6 Mistakes When Buying a Bra That Make You Look and Feel Worse

Here's how to avoid bulges and bumps in all the wrong places.

Bras are an $86 billion dollar industry, according to Grandview Research. So why are so many of us consistently picking the wrong ones?

Much like in dating, there are some criteria you should be following when you hit the lingerie sites or shops. You’ll want to carefully select the perfect partner for your precious lady lumps, or else risk sagging, pain, digging, and bulges and bumps in all the wrong places.

RELATED: The #1 Best Bra You Need This Fall, According to an Expert

So, how can we ensure that you swipe right on the perfect bra? By avoiding these six mistakes when buying a bra that are making you look — and feel — worse.

1. Not getting sized up

Did you know that your bra size can change with as little as a 5 pounds weight loss or gain? With normal fluctuations in weight, aging, hormonal changes and the like, that means you should be getting a bra fitting at least once a year. If you can’t remember the last time you did (if ever!), then it’s time to go get sized.

You can visit a lingerie shop and see a specialist and have them help you do it (just be sure you ask them to explain what they’re doing each step of the way!), or you can fit yourself in the comfort of your own home using a sewing tape measure.

It doesn’t have to be exact; bra sizes vary by brand and aren’t an exact science. Your bra size is meant to be used as a guideline.

2. Not doing the bounce test

This is a useful tool that’s often recommended when shopping for sports bras, but can also be helpful when shopping for everyday bras, too, especially if you’re larger busted!

Whether you order your bras online or you’re shopping in a store, it’s important to properly put your bra on (this means leaning forward so breast tissue falls properly into the cups), and then jumping up and down a few times.

This shows whether or not you get any movement in your bra that can contribute to stretching/sagging breast ligaments and tissues, and pain. In short, it’ll show you’re getting the proper support!

Studies by the University of Portsmouth Research Group in Breast Health have shown that even as small as an A-cup moves up and down the length of a paperclip, which means we all need the proper support.

3. Buying a bra that fits on the tightest hook

There have been many debates over this, but my many years of bra expertise leads to this recommendation: When you buy a bra, buy one that fits properly and comfortably on the loosest hook. That way, you have room to move to the tighter hooks as it starts to stretch out with normal washing and wearing.

This means, the band shouldn’t be riding up your back (rules of gravity mean if that’s happening, it’s sliding downward in the front), nor should it be squeezing you in a way that creates bulges. It also shouldn’t feel loose. You should only be able to slip two fingers beneath it, and you should not be able to easily pull it away from your body.

About 90 percent of a bra’s support comes from the band, so that is truly the most important component!

4. Choosing a style that’s not suitable for your breast shape

While size matters, shape matters even more! A lot of women forget to pay attention to the shape of your breasts when choosing a bra. This means that if you have very round, full breasts, a demi cup may not be right for you, as breasts will billow out the top.

Conversely, pendulous shape breasts want to look for a bra that has some graduated padding in the lower-half of the cup to boost you up, and make you look rounder and fuller.

5. The straps are digging in

Divots in your shoulders where your bra straps rest? IYKYK. Not only are they unsightly, they’re painful. So many women mistakenly think this is a normal occurrence and something they simply have to accept.

But, the truth is, this should NOT be happening, no matter how large and heavy your girls are. This is a huge red flag that something is off on the fit of your bra, or maybe it’s just the wrong bra altogether.

You can instead look for features like wider and padded straps, and make sure your band is fitting properly and you aren’t relying too much on the straps.

6. Wearing your bra everyday without washing it in-between

Here’s something I see all too often. You wear a favorite bra day after day and only wash it about once a week. This is actually contributing to the breakdown of said favorite bra, as the dirt, oils and sweat in our skin will break down the elasticity of the bra and its materials.

You ideally should wash your bra between every wearing, especially if you have oily skin or tend to sweat a lot. I know how busy life can get so I suggest picking up an exact replica of your favorite bra, and having about 2-3 of the same one on hand so you can rotate them.

It will help extend the life of your precious favorite bra!

Here’s how to wash it properly: Be sure to clasp it first, then place it in a zipped up mesh garment bag, and wash it on a gentle cycle, using gentle detergent. It should be dried by either hanging or laying flat. Never put your bra in the dryer — it’s literally like kryptonite for your bra!

Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more
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