the U-shape of the wire becomes wider and taller in order to accommodate larger volume. When the cup size is too big, the wires come up higher into your armpit. This pulls the outer edge of the cup (where the straps meet the cup in the front) out towards your armpits, too, which makes it difficult to bring your arms forward. A cup size that is too big can be just as uncomfortable as a cup size that is too small.
There is obvious room in these cups, but also, if I bring my arms forward to hug myself, the straps cut into the front of my shoulders.
Sternum. If the wires dig into your sternum, or if they are too tall in the middle and poke into your shirt, it might be that the cup size is too big. As stated above, the larger the cup size is, the wider and taller the U-shape of the wires is. When the cup size is too big, the wires are taller than they need to be for your size and can dig into your sternum or, depending on your anatomy, come up higher than your breast tissue and poke into your shirt. By trying a smaller cup size, the wires won’t be as tall and will rest in a different place on your body.
If the cup size seems to be correct, however, and the wires still dig into your sternum, the bra might be the wrong style. Sometimes the angle of the wires does not mesh with your body. If that’s the case, try a different bra style. Even if it’s just a little pressure, that pressure can build over the day and will only get worse over time. Work with your fitter to try different styles or options without wires.
Wrinkly Fabric in the Cups
If there is significant wrinkling in a lace or flexible-cup bra, then it’s likely that the cup size is too big. Each cup size is made with a relative volume of breast tissue in mind. By wearing a larger cup size than what is ideal, there will be extra room in the cup because it was made for someone with larger breasts. In the correct cup size, the cups will lie smoothly against your skin without wrinkling or digging.
Cups that Gap
If the top edge of the cup leans away from your body and leaves a gap between it and your breast, it may be that the cup size is too big. This most often happens with rigid or hard-cupped bras. When there is extra room in a rigid cup, it won’t wrinkle like a more flexible cup, but will instead keep its shape and create a gap.
The gap can also be caused by wearing the wrong style. Even in the correct cup size, a bra with rigid or hard cups can gap if it is a shape that doesn’t mesh with the shape of the person wearing it.
Your Perfect Fit
The goal is to find the perfect cup. Not too big, not too small, and the correct cup shape for your breast. A cup size where the wire encompasses all of your breast tissue on the side without digging and a cup size where the cups lie smoothly against your skin. 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