Why Are Bras so Uncomfortable?

Three Bra styles and a few reasons why women find them uncomfortable

Finding that perfect bra with a barely-there feel you can wear for hours is a daunting yet not impossible task. You may have drawers full of ill-fitting bras that you never want to attempt to wear ever again, but you shouldn’t stop looking for that perfect bra. There are quite a few reasons that you may hate your bra, which we go over in this post, with a few solutions to some of the most common irritants.

Most women wear bras because they need the support; part of the trade-off with getting that support is that features of the bra that provide the support might be what is making it feel unpleasant to wear. You can also run into things like straps slipping down, itchy tags, or tight bands cutting into your ribs that add to the discomfort. Whatever the reason, it is important to identify what is going wrong and figure out how to solve it. Let’s get started.

Ten Reasons Why You Hate Your Bra

1) You are Wearing the Wrong Size

If you are having trouble with feeling uncomfortable in your bra, the first thing you should do is check to make sure you are wearing the right size. You can do this at home by taking your measurements and using a bra size calculator.

If you aren’t sure if you have gotten the right measurements yourself, you may want to get yourself professionally fitted for a bra.  Yes, it is a bit of pain, possibly slightly embarrassing, but in the long run, it is worth it.

The other issue is that your bra size can change because of hormones, gaining or losing weight, and pregnancy, so it is important to measure your bra size every few years, either professionally or at home.

You will want to keep in mind that sizing can vary quite a bit between different brands and even between styles of the same brand. If you get into European sizing, that can be another whole issue that you need to navigate.

2) Not Enough Support

The number one reason that women wear bras is for support. Finding a bra that can provide the correct support for your size and shape is the next hurdle to getting that perfect fit. This is generally a problem for women with larger busts, but you want to get the right support regardless of your size.

Oddly enough, one of the things you want to pay attention to when you are looking for support is the band that runs around the ribcage, also known as the underband. The reason it is important is that it provides most of the support for the breasts. Most women think the cups or the straps are what you should concentrate on when looking for support, but getting a strong stretchy band that is comfy and supports your breasts properly is key.

The way to tell that you have a good fit on the band is by placing two fingers under it. If you can’t get the fingers under the band, it is too tight. If there is lots of space to spare, then the band is too loose. You can also position the bra without using the straps and make sure the cups and the band stay in place.

3) Your Bra is Too Small

Too tight bras can lead to a whole whack of issues as far as comfort goes. The obvious issues are pressure on the ribcage and straps digging in. Less obvious problems include pressure on the nerves and muscles around the shoulders, and upper back, which can cause pain and headaches. The other things to watch out for with bras that are too tight are bruises or cuts on the skin from hooks, straps, or pressure points on the fabrics.

You will know the cup size is too small if your breasts are spilling out over the top of the sides of the cups. The band size is too small if it is digging into your ribs.

4) Your Bra is too Big

Bras that are too loose and cups that are too big can also cause issues in far as comfort goes. It can to you hunching or sitting in an awkward position to compensate for the cups being filled properly that can result in neck or back pain.

To check you have the right cup size make sure your breasts are not creeping out over the top or the sides of the cup.

5) The Straps are Too Tight

If a bra feels loose or unsupportive, many women will tighten the shoulder straps, leading to painful shoulders and problems with your neck that you may not even realize are a result of your bra straps.

The most common mistake women make with bras is assuming that the straps are the most important feature for support.  As mentioned above, the support comes not from the straps but rather from the band. The straps are merely there to hold the cups in place.

If the bra isn’t supportive enough, the straps will dig into your back and cause neck and shoulder pain issues. If you have to tighten the straps to support your breasts, the band is too loose, or you may need a smaller cup size.

6) The Underwire is Digging in

If you are wearing an underwired style and it is digging into your skin or ribs, then you are wearing the wrong bra. Underwires should gently cup and support the breasts and sit comfortably on the ribcage. If you find the underwire is digging into your breast tissue, you should stop wearing it immediately and replace it.  You will also want to replace underwire styles where the wire has come loose since they can be sharp and break the skin.

7) You are Wearing the Wrong Style for your Body Type

When shopping for a bra, you must get the right bra style for your breast shape and body type. Choosing the right style is pretty important as far as comfort goes. The other thing you need to remember is that there is a huge variety of breast shapes, so what works for one person may not work for someone else since many factors go into finding that perfect fit.

Large Busts:

If you have a large bust and are looking for a lot of support, underwire styles with thick bands are a good place to start. You may also want to look for multi-part cups that are made from two sections of fabric seamed together. The other styles of bras that may be worth a look at are minimizer or full coverage.

Small Bust – Padded bras are great for giving women with small breasts a different look.  Bralettes are super popular and are perfect for smaller cup sizes since they don’t offer a lot of support and are often unlined, and don’t have molded cups. What is interesting about them (apart from them being really cute) is they have a great reputation for being comfortable.

Wide breasts- If your breasts are wide and want to change the look, you may want to consider a minimizer bra since they tend to have a wider shape and shallower cup than regular styles that can provide a smaller look under clothes.

Fuller Busts: Fuller busts can benefit from underwire or full coverage bras. These types are great everyday styles if you have a full bust since they can help provide a good level of support.

8) You Aren’t Wearing a Sports Bra When You Should Be

The topic of uncomfortable sports bras is worthy of another post. But for this post, if you are doing any physical activity and are finding your bra to be uncomfortable, you will want to make sure that

A) You are wearing a supportive sports bra

B) You are wearing a sports bra that will have enough support for the level of activity you are doing (different sports bras have different levels of support)

C) that you are wearing the right type of sports bra.

The other thing to be aware of with sports bras is they will lose elasticity with wash and wear, so they may need to be replaced more frequently than regular styles.

9) You Are Choosing Appearance over Comfort

For a lot of women, underwear is supposed to be sexy and make you look good. This is perfectly fine, and if that is your thing, but some designs of bras just aren’t going to be comfortable because the point of the bra is to look sexy. Things like lace detailing and sheer itchy fabric can look fantastic but feel terrible to wear.

10) Your Bra Needs to Be Replaced

Just like everything, bras eventually wear out and need to be replaced. There is no set time for how long a particular bra will last because it depends on a lot of different factors like size, amount of usage, how well they are taken care of. Some experts say a general guideline could be a year with frequent usage, but the better indicator of when a bra needs to be replaced is if the band gets stretched out or you notice any fraying or wear on the fabric.

Final Thoughts

Those are a few of the reasons you may hate your bra. If you are still having trouble finding that perfect style, try on as many bras as you can stand, keeping size and fit in mind as much as possible. Eventually, you will find what works for you. Hopefully, you find that perfect bra that you will love to put on every day. Good luck!




Molly London