If the Bra Fits... Wear IT!

Date: Mar 10, 2006

Publication: Get Sugar

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

If the Bra Fits...Wear It.

There's nothing more beautiful than the feminine silhouette. And whether you're ultra shapely or just a little slip of a thing, you owe it to yourself to find a bra that highlights your attributes to the, shall we say, fullest.

According to a recent national fit study by Wacoal, eight out of ten women in the U.S. - or nearly 90 million women over the age of 18 - are wearing the wrong size bra. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that we all start buying bras in our adolescence and don't sway too far from our original size. Well, just as our pant size can go up and down, so too does our bra size.

"People's weight changes constantly," says Julie Lee, owner of Julianna Rae (www.juliannarae.com), an online lingerie boutique. "Everyone should have a couple of different bras... like skinny clothes and heavy clothes." In addition, says Julie: "The average person wears their bra for too long." How long is too long, we ask? "Assuming you have six or seven bras, the general rule is to replace them every six months," says Julie. "You can tell when the backs and sides get that little stretchy fraying... or you can look at the wires and see if they're no longer the same shape."

"What kills bras is the dryer," says Brenna Graham, owner of French Dressing, a lingerie boutique in Beacon Hill, who recommends hand-washing and line drying undergarments. Another tip: "Most people start on the tightest hook, but really you should start by wearing your bra on the last hook and end up in the middle because they stretch," she says.

Julie, who manufacturers her own collection, adds, "The elastic used for bras needs to be stronger than underwear elastic. It wears out with washing." However, she's not as stringent as Brenna about hand-washing. "I'm fairly lazy, so I use a laundry bag and put them in the washing machine on gentle cycle, which protects the wires," she says. Both Julie and Brenna recommend washing bras after "two wears" or up to once per week, depending on what you're doing while wearing them. (Read: If you sweat a lot, wash more).

"The most important thing is comfort," says Julie. "Next is how you look in it... it should support your size correctly and should fit. And finally it's about the style you are going after. You should buy bras that make you look the most natural."

So, how do you find the right fit? Mostly it's about trying on different styles and finding the one for you, but there is an actual science, too. Locally, Lady Grace in Brookline offers bra measurements, as do some department stores. But you can do it yourself. Just grab a measuring tape and check out the diagram below.

- Anna Gustavson

Photo credits: Brenna Graham at French Dressing with a Cosabella bra; a colorful bra by Huit; an everyday bra by Cosabella; Julie Lee at a recent trunk show.

French Dressing, 49 River Street, Beacon Hill 617.723.4968
Lady Grace, 1364 Beacon Street, Brookline, 800. 922.0504.

Sizing diagram compliments of /, with art by Temah Nelson.

Step 1: Band
Measure under your arms, high on your back, around the top of your chest as shown in Step 1 in the diagram. Is the measurement an even number? If yes, this is your band size. If it's an odd number, then add 1" to determine your band size.

Step 2: Cup
With your bra on, measure loosely around the fullest part of your bust as shown in Step 2 in the diagram. This is your cup measurement.

Step 3:
Subtract the band size from your cup measurement. The difference between the two determines your cup size. 1" = A; 2" = B; 3" = C; 4" = D; 5" = DD (E)

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