The Not So Perfect Bra

6 Sep

I have posted countless posts and videos and descriptions and examples of what to look for in an well fitting bra and what a poorly fitted bra looks like. But what about when you know your size, you know how to check if your bra fits and yet still your bras cause you trouble? Here are some common complaints that I hear and see frequently.

The Straps Dig In
Sometimes the bra can be a fabulous fit; the band snug, the cups perfect, the wires flat against the torso, and still the straps still dig into the shoulders. I know that personally my straps dig in because firstly I have fleshy shoulders and not much can be done about that. And secondly, the straps should take 20% of your breast weight and 20% of my breast weight is a hell of a lot! The best way to work out if your straps are doing too much work is to slide them off your shoulders and see if your bra still stays up. You may also want to check that they are tightened to a two finger tension, and if too tight just ease up a little. If they still dig in and cause no pain or discomfort then don’t worry too much.

Back FatWe all hate back fat! And sometimes it seems we can’t win – if the bra is too loose it rides up and pushes skin and fat down, it’s it’s too tight it digs in. The thing to remember, as hard as it is, is that you need the band to be firm to support your boobs. Real, fake, big, small, a firm band helps defy gravity for longer and causes less pain and discomfort. When the bra is on make sure to adjust the band into the right position, pull it flat and smooth it round as much as possible. If you are still left with back fat then try to find bras that have multiple hooks and eyes. Never ever be fooled into thinking that a looser band will lessen back fat as it won’t, and it will also give you even more problems!

Asymmetrical BoobsNo women has two identical boobs, and whilst some are lucky enough for it to be barely noticeable, many of us struggle slightly more to make our rack look even. A lot of bras from Ewa Michalak come with removable pads that can help fill out that slightly emptier bra cup. Even simple chicken fillets will work and make you feel happier when it comes to your bust. Don’t be put off by the fact that they are usually used to enhance a bust, I know many large breasted women that swear by them.

The Central Gore Doesn’t Lie Flat
The central gore refers to the two cup wires that meet in between the breasts. On a properly fitted bra the gore should lie flat. However, even when the cup size is spot on the gore can sometimes twist and not stay put in the middle of the chest. I find that a lot of Freya bras do this on me and I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not built for them. I often find that the gore is quite wide on the bras, and the material that covers the wires is rather thick which does not work well with my boobs which are pretty close set and full in the middle. Cheryl has the opposite boob shape to me – her breasts are fairly wide set and full on the bottom and Freya are her favourite brand and work very well for her shape. As with anything we sometimes have to search to find our perfect match.

The Wires Dig In Under The Arms I hear a lot of women complain about how they hate wired bras – and when pressed as to why they often admit that the wires poke them in their armpits and cause irritation. I personally find that my Ewa Michalak bras are notorious for doing that to me, something that I fixed by bending the wires outwards very slightly. If you try this and you still experience problems then maybe, as before, you may want to try a different bra/brand. I know that Panache bras have quite long wires, whilst Eveden bra wires are shorter. Yes, it can be a pain to discover that your bra is not so perfect after a day of wear, but hopefully bending the wires out will suffice with most bras.

The Straps Fall DownEarlier I talked about the straps cutting in – but what about those straps that just won’t stay put? A lot of bras are only half adjustable which means that slimmer shouldered women can really struggle. Sometimes that straps are simply too far apart and just won’t stay up. I would recommend moving or shortening the straps in both cases which I know is a pain, especially after shelling out a lot of money on a bra. Click here for more on this topic.

Do you find that your seemingly perfect bras have that one little bugbear? Is it something I have mentioned in this post or something entirely different? Let me know in the comments.

20 Responses to “The Not So Perfect Bra”

  1. Jessica Meloche September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    Guilty as charged, I’m infamous for the slipping bra straps. Probably due to my narrow shoulders, tightening hardly works.

  2. Elizabeth Ryland Prior September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I never really thought about breast shape in regards to central gore. Of course, upon reading that… it makes perfect sense. I’m so glad I read this. I have the same boob shape as you- close set and fuller in the middle and Freya bras fit me the exact same way.

  3. barbara September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    i liked Freya but i could never wear them after i passed a gg cup. the under-wires bend easy/are weak so i think big breast are just too heavy for them. im a 34j so it seems like smaller cupped and smaller backed women don’t have this problem with the center gore.

  4. sandra_nz September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I have a lot of problems with bra straps falling off – I’m not sure it’s so much that my shoulders are narrow, it’s more that they slope a lot.

    I’ve had a lot of success with silicone bra strap cushions. I find this also helps distribute the weight across a larger area of the shoulder, so it also helps with straps that dig in.

  5. astrid September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I can’t get Freya bras to work for me. I find the wires too weak and the center gore too wide. I haven’t given up on them completely and plan to try and alter the center gore on a larger band size next time…

  6. Jean September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    My boobs are asymmetrical (left is a cup size larger than the right) and in nearly all bras I’ve worn the central gore will not lie flat (my boobs are close set).

  7. Dando La Talla September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I always get back fat. That’s simply because I have a lot of fat in the back and it has to go somewhere!!

  8. Stacy September 6, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I get the straps digging in too. It just has to do with where the straps on some bras hit me., If they’re a slight bit wider out they sit on the bonier part of my shoulders, but if they’re just slightly narrower, they’re on the fleshy part. My Fantasie bras sit on the bones, the Curvy Kate and Freya are just slightly narrower on me and sit on the fleshier part. It’s not uncomfortable, so I don’t worry about it.

