12 Common Bra Fit Problems & Solutions

You did as much research as you could and finally took the plunge to order new bras – but you’re still having bra fit problems.

No need to worry! This troubleshooting guide lists 12 bra problems and solutions, and recommends products for a better fit. We are passionate about getting you closer to your dream bra! 

1. Underwire digs in at the center gore

If the bra otherwise fits well, the reason is the underwire is too hard and rigid. A softer underwire will help (anything in our FlexWire collection).

If the center gore hurts because it’s too tall for you, try a bra with a shorter center gore (here are our bras with short center gores). If the cup gaps on top, the gore pokes because the cup size is too big. Switching to a smaller cup size will make the center gore less painful.

Bra underwire digs in at the center gore

2. The cup wrinkles at the top

If you are shallow-on-top (when you lift your breasts with your hands, most of the weight is below the nipple), you have most likely experienced a bra wrinkling at the top, near the straps.

Bra cup too big but band fits? Go down a cup size. Bra cup too tall, just need “less bra” on top? Choose bras with less front coverage.

Bra cup wrinkles at the top

3. The underwire digs into your armpit

If the bra otherwise fits well, but the underwire pokes your armpit, the underwire is too tall on the sides. This tends to happen to people under 5’2 or people with shorter torsos. Switching to a bra with a wire that comes up shorter on the sides will fix the problem (check out bras with shorter underwires). 

Bra underwire digs into your armpit

4. The underwire digs into your back

If the bra otherwise fits well, but the underwire hurts because it’s reaching all the way to your back, the underwire is too wide. Switch to a bra with a narrow underwire (check out our bras with narrow to regular underwires). 

Note: points 1, 3, and 4 cover underwire discomfort. The solutions to the bra fitting problems above assume you want to stick with underwire bras. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of lift, consider a wireless bra. 

Bra underwire digs into your back

5. The cup gaps/wrinkles above the wire

This is when there is excess space between the wire and the bottom of your breasts. First, make sure you scoop and swoop. If that doesn’t fix the issue, you will need a bra that has more projection at the wire, and an underwire that is more open and flat at the bottom. Unlined bras (made only with fabric, no foam or padding) tend to be more friendly to more projected breasts. Our wide underwire bras all have underwires that are open and flat at the bottom. 

Note: points 1, 3, and 4 cover underwire discomfort. The solutions to the bra fitting problems above assume you want to stick with underwire bras. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of lift, consider a wireless bra. 

Bra cup gaps/wrinkles above the wire

6. Overflow from bottom

Bottom overflow is usually due to the band being too loose. A properly fitted band shouldn’t let any breast tissue “escape.” If the bra otherwise fits well, choose a smaller band and larger cup (e.g. 36D to 34DD) to avoid an overflowing bra. 

Bra Overflow from bottom

7. The underwire is sitting on your breast tissue

If the underwire hurts on the sides because it’s sitting on your breast tissue, and there is wrinkling above the wire, this is a sign that the underwire is too narrow. To fix this bra fit problem, try a bra with a wider, more open underwire (check out our bras with wider underwires). Alternatively, try a wireless bra (check out our wireless bras). 

Another reason for the underwire sitting on your breast tissue is the underwire being too short. If the underwire is too low on the sides, and your breast tissue overflows and sits on top of the underwire tip, it can be painful. Here are our bras with regular to tall underwires. 

Bra underwire is sitting on your breast tissue

8. The cup gaps on top

Tighten your shoulder straps and do the scoop and swoop. If the bra continues to gap on top, it could be 2 reasons: 1. the cup is too big, and 2. the cup is too tall. If the cup is too big, cup sizing down will fix the issue. If the cup is too tall, cup sizing down will make the underwire and bottom portion of the cup feel too small. 

People with wide and tall roots + less than average projection tend to struggle with top-gapping. If you’ve tried a few sizes of the same bra and all gap, choose a shallow bra instead. Molded cup bras tend to be shallow in the cups, as well as some styles specifically designed for “plate” shaped breasts. 

Bra cup gaps on top

9. Center gore doesn’t lie flat

If this bra problem tends to happen to you, choose “Firm Fit” when using our size calculator. If you are already wearing the “Firm Fit” size, try a smaller band and larger cup. 

If you don’t have any room between your breasts, choose a bra with a low center gore (check out our bras with lower center gores). 

Bra center gore doesn’t lie flat

10. Band rides up in the back

The bra band does most of the support work (not the straps! The straps are mostly there to keep things in place). When your bra band creeps up your back, and the whole bra “see-saws,” this is usually because the band is too loose. Choose “Firm Fit” when using our size calculator. If you are already wearing the “Firm Fit” size, try a smaller band and larger cup. 

Bra band rides up in the back

11. Overflow on top

Top overflow (also known as “quadboob”) typically happens when the cups are too small. Try a larger cup size. 

Full-on-top shapes (when you hold your breasts up with your hands, most of the breast tissue is above the nipple) tend to struggle with top overflow. If you’ve tried the same bra in several neighboring sizes, but you always overflow, you need a bra that’s FOT-friendly.  

When you go up a cup size, the top doesn’t overflow anymore. But the bottom and sides are empty. This means the original bra was likely the right size, but wasn’t projected enough for you. If you were wearing molded cup bras before, switch to a cut-and-sewn (ideally unlined) bra. We recommend Zoe or Salma, in the original size. 

