In this Episode, we continue our bra conversation, helping you get the best foundation for your wardrobe.
Lessons from Linda shares the story of a woman with a question
The Word of the Week is “Fit Model”–who are they, and what do they have to do with you?
In Philosophy, I share the mission of Everyday Style, and what it means for my business going forward.
In the Style Lecture, we finish up our bra conversation talking about different styles, which ones you may need, and how to take care of your investment. I also answer a few bra-related questions.
Links & Resources from the show:
Learn more about fit models
Learn more about different bra styles here
The best sports bras for women with big busts. They’re worth every penny!
A few great nursing bras–some are even pretty!
Bras for different post-mastectomy needs
Find an amoena fitter near you.
Bra extenders can help you break in a new bra, while still getting the right size.
Mesh bags are a must-have for good bra care!
Use a detergent made for delicates
Check out this Scoop and Swoop demonstration!
Why are bras so expensive?
Donate your gently used bras to an organization that will give them a second life. My favorite organization is I Support the Girls. Find an affiliate here: https://isupportthegirls.org/locations/
The Spring Guide and the All-Access Membership are coming Mar 1!
The Style Lounge has closed. We invite you to join our member community in The Style Circle.
Have a question you’d like answered in Office Hours? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to the Episode Now:
**This post may contain affiliate links, which means, that I may receive, at no cost to you, a small commission from purchases made through links we provide. Thank you for your support.
Read the full episode transcript below! – All About Bras- Part 2
Hey There! Welcome back to the Everyday Style School podcast where we believe style can be easy, and getting dressed should be fun! I’m your host, Jennifer Mackey-Mary, and in today’s episode, we’re continuing our bra series.
Just like the last episode, if you’re in a place where, or in the company of people for whom this is not an acceptable conversation, find yourself a pair of headphones, or listen later.
Last time, we covered the importance of good bras and proper fittings, as well as the parts of a bra. We also talked about sizing and a few signs that your bra doesn’t fit.
Today, we’ll be talking about the different kinds of bras, building a good bra wardrobe, taking care of your bras, and I’ll be touching a little bit on specialty bras like nursing and mastectomy bras. Finally, I’ll be answering the bra questions posted in the Everyday Style Lounge that didn’t get answered elsewhere in the episodes.
Before we get started though, Your homework from the last full episode was to go get a bra fitting, and spoiler alert, that’s the homework again today. You’ve got a whole month to do this one, and you’re going to wish you had done it sooner. Once you’ve done it, go post in the Everyday Style Lounge and tell us how it went.
I loved hearing from one listener who said that even though she doesn’t have good options for fittings where she lives, she was able to get a whole lot closer on her own because she knew what to look for. Also, At the end of this episode, I’m going to give you an extra credit assignment, too.
All right, let’s kick things off, as we always do, with lessons from Linda
Lessons From Linda-
Do you remember how the last episode, I said today wouldn’t be a bra story? I lied. But, in my defense, this is really more to do with today’s philosophy lesson, which is why I’m sharing it. Today’s Linda is a woman who was a part of a group where I spoke every year. One of my absolute favorite groups and I got to know some of the same faces who were longtime members.
No matter what topic I speak on, I always do a Q&A at the end, and the questions always become more practical in nature. No matter the topic, it leads back to bras.. And in the Q&A someone will always ask where to go for fittings. The first year I spoke, a woman asked: “where do I go for a bra fitting”.
I gave her a few options. The second-year I spoke, a woman asked “where do I go for a good bra fitting” and I had a moment of deja vu because it was the same woman. The third-year I spoke, the same Linda asked “where do I go for a good bra fitting” and I was like How about the same places I’ve told you about for years?
The fourth-year I spoke, she raised her hand, and I thought “you have got to be kidding me”. But no! Instead, she said, “I want to thank you because I finally got a bra fitting, and it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself”. I was thrilled to hear that.
After my talk was over, I made my way to her and asked, after 3 years, what finally made you do it? And she said that one day she just got sick of feeling bad about herself, and decided to do something about it. She told me that she’d heard me preach the message of good bras for so long, and how you should start there, so when she made the decision to put herself first, she knew exactly what to do.
There are two lessons I want you to take away from this Linda. One I’m going to share now, and the other I’m going to save for the Philosophy segment.
First, Linda was absolutely right. When you’re in that place where you need to put yourself back together–maybe it’s after kids, maybe you’ve just put yourself on the back burner for so long, or fallen into a frump slump..it doesn’t matter how you got there. But when you’re there, and you’re ready to feel like you again, start with the bra.
