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Does Your Bra Fit - Seven Steps to Test It Out

A properly sized bra is a must to look beautiful on anything you wear and feel great.  A good fitting bra provides support, comfort, health and, most importantly, confidence. HOWEVER, most often it is just that difficult to find the perfect fit!

But you should not settle to the fit that’s closest.  It may take time and patience to find your perfect bra, but a good fitting bra is worth all your efforts. 

The question is: HOW do you check a bra for fitness?  And WHY?  

Here is our guide for you to test how your bra fits and the reasons behind.

Tip 1: you need to put on the bra right before testing the fit; otherwise you are off from a wrong start in the first place.  See our How to Wear a Bra for a detailed guidance.

1. Check the overall support

Whether you are purchasing a new bra or deciding to retire the current one, this is a quick and easy way to test out and make a decision. 

Stand in front of a mirror, and try to run at a fast walking speed as if you are running on a tread mill.  Observe how your breasts tissue bounces.  Literally there is no bra that can completely stop your breasts bouncing; unless maybe one made from iron (we have not test it yet).  So it is OK that your breasts bounce, but if you feel pain (the ligament getting sore, the breast skin turns itchy or red), or the breasts are about coming out of the cups, chances are that the bra is not a good fit or has reached the end of life. 

You may ask why a tread mill bra test.  Yes, we know that you have sports bra when you exercise, however, your daily bra needs to provide necessary support when you walk, ideally fast walk.  Remember those embarrassing moments when the girls jumping up and down while you walk?

2. Check the bra band

Tip 2: Orlinas Bra suggests you test the bra band first before proceeding to adjust other fits.  Here is why: 1) bra band adjustment is bigger than cup is; 2) band is the defining factor for bra sizing. You need to decide your band, basing upon which comes the cup size (how much the bust line projects over the band); 3) bra band plays a significant role of supporting and lifting the breasts.  So try to settle the band before fine-tuning the cups and straps.

How:

Position test: look at yourself in the mirror while rotating your body from the front to the back.  Idea situation is that the band stays the same height on your body and parallel to the ground.

If the band on the back is either higher or lower than the front band, band is too loose and you need to go down the band size.

Higher back band position means that the band is not supporting the breasts in the front. The result is either your breasts are not supported enough, causing breasts sagging or the straps are carrying all the weight, causing straps digging in the shoulder skin.  This is a very common bra fitting problem called “band ride up”. 

On the other hand, if the band is lower than the front band, the band is actually carrying the breast weight, however, the breasts may be lifted too high with an unnatural look.  The lower back band position may not last long since the loose band will eventually move up and you will have to constantly pull down the band to maintain the supportive look.

Tightness test: even if the band position is right, you still need to test the tightness of the band.  Stand straight, and try to insert your palm (except the thumb) between your back and the band with palm facing the back.  Rotate your palm 90 degree so that the four fingers are perpendicular to the back.  You should feel that the space between the back and band is just enough for you to rotate.  Otherwise, it is either too small or too big.

Why?  When your body moves (for example, bend down or lean forward from the waist line), the breast tissue stretches out.  Four-finger width is about the space needed between the bra band and the body for you not to feel too tight when your body moves. 

Tip 3: when testing the bra band, please fasten the loosest hook.  This way, you can gradually adjust the band by fastening the tighter hooks when fabric stretches.

3. Check the bra cup

Firstly please make sure that the bra is properly worn so that the breast tissue has been maximally covered by the cups.  See our How to Wear a Bra for a detailed guidance.

Spillage or bulge test?

Bottom cups: stand in front of a mirror and raise your both arms.  Is there any breast tissue fall off from the cups? If yes, you need go up the cup size.  If the bra moves up when you raise your arm, the band is too loose and you need to readjust the band.

Side cups: look at your side view in the mirror.  Is there any fat bulge hang under the armpit?  If yes, you need to increase cup size or change bra style that has side support and full coverage. 

