Bra Fit Problems – Bust Shape and Wires

January 21, 2013

Bra fitting isn’t just about establishing cup and band size.  Oh no.  With so many manufacturers, bra styles and varying fabrics, it would be impossible to fit into every single bra just based upon measurement alone.  In fact, fitting into a bra properly can mean a completely different size for exactly the same reasons and you may find in one particular style you require a larger cup than others.

Panache’s Bra Fit Challenge campaign

It can sound condescendingly obvious but it’s important to remember that every person and every boob is different, even your left is unique from your right which means even though a certain bra may be perfect for someone, it can be the bra from hell for you.  Boobs are three dimensional pesky things to fit, but we love them and every boob deserves a comfortable and supportive bra.

I won’t babble on about the different shapes boobs ‘come in’ as there’s really good blogs out there which have already covered this area.  What I do want to do, however, is talk about my own shape, the problems I experience with fitting; how I overcome them or what I avoid.

My Build
Being 5’8″ tall and an hour glass figured size 12, I’m not petite nor am I skinny, but I’m slightly built with sloping shoulders, a little back fat and a boney ribcage.

My Boob Stats
My rib cage measures 29 inches and I wear 28 bands most often, other times a 30 band.  My bust is 39 inches, and I wear between GG and H cups.  My boobs are very close together.

My Close Set Bust

If it’s not bad enough that I wear irregular sizes (as in typical highstreet store sizes) I have a close-set bust to think about.  I regularly struggle with centre gores and where the front of the underwires decide to finish.

Centre Gore Height
I do love to wear balcony bras but this often places me in a fit quandary.  Balcony bras are generally good for structured support that keeps boobs in place and provides a lifted cleavage shelf.  I have been finding that the exact place where the centre gore is situated is the deciding factor whether my boobs will sit in the cups naturally.  The higher the underwires finish at the front, the more likely the bra will fit okay.

A few mms lower, yet still balcony, and the underwires can finish in the wrong place: right on top of my boob curvature and the underwires are forced to fit where they are.  With movement and time, they shift; one dug into the centre and the other sitting atop my boob.  An extremely uncomfortable fit.

For this reason I prefer to wear plunge bras, because then where the underwire finishes it is pretty low, generally below the curves of my boobs.  As my boobs are already close I don’t have unnatural roll together; they sit in a way that’s normal.

How my Masquerade Rosa plunge fits

Centre Gore Width
The centre gore doesn’t always measure the same on different bras, some are wider and more definitively set apart while others the centre is more narrow, allowing the bust to sit closer.  Depending on how far apart or close your boobs are, you may get on better with one type over the other.

This bra’s cups are too far apart for comfort

As my boobs are close together I find they don’t appreciate being forced into polar directions.  When they are moved into a separated position they can look odd and in turn force the inner parts of the underwires to go places they shouldn’t.  This can mean a simple solution, however.  To bring far apart cups closer together I nip them in and sew a few stitches at the front meeting underwires to permanently reduce the width.  Bras I Hate & Love often reconfigures her bras to fit perfectly because of these same problems.

Underwires – Curvature
Caroline at Curvy Wordy let me into a little secret and immediately solved my dilemma.  Underwires can be a nightmare, particularly when they’re big cup sizes on small bands, and I’ve long experienced painful pressure points at the outer edges of my bras, where the underwires curve round.  I had no idea that the simple solution would just involve physically bending the wire into a 3D curved angle, like a banana.  By doing this to my otherwise flat shaped bras, I’ve made them more mirrored to the natural curving shape of the body.

A red sore from a pressing underwire

Underwires – Breadth
Some brands are more notorious than others for wide shaped underwires.  This is often down to softer underwires which stretch as a bra is fastened onto the body, but other times the wires are intended that way because of wide set or fuller on bottom boobs which may need more breadth.  This doesn’t bother me as much as other problems but it can still be irritating.  In this instance I just bend the underwire back slightly so it’s not disappearing into my armpits so much.

Underwires – Height
Sometimes I’ll try on a bra that makes me feel swamped purely because the outer underwires decide to sit so highly into my armpits.  This tends to happen when I need to size up in the cup or if it’s a high balcony that remains high at the outer edge.  Some bras also have plastic boning on the wings for added support.  I can not wear bras like this, irrelevant of a good fit for my boobs.  An underwire that finishes too high will dig in and leave you sore, so I steer clear of high wires.

Badly fitting bra and too high boning

So these are the immediate problems that come to my mind when I try on bras.  You quickly realise that  bra fitting is a lot more complicated than simply equating numbers, which is why the simple bra sizing method of ‘plus zero’ is the more realistic approach to the antiquated ‘plus four’.  Read what I had to say about it here.

What problems do you encounter when fitting for bras?  Do you experience the same issues as I do or are there more scenarios which drive you away from certain styles?

Becky x


  1. Jessica Marie

    January 21, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Great post! I run into similar problems as you do as I’m very close set as well – you’re making me consider trying out more plunge styles! I am quite full on top, though, so a lot of bras cut in on top yet have extra space at the bottom (so the overall volume is alright, just not the shape/cut. If I go up the next cup size, the wires wrap around almost to my back and that side panel of boning actually sits on my back – I’ve mostly got this from Freya bras. So far, the best fits I’ve found are the Cleo Marcie and Lucy (with altered centre gore).

  2. Becky Boudoir

    January 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Jessica, thanks very much! Yes, we sound very alike with our problems. That can be the problem with upsizing too, you end up having to put up with wires too far round.

    I did the same with my Lucy too! I’ve got Marcie but I’m in limbo with it at the moment. It seems to be too mid way and manages to dig in so I’m not sure what needs to be done with that. Gutted because I really want to wear it!

    Becky x

  3. lingerieandlibraries

    January 22, 2013 at 4:00 am

    I like plastic boning on the wings because I find the support is greater and the band is less likely to ride up but I like said boning to be short. I am only 5′ so wires, boning, and gores all have to be kinda low, or else it rubs/pinches. It’s one reason why I tend to stay away from Panache, at least the older styles.

  4. Becky Boudoir

    January 24, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Hi! Yes, plastic boning is a good factor on a large cup bra, I just don’t understand how some get it wrong and make them over big.

    Becky x

  5. Callie the collie

    February 12, 2013 at 5:48 am

    I really hate plastic boning. I have removed them from each of my Freyas & Triumph Amourettes with a seam-ripper. Te increase in comfort is instant. I also bend the wires slightly outward at the tops to keep them from digging under the arm, which solves it quite nicely. I’ve seen this shape issue referred to as a ‘wide root’ on bratabase; there is a slight flare between my side boob & shoulder blade. I only wish I was as handy as bras I hate, as I’d love to try her alteration for giving a pointy Freya a rounder Panache shape.

  6. Becky Boudoir

    February 13, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Hi! It’s so frustrating when minor niggles can be solved so simply when if they didn’t exist in the first place we’d be much happier! I don’t understand why some bras have this boning. I agree with you about Bras I Hate, she can fix just about any bra, can’t she? 🙂

    Becky x

  7. Cassie Hargett

    December 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Hi all! I don’t know if anyone has the same problem with me but when I wear balconette bras, I tend to go for smaller band sizes. And when I go for those minimizers, larger cup sizes means more comfort for me. I’m a 28C. I did my own research and as what your article said band size and cup size might not prove effective when you’re wearing different types of bras.

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