Underwire Bras : 5 concerns and how to address each of them

There are ‘bra dislikers’ but when it comes to ‘underwire bra dislikers’, they are nothing. Vilified more than they deserve but patiently doing what they are meant to do, give shape and support, underwire bras are still one of the most popular styles of bras. There are many reasons for their popularity. This post is about the facts (some might still call them fiction) surrounding the reality of Underwire bras.

An underwire bra has a semi-circle shaped wire sewn under the cup of the bra, meant to give lift, shape and support to the breasts.

underwire bras- lift shape and support

1. Fit and support

One of the most important criteria for deciding whether you need to wear under wire bra is to know if you have full and big breasts. If you have, under wire bras can give great support. You can avoid strain on the back muscles and resultant pain overtime, with the help of this support.

Underwire bras are also best for those whose breasts are sagging. They give breasts a good lift. Another advantage is separation – breasts that look joined is a problem with those with big breasts wearing wireless bras; when you wear underwired bras you get that separation /definition.

Some fit standards for underwire bras go like this – The gore should sit flat against the body ; There should be no spill over of breasts from the cup. These are achieved by getting a bra that fits and finding  the underwire that sits right in the fold under the breast and perfectly covers the underside of the breasts. Thankfully the underwire of the bra has some stretch and they stretch to accommodate the breast diameter. 

Generally determining the size and fit of bras is same for wireless and wired. 

If you buy a seamless underwire bra that fits great there is nothing like it under t shirts and other tops.

Pain from the poking of underwire bras is a common fit issue. The underwire will poke into the breast tissue – if the diameter of the underwire is too small (the cup being too small) or band being too tight. The wire can chafe the skin and cause redness, irritation, pinching, itching etc. The underwire will poke into the armpit – if the diameter of the underwire is too large. Demi cup bras and low plunge bras have shorter wire lengths, whereas full coverage bras have large wires. 

2. Shape

An underwire bra can give a smooth round shape to shapeless breasts. They also lift up breasts giving a better naturally uplifted look. A perfectly fitting underwire will give a rounded defined look to your breasts. Ensure that the underwire sits comfortably against your rib cage encircling the breasts.

3. Comfort 

‘Darn Uncomfortable’- This is one of the main complaints against an underwire bra- the reason why many dislike underwire after an expensive first time buy. They swear off underwires for all time future.

If your underwire bra feels uncomfortable, it usually means that it does not fit properly.

Style, design of straps (cushioned, wide, adjustable), fabric of the bra (non itchy, soft), bands (stretchy, with wide hook area) are all considerations and if they get all of them right along with fit, you will get a good bra.  

It is a reality that the metal of the underwire may be very uncomfortable for those with sensitive skin. Some brands have soft and flexible wire, some not so much.

underwire location

What if the underwire is poking into the skin at the underarm – there are two main reasons why this is so- either the cup is too small or the shape of the wire is not deep enough. The underwire is just a flexible flat sheet of metal. A too-small cup size can make the underwire poke into the stomach as you sit. This is very uncomfortable. You can try to bend the wire to a better shape ( at the center) to alter these problems.

Regarding the total comfort you expect- Try to find one made with soft micro jersey knit fabric which is lightly padded with wide straps and no-poke Flexible nylon-coated nickel-free wires.

4. Health issues

The underwire should never rest on the breast tissue – this can cause health issues. The underwire should be snug against the underside of the breast, perfectly covering it, lifting it, supporting it. If positioned wrong, they may cut off the circulation of the lymph nodes, there by blocking the natural draining of toxins out of breast tissue.

Women who are breastfeeding are asked not to wear wired bras for fear of blocking of milk ducts.

5. Durability

One concern with an underwire bra is that they last hardly 6 months in good condition – the underwire can wear the fabric after some time; mishandling can bend wires, washing roughly can make the bra loose shape or worse the wire will poke out of its casing.

Hand washing the underwire bras is the universally accepted solution to this wear and tear problem. The tumbling inside a washing machine will be the death of your underwire bra.

If the band of the bra is too tight and puts pressure on the underwire, it can break. It can also be damaged if the width of the underwire is less than the width of the breast that it has to support. Finding the correct fit in underwire is more important than anything.

Related posts : How to measure your bra size ; How to buy a bra – the  main considerations.


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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Underwire Bras : 5 concerns and how to address each of them”

  1. Finally found some cotton bras and had to remove the underwire’s. The bottom was not padded well, and they went into my under arms. And why is it that they can’t just put A second layer of fabric over the areola? As a 42DDD, I can’t fit these bras into the dresser. Don’t need padding.

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