By Kristin Sidorov
All right, ladies, time for some straight talk. We all know that shopping for a new bra can be an agonizing process. After all, not all breasts are created equal, and trying to match your girls up to a department store's limited selection seems impossible. So what's a girl to do? What we all have done: Grab the size you've been wearing for years that kinda-sorta-almost fits and hightail it out of that shop as fast as you can.
It's time to start changing the way you do business with your breasts. They deserve better than your 8-year-old cotton stand-by that's never quite fit. The right bra can change the way you look, feel, and carry yourself. It's OK if your chest isn't a one-size-fits-all. It's about time we all embraced that as a wonderful thing. You're unique, and all you need is some help and know-how to find the perfect bra that's right for you, your shape, and your life.
Below we've outlined everything you need, from the 3 cardinal rules of mastering bra ownership to 7 fail-proof tips for finding the perfect fit.
1. Get Measured
Seriously. Let go of your skepticism and self-consciousness, because professionals are there to help and know exactly how to size you up. Most of us wear the wrong size -and don't know the first thing about cuts, styles, and fit. It's recommended that you get measured at least twice a year, or every time you buy a bra. It sounds like a lot, but our bodies are constantly changing and our breasts age right along with the rest of us.
2. Get the "Essential Lineup"
Most of us have a favorite bra that we wear day in and day out, but bras have a pretty slim shelf life (6 months to a year) and will wear out faster if worn more than 3 or 4 times a week. Instead, build an essential lineup of undergarments that will serve you for almost any occasion, season, or outfit, and can be easily rotated: 2 to 3 seamless T-shirt bras that provide support and coverage, preferably in neutral colors; 1 strapless bra, preferably with a molded cup and a silicone band; and at least 1 fun fashion bra that pump up the spice factor, show off your personality, and makes you feel sexy.
3. Get Serious about Quality and Care
Getting measured and buying a quality bra will change the way your clothes fit and give you new confidence, so there's no question that its an investment worth making. A good bra needs care: Its construction is imperative to its function, and if you don't take care of it, it'll wear out and stop working for you long before its time. Don't wear the same bra two days in a row and be sure to handle your bras delicately. Hand-wash your bras in lukewarm water using gentle soap and never, ever place them in a dryer. Don't cram them in an overstuffed drawer, either-the better you handle them, the better they'll work for you.
Every woman should memorize these tips. Again, it's always best to get measured and fitted by a professional, but it's important to know what to look for, exactly how your bra should fit, and the common mistakes to avoid.
1. Your breasts should be positioned halfway between your shoulders and your elbows. Similarly, your bra's band should be straight and level all the way around. No hoisting!
2. The middle bridge of the bra should lie flat against your breastbone.
3. If you have any bulge, try the next cup size up.
4. If your bra cup dimples, try the next cup size down.
5. If you have back rolls or puckering, try the next size down. It's a common mistake to assume that back rolls are due to a too-tight bra, but the opposite is true: Opting for a smaller band size that rests lower on the back will eliminate the problem and give you a smooth silhouette.
6. If your straps are constantly slipping, try going down a band size. Your bra isn't fitting snugly enough to stop from riding up your torso.
7. If you're a C-cup or larger, you should never be without underwire.
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