Unsolicited Fashion Advice #3

Now, this topic is serious enough that Oprah Winfrey dedicated an entire episode to it. Such is the magnitude of the problem that she staged various “interventions” during the episode. What could be so important that the Queen of Talk deemed it worthy of an episode?

Well, bras.

You may well laugh, but the statistics speak for themselves: 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. While some may argue that it’s not really a big deal, I have two words for you: back fat.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are other reasons, completely unrelated to layers of fat, you should pay more attention to your bra. For one, there’s the comfort of not having your bra ride up your back or the straps digging in to your shoulders. For another, there’s the risk of having your boobs look like the deer-in-the-headlight’s eyes in a photo taken with flash. And, if that’s still not enough to convince you, then well, here’s the simple truth: you will look nicer, your clothes will fit better and look more put-together if your bra fit you (and the situation) well.

If that didn’t appeal to your sense of logic (and good taste) or if you’re just averse to wearing any sort of upper body undergarment (*cough* Blake Lively *cough*), then there’s not much I can do about that. But if you’re willing to join me in my war against back fat and bacon-straps, then here go my tips for buying, choosing and wearing your bras:

1: Get yourself measured

This would seem like a no-brainer, but I have a friend who doesn’t even know her own bra size (you know who you are, my dear). It would be best if you get yourself measured professionally, (the salesladies in the lingerie section of the department section should be able to do this for you), but if you can’t be bothered, ask your mom/sister/roommate to help you out. Doing it yourself won’t be the best approach, since as you raise your arms to measure, you’re affecting the measurements.

If you’re body has gone through any major changes, then re-measure. Weight gain/loss, pregnancy and plain and simple aging time changes a woman’s body. Even Cameron Diaz has accepted that.

Take note of the hint, though...

2: Try it on

Again, this seems like a no-brainer. But just because something is your size, it doesn’t mean it’ll fit you. With jeans, a size 27 bootcut will fit you differently from a size 27 straight leg. The same is true with bras. Cups could be cut differently, molded differently. Straps could be closer together or wider apart. Not all bras are created equal. Even within the same brand, different styles will fit differently. Not all 34As are created equal. Even women with the same size won’t necessarily fit the same bra. So when I say “try it on” I don’t just mean wear it. I mean look at it from the side, from the back, from the front. Scoop the girls in. Adjust the straps. Jump around in it a bit to see if it offers ample support and coverage.

3: Wear it right

Always try a bra on the loosest clasp. If a strapless if falling off at the loosest clasp, try a smaller band size.

The back of your bra should be level with the front of your bra. If you’re wearing it too high on your back, the cups will spill forward (and who wants THAT?). If you’re wearing it too low on your back (or on your waist, in the case of someone I know *ehem!*), you’re pulling on your shoulders or you’ve mistaken your tummy for your boobs.

And no matter how top-heavy you are, a bra that fits you well will not result in the dreaded bunches of back-fat. Either the size is wrong, the straps are too tight or you’re wearing it at the tightest clasp. If the size is correct and the layers are still there, do not lodge a complaint to Wacoal’s customer service department just yet. Either they size the bra smaller than they should (in which it is perfectly acceptable to move either up or down your usual size) or it’s just not the right bra style for you.

A good (but expensive) bra: Spanx Bra-llelujah

4: Choose the right one

Sure, you chose the right one for your body and your breasts, but it’s not always the right for your outfit. There isn’t one bra that will fit every single situation. My initial thought was that a seamless, skin-tone strapless bra would be perfect for anything. But a strapless, let’s face it, no matter how well made, is not the most comfortable thing in the world.

Again, you would think this was a no-brainer, but one walk through any random mall will prove this otherwise. Some of it is glaringly obvious: strapless bras with spaghetti strapped or strapless tops, never wear a black bra under a white top. Other rules are not as straightforward. Tight t-shirts must always be worn with t-shirt bras (duh) or, at the very least, bras with smooth, molded cups. Never wear an ornamented bra (with rosettes, bulky lace) with a top that clings to your body, unless you want to look like the tissues you stuffed your bra with were overflowing. Always, always wear a nude/skin toned bra under a white shirt. If you wear any other color undergarment (I swear the “cool girls” in high school wore bright pink under their blouses, with no sando. Ha!), you risk looking like you’re about to break into a rendition of “Hit Me Baby, One More Time”. But, hey, if that’s the look you’re going for, more power to ‘ya.

With a black top, always, always wear a skin-tone bra. Even if you don’t think there’ll be flash photography. You don’t want to be that girl who unintentionally flashed all her friend’s Facebook friends by just wearing the wrong bra.

5: Take care of them

They take care of your “girls” and they need the care back. There’s a reason they’re called delicates. It’s because they are. Don’t just stash them in a drawer, lay them out neatly, especially the ones with molded cups. Never push the cups in, it ruins the shape of the cups and will give you that Tara Reid pre-reconstruction surgery look.

Wash them in one of those net bags for delicates. If you’re too lazy to find one of those, then wash them separately by hand.

Wearing them on the loosest clasp first conserves the elasticity on the bands, making them last longer, and giving you more room to adjust when they do get loose. Some really good bras cost quite a bit of money (i.e. Spanx) , so the more mileage you get out of them, the better.

Now if this post stops even one girl from wearing a neon pink and yellow striped bra under her white uniform blouse, then I’ve done my job. Come to think of it, it’s high time I drag my dear “my mom buys my bras” friend brassiere shopping.

Photos from Spanx.com and VictoriasSecret.com.

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