Are your bra straps hurting your shoulders, and leaving red marks? Or maybe the other way around, and your bra straps always slide off your shoulders? Continue reading to learn how to adjust your bra straps to the right size, and what it means if your bra straps don't feel right.
Part 1 of 3: Adjusting the Bra Strap Length
Step 1. Locate the slide adjustment on your bra straps
These are small metal or plastic clips that you can slide up and down the length of your bra strap. Some adjusters can be moved along the rope, while others can only be shifted half way.
- On newer bras, you'll likely find the adjusters behind the straps, near the bra's tyre (the part that attaches the bra to your back).
- Some bras, like most sports bras, are made with a single sheet of material, and therefore do not have adjustable straps. If your straps are too loose or too tight on this type of bra, then the problem is the size and you need a new bra.
- It's usually easier to adjust your bra straps if you're not wearing them. The adjusters will usually be behind you, which will be difficult to reach unless you remove your bra.
Step 2. Tighten the loose bra straps by holding the adjusters with the fingers in one hand and pulling the front of the strap toward the bra cup with the other hand
As the strap slides through the adjusters, the adjusters will get closer to the bra tires. The closer the adjuster is to the tire, the shorter and tighter your strap will be.
If you are trying on a new bra and you have to adjust the straps to the tightest position, then the bra is not right for you. Bra straps will loosen over time, so you should have room to tighten them later. Try a bra with a smaller tire size
Step 3. Loosen tight bra straps by holding the adjuster in one hand and pulling the back strap away from the adjuster
The adjuster will move closer to the cup on the bra. The closer the adjusters are to the bra cups, the shorter and tighter the straps will be.
Step 4. Arrange another rope, but keep in mind that you probably won't be making the same size as the first rope
Your breasts are not identical in size or shape, so one strap may be tighter or looser than the other. This is completely normal and nothing to be wary of.
Step 5. Try wearing your bra and make adjustments as needed
If your strap is attached to the right size, it will sit firmly against your chest and will support the cup against your breast.
- Always readjust your bra size after washing it, because the washing process can cause the adjustment clips to shift.
- If your bra straps have been adjusted to the tightest or loosest size and you're still having problems (the straps slide off your shoulders, or the straps hurt your skin), read the following sections to learn about possible causes and how to fix them.
Part 2 of 3: Recognizing Why the Straps Are Too Loose
Step 1. Pay attention to the slope of your shoulders
Some women are born with narrow or sloping shoulders and others have them as they grow older. This can make the straps difficult to hold on to the shoulders, even if your bra is the correct size. If this is the case, you may have to try a different style of bra.
- Look for bras with straps closer to the center of your back, such as leotards, racerbacks, or straps that cross your back.
- Avoid bras with camisole models, which are straight down and directly attached to the bra at a certain angle.
- Try a dumbbell bra, which goes around your neck and fits right in front of the bra.
- Make sure the front of your bra strap fits into the cup just above the top of your bust, or your nipple.
- Bras with detachable straps will allow you to try on a variety of styles (racerbacks, cross straps, dumbbell straps) so you can fit into the most comfortable model or wear different outfits.
- You can purchase a clip that attaches to the bra straps, to combine the two into a racerback style and hold it against your shoulders.
Step 2. Test the flexibility of your rope
Over time, your bra straps will lose their elasticity and become looser, requiring you to tighten them again. If you lose too much flexibility, you may not be able to get it tight enough to fit on your shoulder.
- Slide your finger under the strap and pull it up. If it can easily stretch all the way to your ears, then the strap has become too loose and should be replaced.
- If you take good care of your bras (don't wear the same bra every day, hand wash and air dry, and wear them well), they should last 6-9 months, or more.
Step 3. Make sure your bra is not too big
The tires should fit comfortably on your back and perpendicular to the ground. Your breast should fill the cup without cramping (suggesting you have four breasts), and the cup should be attached to your breast.
If your bra doesn't meet the criteria above, try a smaller circumference or cup size. You can measure it yourself or have it custom made to find a bra that you can wear comfortably
Step 4. Short your bra straps
Short women may feel their bra straps are always too long, no matter how much they have shrunk it. A tailor or lingerie store can help you, or you can do this at home by cutting 2 to 5 cm from the string and sewing it back together.
Part 3 of 3: Recognizing Why The Rope Is Too Tight
Step 1. Check that the bra tires are the right size
Your bra straps should not support your breasts too much – a well-fitting bra will support almost your entire bust. If the bra tires are too loose, you will have to shorten the straps to tighten your bra, so the straps can put too much pressure on your skin.
- Your bra's tires should fit snugly, but not so tight that you can't slide your fingers between the fabric and your skin on the front of your bra.
- The tire should be perpendicular to the ground and no higher than the bottom of your shoulder blade.
- If you measure your bust and find your bra is the right size but is still too loose, then your bra is worn and needs to be replaced.
Step 2. Make sure your cup size is correct
If your cup is too big, you may be tightening your straps too much to prevent your cup from looking too pointy or pulling it so that it appears to stick to your chest.
- If your cup size is too small, the straps may not be long enough to pull and support your breasts causing your straps to hurt your shoulders.
- A bra of the right size will have cups that attach to your chest, without pinching or causing your breasts to pop out from the side or top.
- If the center of the bra (the part between the cups) isn't attached to your breastbone, then your cups may be too small, causing you to tighten your straps and hurt your skin.
Step 3. Wear a bra with wider straps
Most full-support bras have wider straps, which can distribute weight better than smaller straps, and also provide more comfort.
Even with the right sized bra, small straps can still hurt women with larger breasts. Try to avoid it as much as possible
Step 4. Purchase pads to fit under your bra straps
If your bra feels snug but the straps are still causing discomfort, buy pads specifically designed for bra straps. These pads fit under the straps or around the straps and will conform to the shape of the leather so they won't stick out under your clothes.
Some bra straps, especially those with wider straps, are made with padding on the straps for added comfort
If you're not sure how to find the right bra for your body, approach an experienced employee at a lingerie store or clothing department. They will measure your bust and help you find options for getting the right bra.