I sometimes get an SOS from women who think they have a unique and weird bra problem: their bra squeaks. Actually, this is not as unusual as you may think. If it’s happened to you, I can tell you a little about the cause and what you can do about it.
The squeaking comes from the underwire rubbing against the channel of material it’s sewn into. When the material is pulled too tightly against the underwire, the two come in contact and creak or squeak. This is most common when a flat underwire (a two-dimensional underwire) has to bend around a curved torso. It’s not necessarily that the bra is poorly made; it’s more a matter of fit and the shape of your torso. If you have a curved or rounded torso, you need bra styles with flexible and maybe narrower wires. The more flexible the wire is and the less wire there is, the less it will have to strain against the tubing material.
But, and this is an important point, bra squeak is usually a one-off problem, not something that happens across all bras in a particular style or from a particular brand. I’ve spoken to manufacturers who tell me that very occasionally, one bra will be made with a casing that isn’t long enough. Underwire casing should have about 1/2" extra length so that the underwire can slide a bit for the best fit. Without that extra length, the bra can squeak. The casing material can also shrink after washing, making it too tight for the underwire to move smoothly.
I’ve heard from women who have taken drastic steps to eliminate the squeaking. Some have tried putting silicon on the wire tips while others say definitely do NOT do that. Some women suggest the old 19th century solution women used on their corsets. They ‘floss’ the underwire by reinforcing the channel stitching with embroidery floss. But, really there are much easier solutions.
A quick fix that might work for some bras it to lay the bra flat and straighten any material that’s twisted around the underwire. If the underwire looks bent or misshapen, gently smooth it into the shape of a "U." If the only issue was a bent underwire or twisted fabric, this might do the trick.
I also suggest changing the bra size if you love a style that squeaks on you. Try going up a band size (and down a corresponding cup size). If that size fits comfortably and gives you enough support and volume, the problem may be solved.
Some new bras are very rigid and may relax after a soak in warm water. It may also take a few wears for the underwire to ‘customize’ its curve around your body. So, if a new bra squeaks give it a little time to adjust. Underwires are also tougher than you may think. You can try to shape the wire to better fit your torso by molding the curve. Try a tennis ball to gently reshape the wire.
But my most important suggestion is to find a bra that doesn’t squeak at all when you try it on. Start with brands and styles that best fit your torso shape. You also might try a wire-free bra, which eliminates the problem completely. As I mentioned earlier, bra squeak is most likely a problem with one specific bra, not with a particular brand or style. If you do run into this issue, try the tips I’ve mentioned here; they may help you get rid of that annoying squeak.