Properly Fitting a BraEdit

Putting on a BraEdit

Most women may think this section unnecessary, but even a girl who has been professionally fitted and has most of the signs of a good fit may find that any lingering issues, such as rolls of back or underarm fat, may be solved by the proper method. She may also find that, once she has learned to put on her bra correctly, her cup is one or two sizes too small.

This method has been called the "Swoop and Scoop" or the "Scoop and Swoop " (sic) by various blog writers and proponents of proper bra fitting. It involves hooking the bra and situating the hooks in the back, bending forward at the waist to allow gravity to pull the breast tissue into the cup, and using a hand to massage any extra or migrated breast tissue forward into the cup.



Improperly and properly fitted bra bands, courtesy of the LA Times blog. Note how the first band displaces skin and creates more rolls of "fat" than actually exist.

The band should hug the torso closely, so that only two or three fingers can fit underneath it and slide all the way around. It should not be able to be pulled away from the wearer's back by more than a few centimeters. It should lay flat and smooth against the ribcage with no wrinkles or bulging, and sit parallel to the underwire in the back in a straight line. The bra should hold itself in place and provide almost all the support and coverage the wearer needs even without putting on the straps. 


Princesse-Tam-Tam-Reviens-half-cup-bra-bleublue-front 0

Reviens half-cup bra by Princesse Tam-Tam. Note how the cup is filled by the breast but does not squeeze it anywhere.

The cups should lie flat on top of the breast, with no gaping and without pressing or cutting into the flesh. The cup should be filled entirely by the breast. It should be smooth all over with no buckling fabric or wrinkles. The nipple should sit in the center of the cup at the farthest protrusion, or where the seams on multi-part cups meet, and when the bra is worn this point should be positioned at or above the midline between the shoulder and the elbow.

Push up bra styles should not have cups that are too small, thus giving the wearer cleavage by making her spill out of them. Instead the cups should be large enough to still contain all the breast tissue, with high sides to prevent its escape under the arm and to help push the breast forward for a more dramatic effect. While much lower and smaller in these styles, the center gore must still lie flat against the sternum.


Berdita Stretch Lace Underwire Bra Beige

A stretch lace underwire bra by Berdita. The underwire fully encircles all the breast tissue and points toward the center of the armpit.

The underwire should encircle the lower part of the breast entirely, with no tissue escaping out the bottom or the sides of the cup. The inner point of the wire should rest against the sternum, holding the center gore in place. The outer edge of the wire cradles the inframammary fold and generally points toward the center of the armpit; this can be slightly variable depending on the width of the wearer's breast root. It should never dig in to the flesh. It should also not be pulled too wide by over-tightening the band, and it should be thick and strong enough to support the entire breast without bending or breaking.

In the case of a bra with no underwire, the wider band and sturdier fabric provide the same functional support, and the breast tissue should be entirely surrounded and supported by the seams of the cup.



The bra straps are not too tight or too long, and they form a slight V angle.

The straps should rest in a V shape (with lots of space in between the bottom points) or in parallel lines, should settle just on the inside edge of the end of the collarbone, and should lie against the skin along their entire length. They should not be so short as to dig into the shoulder or so long as to slide off; if the wearer's shoulders are particularly narrow or sloped, the straps are properly adjusted, and all other signs of a good fit are present, strap keepers can be worn to asist in keeping the straps in place. The straps should bear almost none of the weight of the breast, instead providing the finishing touches on shape and smoothness of the cup under clothes.

With crossover, one-shoulder, or racerback styles, there is little difference in how much weight the straps should bear or how they should sit on the body. No strap should ever reach the band closer to the armpit than its apex on the shoulder.

A halterneck style bra's strap should follow the fit rules mentioned above: it should not dig in or be uncomfortable, and it should not function as a sling for the cups since the band bears most of the weight of the breasts. The strap should pass behind the neck at the nape.

When there are no straps, as with a strapless bra, all of the support must be provided by the bra band. Very low-backed styles with wrap around straps should fit similar to strapless bras.

Signs of Poor FitEdit

Because wearing a poorly fitted bra is so common, many women experience these various complaints. A vast majority of ladies believe that they are a normal, natural part of wearing a bra, while some may even begin to think of themselves as flawed or abnormal for having such problems when none of their peers seem to share their experience.


This Playtex Superbra does not fit the model. Note how breast tissue is escaping out the side and top of the cup, and the center gore does not touch her sternum.

  • The bra band rides up in the back, and does not sit parallel to the underwire. (band is too big)
  • The bra rises when the wearer raises her arms, allowing breast tissue to escape underneath and requiring readjustment when the arms are lowered. (band is too big)
  • The straps dig in. (straps are too short and band is too big)
  • The straps slide off the shoulders. (band is too big)
  • The straps are not parallel or are an upside-down V shape in the back. (band is too small)
  • The wearer has a good deal of breast tissue, which many believe it to be rolls of fat, under her arms, especially when she is otherwise quite slender. (cup is too small)

    The Raised Arms test. This bra band is far too big for the wearer, and the cups are at least 2 sizes too small.

