What’s normal for a well fitted band?

This is going to be a pretty brief post, but it’s something I’ve noticed being asked fairly often by women who are new to correctly sized bras: I have red marks from my bra, is that normal?

Of course, the answer to this is YES! This is not only normal, but probably will always happen, just like you get red marks on your stomach from elastic waistbands, or on your ankles from socks, or on your hips from panties.

Then I get the question “How red/deep is normal?”

I pretty much feel like your band should be as tight as you can wear without major discomfort. Red marks that disappear within a half hour or so? Normal. A bra that digs in all day so that you can’t stop thinking about it, and red welts that are painful and itchy? Band too small! In order to try to show people what’s normal, I wore my Curvy Kate Tease Me (which has a pretty good band for me, maybe sometimes a little on the loose side since it’s getting a good amount of wear) for a half hour or so. If these pictures were after I’d worn it all night, the red marks would probably be darker and more prominent, so please keep that in mind until I can update it with after-all-day pictures!


For most people, the band in the middle would probably not leave quite so deep a mark. The reason it’s so dark there is because I was sitting the entire time I was wearing it, and I have a fat roll right below my boobs, so bands can tend to dig in there. Notice you can see the outline where my wires sit on me- that’s totally normal. As you can see (besides the dark mark in the middle that  I’ve already explained), the marks are pretty non-consequential. Here’s what they look like from the side:


Once again, the darker red spot is because I was sitting and my stomach is just a weird shape, but the rest of these marks are all almost exactly what it looks like after I take my tights off at the end of the night (except quite a bit higher up on my torso!!)

So that’s my example of what (my) normal bra marks look like! Keep in mind that this is immediately after removing my bra, and in the time it’s taken to write this post (~15 minutes) they’ve almost completely disappeared. Your bra should never leave raised marks, painful or itchy marks, or cut into your skin in any way that’s severely uncomfortable. However, a properly tight band is the foundation for support, and red marks such as these above are to be expected!


Here are the red marks from an altered Freya Deco. The darker red square shape you see in the side profile picture is from this alteration. I did it myself and it left a section that sticks out more than the rest of the band, which sometimes digs in uncomfortably, but is usually fine, just leaves a darker spot.

Once again, I’ve been sitting for a little bit in this one. My marks are still not uncomfortable in any way.

Here you can see that red square from the alteration that I was talking about. Once again, still not uncomfortable, but probably isn’t normal for most bras.

10 thoughts on “What’s normal for a well fitted band?

  1. Just a note: Some people will get itchy marks no matter what. I get itchy marks from jeans, bras, undies….everything! That’s just how my body reacts.

    • That’s good to know! And you know, thinking about it, sometimes my marks from things are actually a little itchy too… just not usually and I’ve heard lots of people complain about it so I assumed it was a bad sign. Like I said at the beginning, it’s really about making sure you aren’t finding your bra unbearable, and if the itchiness is unbearable… but if it’s something you just know is normal, then carry on, you know?!

  2. Great post! I’ve found that the Deco leaves the worst marks of any bra I’ve ever worn. And my skin also reacts to anything… so I fully expect red marks. I hate it when someone comments on it, saying that the band must be to small. If I used the same logic for pants, they would fall off of me when I tried to stand up!

    (Btw, I think we are similar sizes right now. I don’t have any bras that fit, but I’m 90% sure I need a 28HH… maybe a 28J.)

    • Right?! Red marks are totally normal and to be expected!

      And yay for similar sizes! Last time I got fitted they said I was a 28HH, but I thought that a lot of the bras they brought me were kind of a tight fit that I needed to “settle” into to not quad-boob, but I feel like “settling” into cups often means that my side tissue is just leaking out of the wires again. I feel like if I can EVER scoop enough tissue to fill out the cup, then that’s the cup size I need. Or maybe I’m just crazy. But since then I’ve only bought one HH and it’s really small (but it’s also the Thrill Me so you know the cups already run small, it was one of those “but it’s sooooo pretty!!!” moments)

  3. Ah, yes, I get red marks majorly too – especially with Ewa Michalaks unfortuneatly, as the pressure seems to be focused at one point – at the bottom of the gore, because I have that same roll as you (rather discouraged that you have it even though you are lean – I had hoped mine would dissappear if I lost weight, but seems it’s just a place a person can store a little pouch, even if lean, hmm). With Ewa Michalaks it does get uncomfortable for me, but I don’t think it would be solved with a large band. I have pressure urticaria, meaning I get itchy red marks from any form of pressure – heck, when I wake up in the morning, I have itchy red lines where the sheet has had some folds. So yeah, some poeple will always get very red marks from bras – I did too when I wore 38’s!

