ByCarrie Madormo, RN, MPH/Updated: June 10, 2022 2:45 pm EDT
Nothing ruins your day like an ill-fitting bra. The constant adjustments, poking wires, and slipping straps consume your day and eat away at your soul. We've all dealt with a bra from hell that should probably be thrown away, yet we hang on to it for some reason.
Even founder and CEO of Bloom Bras, Elyse Kaye, has struggled with bra problems. "Prior to starting Bloom Bras, I would take a safety pin and secure the straps at the nape of my neck to eliminate pulling down into my shoulders," she told me.
Now, get ready to kiss those bra worries goodbye. I had the chance to chat with some of the most knowledgeable experts about the most common bra problems, as well as what to do to solve them.
You're wearing the wrong size
After talking with the experts, it seems pretty clear that nearly all bra problems come from not knowing your true size. "Most of us do not know our true bra size," says Kaye.
Do yourself a favor and have a proper bra fitting. It's quick and painless, and can save you years of wearing the wrong size. Our bodies change over time, especially if we've had children, or lost weight. Make sure you're wearing the right size, so you can avoid most of the most common problems.
You've got spillage
If you've ever felt like your bra cups aren't quite holding everything, you've experienced spillage. If your cups overfloweth, your bra is too small. Feeling like you're spilling out of your bra is a common problem and can distract you all day.
"This issue is particularly common in women with larger busts," DKNY's executive vice president Cathy Volker told Refinery 29. "To prevent cup spillage, consider a full coverage bra — a full cup provides extra support and coverage." Aerie fit expert Jenny Altman agrees that it's all about the cup size. "Keep your band size as is, but move up at least one letter in your cup size (A to B, B to C, and so on)."
Your underwire is digging in
Feeling your underwire digging into your skin is one of the most annoying bra problems out there. Even when you feel like you've got it under control, one small twist or turn can send that wire jabbing into your side again. If you frequently notice your underwire bothering you, it may be time to switch up the type of bras you buy.
"Feeling your bra digging into the underside of your bra is a fairly common issue that women face, and this is usually due to a mix of your breast shape and the wiring in your bra," Sam Williamson of Macom Medical told me. "Switching to a different wire bra won't help, as you'll just experience the same kind of pain. The only way to alleviate this pain is to switch to a non-wire bra."
Is there anything more annoying than constantly having to adjust your bra straps as they slide down your shoulder? I think not. Fortunately, the solution may be as simple as tightening your bra straps.
"If slipping straps persist even after tightening, you may have narrow or sloped shoulders, so bra straps are more prone to falling down your arm," Orit Hashay, CEO of Brayola.com, told me. "Fit experts recommend tightening your straps every other month." Hashay recommends the Glamorise Elegance Front Close Underwire Bra.
If you love the bras you have, it's possible to have the straps adjusted so that it's harder for them to slip down. "Yes, you can buy a racerback or convertible bra, but this limits your choices. Instead, with many bras, it is possible to have your tailor move the straps in the back so they are closer together where they meet the band," image consultant Ginger Burr told me. "Some stores offer this service to make it convenient. Your straps will stay put and not slip off your shoulders ever again."
If you're in a hurry, you're probably used to just hooking your bra, throwing on some clothes, and dashing out the door. However, most women need to do a little adjusting to make sure their bras are fitting properly before they're good to go for the day.
Rather than just throwing on your bra and moving on, take a minute to make sure everything is fitting correctly. "Instead, you want to scoop your breast into the bra. To do this, after putting on your bra, bend over, gently scoop the breast starting under your arm and lift it into the cup," says Burr. "This quick adjustment makes your breasts look more lifted, less squished, and better supported. You won't believe the difference until you try it."
It offers no support
While most of us think of digging underwires and slipping straps when it comes to bra problems, sports bras are just as important to get right. When you're running or jumping, you need some serious support for both comfort and function. Owner of WheelPower Studio, Donielle Stutland, spoke with me about being able to find comfortable sports bras that provide enough support while still looking chic.
