A well-fitting bra is the single most important item of clothing a woman has in her repertoire (think: Kirsten Dunst in "Bring It On" versus Kirsten Dunst in "Marie Antoinette"). And, yet, most women are nearly as clueless as dudes when it comes to buying one.
An estimated 64 percent of women wear the wrong-sized bra, and out of those, 29 percent know they’re wearing the wrong size.
A great bra can do a lot more than merely support your boobs. A great bra can improve your posture and make you look slimmer.
A great bra enhances what you like and plays down what you don’t. It’s comfortable and never too tight. A great bra makes you look, and feel, super perky.
Considering most women wear a bra every day, we should all be making sure our lingerie drawer is filled with only the most flattering picks.
So, we consulted two specialists — True&Co. founder Michelle Lam and Brayola CEO Orit Hashay — to help us compile a list of what every woman needs to know before bra shopping. Pretty soon, you'll be shopping the intimates section like a pro.
Grab a handful -- and ask an expert to, as well.
What no one is telling you: The majority of women (or, about the same amount who love Beyoncé) are wearing the wrong bra size. Knowing your size will save you a dressing room meltdown when bra shopping.
What you should know: According to Lam, a well-fitting bra “will rest comfortably and flush against the back and sides of a woman’s torso,” hugging her body without digging in anywhere.
The front band should rest flat against your sternum, and nothing should be overflowing from the sides or top.
Even if you think you know your size, get measured by a fit specialist (It's her job!) to verify you're wearing the right size.
The big surprise: Hashay also notes your breasts change size “on average, eight times in your life.” If you gain or lose weight, get re-measured; chances are, your breasts have changed, along with your body.
You should spend more time admiring the view.
What no one is telling you: Boobs are like snowflakes: No two are the same. According to Lam, “Breast shape and position, as well as body type, play large roles in how a bra fits.”
What you should know: As Lam explains, breast shape is based on three factors: the curve of your breasts, the position and weight distribution of your breasts, and your size.
True&Co.’s fit test can help you determine your shape; once you know it, you can shop the color-coded site to find specifically-tailored bras.
The big surprise: The handy chart below breaks down the eight different breast types, which have been refined over time, based on more than 22 million pieces of data from female volunteers. (That's more than 44 million boobs, in case you're trying to do the math.)
Your boobs are as unique as you.
What no one is telling you: As Hashay explains, “there are millions of bras out there, [in] millions of different styles, and all 'do' different things.” Some look sexy, some provide tremendous support and some just get you through the day.
The best look awesome on your partner's floor the next morning.
What you should know: Obviously, you’ll want to know exactly what type of bra your wardrobe requires. For instance, if you wear a lot of thin, clingy tees, you’ll want to ditch the embroidered styles and opt for seamless t-shirt bras.
On the flip side, if your wardrobe is heavy on strappy tops and dresses, you’ll want to go for strapless or convertible styles to minimize back bulge.
The big surprise: No matter what, Hashay recommends “always hav[ing] a bra in your drawer that makes you feel WOW.” Don't forget, when you're feeling great about yourself, your boobs perk up with you.
Stop cheating on the brands that work for you.
What no one is telling you: “You may think you're a 36D in one brand, but in another, you may be a 34C,” Hashay says, adding, “Brands are tricky.”
What you should know: The best thing to do is find a brand you love and only buy from there. Yep, that's right: Much like men and wine, don't shop around if you know what you like -- and know it works for you.
If you can’t commit to one brand, “don’t go shopping with the idea you are one size,” Hashay urges.
The big surprise: One size does not fit all -- neither does your bra. Get re-measured at each shop you buy from to ensure you’re getting the right fit as defined by that brand.
You're doing it all wrong.
What no one is telling you: Nothing lasts forever, and bras are no exception; in fact, according to Hashay, the average bra has a life of about one year. Why? “As soon as they hit the washing machine they start to stretch,” she explains, and “as soon as this happens, you lose the support.”
What you should know: To prolong the lifespan of your lingerie, skip the machine and wash ‘em by hand — this will delay the deterioration process, but “not by large amounts.”
Aim to replace your bras every 18 months, regardless of your washing method.
The big surprise: You probably need to trash all the negligee hiding in your nightstand. On the upside, this means more shopping.