The Ultimate Guide to Bras

The Ultimate Guide to Bras - Henry Happened There is nothing quite as depressing as droopy boobs. And, unless you’re Giselle, a couple of pregnancies and a few years of breastfeeding changes things. So having a properly fitted bra that perks things up is one of life’s necessities. You stand up straighter, you look thinner, what’s not to love?

Of course, I’ve been meaning to get fitted since I finished breastfeeding Sam … 12 months ago! When I finally went I was totally shocked – at both my new size and how expensive good bras are. (When you’ve spent the last few years in nursing tops, this comes as a bit of a surprise!) So I did a bit of research on how to properly care for my ‘investment.’

Essential Bra Wardrobe

I’m guilty of overwearing bras – one of the biggest reason they wear out. To avoid that, experts recommend a wardrobe of 5-7 bras. That includes at least 2 everyday bras in nude and black, a lacy special occasion bra, a strapless number and a sports bra. Real Simple recommends these bra essentials:

  • 7 simple, comfortable bras in black and nude (a more modern and practical choice than white)
  • 1 black strapless bra for formal occasions
  • 1 nude racerback bra to wear under tank tops
  • At least 1 pretty, lacy push-up bra, preferably with matching underwear

How to buy a bra that fits & flatters - Henry Happened How to buy a bra that fits + flatters

First, take stock

Bras don’t last forever. With regular wearing and washing, they only last about a year. I finally owned up to needing a new bra when the underwire of the one bra that I could stand to wear poked through the material and started jabbing me. So pull out what’s in your drawer and take stock of what needs to stay or go. Get rid of (yes, it’s okay to trash these) anything that:

  • You don’t wear.
  • Looks dingy or just plain old.
  • Has elastic and/or underwire issues.
  • Isn’t the right size. If your band rides up or your cup runneth over, you don’t have the right size.

Get a professional fitting

The easiest place to get a professional fitting is in the lingerie section of a department store. The ladies are total pros who act as if they’ve seen it all (and probably have). You need to do this every couple of years, especially if you’ve gone through a major body change, like pregnancy and breastfeeding. Plus it’s incredibly helpful to have someone help navigate the sea of bras that suddenly look incredibly a lot alike.

Your number might surprise you

The most common mistake women make is wearing a band that’s too big with a cup that’s too small. Ninety percent of a bra’s support comes from the back band. If it’s it’s too big, it rides up between the shoulder blades and then everything in the front droop down.

I went in wearing a 36C and left with a 34G. And trust me, my boobs are no where near Pamela Anderson size. The biggest difference I notice is that the chest coverage area is wider – the cup wires now align with my armpits. The tighter band gives me a gazillion times more support and the bigger cup reigns in the full width of my chest (things aren’t bigger, just wider apparently). The band should feel snug but keep in mind that it will stretch a little after you wear it a few times.

How to wash a bra & how often - Henry Happened How to wash a bra + How Often

Wash after every 3 wearings

Give your bra a day of rest between each wearing. Then after 3-4 wears, wash it.

Hand washing is best

The best way to care for bras is to hand wash them in cold water with a mild soap. Agitate them in the water and rinse. Squeeze out excess water but don’t twist and wring. Lay them flat to dry.

Skip the Woolite

Use a mild soap like Dr. Bonners or use baby soap to wash your delicates. Combine a teaspoon of soap with warm water and work into a lather. You can even add a couple of drops of essential oil.

Genius multitasking idea

While you’re in the shower, get the bra wet. Work a small amount of baby shampoo into a lather and then wash and rinse.

If you have to machine wash, use a mesh bag

Everyday bras will probably be okay in the washing machine if you use the gentle cycle with cold water and put them in a mesh bag. Just make sure the hooks are closed so things don’t snag.

Just don’t put them in the dryer!

The fastest way to ruin a new bra is to put it in the dryer. The heat can damage the fabric and zap the elastic. Lay them flat on a towel to air dry.

How to store and wear a bra - Henry Happened How to store + wear a bra

Store flat or folded

Lay bras out flat in a drawer or fold in half with with hooks closed to prevent snags. For molded cup bras, don’t invert the cups or you’ll damage the shape.

Switch things up

Don’t wear the same bra several days in a row. Wear it once then let it breathe for a day in between wearings.

The perky positioning move

Here’s a move that’s critical with a bra that really holds things in place. Reach into the cup with the opposite hand and place it flat on the outer area of breast tissue (right below the armpit). Move each breast up and to the center of the cup. Check out how perky things look now!