And personal trainer at the studio, Tracy Chudnow, has an added challenge when it comes to finding the right sports bra — she's pregnant!
"Lululemon has the best sports bras for both of us. It has been expanding its line for fuller-chested women, to add the Invigorate bra to the already trusty favorite Energy bra and the Ta Ta Tamer," Stutland told me. "Tracy has been loving the comfort of Lululemon bras while pregnant and every once in awhile they have a zip-front style, like the Ready, Set, Sweat bra [which] makes nursing pre- or post-workout a cinch!"
The band is too tight
If you've gained some weight lately, or shrunk your bra in the wash, you may be noticing the band is suddenly too tight. Not only is it extremely uncomfortable to walk around like this all day, but it's also stretching out your bra. Fortunately, you don't need to run to the nearest lingerie store just yet.
"If you gained a bit of weight or you are expecting and find your bra band a bit too tight, no need to get a new bra, just get an extender," owner of Baba's Lingerie and bra fit expert, Dionne Morrison, MBA told me. "A bra extender is an accessory which gives you an extra 2 inches in width to allow for a more comfortable fit." More comfort and saving money? Yes please!
I know Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw always looked chic with her black or electric blue bra straps showing, but for most of us, a visible bra is not a good look. Especially if you're spending your days in an office, or chasing your kids around the playground, chances are you want to keep some things private. "If your bra straps are always showing or slipping then a bra clip accessory is perfect," says Morrison. "It pulls the strap into a racer back. There, problem solved!"
If you plan on sporting a low back top or dress for date night, don't worry. You can still wear your favorite bra. "If your bra is showing in the back, chances are it is not low enough for that outfit — no problem, get the low back extender," says Morrison. "It is an accessory clipped to your bra that lowers the back and gives you the option of wearing those daring low styles."
You're in-between sizes
One of the reasons that it can be so difficult to find the right bra size is that you may not fit into conventional sizes. "Almost 40 percent of women between A and E cups are actually in between standard cup sizes, with other common problems being slipping straps, digging straps, and rising back band," Ra'el Cohen, ThirdLove's Head of Design told me. "As a solution, ThirdLove developed signature half-cup sizes from AA through G, and for slipping straps, we recommend tightening them every other month to keep them snug and supportive."
If it seems like you are between sizes, talk with the consultant at your local lingerie shop. Bra sizes are not standard across companies, so she may have suggestions about which brands run small or large, depending on what you need.
The straps dig in
When your bra straps are digging into your shoulders all day, it can be hard to think about anything else. I had assumed that digging straps meant the straps were too tight, but it turns out it says more about your band size.
"If your straps are digging into your shoulders or the back band is rising, chances are your band is too big or has stretched out over time and you should consider buying one band-size smaller — that might do the trick," says Cohen. "You'll know you're in the right band size when you can slip two fingers underneath the back of the band."
It's creating back fat
We can all feel self-conscious when a bra doesn't fit right. Some bras can actually create the look of bunching skin or back fat. Fortunately for our egos, it's just the bra that needs adjusting — not your body.
"It's a common problem we hear, and the good news is that it's the bra," says Brayola.com CEO Hashay. "Many women are wearing the wrong type of bra and probably don't know that there are bras specifically designed to smooth out your back." For a flattering, smooth look, Hashay recommends the Wacoal Ultimate Side Smoother Contour Bra.
You're not sure how to shop for one
So you're ready to commit to some new bras? Many women put off bra shopping, because we already have so many, or don't want to deal with the hassle of waiting to be measured by an over-eager salesperson.
Vice President of Blush lingerie, Tiffany Ajmo, recommends paying attention to all of the details when investing in new bras. "I'll start with what we don't see...the inner side of a bra cup. The wire casing should be brushed and soft. This will be the difference between a bra that you are happy to wear all day, and one you can not wait to take off," she explained to me. "Wire casing that is not soft can cause irritation!" And it's not just the fabric you should check out. Those little rings and slider adjusters on the bra should be metal, not plastic. "Metal will last much longer, and nickel-free metal is always great," says Ajmo.
