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What are the Signs of an Incorrect Bra Fit?

Mandi R. Hall
Mandi R. Hall

A bra, also known as a brassiere, is a garment that covers and supports the breasts. The bra fit is integral to the purpose of the bra. It should maintain comfort while providing physical support. Though a bra can create and enhance cleavage for vanity’s sake, it also holds up the breasts and keeps them stable during physical activities such as running. Signs of an incorrect bra fit include a bra riding up, breasts that spill out of the bra cups, and flesh that rolls over the back of the bra.

A bra should not ride up the back or side of the torso. If there is an underwire in the bra, it should not dig into the skin. This can cause extreme discomfort.

A woman trying on a bra.
A woman trying on a bra.

The straps should not dig into the shoulders, causing deep grooves in the skin. Are there rolls of back fat visible? If so, the bra is actually too large, not too small. A woman who has the proper bra fit, centered lower around her torso, should eliminate the majority of back fat troubles.

The bra should support the breasts, not the other way around. Additionally, the nipple should remain inside of the cup with the rest of the breast. The majority of the breast should not spill out of the top of the cup.

A beige underwire bra.
A beige underwire bra.

As a young woman’s first bra is often deemed a coming-of-age symbol, it is imperative that she understands how to properly wear a bra. First, she should understand the features of a bra. To understand the proper bra fit, the elements of each bra must be considered.

The cups are the first thing to look at when choosing a bra. They range in lettered sizes such as A, B, C, D, and beyond. The smallest cup size is typically AA. Many designers create these cup sizes based on a specific formulaic process. The volume is determined based on whether the breasts more closely resemble a ball or a cone. Regardless of one’s breast shape, however, the predicted bra fit is typically similar.

A strapless bra.
A strapless bra.

Most bra manufacturers have generic cup sizes. These sizes may fit a few women perfectly, but most women actually aren’t aware of their proper bra fit. Many women experience back problems due to the bra straps improperly causing more strain on the back in a pulley-like effect.

Typically, a bra is meant to be modest and concealing. Many bras are padded. The padding is meant to cushion the breasts against discomfort, add some faux volume, and conceal a shapely nipple. If there is too much air space between the breast and the padding, the cupped bra fit is too large.

A properly fitting bra should support the breasts and not ride up the back or torso.
A properly fitting bra should support the breasts and not ride up the back or torso.

In addition to cups, a bra is also equipped with the center panel between the breasts, an elastic or wire band running below the breasts and around the entire torso, a clasp either in the front or the back, and shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are generally adjustable, as is the clasp.

Shoulder straps and clasps are meant to help sustain the life of a bra. When first purchasing a bra, wearing it on the loosest settings will allow for the bra to stretch out. Once the shoulder straps and clasp seem a bit loose, a woman may move on to the next fastener in line.

Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - I think that every woman should go for a professional bra fit whenever she feels like her breasts might have changed size. They often do when someone goes through a pregnancy, or during or after breast feeding and of course they might grow all through your teenage years as well.

Very few people are able to figure out their own size without help from someone who knows what they are doing.


@irontoenail - Yeah, for a long time I was wearing bras that didn't fit me properly, because I guess I thought I was a particular size and just always got that size.

But I decided to go in for a free bra fitting when my local store offered it and they explained that I was actually a couple sizes larger than I thought.

It annoyed me at first, because no one likes to be told they are larger than they thought, but once I got used to the idea, it was so much more comfortable wearing the right size.


Unfortunately, it's very difficult for women with larger sized breasts to find a decent fitting bra without spending huge amounts of money. That's even more true of women with unusual sizes, like a small cup size matched with a large band size.

I don't have a good solution to this, except to try and figure out what size you wear, maybe have a bra fitting and then try to get good bras online, since that will probably be cheaper and there will be a larger selection to choose from as well.

And when you find a place that sells bras that fit you, never lose the address. A decent bra is worth more than its weight in gold.

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    • A woman trying on a bra.
      A woman trying on a bra.
    • A beige underwire bra.
      By: Graça Victoria
      A beige underwire bra.
    • A strapless bra.
      By: Brooke Becker
      A strapless bra.
    • A properly fitting bra should support the breasts and not ride up the back or torso.
      By: Connor Evans
      A properly fitting bra should support the breasts and not ride up the back or torso.