Women all over the world wear bras on a daily basis. They're pretty much a necessity, unless you want back pain and your boobs bouncing around whenever you move.
Even though they're a part of our constant wardrobe, how often have you heard women complain about their bras being uncomfortable? I know I have. The elastic, the wire, none of it is pleasant.
But it turns out that your discomfort probably comes from wearing the wrong size bra. Ra'el Cohen, the chief creative officer of indie lingerie brand ThirdLove, gave an interview with Cosmopolitan and answered a bunch of questions on bra sizing. As it turns out, there's a lot we can learn!
How do you know if your bra fits properly?
"Your bra is trying to talk to you — that's how I think of it," Cohen says. "At the end of the day, take special note before you walk in the door and rip off your bra — which is typically what women do — of what's bugging you."
"Are you feeling the hook-and-eye closure in the back?" she continued. "Is it scratchy? Are you feeling the wire digging in? Where is that wire digging in — in the middle or on the sides? Has your strap been slipping all day? You know you're not comfortable, but sometimes we're so busy we don't take the time to figure out how or why."
Your bra might be ill-fitting in the straps, in the cup, or even the band. Luckily there's an easy way to tell which area of your bra is causing issues.
"Put on a tight white T-shirt, and if you can see the bra very clearly, whether it's the cup edge bulging or gaping, or the strap or the sides where it might be digging in, you're wearing the wrong size," Cohen says.
What should you keep in mind when buying a bra?
Everyone has different breasts. It's just the way it is. Some people have ones that are farther apart, some are close. Different shapes, sizes, and make-ups all factor in to what type of bra you should be buying.
"People are always focused on the size of a bra — the band and cup — and that matters," Cohen says. "But breast shape and bra style is also incredibly important. For example, if you have east-west or side set breasts that point outwards or have ample space between them, it's very difficult for you to wear a full underwire around your whole breast."
Do some research and see what kind works better for your body. Getting a professional bra fitting is also a great idea. They'll help you measure your band size and determine what will work best for you.
Pay attention to the straps.
For the longest time the straps of my bras would slide right down my shoulders. I always thought it was because they weren't tightened enough, but then it felt too uncomfortable when I made them shorter. It turns out, the straps of your bras are trying to tell you something.
"One reason could be that you have narrow shoulders or sloped shoulders," Cohen says. "If that's the case, we'd recommend a bra like a plunge bra or a racerback bra, where the straps are further in to combat that. You can also just try adjusting the straps to see if that helps."
My shoulders definitely slope, and once I swapped to a racerback bra it totally changed the game.
How many bras do you need?
I love buying bras and I know for a fact that I have way too many. But is there really a specific number to have?
"You probably have, like, 20 bras in your drawer, including some from around 10 years ago. You don't need that many," Cohen says. "I recommend two to three neutral-toned T-shirt bras — whatever is closest to your skin tone. Those are your workhorses — you're going to wear those every day. Then, I recommend a black or colored T-shirt bra if you like that and want to have that variety. Then, a nude and black strapless set, and a nice lounge bra or bralette for comfy moments. That's seven bras total."
Some bras we love more than others, and we want to wear them all the time. If you really love a certain style, make sure to buy a couple of them, because re-wearing the same one day after day is not a good idea.
Your bra should be washed after almost every use, and your sports bras after each workout. The moist environment of a sweaty bra is the perfect place for microorganisms, yeast, bacteria, and even fungi to grow. This can be potentially harmful to your body over time, especially if you do end up developing a rash.
If you itch the rash, or even if you don't, it can cause open wound on your back, under your breasts, or on your rib cage. This leaves your body susceptible to infections, because don't forget, those bras are full of bacteria.