You don't know when to get a new one
If you're anything like me, you wait way too long to invest in new bras. I asked some of our experts how often we should actually be shelling out for new ones.
"With frequent use, bras wear out, and stretch out, just like your favorite shoes," Jessica Pfister, Vice President of Le Mystere Lingerie told me. "After about 6 to 8 months of regular wearing, the elastics on your bra are just not as strong as they used to be, so chances are that your wings are no longer laying horizontally across you back. When this occurs, you find the back of your bra hiking up towards your shoulder blades and your breast drooping forward."
Keep in mind any recent body changes when deciding if it's time for new bras. Have you recently lost or gained weight? Or has your body changed from a new workout routine or diet? If you've recently had a baby, you know how differently your bra can fit after birth and nursing.
A good bra loves you back
Once you've put the time in, to pick out the perfectly-sized new bra, don't stretch it out in the washing machine. Quality bras can be pretty delicate, and need to be treated gently.
"Hand wash in warm water with a gentle detergent like the delicate wash from the Laundress," recommends Pfister. "If you can't possibly find the time to hand wash, please, please put your bras in a wash bag with the hooks closed ( to prevent fabric snags) and use the gentle cycle on your machine." Once you've washed your bras, lay them flat to dry. A dryer will almost certainly damage them.
Take good care of your bras, and they'll take care of you!
Ill-fitting bras have also been associated with neck, back and shoulder pain, bad posture, and rubbing and chafing leading to skin abrasions. We also see ill-fitting bras causing permanent changes to the body, such as deep grooves in the shoulders caused by pressure from the bra shoulder straps.
- Move up a notch.
- Adjust your straps. Here's a little-known fact about bra construction: The majority of a bra's support comes from the band, not the straps or cups. ...
- Wear different sizes.
If your bra band digs into your skin and makes you uncomfortable, your band size is probably too small. One bra fitting tip to remember is that the cup size is related to the band size. This means if you try a larger band size, you will have to go down a size in the cup.
The center of the bra doesn't sit flat.
The band might be too big — try going down a band size and up a cup size. On the other hand, the cup might be too small — try going up a cup size, or even just half a cup size. The other possible reason is that your breast type is messing with the center gore.
"If you don't wear a bra, your breasts will sag," says Dr. Ross. "If there's a lack of proper, long-term support, breast tissue will stretch and become saggy, regardless of breast size." Still, both experts agree that multiple factors play into if and when sagging (technical term: "ptosis") occurs, bra-wearing aside.
There's nothing wrong with wearing a bra while you sleep if that's what you're comfortable with. Sleeping in a bra will not make a girl's breasts perkier or prevent them from getting saggy. And it will not stop breasts from growing or cause breast cancer.
If it is inching upwards, it could mean that the band size is wrong. A smaller band and cup size will result in your breasts spilling out over the cups. Secondly, check the cup size. Cups that are too small will result in spillage, so try going up a cup size.
According to my plastic surgeon (who did my breast reduction operation) the bust peak/nipple is supposed to sit at the mid-point between shoulders and elbows. Yet for many, this is not how it goes. Yours may sit higher or lower (anyone with a large bust will find theirs is likely to sit lower).
Costoclavicular syndrome, sometimes referred to as bra strap syndrome, can be caused by tight straps that pinch and dig into your shoulders. This can contribute to pressure on your shoulders and resulting pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
If your band and underwire are the right size, then the center gore should lay flat against your sternum. You should not be able to move it easily, but it also shouldn't press too hard on your chest. If the center gore of your underwire bra does not lay correctly, then the cups are too small or the band is too loose.
Use unscented soaps, lotions, and moisturizers. Apply a cool compress to the affected area. Calamine lotion can help reduce itching. Drying powders such as Gold Bond Extra and Lady Anti Monkey Butt help prevent rashes.
