Bra Problem #7: “I have had ONE bra in my entire life where the wires sat flush against my sternum. They pretty much always stand away from it and I hate it.”
You’re absolutely correct! A well-fitting underwire should lay more or less flat against your sternum, directly under the breasts in the crease where they project from the body- called the “inframammary fold” or IMF line- and extend past the breast tissue under your arms to rest against your ribs. (Note that it’s normal and completely fine for wire-free bras to sit away from your breastbone, since there’s nothing in their structure to create that inward curve to the sternum.) Wires pressing into breast tissue in either the center or side-boob is a significant fit problem and points to either a too-small cup size or an underwire shape that isn’t a good match for your body.
The shape of your bra cups could be the culprit here. It could also be a sizing issue or a bit of both. Bodies with fuller breasts & more projected or outward-directed breast tissue need bra cups that are deeper than what a lot of bras provide, especially molded t-shirt bra styles. If the angle to your sternum is too shallow, that could definitely prevent those wires from sitting flush, even if the cups are properly sized. Most of what we see during fittings, though, is a simple matter of needing larger cups to provide enough room for all the wearer’s breast tissue and sufficient surface area for the center of the bra to reach the breastbone.
Consider that certain anatomical variations can also affect how well your bra “tacks”, or rests flush. Some individuals have deeply concave sternums, which should be fairly apparent and will keep even an appropriately sized bra from touching the breastbone. An angled sternum can result in proper tacking at the top or bottom of the gore (the middle region of the bra,) but not at the other end. Lastly and most commonly, the amount of space between the breasts differs from one individual to another, and some breasts just naturally touch with NO space in between. In this case, there isn’t any room for the gore to rest, and it ends up pushing the whole bra structure away from the body. For all of these quirks, and especially that final one, your best solution is either a deep plunge bra, where wires meet body so low in the center that they bypass much of the sternum by design, or a wireless style that isn’t intended to tack in the first place. Plunge styles are also awesome for people like me, whose underwires always seem to want to stab them in the middle of the chest! The pictured styles above are the Antonina Classic PL plunge bra from Ewa Michalak, a wonderful deep plunge style for close-set breasts, and the Jasmine balconette bra from Panache, one of the deepest cups on the market for bodies with very projected breast tissue.
Note: “Bra Problems” was originally a series of Facebooks posts written in response to follower queries during the Covid shutdown of spring 2020. Our inboxes are still open, though! If you have a Bra Problem you’d like us to troubleshoot here, email your issue to email@example.com.