Style File: Bra Basics

Did you know there is an item of clothing that can ultimately affect your health? Here is your friendly reminder that your check up is due to review the Life of a Bra.

It is true. A bra is just as much body support as it is breast support. If you wear one that doesn’t do EXACTLY what it is designed to do in the best way it was designed to do it for YOUR INDIVIDUAL figure variations, the results could be back, neck and shoulder misalignment which can translate into a myriad of physical ailments. It may not happen overnight, but as we age the wear and tear of poor physical support begins to show. Understanding the Life of a Bra is critical in selecting the best features to support your figure, your style and ultimately your health.

This is your bra.

I Need Friends

You have heard it and gasped for air. You must have a minimum of 5 bras for an ideal lifecycle-which under normal wear against skin is a MAXIMUM of 18 months. Bras are worn EVERY day and support all motions of your body from sun up to sun down. That is a lot of work for one item of clothing to do. With multiple friends on the job, the job gets done better and lasts longer. Let’s get real. Would you really expect a friend to work 18 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year without a break and still show up every day on top of the game? Give your bra at the minimum, a 24 hour break and rotate it between 3-4 other bras. This allows the fabric to breathe, the form to remain in-tact and the straps and band to keep adequate tension.

You are not typically going to go out and replace all your bras so I just buy 4 new ones each year and then I keep the best 3 to add to the next year’s new 4. That gives me 7 bras in full rotation and I am able to extend certain selected to a 2 year lifecycle. So I splurge on 2 expensive ones every year to keep me in an ideal rotation.

For easy-on-the-budget bra shopping, look for big brands in discount chains like Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx/Marshall’s, Ross, Burlington Coat Factory and

Material Girls

Weight fluctuates, hormones shift, climates vary and as our bodies and temperatures vary, the fabric and frame of the bra stretches over time. Bra manufacturers do follow the trends of the fashion industry and so bra styles come and go. And since you are now assessing your bra needs more frequently, take advantage of the new fabrics, fits and designs.

Most bra fabrics today support different lifestyles from active outdoors, to leisure. When the support is weakened with wear and wash, it is time to part ways and start anew. By choosing the correct fabric you can preserve the lifespan of your bra. Look for these types of fabrics:

· Spandex this is where you will get a “customizable” fit. Spandex stretches to accommodate different variations and then snaps back consistently to retain its form

· Nylon or polyester are the strongest fibers for this type of garment and you need this strength to support the function of a bra. Busting a myth: These fibers ARE breathable and can be found blended in silks, satin, lace and even microfiber for the ultimate comfort fabrics.

*Avoid 100% cotton in a full cup support bra. It will stretch out quickly and not hold its form requiring you to replace it within 4-6 months instead of the typical 18.*

75-85% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.
Breast Size, Bra Fit and Thoracic Pain in Young Women: A Correlational Study

One For All and All For One

The fit of a bra is a personal choice. With styles ranging from demi, strapless, crossback, full cup, exercise etc., there is no way to suggest a standard style for everyone. This is the time where IT IS ALL ABOUT YOU. Assess your individual needs and expectations from a bra and don’t stop until you find it. Your bra is designed to do more than to keep your breasts steady. It is designed to counter that weight in the front with the back and shoulders.

· Straps-leverages your shoulders and neck to support your chest. They should be straight up and down and should remain secure without cutting into the skin. If they can move-they are not taught enough. Straps are what keep wire or cups under the breasts. If you bra “hikes up”, first look at the elastic in the straps and then look at adjusting them. This is the first area to wear out and most commonly the area we tend to justify in effort to “save money”. If the straps are compromised you are risking future problems.

· Back band-centers the shoulder straps, aligns the weight distribution with the back and support the cups. This band should be no smaller than 2 fingers wide- the bigger the cup, the wider the band. Band should never ride up but remain also firmly in place. The bra should lift your breasts to the middle of your chest. The bra strap is the equivalent of a

· Breasts should be fully covered by the cups (exception demi bra or push up bra). If you are spilling out the sides, you are wearing the wrong size. Underwire should lay flat against the skin and never poke with discomfort. If the wire ever bends, IT IS NOT REMOLDABLE, it’s just time for a new bra.

Where’s The Love?

Caring for your bra is probably the most debated concept regarding the Life of a Bra. Here it is: hand wash a few, machine wash a bunch. The fewer you have, the more care is required because you are not rotating the friends as frequently and you are requiring more work out of each bra. The less a bra has to work for you, the less you have to work for the bra. Having 5+ bras = less tender care and a longer lifespan.

To wash in machine

1. Connect hooks and eyelets together to prevent twisting or snagging other clothing

2. Place in a lingerie bag

3. Wash in cold water with a delicate fabric detergent (found anywhere)

4. Washing machine on delicate or gentle cycle

5. Dryer on gentle air-dry or “fluff” (no heat) cycle

To hand wash

1. Use delicate fabric detergent which CAN be purchased at grocery store. I recommend Ecos Fabric Cleaner, $7.97, Wal-Mart.

2. Let bra soak for 5-10 minutes in lukewarm water

3. Swish it gently through the suds and then gently swish under clean, fresh water to remove the suds.

4. Wrap up loosely in a towel and apply moderate squeeze

5. Lay flat to dry

Test Drive, Purchase and Trade Me In

Whether it is to create the illusion of what you are lacking or to hold steady what you have abundantly, the proper bra is the underwear that matters most. If you look at it as an investment in your overall future health rather than an investment in your immediate clothing you may be inclined to follow a plan.

Bras vary from store to store, brand to brand and trend to design. This is an individual purchase and should not be driven by colors, jewels and prints but rather by form, fit and function. We live in a day where there is a bra designed specifically FOR YOU. Take the time to find it, rotate it, care for it and then let it go.

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