Close to 80% of women are wearing the incorrect bra size currently. Wearing the wrong bra size which tends to be ill-fitting, can lead to shoulder, chest, neck, and spine pain, along with headaches.
According to the experts at Washingtonian Plastic Surgery, “Bra bulge is most commonly the result of loose skin, armpit fit, or excess breast tissue. In some cases, bra bulge may be the result of all of these factors combined”.
The most common reason for ride-up is that the band is too big. You can avoid ride-up by getting a bra with a snug band. Have a professional measure your band size, or do it yourself by wrapping a measuring tape firmly around your rib cage directly below your breasts.
Alternative Bra Options
There are certainly non-bra options that give your breasts coverage and shape, such as camisoles, bandeau/strapless, bodysuits, bralettes and of course, braless.
While sleeping braless, your position of sleep might affect your bosom but won't increase its size. If you sleep downward, sideways, or stomach on for a long time, the breast ligaments stretch over, causing sagginess.
- Manage a healthy weight. You don't necessarily need to lose weight, nor do you need to gain weight. ...
- Find a well-fitting, comfortable bra. ...
- Don't smoke, or quit smoking. ...
- Get a hormone test. ...
- Carefully consider pregnancy.
- Try a pectoral muscle workout. ...
- Get plastic surgery.
Young women usually have dense breasts because their milk systems might be needed for feeding babies. Sometimes this thickness is felt as a lump or a mass of tissue. As women age, their milk systems shrink and are replaced by fat. By menopause, most women's breasts are completely soft.
In fact, experts recommend replacing bras every six months—or after about 180 wears.
The outer left breast is at 3 o'clock and the outer right breast is at 9 o'clock. In the left breast the upper outer quadrant is between 12 and 3 o'clock.
One culprit: sleeping face down, which puts unnecessary pressure on your chest. Snoozing on your side can also contribute to breast sagging, as gravity pulls your girls down, stretching ligaments and skin. So, sleep on your back and wear a soft cup bra such as Belvia.
The Average Areola Size
However, if we talk about an average, it's been found that the average areola diameter is about four centimeters. Basically, it's about three times bigger than the nipple. Still, even having areolas that are larger than the average can be perfectly normal.
The costoclavicular space is the anterior portion of the superior thoracic aperture, between the clavicle and first rib. The subclavian vessels and brachial plexus pass though the space related to the scalene muscles.
A too-small cup size means the wires won't be wide or deep enough to contain your breast tissue comfortably. Meanwhile, a cup size that's too big can put excess pressure on your sternum where the wires come up too far and can also extend too far past your breast tissue into your armpit, causing pain there as well.
Straps Too Short or Narrow: Nerve Damage
Ill-fitting straps can put extra pressure on a nerve bundle called the brachial plexus, especially in women with large breasts who hunch their shoulders forward.
If the center gore is floating away from your chest, either the cups may be too small, or the band too big. If the cups are too small, you'll know because they won't contain your breast tissue, which might spill out of the top, sides, or bottom (take a peek near your underarms, a common place for spillage).
If your skin is very red, inflamed and sore, ask your pharmacist for a hydrocortisone cream. If your skin is red, sore or itchy, ask your pharmacist for an anti-fungal cream or powder.
If you have a breast yeast infection, you can first try treating it with over-the-counter medications like the antifungal clotrimazole and hydrocortisone cream to reduce redness and swelling.
Intertrigo looks like a red, raw rash on the skin. It may feel sore or itchy, and it can sometimes ooze. It can develop in any fold of the skin.
The most common symptom of costochondritis is pain and tenderness in the chest that's typically described as sharp, aching, or pressure-like. The ribs and breastbone connect in seven different places and pain can occur at any of them or even at more than one location.
Wearing a non-supportive bra leads to poor posture and weak back muscles. It makes the breasts to seem more saggy and add up to pain in the back. If you're wearing the wrong bra size, you might feel uncomfortable. That niggling feeling at your back, on the straps, or in between the cups.
