Bras Behaving Badly
Another important reason to call in the professionals – a pro fitting is a free service that most specialty boutiques offer – is the bra sizes themselves. There are no industry standards when it comes to sizing, and each country has a different system; you might fill out a 34B from La Perla, but you may swim in the same size bra from La Senza. And bra sizing is much more than a numbers game. “The experienced fitter’s job is to determine the right bra for the right shape, keeping in mind the personal preferences of the customer,” says Finkelstein. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all.”
Start by checking out our bra-size calculator.
Once you’ve determined your correct size, it’s time to go shopping. You already know how lingerie should not fit (the spillage effect, back fat, excess baggage); now it’s time to get savvy on how it should. Basically, whether it’s your bra or panties, everything should stay in place, fitting comfortably around your back and, in the case of panties, backside.
“When a woman puts a bra on, she should not have to feel it,” says Mary Chan, assistant manager of Bra Bar in Toronto. “The back should fit snugly around your rib cage and should be parallel to the front once the bra is on,” she adds. In most cases, slight strap adjustments will be required.
Rebecca Apsan, in her new book The Lingerie Handbook, suggests the strap-to-band ratio test to tell if they’re adjusted correctly. She says to “…slip the straps off your shoulders so they rest on your arms. Your bra should stay up and remain in place without the help of straps.…In no case should the main support for your bra fall on the straps alone.…Straps should share the weight, not bear the weight.” She should know. As the owner of the renowned New York City undergarments emporium La Petite Coquette, not only is Apsan considered to be one of the best fitters in the country but she also provided most of the intimate apparel for Sex and the City. “The right bra is like the perfect man: good-looking, supportive and sure never to let you down.”
So, how much exactly will a good bra set you back? “To own a comfortable, well-made bra, be prepared to spend anywhere from $100–$150, and a breathable panty should cost you anywhere from $35–$79,” says Vasilia Panagakos, owner of Avec Plaisir in Toronto. While this may seem like a lot, like most things in fashion, you get what you pay for. If you must make a choice, Chan suggests spending the extra money on a good everyday basic: “As a general rule, it’s good to have three quality bras rather than buying a new, less expensive but poorer quality one every month.” Also, Chan notes, better quality means you’ll have more incentive to take care of them, thereby extending their life. All undergarment experts suggest hand-washing lingerie in cold water every 1- 3 wears for the longest lifespan.