You’ve gained or lost weight
“If your body has changed, it’s time to get yourself fitted for a new bra,” says Iris Clarke, a bra designer, fit specialist, and owner of Iris Lingerie in Brooklyn, New York. Whether you’ve gained or lost a few pounds, been pregnant, or are going through menopause, changes in your body usually means changes in the shape or size of your breasts, even if you don’t notice them. Make sure you get a bra that accurately fits the body you have. (Related: Here are 11 common bra mistakes you make, and how to fix them.)
Your bra has stretched
How can you tell your bra is stretched out? Check the band and straps, Clarke says. If the band is riding up your back and you find yourself adjusting the straps tighter and tighter every time you wear it, your bra is losing its shape and structure, and it’s time to replace it. Don’t miss the things your breasts won't tell you—including how to keep them healthy and cancer-free.
Your bra is worn out
A high-quality bra can last years—if you take good care of it. That means rotating the bras you use, always washing them by hand, and letting them air dry. (Get the full scoop on how to wash delicate lingerie.) Once the foam inside the cup starts to wrinkle or elastic starts to show, it’s done.
The straps are bugging you
“Straps play a big role in lifting and supporting your breasts,” Clarke says. So it’s essential that they’re the correct length. Your bra straps shouldn’t be falling off your shoulder, nor should they be digging into your skin and leaving marks. And if you’re wearing them on either the loosest and tightest settings possible, they don’t fit you. Clarke suggests trying a different brand of bras if you can’t find a size with straps that fit. Or, if you love the way the cups and band look and feel, opt for customized straps. (We promise, it’s worth it!)
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You’re not fully covered
While different types of bras provide varying amounts of coverage and cleavage, your breasts should still be able to fit inside the cups. Clarke says the bra should fit on all sides and extend to the area under your arms. Beware of extra skin spilling from the sides of the cups near your armpits.
It doesn’t sit right
Notice where the bra lies on your chest. The center of the bra should rest directly on the center of your chest, not a quarter of an inch away from it, says Clarke. Buying a bra with a smaller band size will fix the problem, and provide proper support.
There’s one thing you should never sacrifice for a bra—comfort. In fact, you shouldn’t even feel the bra on your body throughout the day. If you find yourself constantly adjusting straps, scooping your breasts into your bra, fiddling with the band in the front or back, or dealing with pain from clasps or wires, find something new! A comfortable bra makes a huge difference. Check out these unexpected ways your clothes can make or break your mood.