The Band Test
The back and front of your bra band should be level and parallel to the floor when you look at yourself from the side in a mirror. If the band is too tight, digs into your flesh or is just plain uncomfortable, it’s too small. Signs that your band size is too big include breasts falling out from the bottom of your bra and your bra back riding up. A correctly sized band will fit firmly around you and not ride up in the back.
A new bra should be able to pass this test with the clasp on the loosest fitting – this allows you to tighten the bra as it stretches with wear and washing. Try to avoid buying a bra where the best fit is the bra’s tightest setting. Try and buy a new bra fits on its loosest fastening position.
The Cup Test
Your bra cups should be large enough to prevent breast tissue from bulging or spilling out over the neckline or armhole edges. You’ll know if your bra cups are too large if they have wrinkling, or are clearly larger than both of your breasts.
After fastening yourself into your bra, raise your arms. Does any breast tissue fall out from under the bottom of your cup? Does your bra slide up your body? If so, your cup may be too small and/or your bra band may be too big. You need to tweak your bra sizing because you are still not in the right bra size. Your correct size bra should stay put and have no movement when you are lifting your arms.
When your breasts are in their cups and hoisted to where they should be, your bra cup apex should be half way between the top of your shoulder and your elbow. If lower than this, your band is probably too large and thus not giving your breasts enough support. And, if you are D cup and larger, the bra style could be wrong and you need a bra with seams in the cup for more breast support.
The Stoop, Swoop & Scoop Test
To know if you have the right size bra, you need to be sure you are “in” your bra. This is especially important for D cup sizes and larger
Here’s what you need to do:
1.) Stoop or lean forward from the waist and let your breasts drop into the cups
2.) Swoop – with the opposite hand, you gently bring your breast tissue forward from under your arms to make sure all your breast tissue is in your bra’s cups.
3.) Scoop your breast tissue up and into the underwire from under your bra band
Now, stand up straight. You might see some “fluffing” or a little breast tissue overflow on top of the cups and between your breasts. With each of your pointing fingers, start in the center and run them along the top edges of your cups. This usually gets rid of this bit of overflow. If it doesn’t and you still have breast spillage, you need to go up one or maybe even 2 more cup sizes. If your bra style is a balconette or demi style, this might not be the right style if you don’t like your look.
Your breasts have a natural “crease line” where the underwire should fit comfortably against your ribcage.
1. Put on your bra properly, then assess your underwires.
• Underwire diameter is too small – The underarm end is poking breast tissue, or catches your arm as it moves forward. You need a larger cup size.
• Underwire diameter is too large – The underarm end is poking into your armpit. You need a smaller cup size or a bra with shorter underwires.
2. Assess your underwires in the middle of your chest
• Underwires are tilting forward and away from your chest – This is usually a sign that you need a larger cup size. But, this could also be caused by having touching breasts or splayed breasts. For a more detailed discussion about this, please refer to our Breast Separation Section.
3. The underwires in the middle of your chest should be resting comfortably against your sternum. The one exception to this would be a minimizer style bra.
• Underwires are coming up too high in the center – If so, chances are you are short waisted or petite in height. You would be better served with a demi or balconnete brastyle which tends to have shorter underwires.
The diameter of your underwire is too small if the underarm end is poking breast tissue, or catches your arm as it moves forward. The diameter of your underwire is too large if the underarm end is poking into your armpit. The best underwire for you is one that encircles your breast, giving you a more rounded and defined look. Women short in stature find that some underwires poke them under their arms because the wires are simply too tall for their body frame. One solution is to select demi cup bras – the wires are shorter and thus will not poke.
The best underwire for you will be one that encircles your breast and gives you a more rounded and defined look. Women short in stature find that some underwires poke them under their arms because the wires are simply too tall for their body frame. One solution is to select demi cup bras – the wires are shorter and thus will not poke.
Center Panel Test
It’s best if the center panel between the cups of your bra sits firmly against your chest (sternum). However, there are some exceptions.
1) Women with full touching breasts may not be able to achieve a center panel touching their sternum.
2) The center panel of Wire-free (soft cup) bras may also not sit quite as firmly against your chest because these wire-free bras don’t have the benefit of wires to help tack at the sternum.
3) Minimizer bras many times do not touch at your sternum. Many times minimizer bras are designed without center panels, and their main purpose is to reduce breast projection. So, they could be pushing your breast tissue together in the center thus not allowing tacking at the sternum. And, this is fine.
Bra Strap Test
Shoulder straps on a bra should rest flat on your shoulders. They shouldn’t cause dents or fall off your shoulders. Shoulder straps are designed to carry minimal breast weight (10% or less). If your shoulders have dents from your straps, then your straps are working too hard – you probably need a smaller band size to give your bra more support.
Other reasons your straps could be slipping:
• The placement of the straps on your bra may be too wide. Wide-set straps are a popular look right now and are common on push-up bras due to the fact that wide-set straps tend to spill breast tissue inward to maximize cleavage. If you’re wearing push up bras and are having this problem, you need to find a push-up bra style with straps attached to the top of the cups – rather than it’s sides.
• You have shallow upper breast tissue so there is not enough tissue to fill out the top of your cup.
This can cause your straps to slide down your shoulders. Putting breast enhancers in the bottom of your cup can move your breast tissue up and fill this void. Your straps should stop slipping off your shoulders.
• The straps are sewn too far apart on the back of your bra for your shoulders.
Look for bras where the straps are sewn closer together in the back. Also, if you are using a bra extender to increase your band size, you are also moving your straps further apart in back as well. This is exacerbating you’re your bra strap slippage.
• Your bra straps are attached to a ring in front and/or back.
This ring allows the strap to swivel and could cause the strap to fall off your shoulder. Avoiding this feature should solve your strap slippage issues.
When trying on a new bra, it should feel snug on the first row of eyes. If the bra feels too loose, consider going down a band size (and up a cup size if you feel the cup size is correct.)
Put on your new bra, then sit. Is it still comfortable? Sitting tends to give you a wider band size, and if you have a bit of a tummy, you will find this tummy moving up your torso once you sit down. If your bra is uncomfortable sitting, look for a bra style where there is an arched center panel – this gives the top of your tummy more room – or a bra style without an under-band.
Next, while sitting, lean forward. Does your bra gap in the cups? If yes, this bra style probably has too much cup coverage for you. A better choice could be a bra with smaller cup coverage.
Jump Up & Down Test
This test is particularly great for the women with larger cup sizes. Hop up and down a few times while wearing your new bra. Do your girls stay in their cups? If yes, you’ve got a winner. If your breasts start bouncing like crazy and seem to be coming out of your cups, you’ve probably got a band size too large. If you get a lot of flesh wiggle along the top of your bra cups, your cup size could be too small. But, keep in mind that unless your bra is a sports bra, there will be some movement – just shouldn’t be so much that you feel pain on your breast’s down swing. And, if you are trying this test while wearing a demi, balconette or plunge bra, all bets are off – these styles don’t promise to keep you contained if hopping.
Sports Bras – If you’re looking for a high impact sports bra, this jump test is a must. In fact 10 jumping jacks in a sports bra is a quick test of its support.