Top cups: without a top on, is there any breast tissue spilling out of the cups?  Put a T shirt on and then take a look of the front in the mirror, does it look like that the breast is split into two parts by either cup?  Lastly, try to jump up and down and look at the breasts movement in the mirror, does it feel like that the breasts are about to come out of the cups?

If the answer is yes for any of the above test, the cup size is too small and you need either go up cup size or change a fuller coverage bra style.

Gap test?

Check the part where the bra straps attach to the cups.  Is there any gap between the cup top and your breasts?

If yes, the cup is too big. You can either go down the cup size or change bra style.

4. Check the bra center front panel

Center front panel (center gore) is the part that connects the bra cups in the front.  It supports and separates the two breasts. However, not every style of bra has this panel and the width and height of this part vary depending on the design.  Unless your breasts touch in the middle, in this case a bra without center front panel might be more properly, the front panel should sit firmly against your chest (rib cage).

Simply observe the center front panel in the mirror, if it sits on the breasts tissue, you need change a bra with bigger cups.

Why?  If the center front panel sits on the breasts tissue, the bra will move with the breasts easily when you lift arms, bend down or running, as a result the bra cannot be positioned right to support and separate the breasts.

5. Check the bra underwire

One of the biggest challenges of bra fitting is to fit women into limited bra sizes in spite of vastly varied body shapes.  When the length and curve of the bra underwire do not match your body type, most likely you will not feel comfortable and supportive from the bra.

Test the bra underwire curve: put on the bra properly first and adjust the underwire so that it stays closely with your breasts crease line, where the breasts transition to the chest.  If you can’t find a way for the underwire stay firmly with the crease line, chances are that you need change the bra style or brands.

Test the bra underwire length: 1). do you feel the underwire poking you in the armpit?  Or does the underwire poke out from the side? If yes, the underwire is too long and you need to go down cup size or select bra style having shorter underwire or narrower center front panel; 2). do you feel the underwire, either end (middle or the sides), poking your breast tissue? If yes, the underwire is too short and you need to go up cup size or select bra style having longer underwire or wider center front panel.

It is extremely important that the underwire fits your breasts.  Ill fitting underwire bras build unnatural appearance and pose a health threat as underwire sitting on the breast tissue could block blood circulation.

Tip 4: try hand wash your bra if you ever find your right one.  Or at least, put it in bra laundry mesh in a gently cycle to avoid any underwire damage.  Through this way your underwire can stay in good shape and has a longer service life.

6. Check the bra strap

Bra straps digging in the shoulder skin or sliding off from the shoulders is among the most complained ill fitting issues we have heard. 

When trying a new bra, please take off the straps to see whether the bra moves down.  It is OK that the breasts tilt downward a little bit.  But if the bra cannot stay in place or the breasts are totally not supported, chances are that you need to go down band size.

Why?  Remember we have kept saying that the support of a bra should be mostly provided by the band, not the straps? 

When testing whether the bra straps will fall off easily, stand in front of a mirror with the bra properly on.  Try lift your arms, rotate and bend your body, jump or run, if you feel the strap are gradually sliding down during the movements, try to reduce the length of the straps first and try again.  If problem persists, chances are that you need to change another style of bra.

Why?  Bra straps can slide down when they set too wide apart on your shoulders.  Two factors contribute to this issue: 1) a lot of modern bras (demi bra, push up bra etc.) have straps connected from the sides of the cups.  This design can push inward the breast tissue and build a better center front shape; however, it somehow may cause the straps slide; 2) you might have a narrow or sliding shoulder shape.  Traditional bras that the straps connect at the center top of the cups might be a better fit.

7. Check overall appearance

This is the last step of bra fitting.  Observe the breasts shape under a T shirt, is it natural?  Properly lifted, and bottom, side and back supported breasts not just make you FEEL good, they also LOOK good under the top.  If the breasts are separated too much, push inward too much, push up too high, or drop down too low, chances are you need to change the bra style or change a bra brand.

For more bra fitting guidance, please see The 7 Bra Faux Pas and How to Avoid Them.  

Please continue read our Know Your Breasts.