A bra should be your best friend. A quality, well-fitted one has the power to transform your breasts for the better, lifting and enhancing them while changing the way clothes gloss over your curves. But, even so, there are many women who are not letting their brassiere do the work of a good boob job. If you’re unsure if your undergarments are working in your favor, a professional bra fitting can do a world of good for you and the girls. But, in the meantime, here are five telltale signs your bra is too small.
1. Your cups runneth over
If your breasts are brimming over the top, sides, or bottoms of the bra cups, then it likely means you’re wearing a size too small. The cup should hold your entire breast without creating a “quad-boob” effect. A uniboob is also common with cups that are too small or tight as they push the two breasts together. To avoid the muffin top up top, you often just need to increase your cup size by one letter. This is no time for vanity sizing and squeezing into the cup size you think you should be. No one knows what letter you’re wearing, anyway.
Bra expert Kay-Lin Richardson tells Cosmopolitan it’s a good idea to bring a T-shirt to try on bras. “They might think a bra looks great, but then they put a T-shirt on over the top and realize it actually isn’t giving them the shape they want. Or they might feel so-so about a bra and then put the T-shirt on and realize it’s perfect.” A fitted tee is also a great way to test if you have even a mini quad-boob moment happening.
2. You’re battling the bulge
The opposite of slippage, a too-small bra can cause some unnecessary back fat to emerge. But, it can also create an uncomfortable digging sensation in your back that makes you more than ready to fling off your bra by the time the noon hour hits. Try one bra size up. But, remember that the cup size is related to the band size. “If you try a larger band size, you will have to go down a size in the cup as well,” says Linda “The Bra Lady” Becker. “For example, if you are wearing size 34C and the band is too small, you should try size 36B. If you are already an A cup, but need to go up to a bigger band size, try a AA bra.”
One caveat to remember: Sometimes a properly fitting band will create a bit of back fat no matter what. Rather than buying a larger band size and sacrificing fit and support, find a bra with a wider band in the back for a smoothing effect.
3. Your wires are crossed
If your underwire is sitting away from your chest wall, it means your cups (and your bra) are too small. The wire should fit snugly against the chest without any gaping, even when you lift your arms overhead. The problem likely lies with the fit of the band underneath the cups. A correctly fitted band will allow you to raise your arms without the underwire levitating. And because a bra’s support starts and ends with the band, it’s imperative yours isn’t too small.
4. You’re feeling the pain
If a bra is actually inflicting discomfort when you wear it, then it could be a sizing issue. Odd pressure in the area where the cups meet, along the curve of the underwire, or under the armpit can all indicate that your bra is too small — or that it is simply the wrong style for you and your body shape.
5. Your band is not marching straight
If the band on your bra isn’t staying in line and is riding up on your back toward the shoulder blades, it may be too small. The band should be horizontal. The solution to this problem might be more simple than you think, though. The culprit could be that you’re just adjusting your bra straps too tightly, creating the effect of the bra being too small and forcing the band to ride up. Remember: Your support should come from the bra band, not the straps.