If your breasts spill over the edge of the cup forming one or two 'bonus breasts' it is because you are wearing a bra with a cup size that is too small. The breasts fall out of the bra when I lean forward. You are wearing a cup size that is too big. Try a bra with the same circumference but a smaller cup size.
Is D or DD cup bigger? There's no difference in the spacing between single and double letter sizes, a DD is one full size larger than D, just like E is one full size larger than DD.
For an example, a 32C and a 34B are the same cup size. The only difference is the band size. The 34 is a bigger band size than a 32. Another example, a 34B and 36A are the same cup size.
Get your cup size by subtracting your band size from your bust size. If the difference is a 1 your cup size is an A, 2 a B, 3 a C, etc. This helpful chart will help you perfect the skill of calculating your cup size. Now you should have a letter and a number to use as your bra size.
Your bra band should be snug, but not painful. And if you feel like your bra band is already as tight as you'd want it, remember that you can also increase support from the band by choosing a wider, longline style. A very narrow band can simply cut in, without providing much support at all!
While Dr. Ahmad sees some benefit to wearing a bra, he says you shouldn't wear one all day, every day. "Wearing a bra all the time is also not good for your health," he says. "It will cause increased sweating, which will clog the skin pores and cause irritation and itching."
We'll bust this myth right off the bat. Despite what you might have heard, Dr. Blake says wearing a bra doesn't increase your chances of getting breast cancer. “From a breast cancer standpoint, wearing a bra doesn't impact your risk of breast cancer.
While loose bras can damage and spoil the appearance of breasts, bras that are too tight can severely affect the ribcage, as well as cause back and neck pain. Since 80% of women out there are wearing the wrong bra size, the first step will be to size right.
Many factors can play a part in your breast cancer risk, but going braless isn't one of them. The bottom line: "Generally speaking, wearing or not wearing a bra really won't have a significant impact on your overall health," Dr. Sahni said, adding that it's entirely a personal choice.
You should wash your bra after 2 or 3 wears, or once every 1 or 2 weeks if you're not wearing it every day. Wash your jeans as rarely as possible, unless you're going for the distressed look. Wash sweaters as often as needed, but be careful not to stretch or shrink them as they dry.
- Posture: Poor posture causes breasts to hang by their own weight, placing tension and pressure on breast tissue which results in sagging. ...
- Exercise: Not only can chest exercises like pushups, bench presses, arm curls, and swimming improve muscle strength, they improve posture as well.
The most common cause is a poor-fitting bra. Other causes include pregnancy, trauma, muscle strain and prior surgery. Although breast cancer is usually not painful, when it does cause pain, the pain tends to be noncyclical and usually just in one focal spot.
By wearing a bra to bed, which is wrapped firmly around the ribcage, your ribs can't fully and freely expand. Sleeping in a bra can make your breathing more labored and shallow, lowering your usual intake of oxygen. On the other hand, sleeping without a bra better allows you to breathe (and rest) easy.
“You can wear the same bra two days in a row, as long as you take it off for several hours in between to allow the bra to relax,” Dr. Vij says. “But wearing a 'lucky' bra day in and day out will make it lose its shape more quickly.”
Causes of Sagging Breasts
Hormone changes, pregnancy, weight gain, and weight loss can all affect the internal structures of your breasts. Menopause can affect the fullness of breasts and reduce their volume. Many people are concerned that breastfeeding a baby will lead to sagging.
First, yes, your breasts can sag for a variety of reasons. Drooping is the result of changes in the ligaments that form the supporting structures inside the chest. Over time – and for various reasons – these ligaments can lengthen and weaken. But no, going without a bra is not one of the reasons.
So turning back to the original question, yes it is likely that an employer in the UK could require an employee to wear appropriate undergarments as part of a dress and appearance code if it is for the purpose of presenting a smart and business like appearance and if the employer can show that it is necessary for the ...
Genetics play the biggest role in determining the size and shape of your breasts. Other factors include: Weight. Fat plays a big part in breast tissue and density, so weight makes a difference.