At one point or another, most of us have probably subjected ourselves to poking wires, constricting bands, and other elements of ill-fitting bras. But our undergarments shouldn’t cause us to be uncomfortable and distracted. They should play a supporting role, so we can be fully engaged in what we’re doing instead of stopping to make all too frequent adjustments.
Life is too short to spend wearing the wrong bra. Yet often, we women tend to settle for something subpar. It’s not so much that we’re wearing the wrong size, numerically, but rather that we don’t have the proper fit.
Of course, good bras can be expensive. But considering the time we spend wearing them, they are a wardrobe piece that’s definitely worth the investment. As Lindsay Schlegel noted in an edition of Verily Cents, “It can be hard to shell out $60 or more for a bra when you know you could buy one for a fraction of the cost. But there is little that contributes more polish to an outfit than a well-fitting bra.” (Not a Verily Yours subscriber? Subscribe here!)
Finding that perfect bra may seem elusive, but it doesn’t have to be a frustrating endeavor. It’s entirely possible for bra shopping to be simple and even enjoyable. Here are a few tips for making the most out of your bra shopping experience.
01. Go to a specialty store
Shopping at a store that specializes in bras, such as Soma, removes much of the frustration from the shopping process. For one, specialty stores have more size options, and they are nicely organized—instead of digging through rows and rows of hangers, hoping that maybe they have the size you want, you simply open a drawer, and voila! This is a huge time saver, but it also makes the experience more pleasant because you may not feel as limited.
Another benefit is the store associates. Though it may seem uncomfortable to ask a total stranger for help with something so personal, they can be a great resource. They can help you distinguish between different types of bras, and they may be able to recommend something based on what you’d like or for what your usual fit issues are. You may even find that you’re pleasantly surprised by an option you wouldn’t have thought to try.
02. Get fitted
If you haven’t been fitted in a while, it’s a good idea to get a fitting done. The fact is, our bodies change, and that means our bra needs to change, too. You can take your own measurements, but having an expert do it takes the personal guesswork or doubt out of the equation. If you’ve never had a professional fitting and are worried about what it entails, not to worry—they’re super quick, and not nearly as awkward as you might think. If you’d rather not be fitted face-to-face, but you still want some guidance, there’s help for you, too. Some online bra shops, including ThirdLove and True&Co., offer quizzes to help you find a bra that fits.
It’s important to note that you might not end up wearing the size you measure, and that’s okay. You may want to try out a sister size—a bra that has the same cup volume, but a different band size and letter. Or, you may simply need to size up or down. Bra sizes also differ slightly from brand to brand. Your measurements are an important place to start, but ultimately, the numbers on the tag don’t dictate a good fit, and it’s helpful to go in knowing that.
03. Make sure you’re wearing it correctly
Once you’ve got the bra on, make sure it’s situated correctly—Verily has a guide to help you out. For instance, the band should be level across the middle of your back, not too far up or down. Also, be sure to clasp your bra on the loosest hook; save the tighter ones for when the elastic starts to wear out. Checking that the bra is situated correctly can help you ensure that you’ve found a good fit.
04. Caring for your bras
Once you’ve spent the money, brush up on your knowledge of how to care for bras, so you can get the most life out of them. It’s best to wash them by hand with a special lingerie detergent (I like this one), but if you do use the washing machine, be sure to use a lingerie bag. Also, try not to wear the same bra two days in a row—the elastic needs time to rest. Even with proper care, bras need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months.
Be gentle in storing your bras, to help the cups maintain their shape. Organizing expert Marie Kondo recommends gently folding the straps and sides in, and then arranging the bras in loose layers, much like how they are arranged in store displays.
If you’ve been dreading the prospect of buying new bras, change up your experience by trying these tips. Don’t just settle for a bra that works—find one that works wonders, that you feel amazing in!