On a scale of one to 10, how much do you hate your bra? If you’re like most women, you’re probably thinking at least an 11 — am I right? It doesn’t have to be that way, ladies! Correct these bra mistakes you’re probably making, and you won’t live for the moment you get to take yours off every day.
Not getting professionally measured
Let’s just start with the obvious here. Size totally matters — especially when we’re talking about bras — so finding your size shouldn’t be a guessing game. Unfortunately, most women aren’t wearing the bra size that fits them best. In fact, one study found that about 80 percent of women were wearing the wrong size bra, with the vast majority of those women wearing bras that are too small.
If you spend all day tugging on your bra (or dread putting it on in the first place), there’s a good chance it’s the wrong size. It’s pretty miraculous how much better a bra feels when it actually fits, so get a professional measurement the next time you’re out shopping.
Choosing the wrong cup style
Those demi bras are cute, but they’re not going to do the job for a gal with a larger bust. It stands to reason that larger breasts require larger, fuller cups to keep the girls in line, but there’s more to it than that. One expert told Women’s Health there are seven different types of breasts, and your natural shape has a lot to do with what kind of bra will fit and look best on you. For example, women with side-set breasts need a bra that will bring them together, and women with tear drop breasts need something with a little extra lift.
Using the tightest hooks
If you’re buying a bra you fasten on the tightest hooks, you’re probably buying too big of a band. Bra fitting specialist Bobbie Smith told The Huffington Post you should actually purchase a bra that fits on the loosest hooks when you buy it, because you’ll need to tighten it up later. “A bra is going to stretch about three inches in its lifetime. That’s when you go to the next set of hooks,” she said.
Not adjusting your straps
There is absolutely no need to spend all day moving your bra strap back up your arm. Instead, make sure you’re adjusting your straps every time you put your bra on. Lingerie designer Mariana Hernandez told Prevention that washing and wearing your bras causes the straps to loosen, so they need to be tightened frequently. It also may be a sign your bra is too big, or that it’s worn out and ready to be replaced.
Having a band that’s not straight
Take a look at the back of your bra in a mirror. Does the strap run in a straight line across your back, or is it arching up toward your neck? If it’s not a straight line all the way around, it probably doesn’t fit. Lingerie fit and style expert Jenny Altman told Women’s Health a bra band that rides up in the back is either too big or needs to be closed using a tighter hook.
Only wearing one style
One bra style does not fit every need, according to Elisabeth Dale, author of The Bra Zone. She told Today that every woman should have several different styles of bras — as many as nine, depending on your wardrobe — so you always have the right fabric and cut to seamlessly complement your outfit of choice.
Thinking you can only wear one size
You accept that size fluctuates with the rest of your clothes according to fit and brand — it’s time to believe that to be true with bras, as well. Lingerie expert Jenny Altman told Women’s Health that not all bras (or their sizes) are created are equal. “Think of it like jeans. You might be a size 28 in boyfriend jeans, but you may need a bigger size in skinny jeans,” she said. You’ll likely need to do the same size adjusting when you swap bra styles.
Not trying them on with clothes
Unless you’re planning on walking around in just your bra all day, you’re going to need to know what a bra looks like under your clothes before you buy it. Bra fit specialist Kay-Lin Richardson told Cosmopolitan every woman should bring a T-shirt when she tries on bras. “They might think a bra looks great, but then they put a T-shirt on over the top and realize it actually isn’t giving them the shape they want. Or they might feel so-so about a bra and then put the T-shirt on and realize it’s perfect,” she said.
Wearing them two days in a row
It’s not a big deal to wear your bra more than once before you wash it — most women probably do it, whether they admit it or not — but it is a big deal to wear it two days in a row. Bra fitting specialist Bobbie Smith told The Huffington Post, “Letting a bra rest at least one day in between wear will help the elastic regain its strength. When you’re wearing it two days in a row, it’s like pulling on a muscle — it’s going to strain it and it won’t be able to snap back.”
Keeping them too long
Bras are expensive, so we try to make them last for a long time — probably longer than we should. According to Lexie Sachs, a textiles product analyst at the the Good Housekeeping Institute, you should be ditching your bras if they’ve lost their shape or elasticity, are too small, or are just plain uncomfortable. Sachs says the lifetime of most bras is six to 12 months, but she added that you can stretch that time by rotating your bras and leaving time between wears.
Storing them folded
Folding your bras may be the easiest way to get them to fit in your drawer, but it’s also a good way to help them wear out faster. Lingerie designer Elodie Giorgis told The Huffington Post, “Bras should be stacked inside one another, never twisted with one cup inside the other. This will distort the shape of the bra, particularly foam cups (that will tend to crease and dimple) and also increase the chance of wires being displaced.”
Washing them all wrong
I know, it’s so easy to throw that bra in the washing machine and call it a day, right? Unfortunately, that’s not a great choice if you want that bra to last very long, according to lingerie expert Claire Chambers. She told Harper’s Bazaar that in most cases, your bras should always be hand-washed. “Hand-washing sounds tedious but it’s actually pretty easy,” she said. “Combine your similarly-colored delicates in a sink of warm water, and add a delicate wash that’s specially formulated for lingerie. Swish around a few times, gently squeeze and then lay flat to dry.”
Chamber explained that if you simply must wash your bras in the washing machine, you should use the gentle cycle, utilize a lingerie bag, use warm water, use specialized lingerie detergent, and never use the dryer. “You should always lay your lingerie flat to avoid stretching out the band or straps,” she added.
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