You might have heard us mention the snowflake analogy before when it comes to bodies; No two are exactly alike, and the same goes for breasts (as a pair and individually). We won’t delve too far into the anthropological and sociological impact breasts have, but we will tell you how you treat them makes an enormous effect on the way your clothes fit and your overall appearance. Even though yours are entirely unique, there are enough quality lingerie lines now that we’re confident you can find a bra that offers them the specific respect they deserve.
Oprah, every fashion magazine, QVC, makeover shows—they’ve all tackled the ill-fitting bra epidemic plaguing the nation. Theoretically, we all know better, but we’re still making the same mistakes. So let’s go over the basics one more time. The problem we see most often (fine, we’ll admit it, it’s the mistake we were making, too) is a bra band that is too loose. The band, that handy stripe of fabric that goes beneath the bust and around the back is supposed to provide 90% of the support. 90%. Let that sink in: NIIIINNNEEEETTTTYYY. So if your shoulder straps are leaving marks or your band is pulled up between your shoulder blades and making steady progress towards your neck, your band is too big. It should be tight. You might hate us the first day you wear a new one that fits you properly, but we’re telling you, it makes all the difference in the support provided. If you’re concerned about “back fat,” we have a fix for that, too. A wider, more fitted band will hit lower on the back and actually hold skin and subcutanteous layers beneath it where they belong. If you can slide more than two fingers beneath the band, it is too big.
The whole idea of cup size is where many of us are lead astray. Everyone from men’s magazines to hip hop tunes sing the praises of one letter or another. The truth is, cup size changes relative to band size. You can look at a 32 D and it will appear roughly the same size as a 34 B. It isn’t identical, but our points is that all B (or A, or C, or D, or E…we could go on) cups are not alike. Very frequently, what women need is a smaller band size and a bigger cup size to get the proper fit. If the part that connects the cups doesn’t lay FLAT against your skin and the underwire doesn’t go beneath all the breast tissue, the cup is too small. Heaven forbid you are spilling over the top with the dreaded “double boob,” the muffin-top of lingerie. It’s not cute, and it means you are wearing the wrong size bra. If you have too much space at the top of the cup, try one with what is called a cookie, a little semicircle insert at the bottom of the cup designed to lift the breast tissue. Cookies are a critical component of push up bras, can help even out assymetrical breasts, and are a wonderful asset for those bustlines that have become extra succeptible to the laws of gravity. If you feel shortchanged in the bust department, a little strategic padding can help add curves in all the right places.
Bras should be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on how nicely you care for them (and we’ll get to that). If you gain or lose more than 10-15 pounds, you likely need new bras. Breasts contain a high percentage of fatty tissue, so changes in weight show up there first. If you’ve had a baby and not updated your lingerie drawer, please give yourself that gift. Basically, if you haven’t been fitted in the last year, get thee to the pros at your local lingerie boutique or department store. Those ladies are magic with a tape measure, and their services are free of charge. Once you have your size, try, try try options from a multiple vendors. Just like different clothing lines, different designers have variations in fit. When you try them on, do the ‘swoop and scoop’ technique. Lean forward, then lift your breast tissue up and into the cup. Adjust the straps and check the fit from all angles. Once you have options you like, go ahead a get a few! Be sure you have a couple smooth cup options that don’t show under fitted tees. A basic lingerie wardrobe contains that “t-shirt bra,” a racerback bra, a strapless bra, a demi-cup bra to wear beneath lower cut necklines, and a convertible clear strap bra that can be adjusted for a multitude of garments. You’ll need some that are flesh toned or nude, and a couple in black. (White bras show under white shirts—you are much better off with something in the ballpark of your skintone). From there you can add in fun colors, lacy options-- things that make you feel sexy.
Now that you’ve made the investment in a proper batch of brassieres, give them the longest lifespan possible. Don’t wear the same bra two days in a row. Alternating your options gives time for the elastic to snap back. Buy bras that fit on the loosest or middle hook so that you can tighten them as the elastic stretches over time. Hand wash them in cool water with lingerie detergent, or at the very least on the delicate cycle (bras should have their straps hooked and be safely inside a mesh lingerie bag). Heat breaks down elastic, so please please keep them out of the dryer. You already knew that though, right?
Hoist your hoots/Just say no to the ‘bummy’
It may seem like a lot of effort, but taking the time to get yourself a good batch of bras makes a huge difference in the way your clothes look. Where once you had breasts smooshed together (the uniboob) or dragging toward the tummy (now more of a boob/tummy combo, or ‘bummy’), now you can have lifed, separate breasts and lots more real estate at your waist. The effect is slimming, flattering, and fabulous. Oprah will be proud, and so will we.
Just because you have lovely lingerie doesn’t mean it should be on display. That trend of visible undergarments will die out, and none too soon in our humble opinion. Other than the camisole bras with lace panels designed to cover cleavage and peek beneath v-necks or jackets, bras should be your secret weapon. If they’re not secret, it defeats the purpose. If you think we’re stodgy and want to try out the look of bright pink bras under white tank tops, please do so only on a hot date or a night out dancing. Don’t do it at the office unless you are prepared for a job change. Better yet, just don’t do it. Keep the focus on amazing you, not your underwear. Really, aren’t we usually right about these things?