Don’t stroll through Target and buy a few cute tops. Don’t go blow your entire budget with a Nordstrom personal shopper. Start with the bra. It is the foundation of your entire wardrobe. Everything you buy will look different, and better, over a better bra. You may even feel differently about your body, you never know. Start the process of rebuilding yourself and your wardrobe on a good foundation. Literally.
We’re going to come back to Linda in Philosophy, but for now, let’s move on to the word of the week.
Today’s Vocabulary word is “fit model” and it has nothing to do with bras! It also has nothing to do with the women you see in magazines or on runways. In fact, it’s probably a term you’ll never see at all, but it’s important to know.
Fit models are real women used by designers as a kind of human mannequins. Designers use fit models to check the fit and the drape of garments and to see how their designs look on real people.
Fit models come in 5 basic size ranges for women, which are junior, missy, contemporary, plus-size, and petite. They are not the super skinny waifs you see on the runway–they have more realistic bodies, but they are chosen because their bodies are well proportioned and symmetrical.
All designers have their own standards for a fit model’s measurements, based on their own size charts. For example, a size 8 in LL bean pants would have the measurements 28 ½ in the waist, and 38 ½ hips. A size 8 fit in Karl Lagerfeld pants has a 29 ½ inch waist and 29 ½ in hips.
Now, I know you want to get all worked up about why sizes aren’t consistent–we’ll talk about that another day. What I want to focus on is the shape that these designers are going for. LL Beans fit models are pretty curvy–the waist is 10 inches smaller than the hips. Karl Lagerfeld’s(may he rest in peace) fit models are completely straight from the waist through the hip.
This is why you have more luck in some stores than others. It all starts with the vision of the designer or brand as to what their ideal customer looks like, and then they use fit models with their ideal proportions. She can be a size 12, but at LL Bean, she’s a curvy size 12.
In Karl Lagerfeld, she’s a straight size 12. This doesn’t mean that you or your body is wrong, and it doesn’t mean the store or brand is wrong. It’s that their human mannequin either looks like you, or she doesn’t.
This is also why it’s crazy to get worked up about clothes not being perfect off the rack. They are tailored in the design process for a few women with very specific body shape and measurements, and then proportioned up and down from there. If any of your measurements don’t match up perfectly to those proportions, it’s not going to be a 100% perfect fit. I’d argue that it’s actually crazy that anything off the rack fits perfectly.
I’ll link to an article on Fit Models, but next time you wonder why clothes from one line seem to be more consistently good for you than others, that’s why. Their fit models look more like you.
Let’s move on to Philosophy-
Today I want to share with you the Mission of Everyday Style, and what it means for my business going forward. As a former corporate trainer, I’ve always been a mission statement junkie, and this is actually on my wall, where I look at it every day.
The Mission of Everyday Style Is to inspire women to love the way they look and equip them with the tools to do so. That’s it. Super simple.
My goal, when you listen to the show or interact in the communities, is that you come away with the desire to love the way you look. That you believe you’re worth it and that you matter. My passion is really helping women lead full, rich lives, and my vehicle for those clothes–because I believe that when we like the way we look, we’re unstoppable.
When you step out of your house, confident and happy, you hold your head higher, you’re a nicer person, you’re more open to new people and new experiences.
And while I don’t believe that your wardrobe is the end all be all to feel good about yourself, I do believe that it’s a darn good start. I also think, and I’ve shared this before, that there is a powerful mindset shift that happens when we get dressed with intention, that so many women are robbing themselves of the everyday. I want to see more women take advantage of it.
But that’s just the first part–to inspire you to love the way you look. The second part is that I want to equip you with the tools to do that. A big rah-rah pep talk that every woman is beautiful and you should just create a wardrobe you love is pretty unhelpful if you don’t know where to start.
I think there’s nothing more defeating than to feel like “Yeah, gosh darn it I am worth it. I’m going to do this!” and then to go out in the world, find nothing and feel unsuccessful. You need to know what to look for, and how to shop, and why things work, and why some things don’t. I want to give you the tools to be successful when you decide you’re worth it.
But here’s the deal, and this is the second Linda Lesson of the day. The first part of my mission statement has to come first. There is no checklist, no webinar, no Q&A session, and no podcast that’s going to help you unless you’re ready for it. Linda kept asking for the tools, but she didn’t use them, because she wasn’t ready to invest in herself. She didn’t see the value of the tools, because she didn’t see the value in herself.
A couple of years ago, I got a request for a refund from someone who had purchased a Capsule Guide. She asked for her money back, saying she had hoped it would help her dress better, but it didn’t–she was still wearing her leggings every day.
A couple of back and forth emails later, I learned that she hadn’t joined the Community, watched any videos, or bought any of the pieces. She simply bought a tool hoping it would inspire her. That’s not how it works. This isn’t a Disney movie, and tools don’t have a life of their own. You have to use it, but even more than that, you have to want to use it.