    Also, the Fantasie bra I’m wearing today has a center gore that twists and it makes me crazy even though the bra is perfectly wearable. It’s THIS bra though — I have one in the same size in another color and it is perfect. And Fantasie is one of the brands that actually fits me right because the gore is not too wide for me. My Cleo bra is too wide in the center (and has other issues besides)

    I also can’t wear Panache bras at all, they all stab me under the arms. Curvy Kate’s wide wings rub under my arms, but that breaks in even if it still leaves a line; it’s not a stabbing angry mark.

  9. Florellea September 8, 2012 at 12.53 #

    Interesting enough, the same Panache Cleo bra you have on the first photo does the same to me, digs into my shoulders. And I’m relatively small, 36E. I figured it might be because the straps are just too short. I have it set to maximum length (which I never have to do with any other bra), but it’s still simply too short. Also the part where the front fabric part of the strap meets the elastic on the back is dead set on the top of the shoulder, so it irritates the skin even more with the seam line. The bra gives me terrific shape though, so I still wear it.

    Other problems I get are – unflattering shape (Panache Tango plunge for example makes them look more saggy when they actually are). And another – boobs slipping out of some padded plunge bras that are actually right size. It’s like the lining fabric has no traction with the skin at all, or the shape of the cups is just wrong, or the cups are too far apart, I don’t know.

  10. lisa September 12, 2012 at 12.53 #

    This is a great post, thank you!!

    I’m still searching out my “best” bras, but I’ve been finding that Freya/Fantasie are working better for me than Panache. I dislike the high, stiff wires in Panache, but I know many, MANY women love their bras (and they are very lovely bras).

    My biggest thing is the straps digging in. I think years (decades) of wearing the wrong size bra caused these “divots”. My doc says it’s rubbing away of “fatty tissue” versus any real structural damage. The straps of ALL my bras tend to fall into these spots. When I move them outwards, they hurt.

    Even though I’m only 30H/32G, some days I just want a reduction, you know?

  11. Stacey September 14, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I loathe it when bra-straps slip down. I’ve found that my bust is quite up high on my chest, as in I don’t have much room between them and my neck. The width of my hand, basically. A new bra is fine, with half-adjustable straps, but a few washes and wears and they stretch, and that’s when they start falling. No narrow shoulders, just not as much space between them and where the boobs start as designers obviously expect me to have. Drives me mental! The gore too… I find too many bras want to push my boobs apart, whereas they naturally like to snuggle up to each other (lol).

  12. Raji October 11, 2012 at 12.53 #

    I also have sloping shoulders so straps just seem to slip off. I am having trouble finding the perfect bra post baby as shopping time is limited! The main trouble I have is the serious rubbing caused by the sides of the cups on my underarms. This is probably because I am quite short so my band to underarm distance is quite small! This is such a problem that I have discolouration of my skin caused by the rubbing there and really hate wearing anything that shows this off 😦

  13. Alison December 7, 2012 at 12.53 #

    What about red marks in the skin? Where the band is. Does that mean it’s too small? 32 bands I put on the tightest hook, 30 I sometimes have to really pull to close it and that’s when I get the red marks around the band and the underwire under the cups. On my un-moulded cup bra it’s sometimes red on my actual breasts where the fabric stops.

    • fullerfigurefullerbust December 10, 2012 at 12.53 #

      Do they fade after a bit? Or do they stay and hurt for a while?

    • Fiona December 14, 2012 at 12.53 #

      Red marks can just depend on your skin type, I’m fair and get them regardless of what bras I wear! The texture of the skin on my shoulders where my straps sit has permanently changed also, along with the divot that’s developed over the years.

      I’m personally a Freya fan, they are so comfy, but I find that I’m always on the tightest hook a wash or two after purchasing them.

      Yes, some days reduction seems like the perfect solution!

  14. kathlynn February 15, 2013 at 12.53 #

    tip to fix the “falling strap” use something to hook the straps together in the back, this also changes how the straps pull on the bra, so if you have a good fitting bra that gaps a little on the front this might pull it in (because a couple bras I own don’t pull the cup towards me at all) maybe some one knows why the people who design bra’s decided to have the straps so far out causing them to pull from the side, which is why they gap. if they were attached closer together they would pull the whole cup up a bit more evenly.

    • PirateFoxy April 3, 2013 at 12.53 #

      I am quite mystified at some bra designs and how far apart the straps fasten in at the BACK of the bra. Like, how do they stay up on anyone? I generally find I have broad shoulders compared to clothing and things of that nature, and some bras the straps are basically perched just WAITING to fall off.

      (On me, aside from bras that are just designed wrong for my shape, I think a lot of the strap slip issue is that I’m also pretty muscular, so my trapezius muscle – the sort of triangular one at the back of the neck – is fairly pronounced and wide, and it basically joins in and then there’s a wee tiny area for bra strap and then there’s the top of my arm/shoulder which of course moves around when I move my arm. So unless the strap hits me EXACTLY right or is pulled in towards the center in the back – the straps are fixed closer to the hooks, or it’s a racer back or cross back style, whatever – it’s just doomed to fall off, even though the skeletal structure of my shoulders is pretty angular.)

  15. LittleWing March 4, 2013 at 12.53 #

    Ugh bras! I am tired of women with smaller breasts saying “I wish I had big ones like you!” No, no you don’t. Lol. I have a very fun problem….the gore doesn’t sit flat and yet it would appear that the cups are too big as there is extra space even on my larger breast. So I’m thinking of going down one band size (might draw the gore closer) and down a cup size. Everywhere I read online says if the gore doesn’t sit against your skin, the cups are too small. If I go up a cup size, my boobs will be floating around inside! I already have dreaded cup pucker.


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