  • The bra band bulges, leaves marks, and is distinctly uncomfortable. (band is too small)
  • The bra band bulges and creates rolls of "back fat", but is easily pulled away from the wearer's back. (band is too big and cup is too small)
  • Breasts escape below the underwire without raising the arms. (band is too big and cup is too small)
  • Breasts overflow the cup. (cup is too small)
  • The cups dimple, buckle, gape, or crease. (cup is too large or cup/underwire is wrong for your shape - "orange in a glass" effect)
  • The breast has an indentation at the top of the cup, noticeable perhaps even under clothes, creating a "double boob" or "quad-boob" effect. (cup is too small)
  • The center gore does not rest on the sternum. (cup is too small)
  • The underwire pokes under the wearer's arm. (cup is too small)

More complicated fit issuesEdit

  • The underwire pokes the underside of the wearer's arm. (underwire does not curve with the ribcage)
  • The breast tissue escapes on the sides and/or top, but the bottom of the cup is not filled and folds over or wrinkles - the "orange in a glass" effect. (breast root is wider than span of the underwire, and breast projection is shallower than that of cup)
  • The sides of the cup are empty, but the top of the cup cuts into the breast. (underwire is too wide and band is likely too tight)

Reasons for Poor Fit

In many cultures, women's breasts are highly sexualized, a quality that makes them very personal and intimate body parts that are usually hidden from view to varying degrees. Sexual objectification of certain body parts, whether it be genitals or breasts, shoulders or legs, or even faces, can also lead feelings of embarrassment when they are displayed or examined, especially when the individual feels that no one but a lover or spouse should see them so intimately. Embarrassment is one of the most significant contributors to the fact that most women never get properly fitted for a bra.


Photo collage of UK G and GG cup sizes, collected on the forum. The caption reads "Don't believe the stereotypes - G cup is a size like any other."

Related to embarrassment is the belief that large breasts are somehow linked with sexual promiscuity, and that breasts over a certain cup size are unseemly. This is commonly known as "letterphobia" in bra fitting advocate circles. It is a very widespread phenomenon held by women especially born before the 1970s and 1980s, although it is sadly still pervasive. The association between breast size and promiscuousness is misguided; while large breasts - and especially large hips - may indicate biological fertility to some degree, they have nothing whatsoever to do with sex drive. An informal survey conducted on the Polish forum, compiled as the photo collage shown at the right, illustrates that G and GG cups are perhaps not as big as some might imagine.

There is also the involvement of men in the world of bras to consider. Men, of course, traditionally have very little need for any sort of breast or chest support, and thus have almost no reason to concern themselves with such issues on a daily basis. For most [heterosexual] men when contemplating a bra, it is often connected to the sexual aspect of women's breasts and/or a primarily visual or aesthetic consideration. However, men's presence in marketing, advertising, fashion, and retail spheres means that their ignorance often impacts the women for whom the bra is intended.

However, overall, the primary contributing factor seems to be women's ignorance. In spite of blogs, published articles, scientific studies, medical literature, etc, which all contain a plethora of information on bra fit, this ignorance sadly persists and it does all women a great disservice. It is encouraged by many bra manufacturers, who are more concerned with selling their products than with the health and satisfaction of their customers; advertising can exacerbate this, especially when the bras in question are cheaply made and any models photographed wearing them have their breasts photoshopped into the cups to provide the illusion of proper fit.

Health ImpactsEdit

Improperly fitted bras can cause a multitude of health problems. Despite this, a properly fitted bra is something only a minority of women have experienced.

Unlike the versatility of corsets, which can variously support the bust or not (depending on the type and style), and may lift or compress the breasts in the same vein, a bra is always meant to support and lift the breasts from beneath. Many women find this beneficial for the appearance of the bust, especially as breast tissue loses its elasticity with age.

This also means that about 85% of the support work of the bra should be done by the band, with the straps providing a small amount of lift or shaping as their position changes the top of the bra cup. Many, many women, as well as almost all men, believe that the bra acts as a sling for the breasts - the phrase "Over The Shoulder Boulder Holder" comes to mind - which would have all of the weight of the bosom resting entirely on the shoulders, and which in practice creates numerous problems for the wearer, including but not limited to: irritating or painful underwires, skin irritation from the fabric rubbing, unsightly red marks that may also be painful, permanent grooves where the straps rest, poor posture, headaches, fatigue or muscle fatigue, indigestion, breast pain, shoulder pain, and even chronic back pain. [1] There is also some evidence that women seeking breast reduction surgery may instead simply need a properly fitting bra.[2][3]

See AlsoEdit

The Bra Band Project


Venusian Glow

Staniko Mania (in Polish)

Maheda (many articles are only available in Polish)

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