Not going to lie, I am 22 years old and still wear the same bras from high school. It’s not because I don’t want to buy new, really pretty ones, it’s because A) I have no idea where to start and B) I’d rather spend the money on things like going out food. #twentysomethingproblems. So, when I mentioned to my coworkers that I know as much about bras as Jennifer Aniston (who never wears one), I knew an assignment would come. And it did. My task: get schooled in bras and boobs.
I came up with a list of all my burning (ha!) bra questions for expert Jene Luciani. Bravo calls her the “Brilliant Bra Guru,” and I trust any chick who’s grouped in the same sentence as the channel that started Real Housewives. So I knew Jene was my girl. If you’re anything like me and feeling lost in this crazy world of push-ups and demis, check out Jene’s nuggets of wisdom below. You’ll feel worthy of Andy Cohen calling you a bra guru once you’re done reading. Promise.
SHEfinds: What is the most common misconception about bra sizes?
Jene Luciani: The most common misconception about bra sizes is that you are the same size your entire life! Women are always shocked to learn that they can fluctuate sizes within months or even weeks. Hormones, dietary changes, weight loss or gain – even as little as five pounds – can cause a fluctuation in bra size and fit. If you’ve noticed there is gaping in the cups or the band is riding up the back, it’s time to recheck your size and invest in new bras. I recommend a professional fitting at least once a year, or measuring yourself, which only takes a sewing tape measure and just a few minutes (as explained in The Bra Book).
SF: What is the biggest mistake women make when bra shopping?
JL: The biggest mistake women make when bra shopping is that they don’t take the time to try on bras. Take the time to try on different styles to find out what works with your body type, shape, comfort level, and ultimately, budget. That’s why I like to shop at stores like T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, because you can find a variety of quality designer brands in one place that won’t break the bank.
SF: Why are women different sizes in different brands?
JL: Unfortunately, there is no real consistency in sizing with the various manufacturers and brands because each vendor uses a different fit model to determine how they make their bras, not to mention all of the different cuts and styles. That’s why I recommend using size as a guideline only and trying before you buy. Be open to the fact that you may be buying different sizes in different brands.
SF: How often should you really buy new bras?
JL: You should switch up your bra inventory as your sizes change or as you notice signs of wear and tear. Depending on how you care for them, bras that you wear often should only last a year or so. What’s great is that you can find the designer brands currently available in department stores at stores like Marshalls and T.J.Maxx for a fraction of the price, without sacrificing quality.
*SF side note-I’ve been doing it wrong: shopping for bras.
SF: Why do boobs sometimes spill out of your bra on top and under arms?
JL: Typically this either happens from the style of the bra or the fact that the bra is too small overall. If you are choosing a demi cup bra and you have full breasts, you may need to look for one that’s full coverage.
SF: Why should you get measured by a professional?
JL: A professional is well-versed when it comes to inventory and the way different brands run as far as sizing and fit.
SF: Are there any tricks to determining your bra size without getting professionally measured?
JL: Yes, it’s actually not as difficult as people think! You only need a sewing tape measure, which you can find at any drugstore, and then two measurements. First, wrap the tape measure snugly around the underside of your bust and record that number. Then, wrap around the fullest part of your bust, just above the nipple line, and record that number. The difference between the two numbers determines the cup and band size. Allow one inch for each cup size. For example, if band measurement is 30 and cup is 36, this likely means you are a 30E – but this is where it gets tricky. Bras are not always cut true to measurement, so you need to round up the band size. In this case, a 32E might be the more suitable starting point when bra shopping.
SF: How often should you wash your bras?
JL: Theoretically, you should wash in between every wearing because the sweat, dirt and oils in our skin can break down the elasticity of the fabric. Hand washing is the best option but for lack of time, most of us don’t. When machine washing, any number of things, like underwire bending or cups being crushed, can happen. However, there are steps you can take to avoid damage. Before washing, first clasp the bra and put into a mesh garment bag. Be sure you are washing bras in gentle cycle with gentle detergent and with no hot water or heat from the dryer. Lastly, don’t hang bras from the strap to dry or on anything that can stretch it out or damage it.