Breast overflow on top

12. Shoulder straps dig in and cause pain

When your shoulder straps dig in, it can cause pain in your shoulders, back, and neck. Most of the support work should be done by the bra band, not the straps. 

Wearing a smaller band size and larger cup size can shift more of the support work to the band, instead of putting it on the shoulder straps. Choose “Firm Fit” when using our size calculator. If you are already wearing the “Firm Fit” size, sister size down. 

Don’t just tighten the straps for more support! If the band is loose, only tightening the straps without changing sizes will cause the shoulder straps to dig. 

Bras with wider shoulder straps and more back coverage (such as Eva, Amber, and Noelle) can also help with digging straps. The wider the straps, the more spread out the weight distribution. 

Shoulder straps dig in and cause pain

Frequently Asked Questions about Bra Fitting Problems

1. Is it bad to wear the wrong bra size?

If your bra is too tight or loose, it won’t be providing the support you need, especially for those with larger busts. A bra that doesn’t properly fit most likely feels uncomfortable. If you need help finding your correct size, use our Size Calculator. 

2. Can wearing a tight bra cause breathing problems?

A bra that’s too tight can feel suffocating. With that said, some people find it easier to breathe with a snug, yet supportive bra on. It relieves them of the weight of their breasts. Ultimately, wear what works for you and your body.  

If you deal with fluid build-up in your lungs or sensory issues, a tight bra may not work for you. 

3. Are all underwire bras painful?

We get it. Sometimes, underwire sucks, but it doesn’t have to! Check out our signature FlexWire bras. Less rigid than traditional underwire, our FlexWire is bendy and comfortable. It forms to your shape and moves with you. Since we know that bigger breasts need more support, the bigger the band or cup size, the more rigid the underwire. 

4. How do I find the right bra size?

You can easily find your bra size by using our Size Calculator. Simply input your measurements, breast fullness, and bra fit preference. The right bra size is the one that you feel the most comfortable and supported in.

5. The bra fit problems I’m having aren’t on this list. What should I do?

Book a virtual fitting with one of our fitting specialists and we’ll help you out! 

6. I’m not sure what bra styles fit me. What do I do?

Take our Style Quiz or chat with one of our fitting specialists! If you don’t know your bra size, use our Size Calculator. 

If you’re interested in learning more about different breast and bra shapes, read Branatomy. We wish you the best of luck in finding that forever bra! 

4 thoughts on “12 Common Bra Fit Problems & Solutions”

  1. I recently received my first orders of your bras. According to the calculator I was either 34J or 36I (34 – 45 – 43). I ordered a variety in both sizes.
    First impression was that I loved the products, very good quality and far exceeded my expectations.
    Upon trying on I found the 34 band sizes in some of the styles to be a little tight and have returned some of them.
    I haven’t worn all of my bras yet, the 36 band sizes fit better but I’m having the following issues:
    Sidney 36 H – I wish this came in a higher cup size because I like the smooth fabric, I have a slight quad boob on the left side because that breast is larger, but it’s not so noticeable. I do find the wire digs in halfway around my back and the cup extends quite far up into my armpit. Also, the underwire really digs into my rib cage under the breasts.

    Quinn – 34J – I also tried this in 36I but the cup was way too big. The 34 is a snug fitting band but I love that everything is contained! I still have the underwire digging into my underarm and rib cage though.

    Salma – 36I – Cup seems to fit well and I’m contained, however the underwire continues to dig into my rib cage.

    I’ve yet to wear my Ivy – 36I and Harper 36H but I loved the full coverage of Ivy and the sexy look of Harper when I tried them on.

    What are your suggestions for addressing the underwire issue for future purchases? Honestly, I can take a little discomfort for the amazing coverage I’m getting, and the great shaping without padding!! But if I could get the perfect fit I would love it.
    FYI – before I ordered from Understance, I went for a professional bra fitting at a specialty store, where I was measured at 34H, however from the selection they had 36J was the best fit. I spent over $300 on 2 bras, and I still have the band digging into my ribs!
    Would love to find a solution to this.
    I am 61 and have experienced fluctuations in weight over the last couple of years. When I gain weight, I it really affects my breast size.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Re: Quinn and Salma underwire digging, it seems like the underwire is potentially too wide. A lot of our “small band big cup” customers (28-34 H/I/J+) prefer a narrow underwire.

      Re: Sidney, it’s designed as a side boob coverage bra. It goes quite far into your tail of spence area, a different size likely won’t make it better. We apologize that it’s not available in your true size as well.

      We suspect that Ivy and Harper’s underwire will be the right width, but might be too shallow for you at 36I/36H.

      Our recommendation would be Anya in 36I. Anya is a North Americanized version of a Polish bra, known for their ultra narrowness and deep projection. If Salma is almost right but the underwire is too wide, and you could use a little more depth in the cups, Anya is a good option.

  2. Elizabeth Pavlakos

    ordered Salma and Zoe, first in 36 DD, TOO SMALL, THEN 36 DDD, still have double boob effect, any suggestions?

    1. Hi Elizabeth, could you let us know your 3 measurements (snug underbust, standing bust, leaning bust), your breast spacing (very side set, very center full, average), as well as your preferred fit (firm & lifting, or relaxed)? We can make some recommendations based on this information.

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