Healthy living: Buying bras

So why even wear a bra?

It’s generally thought that wearing a bra is better for breast health. This thinking is actually quite wrong; it is comparable to the thinking that led scientists to believe that women needed corsets to maintain abdominal muscles. Some recent studies suggest wearing a bra can actually be harmful to the health of your breasts, so why go through all the bother?

The most common answer to the question of why women wear bras is that doing so is socially expected. Going without a bra is considered unprofessional and sloppy in today’s world. This is especially true when going out for a job interview. What’s worse is that if you don’t get a properly fitting bra, the experience of wearing one can actually be painful and irritating.

When it comes to bras, you really get what you pay for, but you shouldn’t go to Victoria’s Secret just yet. Many name-brand lingerie outlets don’t carry sizes larger than a DD, so if you’re a large-breasted woman you might

Is a bra worth all the trouble or should it just burn? Graphic by Kate McHugh.
Is a bra worth all the trouble or should it just burn? Graphic by Kate McHugh.

want to go to a place like Sears. They do, however, do fittings. Belk carries some pretty nice bras, and they’ll size you if you don’t know which cup size you are.

In general, when looking for bras you should remember this: silk stretches, lace doesn’t.

If you’re looking for something sexy – say for that special someone – you might want to go to a tailor and get a bra made. The reason for this is that a better-fitting bra will make your curves stand out more, giving you a more attractive line. Even if you have a cup size that runs in the normal range, it’s better to get something that’s nice and form-fitting because extra bulges or unwanted sagging can detract from the general look you’re trying to achieve.

Bra size is measured by band (which is the circumference of your bust, not your breasts) and cup (which is the diameter and circumference of your breasts). While it is possible to determine proper breast size alone, such a task is usually best left to a tailor or a retail sales clerk.

Also, unless you’re in the gym, maybe you shouldn’t wear the sports bra. It’s comfortable, true, but sports bras are  designed to put pressure on your breasts.

All in all, listen to your body. If you come away with red marks on your bust, your bra’s probably too small for you. Try to strike a balance between comfort and attractiveness.