So, that’s my mission–to inspire women to love the way they look and equip them with the tools to do so, but what does that mean for my business.
I shared in the last episode that my Annual Capsule Subscribers are becoming All Access Members. Not only will you get a year of done-for-you wardrobe guides, but you’re also getting so much more. Capsule Guides are a tool, an awesome one at that–but I don’t want to give you one tool.
I want to give you the whole toolbox. So that when you go to buy jeans, you’ve got a tool for that, and don’t leave the store defeated in dumpy jeans. When you’re trying to decide what to wear for family photos, you’ve got tools for that, so that you love looking at the photos that hang on the wall. I want to make it so you don’t have to read dozens of websites, all with conflicting information, to solve your style challenges.
The All Access Membership is for women who know they’re worth it and know that when they like the way they look, life is better. It’s also for women who have a gut feeling that if they liked the way they looked just a little more, they might enjoy life a little more, and are willing to give it a try.
I promise you, if you show up wanting the tools, I’m going to give them to you.
The All Access Membership is also for women who want to have more fun with style. Maybe you’re not stuck in a rut, maybe you already love your wardrobe, but just want to connect with other style-minded women and have a great time–we’ve got plenty of room for women like you, too!
After all, style should be easy and getting dressed can be fun.
I’m super excited about this next chapter and I hope you are too. I’d love to have you join us.
The Spring Guide and the All-Access Membership and Community are coming on March 1.
But now, let’s get back to bras. Today we’re talking about the kind of bras that are out there, building a great bra collection–and taking care of it properly, and answering a few questions that didn’t fit in other places.
Let’s start off by talking about the kinds of bras that are out there, and the ones you may need. I don’t want to sound like the shrimp guy from Forrest Gump, just listing types of bras–you’ve got t-shirt bras, and sports bras, you’ve got plunge bras–so I’ll be covering 5 basic styles and two specialty styles, like plunge, and balconette and demi-cup.
The link I’m sharing gives you information on what body types and necklines they work best for, so I really recommend you check it out. Covering them all would take the whole show, so we’re not going to do that.
The first one I want to talk about is the BRAlette or the braLETTE, it’s up to you how to say it. This is one that’s become very popular in the last couple of years, and in its purest form, it’s a combination of lace and straps with no lining, structure, support or underwires. It’s just a pretty little thing.
These are really meant for the small, perky breasts out there. Every once in awhile, I get the question, can a woman with a bigger bust wear a bralette? And the answer is, of course, you can. If you want no coverage support or structure, go for it. That’s up to you.
Now, retailers are catching on to the fact that women above a b-cup want the look, so there are bralettes out there that are meant for bigger breasts, and some traditional bras that have borrowed bralette styling–like pretty straps, or lace that’s meant to be shown–so if this is a look you like, there are options out there for everyone. They may not give you all the shape you want, but they’re worth a try. Bralettes are great for wide neck tops, tanks, or low cut shirts, where you want to show a little lace or strap as a style choice.
Next up is the t-shirt bra. This is a staple of most women’s wardrobe. Tshirt bras have molded or seamless cups and are meant to be invisible under tops like t-shirts. They don’t show the lumps or lines that lace or seamed cups would. That’s really all I have to say about them.
Then we have minimizers- Minimizers are for women who wish they had smaller breasts, but who don’t want to go under the knife. They work in a couple of ways–either by compressing the breast tissue, or reshaping the breasts so that the projection of your bust is minimized by up to 2 inches. I know a lot of bigger breasted women go right for these, and if that’s you, great.
However, sometimes they give a less than ideal shape, making your upper half look wider, or creating a bit of a uni-boob look. I would recommend going for a proper fitting first of all and taking pictures during the fitting–with a t-shirt on, of how you look in different bra styles. You may find another style gives you a better shape. That’s actually good advice for everyone, big or small chested. Pictures are the best way to objectively see the difference.
Next up-strapless bras. The name says it all. They have no straps. Women traditionally hate these because they fall down, they’re uncomfortable, and they don’t offer much support–but the good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. The first trick to getting a supportive, comfortable strapless is to get the right size.
If you’re walking around in a band that’s too big, yeah, it’s going to fall down, and not be supportive. Next, look for a wide band with lots of hooks, which will offer even more support. Look inside for rows of silicone that help the bra grip your skin better, and prevent slipping down.
Strapless bras may never be the most comfortable things out there, but they don’t have to be miserable. I find that women don’t wear their strapless bras enough to justify spending a lot of them, so they go cheap and then get a crappy result. Spend the extra dollars and get one you won’t hate wearing. It will be worth it, and to maximize your investment, go for a convertible bra with removable straps instead.
