Meet Melanie: The Woman Who Has Worn A Badly-Fitting Bra For Decades


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Wearing the right bra can make a huge difference to how you feel, not only do you physically feel more supported and comfortable but it can help boost your self confidence and how you feel about the way your body looks. Almost a fifth of women we surveyed said they feel more attractive when they’re wearing the right size, which just goes to show that wearing the right size can do wonders for your self esteem as well as your body's health.

Whilst there are multiple benefits of getting regular fittings, some of us are guilty of leaving it until we notice our bras are causing some discomfort or lacking in support, which can be a little too late to prevent issues. If you’re one of the many bra-wearers around the world who can’t wait to take their bra off at the end of the day, then it might be time to get yourself booked in to get measured by an expert.

If it’s been a while since you last got fitted for a new bra, you’re not alone. Our recent survey revealed that British bra-wearers go nearly nine years without getting a bra fitting on average, this is eight years and six months too long. At Pour Moi, we recommend that you get measured every six months to ensure you have the best fitting bra. 

If you lift your arms above your head and notice your bra rides up as you do so, or if you remove your bra and notice red marks where it has been digging into your skin, these are all signs that you need to get measured. You can do so without even leaving the house with our virtual appointments, where our in-house experts will help you find the best support and fit. Our expert team of fitters are on hand to help you find a bra that fits, flatters and makes you feel confident.

The Research Results

We surveyed over 1,000 British bra-wearers to discover our current bra behaviours and attitudes, whilst also working with a GP and sports therapist to provide expert insights on the long-term effects of wearing a bra that isn’t supportive or well-fitting.

What’s the average age of bras that people are wearing?

On average, Brits are wearing bras that are over four years old. Nearly 10% of those surveyed admit to wearing a bra between six and 10 years old.  We recommend replacing your bra every nine to 12 months, and as bodies change regularly you definitely shouldn’t be wearing a bra from the previous decade.

How often do people get bra fittings?

It’s recommended to get measured every six months, yet the average British bra-wearer waits almost nine years in between bra fittings. Worryingly, nearly 8% of those surveyed said they have waited between 11 and 20 years between being measured, which indicates they are almost definitely wearing a bra size and fit that no longer supports their body.

What are the most common side effects of a badly-fitted bra?

Although a bad-fitting bra can have obvious visual effects, such as indentations on shoulders or marks on the chest where the cup size is too small, it can also cause discomfort and pain to the person wearing it that only they can feel. The most common side-effect of a badly-fitting bra is rubbing or chafing, with nearly 37% of our survey respondents agreeing that they have experienced this. Marks on shoulders and indentations on shoulders are the second and third-most prominent side effects felt by those surveyed.

Side Effect Of Bad-Fitted Bra

% of People Experiencing The Side Effect

Rubbing or chaffing


Marks on shoulders


Indentations on shoulders


Marks on chest


Shoulder pain


Back pain


Tight shoulders


Skin abrasions


General pain


Cuts on chest


How do people feel when they wear a well-fitted bra?

At Pour Moi, we strongly believe that a bra that fits you well and supports your body is key to helping you feel your best and helping you through day-to-day life. When asked about how they feel when they wear the right size bra, over two-thirds (66%) said they felt “more comfortable”, which is why we are so dedicated to getting our customers into the right size bra. 54% agreed that they feel more supported and secure in a well-fitted bra, which is important as you don’t want to spend your day worrying about your boobs and how they feel in your clothes. 

The survey also revealed that almost a third of women (31%) agreed that they feel “self-confident” in a good fitted bra, which is great as it’s important for women to feel their best as they take on the day. In another boost to confidence, almost one in five women also said they feel more “attractive”, showing that when a bra fits you well it can do wonders for how you feel about yourself and how you come across to other people.

How People Feel In A Well-Fitted Bra

% of People Who Experience This Feeling



Supported and secure








Introducing… Melanie

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

To demonstrate just how important it is for your underwear to fit well and support your body, we want to introduce you to Melanie, an extreme visual representation of what your body could look like after decades of wearing an ill-fitting bra. The in-house experts at Pour Moi worked with Andreas Anastasiou, a sports therapist with expertise in body corrective exercise, and GP Dr Hana Patel to address the ways we can avoid getting ailments as extreme as Melanie’s and how you can find your best fit.

Shoulder Dents

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

Melanie has clear marks on her shoulders from decades of wearing bra straps that are too tight, and nearly two-thirds of our survey respondents agreed that this is the main side effect they notice after wearing an ill-fitting bra. Andreas Anastasiou, an expert in body corrective exercise, commented on the effects of this issue: “Visually permanent indentations can impact the mental and physical health of a lot of people. Over time the tight and narrow brassiere straps dig into the soft tissues around the shoulders and exert direct downward pressure onto the clavicles which can narrow the space in the costoclavicular passage.” 

There are several signs that you’re wearing your bra straps too tightly, but Andreas says to look out for a few things, including “initial red marks on the skin and to feel for any indents on your shoulders,” as this is a good indication that your straps are aggravating your body. He adds, “you should also pay attention to any signs of localised pain on either shoulder when you are carrying a handbag,” as this indicates that the soft tissues around the shoulders are being impacted.

Shoulder dents can be easily fixed if you notice them early enough. One of the easiest ways to combat them, and avoid them looking as severe as Melanie’s, is to adjust the strap tightness to something more comfortable and to remember to adjust them once the bra has been washed. A great way of telling if your straps are too tight is by trying to keep at least one finger gap between your strap and shoulder. Another quick fix recommended by Andreas is to wear a cross-back bra to help distribute the weight of your breasts.  It’s completely natural to think that a tighter setting means you are getting more support, but it’s important to consider these things, too.

