Every woman wants one: the perfect bra that works under every outfit, looks fabulous on its own, and doesn't cause pain---to our bodies or budgets.
I spent years blaming the lingerie industry for refusing to meet my perfect-bra desires. Then I realized that many of the obstacles to finding the best bra were of my own making. I had to get past my limited thinking to discover what bras work best for me.
If you're having issues with finding the perfect bra, here are a few things that might be in your way:
1) Location. Finding the right bra has a lot to do with where you live. Are you miles from the nearest mall or department store? You may have few bra shopping choices, if any, in your locality. You can approach this problem in two ways (or a third, if you're willing to move). First, you could ask the local store manager to stock your size or brand. Or you could shop online, and broaden your bra horizons.
2) Purchasing Power. This isn't so much about the size of your paycheck but how much you're willing to spend. There's a huge difference between a bra that retails for $12.99 and one that costs $69.99. It's about quality of design, construction, fabric, and notions (hooks, sliders on straps, and wires). Rethinking your bra budget might open up the door to a better fit and style of bra. On the flip side, not every bra in your lingerie wardrobe needs to be of the same quality. Learn to be a savvy shopper.
3) Geography. What's your build? Are you short, tall, thin, athletic, curvy? There are 20+ different bra styles from which to choose. You can't just go by size (from AAA to K in US) but must consider breast placement and body type. Get to know where your boobs rest on your chest (i.e. wide, high, low, or close-set). Factor in features like narrow shoulders or a short-waisted torso. What most of us seek is a custom-made article we hope to find off-the-rack. Being aware of your unique shape and size will make the search easier.
4) Unreal Expectations. The same bra you wear for yoga won't work under a button-down shirt or strapless evening gown. (You wouldn't wear flip-flops with a cocktail dress either.) Make a list of your actual bra needs, whether everyday or special occasion, before you start shopping. Don't forget that proper care will extend the life of your lingerie. It took me years to figure out that my bras didn't belong in the washer or--more importantly--the dryer. Turns out that all those wires poking through were my own damn fault.
5) Personal Style. A bra is the foundation for everything you wear over it. Are you more sporty, fashion-forward, or traditional? You might want a feminine, frilly look or something plain and simple (or both). The perfect bra for you might be a vintage style or a colorful sports bra. There are a gazillion bras to choose from in the wide world of lingerie. You'll have a better chance of finding the perfect bra (for you) if you shop from a source that matches your style.
What about you? What's been your biggest obstacle to finding the perfect bra? Is it your size, location, style, or some other factor?
This article first published on The Breast Life.