The underwear mistakes we're all making

By Siofra Brennan

Wearing a bra that's the wrong shape and size is not the only crime many of us commit when it comes to lingerie, experts have revealed. Photo / 123RF
Wearing a bra that's the wrong shape and size is not the only crime many of us commit when it comes to lingerie, experts have revealed. Photo / 123RF

We all know that wearing the right bra size is a must, even if going for a bra fitting is one of those "some day" tasks that you never get round to.

But wearing a bra that's the wrong shape and size is not the only crime many of us commit when it comes to lingerie, experts have revealed.

From relying on the same one or two trusted bras to being overly worries about VPL, the minefields are many and varied.

1. Not being fitted often enough

Nicki Hall, Senior Designer at Royce points out that it's no good having a bra fitting every few years as breasts can alter in size due to hormonal changes, weight gain or loss or changes in the body due to exercise.

"We forget how much our boobs change and should always go and get professionally fitted often," she says.

Ultimo's head of design Sharon Bell, agrees saying: "We recommend that you get refitted for a bra every six months".

2. Wearing the wrong kind of bra

"There are different bras for different solutions. Many women do not think about what the bra is for or what they will be wearing over it," Nicki Hall explained.

"'For example a plunge bra is not suitable for a quick jog. Buying a bra should not be a rush job. You need to take time trying several styles to find one that fits and suits your body shape.

"Just think how long you spend finding the right jeans. If a bra is fitting right then you should forget you are wearing it."

3. Overly relying on underwire

"Women assume they have to wear a wired bra to get a good shape and support," Nicki said.

"This is a common mistake as a wire-free bras can give just as much support, be really comfortable and make you look amazing too.

"Wire-free bras can also be machine washed easily."

4. Not using lingerie wash

Bluebella founder Emily Bendell said: "We're all guilty of throwing our bras in with the rest of our laundry every now and then, but that's a big no-no.

"Ideally we want to hand wash with a lingerie wash. What's important about using lingerie wash is that it has ingredients that help your fabric and band bounce back into place. It's good for anything like your bodysuits, swim, and hosiery.

"However, I'm a realist, I know people have busy lives. So if you do have to put your lingerie in the wash, a lot of new machines have a hand wash cycle or a delicate cycle. You can close the bras and put them inside a wash bag.'"

Nicki Hall adds: "Don't wash in too high a temperature as this tends to make white bras go grey. 40 degrees is fine."

5. Bad storage

"Always reshape your bra whilst damp whatever the style," Nicki says.

"Foam cup T- shirt bras should be stored stacked on top of each other to keep their shape."

6. Owning too few bras

You need to make sure you have a variety of fits and styles to suit different outfits and occasions.

And you may need several different cup sizes to take into account hormonal changes throughout the month.

Nicky Hall recommends several everyday wired and wire-free bras in black, white and skin.

This selection should include a T-shirt bra ideal to give you a smooth silhouette, a sports bra for the gym or yoga or whatever sport you choose, a strapless bra for skimpy party dresses and 'your sexy Saturday night bra'.

"Who can resist a pretty lace or gorgeous embroidery?" Nicky says. "Most of us own far more than we need too.

"But if struggling on which colour choose for as funds are short, go for the skin tone option as this will go under any coloured clothing."

7. Worrying about VPL

"I think that women worry too much about VPL right now, Agent Provocateur creative director Sarah Shotton told Who What Wear.

"I actually think that wearing a knicker sometimes where you can see it is actually really sexy."

However, if this feels too daring you need to give as much time and consideration to finding the right pants as you do to finding the ideal bra.

"Women don't always take their own shape into consideration," says Sharon Bell, Ultimo's head of design.

"Like all clothing, not every silhouette suits all body types so, it is important to try different styles to see what sits best with your own shape.

"Much like bras, knicker sizing can change from brand to brand and depending on the shape you may have to go up or down a size."

8. Wearing ill-fitting knickers

"I think the key thing is to wear the correct size and style for your body shape and if you do then this will inevitably reduce any unwanted lines," says Sharon.

"If you are wearing tight fitting clothes, its best to look for something with smooth flat seaming and finishes."

9. Not washing and replacing often enough

"Ideally the number of times a bra is worn before washing should be just the once," says Jessica Prebble, founder of fuller bust lingerie brand Tutti Rouge. "Treat your bra like you would any other item of underwear."

Bras should be replaced every six months to a year, and pants even more frequently.

"Depending on how often you wear the knickers we would suggest replenishing every three to six months," Sharon advises.

10. Overlooking your sports bra

A sports bra should also be properly fitted, just like any other bra. Photo / 123RF
A sports bra should also be properly fitted, just like any other bra. Photo / 123RF

Agent Provocateur's Sarah Shotton says this should also be properly fitted like any other bra.

"It's really important. If you're doing aerobics or running, you need to be strapped in; running is quite hard on the body," she said.

"I tend to wear two: a sports bra with a supportive vest over the top."

Five checks for the perfect bra fit

Bluebella founder Emily Bendell says that most people tighten the straps on a bra to make it feel more supportive. In reality, it's the band that does all the work.

"The band is really doing 90 per cent of the supporting," she says. "It's important that the band, not the straps, are very firm."

There are five key checks to the perfect bra fit:

1. Underband - should be parallel to the floor and secure enough that only two fingers can fit under the elastic

2. Centre front - should sit completely flat against the sternum

3. Side wire - this should be flat against the ribcage and never digging into breast tissue

4. Cup capacity - breasts should sit fully into the cup without any spillage

5. Straps - these should be adjusted to just fit two fingers on top of each other, which will give the right pressure for your shoulder.'

- Daily Mail

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