Why is wearing the wrong bra size bad?

Bras are a big part of a woman’s wardrobe. For most women they’re one of the first pieces of clothing you put on in the morning, and often one of the first things you take off once you get home after a long day at the office!

However, according to lingerie brand Freya, 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. They found that the average woman wears a back size that is too big, and a cup size that is too small. But what effect can wearing a bra that doesn’t fit have on your health?

Negative effects

Not only can wearing an ill-fitting bra be uncomfortable, and affect how your breasts actually look, but it can also have some negative effects on your overall health and wellbeing.

Here are just some of the ways that wearing the wrong size bra can impact your health:


Connections have been made between an ill-fitting bra and headaches. Bras that don’t fit properly can cause tension in your shoulders, neck and back, which can cause painful headaches.

Back ache

If you have large breasts then back pain can be an issue for you, particularly if you aren’t getting the support you need from your bra. A correctly-fitting bra should support you and alleviate the pain.

Indigestion/stomach pain

Although this may sound farfetched, if the waist strap on your bra is too small then it can dig into your ribs and upper stomach area and cause internal pain. You may find that you experience indigestion or stomach pain more frequently.

Posture issues

Often women who wear the wrong size bra have problems with their posture. This may mean you slouch a lot, or experience a lot of back, shoulder and neck pain.

Breast pain

This is one of the most common ailments of wearing an ill-fitting bra. Bras that are too tight can crush the tissue, which can cause pain in the breast.

How do you tell if you’re wearing the wrong size?

There are a few tests you can do to see if you’re wearing the right size bra.

Check your straps

If your straps slip off your shoulders during the day, or if they’re so tight that they leave indentations, then this is a sign that your bra doesn’t fit properly. Your straps should give about an inch when you pull on them, so adjust them until you feel supported.

Check your underwire

You want to make sure that the underwire of your bra sits flat against your body, without squashing any breast tissue. You want the wire to sit flat along the natural crease of your breast. Push on the wire: if you feel soft tissue underneath then the cup size is too small, and the wire could dig in during the day and cause discomfort.

Check the back

On a correctly-fitting bra the back will sit in the middle of your back, in line with the front of the bra. If the back strap is riding up higher than this middle point in can mean there is a lack of support, which can create discomfort along the bust.

Check your cups

Your cup should hold your entire breast, without any spilling over the top or around the sides. A cup that’s too small can cause unsightly bulges where the tissue spills over the cups, or and can be uncomfortable. Alternatively, a cup that’s too big can leave gaps, which doesn’t support the breast and can look unsightly.

With so many shops and department stores offering free lingerie fitting services to their customers, it's easy and cheap to check if you’re wearing the right bra for you. Even if you’ve had a fitting before, it's recommended that you are remeasured at least every six months in order to allow for any change in weight or body shape. Plus, it can be a great chance to try new sizes and styles.

"Wearing the correct bra size can do a lot more than lifting your bust," Susanne Pentland, fit specialist at Freya, told the Telegraph. "When you slip on that perfectly fitting bra you will see much more of a flattering silhouette, your waist will be accentuated and your confidence boosted too."