    • Yeah, mine is really really annoying to me 😦 I’ve been wondering lately if it could be moved to my boobs… haha. Even if it’s not breast tissue, fat can be moved around, and I really hate that thing. I’ve been experimenting with pushing it up into my bra, and it definitely stays there, so we’ll see if that helps it get smaller or go away. If it does, I’ll definitely be writing a big ol’ celebration post on that!

  4. This is why I stopped wearing bras for 20 years. “Normal” = “uncomfortable”. Why would I subject myself to that kind of discomfort? It doesn’t make sense! I was only a C-cup, I really was a LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT LOT more comfortable without one. Now I’m a DD and I wear super-stretchy light-support Bali bras with just enough structure to keep my breasts from sitting directly on my ribcage and making sweat pool there. No red marks. I don’t accept red marks from my underwear either. Why would I?

    • I think you might have missed the part where I said that the most important part of your band fitting correctly is that it should NOT be uncomfortable. We all have different skin, and different amount of pressure will make different marks for different people. The point of this post was to show that red marks are normal, as long as they are not causing you pain or discomfort. On me, the seams of my jeans and the ribbing of my socks can create red marks while still being completely unnoticeable and comfortable while I’m wearing them. If the marks left by your bra are ever uncomfortable, then your band is too small. The marks shown in the post above don’t cause any discomfort.

      Comfort is the most important factor in finding a well fitted bra, if the bra isn’t comfortable to you, then it is not well fitted.

      • My point is that there’s no such thing as a comfortable bra for me because fundamentally putting pressure on my ribcage in order to hold my tits up is an uncomfortable proposition. This thing you say is “normal”, leaving marks like that, is uncomfortable for me. I really just don’t believe that everyone who finds bras uncomfortable finds them so because they’re wearing the wrong size.

        I went to Intimacy in NYC, the people who do “bra fit makeovers” with expensive bras from Europe. This is what I ended up with: http://www.flickr.com/photos/plymouths/5224751767/in/set-72157619258419267/ It’s a 36E. It “fits” based on every criteria you list. It even looks cute. But the band leaves red marks. I went back the next day and told them “I thought you said this fit me – but I get red marks in my cleavage”. They told me that was normal. I told them I felt like I was suffocating after 2 hours in the thing. They gave me a band extender to try out until I got used to it. With the band extender the band rode up in back so I don’t need a larger band – I just don’t like the feeling of things crushing my ribcage. I also bought a Freya sportsbra there. That thing is actually miraculous – I can jog in it and not bounce. But I can still only stand to wear it for about 2 hours at a time. For sports that’s OK – I pretty much never need to do high-impact sports for more than 2 hours at a time. For everyday wear though that’s just not practical.

        So instead for everyday wear I ended up with this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/plymouths/8707042618/in/photostream These wouldn’t work for everyone – their sizing is kinda weird so this Medium is supposed to fit anything from a 38B to a 36DD, which covers the size the Intimacy folks fitted me for. It’s the first bra I’ve been able to tolerate for more than 2 hours at a time in 20 years. Because it has almost no support – I’m no longer trying to put enough pressure on my ribcage to hold my tits up.

      • I’m really glad you found something that works for you! I have friends who have really sensitive skin and also can’t have a firm band, or even underwires, and still be comfortable, so they wear wireless 32DDs (they measure 30E). It doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing, rule number one is that it’s comfortable.

        I refer to the marks as “normal” in my post above, because “normal” means standard, average, etc., and although you and some other women will be the exception, most women will get red marks from a band that aren’t uncomfortable, and don’t indicate a bad fit. If their red marks were uncomfortable, I’d recommend sizing up in the band until they no longer were!

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