Saturday, August 11, 2012

How to (Correctly) Wear a Bra

I've written so much in the past on how NOT to wear bras that I figured it was high time I wrote a post showing the right way to wear them! I've found that many women have actually never worn or even seen a well-fitting bra worn in their lives - so how are they to know what one looks or feels like?

If you're not sure if you're wearing the correct size, check out 5 Signs of a Poorly-Fitting Bra. If you're experiencing any of these signs of a poor fit, never fear - this post should help get you back on the right track! You may also want to measure yourself (WikiHow also has a great guide) to check your starting point size.

First things first:

Steps for Putting on a Bra

[Blogger CarissaRose has a great tutorial with pictures that is infinitely better than this written list! But here's a long-winded step-by-step in any case:]
1. It's generally recommended that you start by holding the bra so the bottom wires of the cups are under your breasts and hook the band from behind, but if that's too difficult right now (or you just don't prefer doing it this way), go ahead and hook it in front and spin the cups forward, no one will tell ;) Be sure you're fastening it on the loosest hook.

2. Now that the bra is hooked on and the cups are in front, pull up a bit if need be to be sure that the bottom cup wires are right under your breasts. Go ahead and put your arms through the straps (loosen them for the moment if need be) and put them over your shoulders.

3. Now for the fun part: bend and scoop! Bend forward and reach down into the sides and bottom of the bra cups to to lift and adjust your breasts into the cups, pulling in any breast tissue from your underarm back into the cups. Jiggle things around if need be! Make sure that the wires are sitting against your skin underneath your breasts.

4. Stand up and finish making sure all your breast tissue is inside the cups (if you're getting overspill at this point, you'll know instantly that the cups are too small) and that the wires are sitting firmly against your skin. Then adjust/tighten the straps.

When you have your bra on, remember that it should feel a) snug and supportive, and b) comfortable. If it doesn't feel supportive and/or comfortable, you're probably in the wrong size (or style).

For a quick summation, check out this great short video by Ewa Michalak for a visual example of how to put on a bra, along with an example of proper fit. Also, all of the models on the EM website are wearing the correct size, so it's a good reference!

Now that your bra is on properly, on to figuring out if it's fitting you correctly!

The Wires

The wires of your bra should be fully encasing your breasts and sitting firmly against your ribcage - not floating off the ribcage or digging or sitting on the breasts! The center gore (the wire between the cups) needs to be sitting firm and flush against your sternum, not floating between the breasts - but it shouldn't be cutting or digging into your breastbone, either. Your breasts should definitely not be falling out the wires/bottom of the cups.

Proper Wire Placement:

Bras from Ewa Michalak
Note position of the wires in all these bras. The wires are underneath the breasts and extend to underneath the armpit (some bras will have wider wires than Ewa Michalak bras, and will extend a little further under the armpit). The center gore sits flush against the sternum. No wires are sitting on breast tissue. The bras in the above example are all plunge-type bras, but the same goes for other styles with higher center wires.

The Band

The band of the bra should feel firm and snug on the loosest hook, and it should sit level around your body (it shouldn't ride up, and the bra shouldn't shift around). You shouldn't be able to pull it very far away from your body - maybe a few finger's worth at most - and you shouldn't be able to easily put it on the tightest hook right away. At the same time, the bra shouldn't cut in uncomfortably.

Proper Band Placement:

Bras from Ewa Michalak

The bands on these examples are snug on the loosest hook and sitting straight and firm across the back. They're not digging in, nor are they riding up.

The Cups

Tied in very closely with the wires - once the wires are in their correct spot, there should be no overspill anywhere (top, sides, or bottom!) or gapping in the cups. The cup should create a smooth line on your breasts. Your breasts should look "uplifted" and not droopy.

Proper Cup Fit:

Bras from Ewa Michalak and Cleo by Panache

The cups in these examples are fully encasing the breasts.

The Straps

The straps should not be cutting or digging in, nor should they be taking much weight - they should only be doing around 10-15% of the lifting. At the same time, make sure that they are tightened up enough so you're not getting sagging in the cups. Any of the above picture examples show proper strap placement.

Movement and Comfort

Does it seem like your bra is in line with the signs of a proper fit? Great! Now move around some - walk, jump, sit, jiggle, raise your arms. Does the bra poke or stab uncomfortably? Does it shift around? Do you lose support? A bra that's a proper fit will hold your shape and its support well, and it won't move out of place.

Some final well-fitting examples to wrap it up:

Bras from Curvy Kate

So - does your bra look like these examples? If not, it's time to try another size (or style)!

For further reading:
Ill-fitting Bras vs Well-Fitting Bras - great picture-comparison post from FullerFigureFullerBust.
The Perils of Size Charts and "Plus Four" - Brastop blog shows how wrongly the +4 method leads us with a comparison of Jo in her "Plus Four" (incorrect) size of 36F and her actual, proper size of 32J.
Let's Panic About Badly-Fitting Bras - examples of poorly-fitting bras (and a few examples of good fit thrown in!


  1. Great post Christine! I really struggle with the band. I can either find too loose or too tight :(

    1. Thanks lovely! :) Ah, that's an annoying issue when you're "between sizes" :/ Have you found anything that's close to being just right?

    2. I think my closest is a 30FF Freya Frankie, so I think a looser 30 is probably what I'm after. Unfortunately, Freya isn't really the right brand for my preferred shape, as I like Cleo. Oh well! They still work to support my boobs properly, which is the important thing.

  2. This is a wonderful post! I am really glad you posted this. Very good information. As I said, you should write a book :P

  3. Hiya, I've got a question about the bands - I guess because no one told me otherwise, I've been judging how well a bra fits me by whether I can do it up on the tightest hook. How much of a difference does this make? I am wearing a bra right now that is a AUS/NZ 12D, and it ticks all the boxes (no spillage, bra cup not wrinkled, gore is flat against sternum, no strap discomfort...) except for the fact that I wear it on the tighest hook. How much of a difference does this make?

    1. As a rule, bras should fit well on the loosest hook when new - bras are going to stretch out with wear, and if you have to hook the bra to the tightest hook straight away, it will quickly become too loose and not supportive enough. The bra will last much longer if it's nice and firm on the loosest hook when you get it, and you can move on to the second and third hooks when it inevitably stretches.

      If the bra seems to fit well otherwise (after swooping/scooping), then it sounds like all you'd need to do is go down a band size to the sister size (10DD) to get a great fit :)

    2. Great, thanks for explaining! :)