Lingerie shopping – whether for pleasure or out of necessity – can often be a complex task, particularly when it comes to buying a bra that fits correctly. For a start the variety can be infinite; and as shoppers we’re faced with the task of choosing from the often endless array of options, that includes everything from strapless bras, to backless bras, to wireless bras to cupless bras and beyond, so it’s little wonder that finding a bra that both fits and feels comfortable can be a daunting task for many.
And while simply making do with an ill-fitting bra rather than taking the time to find the right lingerie for you can sometimes seem like the easiest route, wearing the wrong sized bra can lead to both discomfort and frustration, not to mention longer term issues such as back pain. So while finding a beautiful bra that fits might appear to be a mystery to many, it doesn’t have to be so elusive.
These days, many women are choosing to buy their lingerie online; a process that affords shoppers a more private, more relaxed, and less pressurised environment.
And so, if you’re sitting down with your laptop to peruse the unrivalled online offerings, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to bra shopping for you to follow, that will mean that oversized, loose, tight and slack bras will be a thing of the past, and you can start to revel in your new-found knowledge when it comes to all things lingerie.
1. Know your size
Before you even begin the task of finding a bra that fits, it’s essential that you get fitted by a professional first. With up to 85% of women thought to be wearing the wrong bra size, taking the time to ensure you know your measurements is an essential part of buying a good bra. And getting fitted regularly is also important – just like with shoe and dress size, our bra size can fluctuate due to a number of factors – weight gain, pregnancy, hormones and menopause can all have an effect on our size, so, if you notice a change in your body shape, it’s essential to get an up-to-date fitting. While the thought of being measured might be unnerving to a few women, it’s a simple, quick and straightforward procedure that merely involves being measured both directly under and across the fullest part of the bust.
2. Choose the right shop
While the quickest option is choosing a site that has limited lingerie options, if you want to find a bra that fits, a website with a wide range of bras on offer is your best bet. Perusing the many online offerings in the privacy of your own home makes for a calm and comfortable experience, and you’ll feel far less pressurised to buy anything that isn’t completely right for you.
3. Know what you’re looking for
Before you start your bra shopping, it’s important to know exactly what type of bra you’re after – are you after something flirty; like a sheer bra, a plunge bra or a lace bra? Or do you need something more comfortable – such as a wireless bra? Are you shopping for a special occasion – and looking to purchase some bridal or Valentine’s lingerie? Or do you want to treat yourself to some lace lingerie? Having a clear idea of the type of bra you’re looking for will make for an easier – and quicker – shopping experience.
4. Pay attention to the cups
Once you’re armed with your correct bra size (which can fluctuate depending on both brand and style of the bra – so it’s important to be open minded about this) your focus should be on finding a bra that both provides you with ample support, and also correctly positions your breasts. A way to check if a bra does this is by looking in the mirror to asses the fit. Your bra should lift and centre your bust midway between your shoulders and elbows, and your breasts should stay within your body's frame. There should also be one inch of definition between your breasts.
5. Wear the right shirt
When trying on your new lingerie, it’s important to wear the right sort of top. Wearing a loose or baggy shirt will make it hard to tell how your bust will look under something more fitted or low cut. Experts recommend wearing a fitted shirt so you can see the different look each bra provides, and – of course – if you’re buying underwear for a special occasion, be sure to bring the outfit you’ll be wearing over it with you, to ensure there aren’t any unwelcome surprises on the night in question.
6. Opt for quality over quantity
It can be tempting to stock up on a wide range of bras, forgoing quality for quantity, however, it’s far better to have fewer bras of better grade, than to have a drawer full of lingerie made from cheap and inferior material. The better quality of bra you buy, the longer they’ll last and the less often you'll have to replace them. And while it might be a bigger expense up front, in the long run it will work out better value for money, as the cost per wear for good quality bras is much more economic than cheap lingerie. Experts recommend having between seven and ten bras on rotation, and warn against wearing the same bra day after day, instead wearing the same three of four bras one week, followed by a different three or four bras the following. Investing in different bras for different occasions is also worth considering – so you might want to add a strapless, backless or wireless bra into the mix when shopping for underwear.
7. Allow for stretching
While bras are made of a variety of different materials – from lace to silk to cotton and beyond, many women buy lingerie that is made of materials such as Lycra and spandex – both of which lend themselves well to flexibility, which can be an important factor when it comes to the comfort of a bra. However, such materials are also susceptible to stretching and loosening over time, and so it’s important to take this into consideration when buying your bras. One way to ensure that your bra will still fit, even when it does eventually loosen is to buy a bra that fits best when it’s on its loosest possible bra hook, which will allow for stretching. This means that over time, if your bra does stretch, you can simply tighten the setting.
8. Assess the fit properly
When trying on new lingerie, it’s essential to correctly asses the fit of your bra. Don’t be afraid to face yourself in the mirror with a critical eye, to check for any gaps, overspill or digging. Ensure that the straps aren’t riding up, that the middle point of the bar is flush against your chest, and that – most importantly of all – the bra feels comfortable.
9. Buy in bulk
Given the pitfalls of buying a badly fitting bra – from breast pain to back ache and sagging – if you do find a bra that is both stylish and sexy and a great fit to boot, stocking up on your size can only ever be a good idea.
10.Take care of your bras
Once you’ve been through the process of getting professionally fitted and measured and you’ve invested in some high-quality, comfortable and well-fitted bras, the last thing you want to do is to put that effort to waste by not taking good care of your bras. Simply throwing them in the washing machine along with your other laundry will not only lessen their shelf life; but in some scenarios can cause loose fabric, broken wires and ruined material. If you do buy higher-quality bras, proper maintenance will help make them last longer and keep their shape. Experts recommend hand washing your bras every few wears, using a soap that is gentle on the fabric; if you are able to machine wash them (and be sure to check the label thoroughly before doing so) buy a netted laundry bag, which will not only protect the hooks from clasping onto other articles of clothing but will also prevent the bra from twisting and turning out of shape. Finally, always air dry your bras on a clothing line – however short on time you might be – and never put your bras in the dryer. Getting into the habit of paying due diligence to taking care of your bras will ensure that you get maximum wear and comfort from your bras.