No matter the size of your breasts, if you have them, bras are likely a major component of most of the outfits you wear. Even as ubiquitous as this undergarment is, there’s still so much confusion about finding the perfect fit and maintaining the bras once you do. So, we sat down with Ra’el Cohen, the Chief Creative Officer at ThirdLove, the online bra retailer that carries up to size 48I, to answer all our questions. *Edited and condensed for clarity and length.
1. Get fitted for bras often.
The biggest cause of fit issues or fit woes is not knowing your correct size. Women have a connection to the size that they were told they were when they were 15, 18, or 22—and the reality is that women’s bodies and bra sizes change a minimum of six times in their lives.
The majority of the support of a bra comes from the band—it doesn’t come from the straps. So if your band is too big, your straps are doing all the work, and it can really dig in and be painful. It can also cause the bra to sit in the wrong place, which can cause more boob sweat and chafe.
I would recommend getting fit for a bra every year, but I know that’s not always realistic for women in person. We make it as easy as possible with the Fit Finder to do it from the comfort of home. You know your body, so when you’ve had a change, that’s usually a good time to get fitted or do it yourself from home.
2. Find the right bra for your breast shape.
Breast shape dictates where your breasts sit on your body and how they sit. They dictate if you have a narrower back and a bigger bust, or a smaller bust and a wider back. So the breast shape is the real nuance that makes specific styles and sizes better for some people than others.
It’s just about identifying what’s going to work on your body so that it’s the most comfortable. You don’t know if you’ve fallen in love with a bra in the first five minutes that you’ve put it on. It can take a day, it can take a week, it can take a month. Your bra is trying to talk to you and you just have to listen. When you get home at the end of the day, where are you feeling it? If a bra fits you properly and is made of really high-end materials, you shouldn’t feel it at the end of the day.
3. Do the “scoop and swoop” when putting on your bra.
When women put on their bras, there are two camps. There are the women who hook it in the front and twist it around, and there are the women who put it on and hook it in the back. Regardless of whether you hook in the front or hook in the back, you need to lift the breast tissue, pull back the wire, and put yourself into the cup. Otherwise, the wire could end up sitting on your tissue or you won’t know where your straps are supposed to be adjusted to. Always do the scoop and swoop.
4. Clasp your bra on the loosest hook.
To get your perfect fit, you need to make sure that the band of your bra is snug enough and that you’re wearing it on the loosest hook. Your bra is going to stretch over time, and you want to get as much life from your bra as you can, so if you start on the loosest clasp and then tighten it as the bra gets stretched out over time, it’ll last longer.
The same thing is true with straps. As the straps stretch, you need to be adjusting them as well.
5. Own seven bras.
I believe that every woman should have seven bras in her wardrobe. Three of those bras should be your everyday kind of smoothing T-shirt bras, maybe two in a neutral tone, and one in a color, or black—something else that you like. Those are your workhorse bras. You’re going to wear those every day. And if you rotate them, not only are you able to wash them when you want, but they’ll last much longer. If you have three bras in your daily rotation, they could last well over a year.
You should have a strapless bra in nude and black, then a plunge bra for deeper-V necklines—with or without push-up, depending on what you want—and a lacy style, something for fun that you really enjoy wearing. Of course, you have your sports bras, lounge bras, and sleep bras, but those are the seven bras you need for your daily wardrobe.
Fabrics need time to rest and recover, so if you’re not allowing for that and wearing the same bra every day, then your bra may only last six months. You can up the mileage on it if you have a few more in your rotation.
6. Wash your bras only as frequently as your body and environment need.
This is a funny one because it’s like everyone’s dirty little secret. I have talked to people who don’t wash their bras, I’ve talked to people who wash them every single time they wear them, and then everyone in between.
It really depends on the person and the climate you live in, how much you sweat, how you wear your bras, and where you’re wearing them.
If you aren’t living in a hot climate and you’re not particularly sweaty, you may wait three or four times before you wash your bra. If it’s 110 degrees in New York, you might be washing it every day. It really depends. There’s no rule to it. But just never put it in the dryer—that’s the biggest thing.
Hand-washing is best, but if you want to machine wash your bras, hook the hooks together, place them in a lingerie bag, and put the washer on cold, but never put them in the dryer. Hot water and heat break down the spandex fiber. All bras have spandex in them—that’s how they’re able to be stretchy. Your bras really won’t last very long at all if you’re always putting them in the dryer.
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