How A Bra's Center Panel Should Fit

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: "Bra Fitting Secrets: How A Bra's Center Panel Should Fit" Length: 2:55

What holds the two bra cups together in the center is called a center panel or center gore. And the way this center panel sits, and how it’s shaped can tell you a lot about your bra.

The center panel should rest firmly against your sternum. If it doesn’t, your bra cups are not deep enough so you need to go up a cup size.

If your center panel is significantly pulling away from your sternum, you probably need to go up several cup sizes and down a band size.

The exception to this rule is if your bra is a minimizer or a wire-free bra. These styles many times will not rest on your sternum.

Most center panels come up to the horizontal apex line of a bra. The underwire tips are about 1” apart, and the shape is somewhat triangle.

However, there are other center panel variations out there, and you should understand which ones are best for you.

At, we help by showing you a straight-on view of every bra along with a measured overlay.

There are bras with narrow center panels where the ends of the wires touch. For women with close-set breasts, this is a great design – they don’t’ need to try and finagle a center panel between their breasts. However, for women with wide set breasts, this is not optimal because the cups are set too close together.

Tall center panels where the height is taller than the apex line of a bra give great support – It’s a great choice for women with pendulous breasts or shallow breasts that are no longer firm.

And most sports bras have a tall center panel because it helps contain breasts and prevents vertical bounce.

Bras with low center panels are commonly called plunge bras. This style is great for low necklines, but it is also a great choice for petite and short-waisted women because this smaller center panel also creates a more pared down bra style.

An arched center panel has an arched bottom edge. This gives a bra a lighter look, and can be a great solution for women with a high tummy that can come up between their breasts.

A wide Triangle shaped center panel is great for breasts that tend to fall east and west and for women with wide-set breasts – if the distance between your breasts is more than 2 fingers, you have wide set breasts. This center panel is obviously not a good choice for women with close-set breasts.

Front closure bras, because of the closure, tend to also be wide center panels - again, a great choice for women with wider set breasts because they move the cups more outward.

The next time you shop for a bra, pay close attention to those center panels. Knowing which ones work best for you will help you optimize your bra fit.

Best Tall Center Panel Bras:

See more tall center panel bras styles
Goddess Kayla Banded Underwire Bra GD6162
Sizing up to N (D11) cups!
Goddess GD6162 reviews

Best Wide Center Panel Bras:

See more wide center panel styles
Bestform Extreme Comfort Bra 5000100
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Bestform 5000100 reviews
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Best Narrow Center Panel Bras:

See more narrow center panel bra styles

Best Arched Center Panel Bras:

See more arched center panel bra styles
Goddess Kayla Banded Underwire Bra GD6162
Sizing up to N (D11) cups!
Goddess GD6162 reviews

Best Plunge/Corded Center Panel Bra Styles:

See more top plunge/corded styles
Warner's No Side Effects Underwire Contour Bra 1356
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Warner's 1356 reviews
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Maidenform Love The Lift Push Up & In Satin and Lace Demi Bra DM9900S
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Maidenform DM9900S reviews
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Elements of the Perfect Fit - Center Panel

center panel bra It's best if the center panel between the cups of your bra sits firmly against your chest (sternum). However, there are some exceptions. Women with full breasts close together may not be able to achieve a center panel touching their sternum. The center panel of Wire-free (soft cup) bras may also not sit quite as firmly against your chest.

Elements of the Perfect Fit - Underwires

Your breasts have a natural "crease line" where the underwire should fit comfortably against your ribcage. The diameter of your underwire is too small if the underarm end is poking breast tissue, or catches your arm as it moves forward. The diameter of your underwire is too large if the underarm end is poking into your armpit. The best underwire for you is one that encircles your breast, giving you a more rounded and defined look. Women short in stature usually find that underwires poke them under their arms. An instant solution is to select demi cup bras - the wires are shorter and thus will not poke.

Elements of the Perfect Fit - Straps

Elements of the Perfect Fit - Straps Shoulder straps on a bra should rest flat on your shoulders. They shouldn't cause dents or fall off your shoulders. Shoulder straps are designed to carry minimal breast weight (10% or less). If your shoulders have dents from your straps, then your straps are working too hard - you probably need a smaller band size to give your bra more support.

• If your straps keep slipping, there are several possible causes: the placement of the straps on your bra may be too wide. Wide-set straps are a popular look right now and are common on push-up bras due to the fact that wide-set straps tend to put breast tissue inward to maximize cleavage. If you're wearing push up bras and are having this problem, you need to find another style.

• If your cup size is too large, there will not be enough breast tissue to fill out the top of your cup and this will cause your straps to slide down your shoulders.

• The straps could also be sewn too far apart on the back of your bra.

• If the strap in front and/or back is attached to a ring this ring allows the strap to swivel and could cause the strap to fall off your shoulder.