Hunched Shoulders

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

Melanie’s hunched posture is a result of also wearing bras that have been too loose, which has resulted in her shoulders taking the strain of the weight of her breasts rather than the bra (which is designed to support us in these ways). When people wear a bra that isn’t supporting them appropriately, they tend to stoop as a way of relieving pressure on their shoulders. Although this may seem dramatic, it is worth noting how much support a bra gives your back and helps to keep your body mobile, which is why it is so important to get the best fit.

Beyond the visible effects this has on Melanie and thousands of people like her, there are also internal effects; Andreas says: “Hunching the shoulders further narrows the costoclavicular passage by pushing the scapula forwards. As well as neck, shoulder and back pain; this can lead to nerve damage in the thoracic outlet (the space between your collarbone and your first rib)”.

Early signs that your bra is causing this kind of problem include pain across the arms, chest, and shoulders which can also begin to affect the arms, and also back pain from the back muscles being overstretched. GP Dr Hana Patel recommends massaging the chest and shoulders to try and loosen soft tissue, she also adds, “try physiotherapy to mobilise the thoracic spine (or using a spikey ball) to release the pec muscles and consider using a lumbar roll to support you when sitting.”

“Yoga or pilates are also great exercises to stretch and open up the chest, as well as any back strengthening exercises that specifically target the upper back which will be most affected by this,” Dr Hana Patel adds.

Bad Posture

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

One of the side effects of hunched shoulders is overall bad posture, which has led to spinal dysfunction and joint degeneration for Melanie after wearing a badly-fitted bra for decades. Andreas says that “the forward hunched over ‘kyphotic’ posture can lead to nerve constriction from pinched nerves in the spinal column that can lead to pain and numbness into areas of the body which are supplied by these nerves.” In extreme circumstances like Melanie’s, you can experience lumbar pain caused by bad posture resulting in scoliosis which can lead to disc herniation.

If you spot yourself with a forward-leaning posture and leading with your head first, then this could be an early sign of bad posture. Thankfully, alongside a bra that fits and supports you appropriately, bad posture can be fixed with exercise. Dr Hana Patel recommends regular stretches during your day-to-day activities to reduce load across the front of the body, whilst skeletal corrective expert Andreas says to “move around as much as you can to keep the joints mobile. Focus on chest and back exercises, and also pay attention to core and thoracic mobility exercises that are key to helping improve posture.”

Back and Neck Pain

The pain Melanie is experiencing from wearing an ill-fitting bra is called ‘Bra Strap Syndrome’ and is a genuine medical condition, according to GP Dr Hana Patel. Costoclavicular Syndrome, as it is officially known, is caused by wearing an ill-fitting bra, where tight and narrow bra straps cause neck, shoulder and arm pain. It is more common in those who have worn ill-fitting bras for many years, as well as larger-breasted, middle-aged or elderly women. 

Beyond back and neck pain, “other signs that your ill-fitting bra is affecting your body, include; redness to affected muscles (around your upper back and shoulders), spasms and tightness to these areas, and even weakness to arms or legs,” says Dr Hana Patel. Just like bad posture and a hunched back like Melanie’s, you can try and solve this problem by exercising, regularly practising yoga and by ensuring you are wearing the correct bra size.

Back and Shoulder Spots

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

Unfortunately, Melanie has also gone years wearing a bra band and straps that don’t fit properly and haven't been washed enough, leaving her with back and shoulder spots. The friction on the skin - especially when the bra is under-washed and cared for - can lead to skin changes and even acne, says Dr Hana Patel. 

Even though a supportive bra that doesn’t rub against your skin and cause discomfort can prevent these breakouts, Dr Hana Patel suggests using antibiotic cream or medication if your ill-fitting bras result in severe acne. They also recommend a thorough cleansing regime for your clothes and skin to try and cure it. We have a guide on how to best clean your underwear so you can ensure you are caring for your garments in the best way.


3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

Despite many of us seeing red marks after a long day of wearing a bra, Melanie’s severe chafing and indented skin is a result of not acting when she noticed early signs of her bra digging into her. Nearly 37% of survey respondents agreed that rubbing or chafing is the main side effect they feel after wearing a bra that doesn’t fit them very well. This is caused by the bra rubbing against the skin due to friction and leaving marks on the skin that do not resolve when you remove the bra. 

“If you notice these signs of your bra hurting your skin and leaving deep red marks, then you could try various protective products to protect the skin before wearing your bra,” says Dr Hana Patel. Although, being correctly fitted will help to avoid this as our in-house experts will help you find a bra that gives you support in the places you need it most.

Stretch Marks

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

“Stretch marks,” explains GP Dr Hana Patel, “are a form of scarring to the skin that can be permanent.” A bra that is too loose will cause breasts to sag and lead to stretch marks big and small. If you notice stretch marks starting to form with no explanation (e.g. weight gain or pregnancy) then this could be a sign that you need to get a more supportive bra so that the skin on and around your boobs isn’t being overly stretched.

Sagging Breasts

3D model Melanie, designed to highlight the importance of getting regular bra fittings

Whilst a poorly fitting bra can contribute to breast sagging, this can also occur naturally as we get older, after pregnancy, and after breastfeeding, as it is affected by hormonal changes and often more acute for people with larger breasts. Weight changes can also play a factor.

At Pour Moi, we pride ourselves on making everybody feel confident and supported in a well-fitted bra. So, if this research has made you realise that you need to get measured, be sure to book a virtual fitting session here.


Survey using Censuswide, we surveyed 1,001 British bra-wearers.

We used our in-house expertise and insights of Andreas Anastasiou and Dr Hana Patel to outline the ailments of decades of wearing an ill-fitting bra. 

Research correct September 2022. 


Andreas Sports Therapy: 

GP Dr Hana Patel: