I muted and listened…

This post, all about the wonderful world of ladies bras, was set to go out last week. But last Tuesday was Blackout Tuesday, a collective action to protest racism and police brutality. So, I put this bra post on pause. I actually put everything on pause.
I also haven’t been posting on social media, because I wanted to respect and support the muted and listening, Black lives matter movement.
My hope is that you’ve used this week, as I have, to actively seek knowledge in order to better advocate for all those that have been discriminated against and treated unfairly.
Today it feels appropriate to start posting my regular content – the fashion and fun stuff. And while you will begin to see that again, both here on the blog and on  Instagram and Facebook, please know I will continue to share information and perspective that I learn about and I feel would resonate with you. Please also, feel free to share with me, and my audience information you feel would be valuable. Part of what I love about this community is that we are here to learn from one another on a myriad of topics. Thank you! I really look forward to continuing our journey together.

So, that being said, back to my regularly scheduled post…about BRAS…

All You Needed to Know About Bras, You DIDN’T Learn in Middle School.

Recently, we had our first socially distanced get together with friends. First of all, it was AWESOME!! Boy, did I miss people!  And, second, I was totally inspired to write this blog post. The women were saying our get together was the first time in MONTHS that they’ve actually worn a real bra!! Ummm, raise your hand if it’s me too for you…

And that it felt weird, because their bras were uncomfortable, and pinched and didn’t perk the girls up enough. Amen to that! And sorry if it’s TMI.

But it got me thinking… I’ve not really addressed the whole bra issue here before. I talk about it with my one on one wardrobe clients. And we talked about it a lot in the virtual closet class I’ve been teaching. Which, btw, I’m going to run again… I’ll tell you more about that at the end… But back to bras. So many women just don’t really know about proper fitting bras and how to care for them.

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Bras

So why should you care about bras? Because, in case no one ever told you,  if your undergarments don’t fit properly, your whole outfit will look crappy. I’m being harsh, but it’s true. There’s a reason they’re called foundation pieces. Your undergarments are LITERALLY the foundation of your outfit. And if your foundation is ill-fitting, your clothes will look lumpy and droopy and sloppy.

And, as we age and the elasticity of our skin declines, undergarments become even more important. It does not mean you need to wear a girdle or spanx all the time, hell no. Personally wearing that kind of shapewear make me “spangry”. But it does mean investing in quality, well fit bras and underwear can make all the difference in how your real clothes look on you.

The Time Has Come to Wear Bras Again

With lockdown ending, restrictions are beginning to lift, and that means many of us will be going out. And the need to put real bras on again regularly is upon us… so I thought now might be a good time to discuss all the intricacies surrounding bras.

Before You Buy, Get Professionally Fit

This truly is the most crucial advice. Bras are not one size fits all. And frankly, even just knowing your measurement (like 34C) doesn’t ensure fit. Everyone’s girls are shaped differently, and side spillage is just as much of a fit issue as droopy straps.

And PLEASE get measured by someone that has been actually trained in bra fitting. Therefore, not a teenager working parttime at Victoria’s Secret or Pink.

In Cleveland, I recommend Next to Me in Mentor or Nordstrom (at Beachwood Place or nationally).

According to my friend Sandra from Eleveintimates (the nighties that have built-in support), there are a few lingerie stores that are offering virtual bra fittings as well. Check out Lingerie on Lex (NYC), Chantilly Lace (Chicago), and Bliss Beneath (Toronto) if you’re in those cities or looking for a virtual fitting.

The Truth About Strapless Bras

I hear from many women that they have a hard time finding a good strapless bra... Here’s the deal. GO DOWN ONE SIZE IN YOUR BAND and UP ONE SIZE IN YOUR CUP. If you’re usually a 34C go to a 32D. Why? Because cup size really has to do with the ratio between your band and bust measurements – it’s called sister sizes, look at the chart above. And because the band is ideally where the bra support is coming from. That’s also why, if a bra fits well, the straps should not dig in.

The Well Rounded Bra Wardrobe

There are 3-4 basic bra styles that I recommend for a well-rounded bra wardrobe. Meaning these are the pieces that most women need for real-life outfits. I generally recommend opting for nude and black because they work under most clothes. Colored bras can be fun but they’re typically less versatile.

T-Shirt Bra

This style is essential, especially now because t-shirts are mainstays in our wardrobes. Nothing looks worse than a lumpy bra or the texture of lace under a cotton tee. Opt for a smooth, no lace style so it doesn’t look weird under t-shirts.SPANX<SUP>®</SUP> Bra-llelujah!<sup>®</sup> Full Coverage Bra, Main, color, VERY BLACK

This is my personal favorite bra. The wide straps lay flat, and prevent back bulge, and the cups have some padding but not too much. It looks great under t-shirts. However, if you need a lot of support this might not be the best for you. The straps are not adjustable (I have some clients tailor the straps for a better fit). It also comes in a non-underwire version – I’m trying that next. This is a favorite of my friend Jenn, a fellow stylist in California (and my virtual closet class co-teacher). She recommends this bra to her clients that need a bit of extra support. It’s not a sexy looking bra, kinda lunch lady looking, but it does a fantastic job of perking-up the girls, especially under a t-shirt. There is also this version with a wide back strap to combat back bulge.

NATORI Pure Luxe Underwire T-Shirt Bra, Main, color, DULCEThis is the t-shirt bra Elana, my sweet former assistant, and still good friend,  swears is the best. It’s a bit prettier than the functional one above, but still performs well. The clients we’ve recommended it to have been very happy.

Pretty Lace Bra

We all need at least one of these. They’re pretty and sexy and make you feel feminine. Sometimes more fashion than function but that’s ok. They’re like the polar opposite of the lunch lady bra.

LA PERLA Alida Lace Underwire Balconette Bra, Main, color, RED-F085

La Perla is like the Mercedes Benz of Bras. Expensive, well made, beautiful, and if you can afford it, so worth it.

Wacoal Embrace Lace™ Plunge Bra - 853291 Pretty lace + support AND a ton of colors.

NATORI Feathers Underwire Contour Bra, Main, color, RASPBERRY CRUSHThink of this as if your pretty lace bra and t-shirt bra had a baby!

 

Strapless Bra

While they can be a pain to fit (see the details above). A strapless bra is an essential. For the one shoulder, off the shoulder, and strapless tops we love and want to wear.

Marie Jo Tom Strapless Bra 012-0828 | Bra, T shirt bra ...

This strapless bra has 5-star reviews for comfort and the fact that it actually stays up. Don’t let the straps in the photo fool you – they’re convertible, so the bra works with one, both or none.

WACOAL Red Carpet Convertible Strapless Bra, Alternate, color, SAND

This strapless number also has convertible straps and is the preferred strapless bra for larger busted women. Read the reviews, there’s a fan club!

Racer Back Bra (optional)

While racer-back is technically not an essential style, however, I wear mine quite a lot. And, it is a bra style that often solves wardrobe woes for my clients. Once purchased, they feel like they can wear many more of their sleeveless tops without the fear of straps showing.Simone Perele Confiance Push-Up T-Shirt Bra | Bare Necessities ...

This bra fits similarly to the Natori feathers but with a convertible racerback and some push-up padding.

 

Bra-llelujah! Racerback Bra - Very Black - 32B

This is the racerback version of my t-shirt bra. Truth be told, I wear it even when a racerback isn’t needed, it’s just comfortable.

Bra Care Rules You NEED to Know

Bras Should Not Have a Birthday

Bras are meant to last just 1 year if worn regularly. After that, the support and elasticity break down and the bra can’t “do it’s job” properly anymore. A special occasion bra or strapless bra can last longer because it’s not worn as often.

You Should NOT Wear the Same Bra 2 days in a row.

Your bra needs a break to breathe to retain the elasticity. Remember, it’s job is to LIFT, so the elastic is the key element that needs preservation.

You Should Keep 3- 4 Bras in Your Bra rotation

That allows them to properly rest in between wears AND allows you time to hand wash and air dry (I’ll expand more on this below).

DO NOT, EVER, Wash Your Bras in the Washing Machine

At least do not wash them with your regular wash. They’ll get all twisted up with your t-shirts and the hook and eyes will snag, it’s a mess. And lastly, it destroys them, so they won’t make it to their half bday.

You CAN Wash them on Delicate or Hand Wash

Washing your bras in a mesh lingerie bag, on the delicate cycle, with a gentle cleanser like Woolite is ok. Or hand wash them in your sink. And NEVER PUT THEM IN THE DRYER, NEVER! Only lay flat or put them on a drying rack.

No Need to Wash after Each Wear

Unless you sweat profusely or have worn the bra for some sort of exercise, bras can be washed every few wears. Especially if they’re on rotation as described above.

DO NOT Indent the Cups

Folding or indenting the bra cups makes them pucker and that is what makes them look weird under clothes. Ideally, stack them cup side up in the drawer.

Start on the Widest Hook

Because the band of the bra is what actually does the heavy lifting, it’s important to start on the widest of the hooks when wearing a new bra. Then as time goes on, and the bra stretches a bit move to the second hook. When the smallest hook is not offering proper support it’s time to get a new bra!

So that’s the 411 on bras. Was it helpful? Did you learn something new?

Join the Next Virtual Closet Class…

We’re going to offer the closet class again!! Actually we are going to offer two classes. The OG, intro,  Closet Audit + Shop Your Closet Class. And then an advanced Shop Your Closet Class for women that have already taken the intro class. The past classes have been such a success!

We are in the midst of working on dates and times (because now cities are opening, schedules are once again a thing). If you think you might be interested please let me know hallie@thewardrobeconsultant.com  so I can keep you on the list. We cap the class at 10 people, so space is limited.

I am praying for peace, understanding, compassion, and fairness as we also work towards change.

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Photo: Molly Nook

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Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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