Size Matters – Are You Wearing the Wrong Bra Size?

Are you among the four out of five women wearing the wrong bra size?

When it comes to buying a new bra, the perfect fit should always be at the forefront of your mind – wearing an ill-fitting bra can lead to a multitude of health problems As bra specialists ourselves we are well versed in the importance of wearing the correct sized bra and the perils that can arise from not doing so.

1. If your bra is too tight this can create tension in your back, neck and shoulders which can cause headaches. If your bra is not providing sufficient support and it's leading you to bend forward to compensate, your trapezius (or upper back) region over stretches and this can also cause headaches.

2. If your bra is too tight the shoulder straps can dig in leaving red marks on your skin. If your bra is too big and you start tightening the straps to lift your boobs, this can also cause unnecessary red marks on your shoulders.

3. If the band of your bra is too loose, your shoulders will carry most of the weight which can cause back and neck problems. Osteopath Jon Morton Bell explains how 'ladies have to do a balancing act with gravity'.Breasts need to be supported through the lumber (or lower back) however an ill fitting bra can mean your rib cage can take a lot of the strain which can cause a curved back over time.

4. A bra that's too large for you won't give you the support you need which can lead to irreversible damage to your breast ligaments which can cause sagging.

5. If your bra is far too tight, over time this can lead to scarring underneath your breasts where the bra has dug into your skin.

6. It may be hard to believe but wearing a bra that's too tight and digs into your ribs can cause indigestion and stomach pain.

It's true that underwired bras have been linked to breast pain, allergies and even mastitis due to the metal coming into direct contact with the skin, however this is only likely to happen as the bra begins to wear out and the material covering the wire begins to thin.

In the book 'Dressed to Kill', Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismajer claim that, as underwired bras fit tightly around your breasts, the pressure created constricts the lymphatic vessels and prevents proper draining of the breast tissue which can lead to an accumulation of fluid.Some people have made claims that this problem can even lead to breast cancer – however there are no studies that prove this theory. Cancer UK say that a bra would have to be 'unbearably tight' for this to possibly occur, the organisation also states that applying pressure to cells does not make them cancerous.

There are several indicators that show you're wearing the wrong size bra, in many circumstances you may simply need to go down a cup size or up a band size. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying on a new bra, or just as importantly, the bras you currently have in your collection:

  • Is your bra pinching, pulling or sagging in any places?
  • Are your breasts spilling out of the cups?
  • Does the centre of the bra fit perfectly between your breasts?
  • Is your bra riding up at the back? The back of your bra should be level with the underwire
  • Is your bra uncomfortable or causing you pain?
  • Is there a gap between your boobs and your bra? The fabric should fit flush against your skin.

If you've answered yes to any of the questions above then your bra does not fit you correctly and the chances are you're wearing the wrong bra size. It's important to remember that, just like jeans, sizes can differ between brands of lingerie and it can be tricky to know what size you should try next.

However, there's something bra manufacturers refer to as the 'Cross Grading System' which, once you know how it works, it's easy to use as a rule of thumb when bra shopping.

The back and cup size you choose are linked to the grading system shown above. The basic rule to remember is that if you need to go down a size in the band you'll need to go up a size in the cup. For example if you're a 34D and you find the band is too loose we would recommend you try a 32DD. Alternatively if the band is too tight, try a 36C.

For even more information on finding that perfect fit, check out our fitting guide for more advice.

Although it can sometimes feel like an impossible task to find that perfect fitting bra, there are a limitless number of positives to wearing the correct sized bra. When you find that faultless bra it will lift your bust and improve your posture, making you look slimmer and your waist appear smaller. A fab fitting bra won't dig in and cause lumps and bumps, therefore you'll notice your figure is more streamlined and your clothes look and feel better.

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