A while ago when I published my post on how to find good jeans, a woman approached me, told me how much she appreciated the post, and then whispered in my ear, “I wish you would write a post about how to find good underwear.”
At first, I dismissed the idea, thankful for her support, but confident I was not the person for the job. How does one talk about underwear on the internet with dignity?
Over time, her idea has taken hold, and I realized, like with most things, I do have a lot of thoughts, opinions, and information about underwear, and today I am sharing them with you, hopefully with my dignity in tact.
If there is a category of underwear where we get it wrong, it’s bras. Our two biggest mistakes are wearing the wrong size and not replacing our bras frequently enough.
Knowing the right size requires two numbers. Your band size, which is measured around your rib cage, and your cup size which is measure at your fullest point, preferably while wearing a reasonably-good-fitting bra. If the distance between the two numbers is one inch, your cup size is an A. Two inches is a B, three inches is a C, and so on.
Cup sizes run from A to I, but once you get to D, depending on the brand, the cup size will progress alphabetically (E, F, G, H, I) or in multiples of D (DD, DDD, DDDD, DDDDD). So, an E and DD are the same cup size, notated differently.
Most of us carry around a pre-conceived notion about what a “normal” bra size is, and yet, most of us are wearing the wrong bra size because we are unwilling to admit our cup size might be a letter of the alphabet past B. I could be wrong, but I think you would be shocked to know how many women wear E, F, and G cup sizes. When it comes to finding the right size, don’t let your preconceived notions skew your honest measurements.
Additionally, as our anatomy matures, and particularly if we have nursed our children, the girls can seem to be smaller and a shadow of their former glory, but in reality we may require a larger cup size due to stretching and the sad effects of gravity. We may have lost volume but gained skin, and that can translate to a larger cup size.
Once you have your size, it’s time to find your favorite daily bra, knowing that not all brands are sized the same, and certain bra styles perform differently depending on your unique shape. Honestly, finding your favorite bra will require you to try on a lot of bras in the process, but once you find your one, you will be set. A well-fitting bra will feel secure but not uncomfortably tight around your torso, and everything will be enclosed inside the cup. No spilling over, no gaping, no bulging or pinching. Everything will be contained and lifted, and you will feel amazing.
When it comes to finding bras in a range of brands, sizes, and shapes, I love Nordstrom. They stock a wide variety of sizes, and their amazing customer service department makes ordering and returning a cinch. If you have the ability to visit a Nordstrom in person, I have found their lingerie staff to be knowledgable and very helpful in determining the correct size.
With your new, well-fitting daily bras in your possession, you are going to set a reminder in your calendar to replace them in a year if you wear them regularly. Trust me. Even if you hand wash them and let them air dry, they will be done. You will realize how done they are when you put on a new bra and feel as though you instantly lost ten pounds and have a new lease on life. Let the old bras go after a year.
In addition to a daily bra, most of us will need a strapless bra, and this one is my favorite. It stays put.
Underwear is all about personal preference. What works for one person might not for another, but at the end of the day I think we can all agree that we want to feel comfortable in our skivies.
I like high-waisted underwear because I have a C-section scar that complicates low-waisted models. I also prefer super full coverage in the back, and I have learned in some brands the shape of my lower body requires me to size up to get the kind of no-wedgie comfort I want. Generally speaking I like smoother fabrics, and I like them to be in a shade that is close to my skin coloring.
I firmly believe that none of us should feel the need to change our body in order to wear what we want to wear or feel good about who we are. Our bodies are a gift, and acceptance is the most important accessory we can ever wear. Shapewear companies can feed us the lie that we will be happier and more worthy of love if we are smaller, tighter, more mannequin-like. I have news for us all. Women are not plastic, and real bodies have curves, bulges, and bumps that are beautiful and completely normal. Don’t let shapewear shame you or make you feel bad about your body.
That being said, there are situations where I choose to wear shapewear. Sometimes the mechanics of an article of clothing work better when worn on top of a smooth, even base layer. I like wearing high-waisted capri shaping tights under a particular pair of wide-leg pants I own because the pants move better when I do.
I also like to wear compression-free undershorts when I wear skirts because they feel comfortable in the summer heat. This pair of slipshorts is super soft and easy to wear, providing protection from chafing and a layer of modesty in high winds.
There are times when I need and want the abdominal support shape wear provides. Compression can help protect my lower back, and particularly if I am wearing heels all day, I feel more physically invigorated and better supported if I wear a shaping short that fits snugly without being too tight. These from Fabletics are my favorites, and they have a matching shaping bra that I like a lot under certain tops.
Lastly, if you haven’t discovered bra tape, allow me to rock your world. I will leave the details and tutorials to the professionals (seriously, check out the resources on the Good Lines website), but suffice it to say, I love body tape. It’s not as hard to apply as you might think, and if you follow the directions and use the right tools for the job, you are going to be just fine. I think body tape comes in super handy for off-the-shoulder, one-shoulder, halter, and backless styles. Trust me. If I can wear body tape, anyone can wear body tape.
Finally, let’s talk about slips. I firmly believe everyone needs a nude half-slip to keep certain dresses and skirts from sticking to your legs when you walk and to provide a layer of modesty underneath lighter fabrics. I also love a full-length slip, but the opportunities to wear these are fewer.
We did it! We talked about underwear on the internet! Questions? I’m all ears.