Intimacy Issues

Intimacy issues
What lies beneath is the most important piece in your wardrobe

Lingerie: the perennial paradox. It’s supposed to make you feel sexy, but more often than not it’s a big letdown. Literally. Whether you’re plagued by bosom-bulge, pained by wire pressure or anxious about persistent bounce, FLARE is here to lend some support with everything you need to know about buying the perfect set of intimates.

State of Undress
Lingerie shopping often begins with high hopes and ends in frustration. Faced with different choices in styles and sizes, most of us just help ourselves and hope for the best. And it’s not like anyone will be seeing your undies anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, right? Wrong. No self-respecting fashionista would be caught dead wearing just anything, so why would you wear your saggiest and baggiest, especially if you knew the power the right bra and panties have in making your outfit look fab?
Nothing gives an instant body makeover like wearing the right foundations, believe Rhonda Finkelstein and Randi Szymkowicz, co-owners of the lingerie retailer Legs Plus Inc. & Bra Boutique. “It’s the quickest way for women to look younger and thinner without diet and exercise,” says Finkelstein. The right lingerie can improve your comfort level and dramatically alter your silhouette by drawing attention to the places you want seen and away from those you’d prefer to hide. With that in mind, the professional bra-fitter suddenly becomes your new BFF.

Shaping Up Nicely
We’ve all heard the industry claim that 70- 85 percent of women wear the wrong size bra. While professional fittings may seem superfluous, they’re not. Even the most fashion-forward women don’t necessarily know more about proper fit than the most clueless ones. (Full disclosure: only after experiencing my Oprah-induced “aha!” moment and subsequently running out to get properly
fitted did it become clear that I was not part of the enlightened 15 percent – not even close.) “Women aren’t educated about fitting,” says Jen Klein, owner of Secrets from Your Sister… in Toronto. “Bras are necessary but difficult to shop for, so women tend not to spend a lot of time in that area.”


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.”

Purchasing Power
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.