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Common Bra Fitting Problems & Solutions, Part 2: Your Back Band

Updated May 15, 2013

Welcome back, everyone. Thanks for tuning in for another one of my bra fitting advice blogs!

Last time, I wrote about one of the most common bra fitting problems, the bra cup size. Today I will discuss the back band of your bra, and how to know if it’s properly adjusted or just not right for you. Always keep in mind that the back of your bra, the cups and the straps all work together to provide comfort and support. When one of these aspects isn’t fitting right, then the others probably won’t either. The majority of us take more than just one size or shape, depending on the bra company, the style of the bra (e.g. demi-bust, full coverage, etc.), the fabric they use, and so on. For instance, some 34B bras can fit more like a 36B, while others will fit more like a 34C, even within the same company! It’s not rocket science, but often it can seem just as complicated. Here’s some advice that I hope will guide you in your quest for your perfect fit.

When you first buy a bra, it is always best to adjust your bra either to the loosest hook in the back, or to the middle notch. NEVER buy a bra if you have to attach it to the tightest hook to feel adequately supported. Your bra band will stretch naturally with wash and wear, so you want to reserve the tighter hooks for later on. When you start off at the tightest hook from the get-go, you will be left with no room to make it fit more snugly when your bra’s elastic stretches out.

So, while you’re hooked at your middle or loosest notch in the back, the band should be aligned straight around your rib cage when your shoulder straps are comfortably adjusted. If too much flesh is spilling out around the sides, and you feel asphyxiated, then you need to increase the back band by a size. If your bra rides up in the back, or even in the front, then you need to decrease the band size accordingly. As a general rule of thumb, your bra should move with your body and not let you pop out of it as you go about your day!

I am constantly seeing women who are wearing a bra whose band size is too large, just because it was the only way for them to attain the right cup size. Let’s say you usually take a 38D but your back is too loose, while the cups fit just fine. To find your optimum size, you would need to increase the cup size while decreasing the band size. In this case, you should try a 36DD instead of a 38D, which will fit more snugly around your back while offering a large enough cup to encase all of your breast tissue.

Let’s try another example using the previous 36DD bra, but in this case, the back band is just a tiny bit too small, while the cups fit properly. Although you may be tempted to try a 38DD, you will find that the cup size of a 38DD will be bigger than the 36DD and your back band will be much too loose. Instead, you can try using a bra back extender, which is a small accessory that attaches directly to the back of your bra without needing to be sewn. This ingenious little device will give you more hooks to use with the back band so that you can adjust your bra (looser or tighter), according to your daily comfort. By attaching this extender to your 36DD bra, you are maintaining the correct cup size, while giving yourself some more wiggle room in the back.

Check back next time for the next installment of bra fitting advice when I’ll be discussing how to properly adjust your bra straps and why some types of straps are better than others. In the meantime, please contact me with any other fitting questions at:

See you soon!

Celine The Bra Doctor




  • Danielle A Valadez

    So I’ve been using a 38DD but its tight and underwire pokes my underarms. I bought a 42D and that was way to big? I have measured myself and used different sites for bra calculations and get lots of different sizes. I cant find my real size can you help me my measurements are under the bust 42.5 and fullest part 47.5 inchs

  • admin

    Hello Nikki,

    Thank you so much for your comment.

    It sounds like you’re on the right track to finding your size. However, the reason the 34DD bra didn’t fit most likely had to do with the band and not the cups. Perhaps try going for a 36D, and if that doesn’t work, you can try a bra back extender to give yourself some extra room in the band for your 34E bras.

    You can find bra back extenders here:

    We hope this helps!


  • Amna Croft

    I wear a 36E but the back is too tight I haven’t found a bra that is comfortable to this day what size should I wear if the back is too tight

  • admin

    Hello Amna,
    Thank you for contacting us.

    You should be trying a 38DD. The DD cup size is similar to the E in the 36 band so since the bra band is too tight, a wider band would be a 38. You can also try bra back extenders which are excellent.
    Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Mary Barry

    Bra back extenders are no good as they make the straps wider across your back and they slide off your shoulders

  • admin

    Hello Ms Barry,

    Bra back extenders are ideal for women who are in between sizes and yes the intent is to make the band wider. When you do wear bra back extenders you need to adjust the bra straps by tightening them to your comfort level.



  • Zoey

    Hi there I bought a 38D and cup is good but band is slightly tight. What’s the next size up in band? Or will 38dd be loser in band?

  • linda james

    help !!! last measure appointment j was told im a 36 dd went bra shopping today one new one too try but feels tight around body cup size good I have never once found a comfortable bra

  • admin

    Hello Ms James,

    Thank you so much for contacting us.

    If when you are wearing a 36DD, the cup is good but the band is tight, you should try a 38D which has about the same cup size but a bigger band. You can also try bra back extenders which are a life saver when it comes to in between sizes.
    Don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any other questions.
    Take care

  • admin

    Hello Zoey,
    If the 38D cup is good but the band is slightly tight you have 2 options. The first is try a 40C size bra which has about the same cup as a 38D but bigger in the band. The other option is bra back extenders which are ideal for in between sizes.

    Celine the Bra Doctor

  • Lisa Fielding

    Hello. I’m a 38gg but I’m finding it to tight on the back, and it’s riding up my back and uncomfortable, what size bra should I go for. Many thanks lisa.

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