A bra is a complex contraption, and the most annoying piece of underwear isn’t it? We get anxious when we’re shopping for them, it takes ages to wash one, but the most aggravating part of the bra culture by far happens when one tries to make this undergarment lay properly under the clothes.
The good news? There are few simple rules that make all this easier! Women do tend to make numerous mistakes when it comes to their bras, both during shopping and during maintenance. Women are making so many mistakes when it comes to their bras, from buying them to maintaining them. You need to know what you are doing wrong in order to fix it, so we have prepared the All Time Top 10 DON’Ts regarding bras by consulting bra fitting specialist Bobbie Smith of Freshpair. Find out what you have been doing wrong and start making peace with these complex garments once and for all.
Here are the 10 bra mistakes you’re probably making:
1. Choosing a bra by cup size.
So we shouldn’t be choosing bras based on cup size?! Nope, according to Smith — instead, start with the numerical band size. “Cup sizes are directly related to a band size,” she told us. “So for somebody to say, ‘Oh, I’m a D cup’ is irrelevant unless you know what band size it’s correlated with.” Cup sizes are not standard, meaning you may be a D with one band size but an E with another size band. A 32D bra is a cup size smaller than a 34D, for example. Letting go of whatever cup size you think you are will allow you to explore and find the best-fitting bra for you. Which leads us to…
2. Wearing a bra that’s too small.
According to Bobbie, cup sizes are a strong indicator of a women’s identity – that’s why many women are resistant to go up a cup size in order to go down a band size. But you may be wearing a 36C when your ribcage measurement is a 32… which would require you to buy a bra that’s a 32E. “A lot of women I fit, I bring them down to a smaller back band size and suddenly their cup sounds huge,” says Bobbie, “and they think that it’s a character flaw.” Do not hesitate to buy a bra with a larger cup size — it means it will actually fit you way better.
3. Fastening your bra on the tightest hooks.
When measuring your band size, you should go according to the outermost set of hooks, not the innermost. “A bra is going to stretch about three inches in its lifetime,” says Bobbie, and when it does, “that’s when you go to the next set of hooks.” Buy a bra that fits snugly on the last set of hooks, and only later should you need to use the tighter ones.
4. Letting the band ride up on your back.
“The back band should never be higher than the underwire,” says Bobbie. If it does, it doesn’t fit you properly.
5. Insisting on a contour-style bra instead of a softer-seamed, lined bra.
Contour bras are the molded ones, the kind that keep their shape even when they’re in your drawer (and that you usually find at Victoria’s Secret). Seamed bras are the soft ones with floppy fabric cups that mold to the shape of your breast. Which one is right for you, says Bobbie, depends on the texture of your boobs. “If your breasts are firm and they sit up high on their own,” Bobbie recommends, “then you can get away with the push-up bras and the contour style.” But if, like most women, your breasts are softer and not naturally perky, “they’re going to settle at the bottom of the contour cup and you’re going to have space at the top of the strap.”
Why does this happen? “A breast is naturally cone-shaped, not round,” Bobbie explains, “so when you wear a contour with its own shape, you’re trying to fit soft tissue into that shape.” That’s when you get spillage or “quadra-boob.” The seams of a seamed bra, on the other hand, function like the support beams of a house, giving structure and shape to the breast. They work with your breasts to mold to them, instead of your breasts having to fit into a pre-determined shape.