Do you have any bra care tips? I’d love to know! :)


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  1. southern says

    Definitely different according to the climate you live in! I live in the Deep South and sometimes you are drenched with sweat by lunchtime!

  2. Kristi says

    Also for storing/washing If you hang them on your bedroom door knob to dry/store by one arm-strap and let the other hang towards the ground they dry oh so nicely and stay fitting just the way you want them too! if you hang multiple bras at the same time hang them all the same way cup inside of cup! this is really important or else they could disfigure. Not likely though- but why try.

  3. Marti says

    Theresa, If you live near a city that has an Intimacy (bra fit stylists) store, you should go there to be fitted. I promise
    you will get a perfect fit. If necessary, they do alterations to get the perfect fit. I live three hours from the nearest Intimacy store, but I always go there to purchase bras.( I first heard about them on Oprah.) If you go to you can locate the store nearest you.

  4. Theresa says

    Ugh!! I can’t believe you say to wear a bra 3-4 times before washing. Very un-hygenic as far as I am concerned. Maybe if you are only wearing it for 1 hr each day. I could just picture how much they would smell after working out at the gym. After an 8 hr work day and then a couple of hours work-out at the gym, I am sweaty!!! No one would want to stand by me if I wore the same bra again without washing, even if it was “aired” out for a day in between. I would be fired from my job.
    I went for a fitting at Victoria Secret–absolute joke! They took two measurements and started handing me bras that were so small, I was falling out of them. I do wish I could find a place that really knew how to fit a person.

    • lynn says

      LOL.. I SURE hope you are wearing a sports bra at the gym & washing it everyday..
      no where in the article did she say she as working out in the bra !

      I believe the article was very good & brought up points I hadn’t thought of ..

    • Anna says

      They shouldn’t slip off. If they are, then you’re not wearing the right bra size, or you should adjust the lenght of the straps.

  5. jessica says

    i work at a victoria’s secret and i am so glad to read this post! i think you touched on almost every important bra care tip! the one i find myself educating customers on the most often is that your bra should fit comfortably (or a tad snug when its brand new) on the loosest hook. as it loosens up you can move inward and get the longest life out of your bras! although i will say im surprised real simple recommended 7! basic bras! even for someone like me who owns way too many, that seems like a lot. i guess it all depends on how often you do laundry and how varied your preferences are! not including fun (read: colorful, alternative, unlined etc) bras i could probably survive on 4-5 basics!

    i hope this post does motivate women to come in and get fitted! its easy & quick and as i like to say- NO ONE should have to wear an uncomfortable bra. there is a perfect one out there for you we just need to find it!

    thanks for making the bra world a better place!

    • smidget58 says

      What about a long torso. I stand 6 foot and
      Bras cut my shoulders even with straps let out
      full lenght to get the band below my girls?

      • LisaRose says

        This is a problem that is almost impossible to solve with retail. If you sew, there are great tutorials on the web for all types of bras that you can make yourself. And they come with excellent information on how to size. If you don’t sew, call around to the alterations and custom sewing shops in your town to find someone who can make them for you. It’s one of the best investments I’ve made for myself. And your shoulders will thank you!

  6. says

    This is pure awesome! I love it! Thank you so much, this has so many helpful tips and so much practical advice. I will definitely be needing to go through my bra wardrobe very soon. Too many are too small or over worn! I had never heard the tip about giving your bra a day to rest makes sense though. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Laurene says

    I never dry my bras flat, but adjust the underwires properly and hang them with the back band over the bottom of a tubular hanger. The cups don’t get wrinkles that way.

  8. says

    Fab summary covering a number of important angles – bras you need, how to care for your bras, getting fitted… It’s so important. We did some research recently which shows UK women wear just 3 out of the 10 bras they own regularly and most keep then long past their use by date! Time for change… If you have a professional fitting and spend a little bit more on bras chances are the cost per wear will be lower. It really is a great investment!

  9. says

    A great tip I got recently at a lingerie store: while fitting a bra, bend over from the waist and let your arms hang down. Then shake/jiggle your torso gently—this makes your girls fill the cups better. If you can see your nipples, the cups are too big; if the girls look like they’re about to pop out, they are too small. This move is also a good “perky positioning” alternative ;)

  10. says

    Because the band stretches out over time, I always make sure my bras fit comfortably on the biggest hook so that I can bring them in bit by bit as the band stretches and get just a little bit more wear out of them.

    • gerbermom says

      That’s a smart tip! Though I bought mine intentionally more fitted this time and now I can’t wait for them to stretch a bit!

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