The function of the bra band is to provide 90% of the support (the straps give the other 10%). To actually give this support, the band must be snug: it must be narrower than your torso.
This is because bra bands stretch. Often they stretch quite a lot, up to 20 cms ! After a couple of washes maybe even more.
Some other bra bands are quite tight, and don't give at all. Usually a snug band is preferable to a stretchy band. But you can also buy stretchy bands if adjust the sizing (see lower on this page)
* PORTRAIT OF TWO 32UK / 70EU BRA BANDS *
* FAQ *
Q:Why must my band be snug ? A: Would you wear panties that are looser than your hips ? I thought not, they would fall off. A bra band must not only stay in place, it must provide 90% of the support.
Q:Tight bands sound so uncomfortable ! A: If you are wearing the right bra size, you will feel as if you are wearing nothing at all !
Q:How can I tell if my band is too loose ? A: It will ride up: The band must be parallel to the floor. Also, it must not budge if you wave your arms around and do flapjacks.
Q:How can I tell that my band is too tight ? A: Hardly anyone wears a too tight bra band. It's practically impossible, way too painful, physically impossible. 90% of women wear bands that are too loose, because that is easy not to notice.
Q: I think my band is tight, it always feels uncomfortable. A: That's probably because you are wearing the wrong cup size, and it is the underwires that are too tight. That also makes you tighten the straps, which makes the bra even more uncomfortable !
* HOW TO CHOOSE BRA BANDS *
Your standard band size:
Usually you need a bra band that's slightly tighter than your underbust size. Measure yourself tightly at exhalation. For measurement in cms, substract 5 cm, and round down to the nearest band size. So, a underbust measurement of 68 cms should wear a band size 60. *more info here*
Find out if the band of the bra you intend to buy is standard, stretchy, or tight. You can try stretching it with your hands. If buying online, ask the seller or search for online information. I plan to make a stretchy/tight band table in the future on this blog.
Always try out the bra band while closing it on the outermost (loosest) hook. With time even the best bras will stretch, and that is when you will be using the tighter fastening.
Very tight bands:
Certain brands/models have bands that are so tight, that you don't need to minus that 5 cms. Just take the band size that is closet to your underbust measurements: for example, for 71 cm underbust measurement, take a 70 band.
If you take a band one size bigger than usual, remember to go down a cup size simultaneously. If you wear a 65(30)DD, and plan to buy a bra with a very tight band, go for 70(32)D. This is because cup sizes are relative to band sizes, and you would find 70(32)DD too big in the cups. (Of course, you need to watch if the bra you want to buy has standard cup sizes !)
La Senza and Elle Macpherson bra bands are usually very tight, however their cups are also smaller than standard. In that case, go +1 band size, and +1 in cup size as well.
A band is too tight when you feel discomfort. To make sure that it is the band, and not the cups that are too tight, do this test: Fasten the band in the front, with the cups on your back. Does the bra feel too tight ?If yes, then it is too tight. But usually it feels ok, and starts to feel tight only when you put on the cups (that means your cups are too small).
Remember that the band is at its tightest at the first wear. After a couple of wears, and a couple of washes, it will get looser.
Not sure ? Buy a bra band extender. It costs a few cents, and can be very useful for extending the band till it stretches with a few wears, or till you get used to it.
Red marks from the bra band ? That is normal. Many of us get marks from panties, stockings, socks, and that doesn't mean that they are too tight.
Very loose bands:
Certain brands/models have bands that are so loose, that you need to go down at least one band size. For example most Freya bras.
If you take a band one size smaller than usual, remember to go up a cup size simultaneously. If you wear a 65(30)DD, and plan to buy a bra with a very stretchy band, go for 60(28)E. This is because cup sizes are relative to band sizes, and you would find 60(28)DD too small in the cups. (Of course, you need to watch if the bra you want to buy has standard cup sizes !)
Closing the bra band already on teh tightest hook when buying ? Don't buy it, go down a band size.
Sewing the bands to make them tighter is not recommended for beginners: doing this in the wrong place can affect the position of the cups, and give you the wrong fit.
So, that's it on bra bands ! As usual, feel free to ask me anything !