a) Does the bra fit correctly (fit)?
b) Does the bra do what I want it to (function)?
Each of the styles below has a unique function. Some bras minimize, while others amp up your natural cleavage. Some bras are meant to be seen, while others are supposed to be invisible. Here are nine of the most common cuts:
TO ENHANCE: If you want to amp up your cleavage, the push up bra is your best bet. Push up bras have an insert or padding in the bottom part of their cup. Since the cup is partially filled with material, your breast sits up higher, creating the illusion of larger breasts. It's essentially a pre-stuffed bra minus any embarrassing tissue incidents. Try... the Add-Two-Cups line from Victoria's Secret (find it here).
TO MINIMIZE: The best way to play down your chest is to wear a supportive bra without any extra padding. Wireless bras or soft-cup models are a good way to give yourself a little support without adding anything extra. However, be careful with wireless/soft-cup styles if you have a large chest - it's always better to be big and supported, than sad and saggy! If you're looking for something sexy, but you don't want to go overboard, try a demi cup model. The half-cup style will show off your assets without making them look larger. Try... the No Poke wireless bra from WonderBra (find it here).
TO CONCEAL: The best bras will do their job without ever being seen. If your clothes have a finicky neckline or oddly placed straps, try a racerback, strapless or convertible style. Each of these bras are built to stay out of the way. They'll give you all the support that you need without cramping your style. Try... the La Senza Itec Strapless Push Up Bra (find it here).
The second part of determining your bra size is to find out which cup size you wear (this is the letter part of the sizing, A, B, C, D, DD, etc.) This will be determined by the size of your breasts, rather than the size of your body. The easiest and most effective way to find out your cup size is to go and get fitted by a professional. If you feel weird about someone touching your boobs, don't worry! The attendants at most bra stores will be friendly, professional women who know exactly where to measure. It only takes a minute and it isn't invasive at all - you can keep all of your clothes on, as they measure your bust over top of your shirt.
1. My boobs spill over the top of my bra and you can see the line through my t-shirts. What should I do?
If you have problems with what my godmother calls spillage (pronounced in a faux french accent 'speel-ah-ge'), try going up a cup size without changing your underbust sizing. For example, if you are wearing a 36B, try a 36C. This will give your boobs a little bit of extra room without sacrificing the fit of the band.
2. All the strapless bras that I've tried either slide down or pinch. Is there an alternative?
Until recently, I had the worst time with strapless bras. I can't stand the feeling of that weird sticky plastic strip that is supposed to hold your bra up - it just slowly slips down, pinching every inch of the way - and I always got a bad case of pancake boob. Enter helpful-but-slightly-pushy-LaSenza-change-room-attendant. She insisted that I try on the strapless La Senza Itec push-up bra (find it here) and was I ever glad that I listened! This bra is made from a foamy material that's lightweight but supportive. The inside of the bra has multiple strips of sticky plastic all strategically placed to keep the bra where it's supposed to be. No pinching or pulling. Best of all, the scalloped edge keeps your boobs lifted and firmly in place the whole night long. I wear a 34D and I haven't had any problems with my strapless bra since I bought it!
3. How often should I wash my bras? What's the best way to launder them?
Bras are not like other undergarments, in that they don't need to be washed after each use. Generally speaking, boobs are pretty clean. That said, sports bras should be washed more frequently, because you tend to sweat into them (especially if you get mad boob sweat like me). Other than that, it's kinda a matter of personal preference. I wash my bras once every two weeks, but I also don't wear the same bra everyday. If you have the time, you should hand wash your bras in cold water with a laundry detergent. The washing machine can be tough on the elasticity in your bras, so make sure to put them on the easy cycle if you go that route. Be sure to pop them into a bra bag so that they don't get all snagged up in your other laundry. Last but not least, hang them up to dry. The cups and underwires get all weird if you put them in the dryer.
4. Is there a way to avoid getting white deodorant marks on my black bra?
Nothing like a chalky white smudge of deodorant to really take the sexy out of a bra. The best way to avoid white marks on bras and clothing alike is to use a transparent deodorant like Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry (find it here). If you're in a pinch, then grab a pair of nylons from your drawer and rub them against the stain. Put your hand inside the foot part and use it like a mitten for the best results. I have no idea why this works so well, but it always does the trick :)
I hope that Booby Bootcamp was helpful!