Do You Know How To Properly Wear A Bra?

May 31, 2017  |  

Fashion portrait of young beautiful african american girl with afro. Girl posing in white bra. Studio shot.

On Monday I strolled into Lane Bryant on the way home from working out. I was only looking for a new sports bra, but of course I still moseyed into the regular lingerie section to see what else I might see.

“Do you need help with a size?” the sales associate asked as I shuffled through bra after bra, searching for what I believed to be my size.

“I’m OK” I told her, not sure I was totally committed to buying any (more) new bras.

Two more minutes of struggle passed and another associate came up to me and asked if I knew my size.

“Yeah” I said with the level of confidence I should’ve expected would lead to her follow-up question.

“When’s the last time you were fitted?”

“It’s been a while,” I said sheepishly. So long, in fact, I couldn’t even recall when it was.

“Let’s get you fitted.”

“Okay,” I said, following the original sales associate into the fitting room like a lost puppy who couldn’t identify his own tale.

“What size are you wearing?”

I muttered a barely audible “40 DDD”

” I can tell you right now that’s not your size.”

Damn, I thought to myself as I was instructed to hold my breasts up as high as I could (big titty problems) while she measured around my upper rib cage. One more measurement around the width of my breasts and the associate told me she’d be back with my correct size.

Damn, she’s not even going to tell me what it is first?

“So, you are a 36 G.”

Tries to find space to comprehend the figures thrown at me and the extra cost associated with being a G, and not the good kind of G.

I’m going to give you this bra to put on. Make sure you use the first set of hooks to close it and then I will show you how to properly wear a bra.”

Properly? I’ve been putting on bras for 20 years now. I know how to do that much. Note: Phrases in italics are things I thought but didn’t dare say for fear of further shaming.

“So, the first thing you’re going to do is cup your breasts and pull them back toward your shoulder,” I was instructed as the associate adjusted the straps to the appropriate length. We then repeated the task on the other side.

“You see the difference there? I can always tell when someone is wearing the wrong bra size because their shoulders are slumped over. See how you’re standing tall with your shoulders back, naturally, without even trying?”

She was right.

“And see these pockets?” she asked, pointing to two indentations on the tank top I was wearing. “That’s where your breasts were sitting. See how this bra changed your whole silhouette? This shirt almost looks too big for you two now.

Dare I think damn a third time? The associate was right. About everything. My silhouette had changed completely, my breasts were sitting up much higher and prouder, my shirt did look baggy, and I had, in fact, been using the third set of hooks on all of my other too big/too small bras at home, like she figured. I could tell by another tidbit she gave me that she had an inkling I’m the type to throw my bras in the dryer. I didn’t bother to tell her she was right about that too. Note: You should never put your bras in the dryer.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve felt like a new woman working out in my new sports bra since then, mostly because the girls are truly being held down — and up — now.  I’m still waiting on my new day-to-day bras to arrive in the correct size. But on the off chance you, too, don’t know how to properly wear a bra, let me relay a few of the quick tips I learned.

  1. Always use the first hooks. The second and third set of hooks on the bra are there to give your bra a longer life; they don’t offer extra support. When you first buy a bra, you should be using the first set of hooks. Three months down the line you can move to the second set; three months after that the third. If you don’t feel comfortable when the first set of hooks is fastened, the bra’s not your size.
  2. If the store doesn’t have your true size, go up one band size and down one cup size. My true bra size is a 36 G. If Lane Bryant doesn’t have that size in a style I like, I can go for a 38 F (up one band size, down one cup size) — what’s known as my sister size. If that size isn’t available then I just can’t have that bra.
  3. You need a fitting every 6 months. No one stays the same bra size forever. No one. You may not need to replace your whole bra collection after a fitting, but it’s a good idea to check in on your true fit twice a year, especially if you’ve putting work in at the gym or you’ve taken a little time off, had a baby, whatever. As the associate told me, “Think of it like going to the dentist.” Hopefully bra shopping is a bit more fun.

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