Did you know 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size? Insanity. Think about that – you’re out with 10 of your girlfriends and only 2 have their boobs lifted, supported and sitting comfortably. My money is on the two that are dancing until the lights come on.
I’m not a trained bra fitter, but I can spot an ill-fitting bra a mile off. The signs are just so clear:
Boobs spilling out the top of the cup.
Underwires sitting away from the centre of the chest and not separating your cleavage.
Back strap riding up your back, like a cowboy on a horse.
I’ll unpack these signs (and much more) further down and await your hand-written thank-you note.
If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you how brutally honest I am. But, luckily for me, they usually thank me for it. I have friends who tell me I’ve changed their lives after my honest assessment of their bra fit…
“If you hadn’t made me take off my bra in that club toilet and put on yours all those years ago, I’d still be wearing a C!”
Amanda, my Gorgeous G cup friend for over 20 years.
“My husband won’t leave me alone since you suggested I go down 2 band sizes and up 4 cup sizes — he thinks I’ve had a boob job!”
Yvonne, my Fabulous FF cup neighbour.
Did you know, the average UK bra size is now a 36DD – a huge increase from a 34B 11 years ago. Women’s bodies are changing. After a year in lockdown, even I’ve been guilty of wearing the incorrect bra size. It’s easily done when our weight and sizes fluctuate so often.
It doesn’t matter how well made your bra is, if you wear the wrong size it will never fit or feel right. And, if you’re very unlucky, an incorrect size can cause aching shoulders, bust and back.
So, do yourself a favour — grab a bra, put it on and stand in front of a mirror. Let’s walk through some of the most common signs that let us know your bra isn’t fitting properly, and how to fix them.
If the cup creases…
Your bra is too big. If your boobs aren’t filling the bra properly, the excess material will be loose or crease. Of course, it’s totally normal if this happens on one side (most of us do have one bigger boob after all). But if it’s happening on both sides, it’s time for a change. Keep the same band size but go down a cup size. Your boobs will be ever-so-thankful for the extra support, and you won’t believe how amazing your cleavage will look.
If your boobs don’t rest against the bottom of the cups…
Whether you’re wearing a wired or non-wired bra, the bottom edge of the cups should follow the bottom of your boobs. If there is empty space between your breasts and the bottom of the cup it’s a sign to choose a smaller cup size. Your boobs and the underwire want to be friends, let’s not keep them apart.
If your boobs are spilling out the top of your bra…
Also known as ‘double boob’. You need to go up a cup size (or more). Some women like this look because they think it gives them a bigger, fuller cleavage ( Jessica Rabbit style), but sadly your boobs aren’t getting the support they need and deserve. There should always be a smooth transition between your bra and cleavage.
If the underwire (or cup seam) is pressing against your boobs…
We need to let them breathe asap! This is a sign that your bra is too small. Your whole boob should sit comfortably in the cup, with the underwire or seam just underneath, supporting your boobs. Underwire pinching your boobs can be super uncomfortable and you deserve better than that. Embrace your bigger boobs and go up one (or more) cup sizes until your whole boob fits in the cup.
If your underwire doesn’t separate your boobs…
Also known as ‘bum boob’. I get it, your boobs are sisters. The really close kind who like to hang out all the time gossiping and drinking wine. But we all need a little space sometimes. Your underwire should always separate your boobs and lie tight across your breastbone. This is how you get the best support. If the underwire sits on top of your boobs and they are touching, they’re fighting for space. Your cup size is likely too small, so try a bra with a bigger cup size. No one wants a bum boob.
If the back of your bra is riding up…
Also known as ‘the cowboy’. Look over your shoulder at yourself in the mirror. How is the back of your bra sitting? Is the bottom band in a straight line with the band in the front, or does it creep up in the back? If the back band is riding up it’s a sign that your support is coming from your shortened shoulder straps, when it should be coming from the band itself. This means you’re missing out on important support. And, not to mention, your shoulders can get quite sore if your straps are digging in, doing all the heavy lifting. Stop carrying the weight of the world (or your boobs) on your shoulders, try a smaller band size.
If your boobs are falling out the bottom…
Next test — lift your arms high in the air. Did your boobs start to creep out the bottom of your bra? If they did then your band size is too big. Your boobs should never be escaping from your bra at the top, bottom or armpit — all escape routes should be sealed! If your cups seem to be fitting well then you should be able to solve the issue by going up one band size while going down one cup size, i.e. from 34D to 36C.
If the back of your bra is cutting into your body…
Ouch! If your bra is cutting into your side, back, or just below your boobs, then your band is definitely too tight. You should be able to comfortably take a deep breath in, without wincing in pain. The back should be tight and supportive, but never uncomfortable. Grab the back of your bra and pull it out from your body with your finger. You should be able to pull it about two inches from your body, if not, your bra is too small. Again, you can solve this by going up one or more band sizes. But remember, if the cups are fitting nicely, for every band size you jump up, you should go down a cup size.
If your shoulder straps drop down…
Think Hollywood actress in a sexy, off-the-shoulder gown. But the difference is, it’s never good when it comes to your bra. If your bra straps are constantly falling down it might be time to throw your bra out. Nine times out of ten, this is due to the shoulder straps having stretched and lost their elasticity. Or, you might just have to tighten your straps a little. I always recommend that you adjust the shoulder straps every morning. I know, I know, one more thing to remember to do every day, I’m sorry! But you will save so much time, not having to constantly pull up your bra straps!. If they keep becoming loose as soon as you’ve adjusted them, it’s time to part ways with the bra.
How did you do in the Fairlie Curved bra test?! I hope this has helped shed some light on how to tell if your bra doesn’t fit.
But, you should do you and your boobs a favour and book in for a quick size check. I promise it will be worth it.
There are so many great places that offer bra sizing services. I’m usually a Bravissimo girl myself. I love the fact that there are no measuring tapes. The staff are so skilled and knowledgeable that they can assess your size by eye — like magical bra whisperers.
They also understand that every bra brand will fit each of us differently. So they’ll offer lots of different styles and sizes to try until you find your perfect match.
As much as I love Bravissimo, I can’t overlook all the amazing independent stores too. This year has been tough for us all, but especially for small independent businesses. I would thoroughly recommend seeking out your local lingerie boutique and supporting them. The personal service small businesses can provide will make you feel so special, and they’ll be incredibly grateful too.
Here are some amazing independent lingerie retailers, from across the UK, that come highly recommended:
Belle Wren – Aberdeenshire
Straps – Gourock
Finishing Touches – Paisley
Carmen – Saltcoats
Lily Lingerie – Prestwick
Silks – Uddingston, Glasgow
Next To You – Montrose
Sarah C – Edinburgh
Sheen Uncovered – London
Design Also – London
Sandra Dee – Cheltenham
Boschen – Dorset
Knicker Knocker Glory – Plymouth
Just Moi – Weston-Super-Mare
Bella Rose – Kent (they also offer virtual fittings countrywide)
Bra boss of Kent – Kent
Chantilly – Stafford
Dawn til Dusk – Burton on Trent
Betty & Belle – Altrincham
Madame Foner – Swansea
Bravelle – Ballyneety
If this blog has helped you figure out that your bra doesn’t fit properly, please get in touch. I love a good “my bra changed my life” story and would love to hear what your old and new sizes are.
Feel free to head to our private Facebook group Fairlie Curved Girls where there’s an amazing community of busty blessed girls who discuss these things openly and share their stories.
Sending positive boob vibes,