That way you can wear it with tricky tops and with strapless styles.
Moving on, we have the much-dreaded Sports Bra category. As a former big boob girl myself, I get that the struggle is real. I was once part of the two bra club, and if you don’t know what that is, count yourself lucky. Sports bras come in a variety of support levels from “I’m not actually exercising, I just want to look cute” to “I’m going to get a black eye if I don’t wear this” and work in two ways.
The first is compression. I think you can figure out what that means, but is just squishing your boobs down under varying strengths of spandex.
The second type of sports bra is an encapsulation style, which has 2 separate cups–which surround and support the breasts. Some sports bras are a combination of the two, and it’s up to you which style works for you. But here’s what you need to know–if you have big breasts, any bra that is flexible enough to go over your head and stretch to fit over your shoulders, is too flexible to support the girls.
So, if you want more support–regardless of your breast size, look for a sports bra with hook and eye closures, or a zipper. They’ll do a much better job of keeping your breasts in place, and supported. Also, the wider the straps, the more support you’re going to get.
Finally, let’s talk about racerback bras. These are bras that have a large central strap that comes up the back and then splits off to a y-shape to go over the shoulders. They’re meant to wear under racerback tops and dresses without showing your straps, but they’re good for a couple of other reasons as well.
First, because they close in front, they’re great for women with limited mobility. When I had a shoulder injury a couple of years ago, they were all I could manage. Also, they’re great support for women with bigger breasts, because they give that extra lift from the center of the back, not just underneath.
Finally, they’re great for women with narrow or sloping shoulders. I told you in the last episode that often slipping straps are caused by an ill-fitting bra, but for some women, all straps are too wide-set, and racerback or t-back bras can solve that problem.
Let’s move on to the two specialty bras I want to talk about briefly. I want to make it clear that I am not an expert in either of these, and you are much better off talking to a bra professional if you need good nursing or mastectomy bras.
A couple of things that women always want to know about nursing bras are when and where to get fitted. Traditional wisdom says you should go for a fitting when you are 8 months pregnant, because that’s roughly the size your breasts will be when you’re 6 weeks postpartum, and your supply has stabilized.
I am willing to bet that I could hear from a million women for whom this was not true. I think a better, more realistic approach is to live in nursing tanks and those super stretchy nursing bras they sell you in the hospital for the first couple of months–then go get fitted for some good bras. You don’t have to spend your entire nursing life in ugly, stretchy bras.
There are so many great brands out there making fabulous nursing bras, and the three links I shared the last episode is exactly where I’d send you for nursing bras, too. NowThe other question I get is, how long after I stop nursing should I be refit, and again, conventional wisdom says 6-8 weeks after you are totally done, your breasts should have stabilized in size.
But, should you do in those weird in-between months when you’re slowing down, but not totally stopped..honestly, I don’t have an answer for you and believe me, I combed the internet. This might be one of those things there really isn’t a perfect solution for, but if you do have an idea or a bra that worked for you, I invite you to share it in the Everyday Style Lounge.
The other specialty bra I want to touch on briefly is mastectomy bras. And I’m not talking about post-surgical bras here–I’m talking about after you’ve healed from surgery and have clearance from your doctor to wear “regular” bras again. Mastectomy bras have pockets designed to hold weighted breast prosthetics, and I think this is one of those times when a trip to a real professional is in order.
I’ve worked with a few clients who’ve needed mastectomy bras and the fitters we went to were amazing–they even helped fill out insurance paperwork to get the bras covered, and were able to help my Lindas find a comfortable fit.
Again, they don’t have to be ugly or matronly–there are really great options out there, and I think if ever there was a time to make yourself feel pretty, this would be it.
Next, I want to talk about what bras you need, and how to take care of your investment.
As always, what bras you need depends on you and how you live. If you haven’t exercised a day in your life, and don’t plan to, you don’t need 3 sports bras. Also, if you’re blessed in the chest, you may not want a push up bra…so instead of giving you a meaningless checklist, here are the categories you need to fill.
First, everyday bras. For me, they’re t-shirt bras, but for you, they could be demi cup, or minimizers–whatever makes you feel best, and that works for your wardrobe, most days. You need at least 3 of these, and I’ll explain why in a little bit.
You probably also need special occasion bras. This could be your convertible or strapless, or maybe you like the stick on bras. Whatever you choose, you probably need something you can wear with tricky necklines, straps, etc. How many you need depends on how many special occasion events you go to. Most women can get away with one or two, but you may need more.
Next, you need activity-specific bras–ie, sports bras. How many and what type, depending on what you do. If you’re in the gym 7 days a week, you’re going to need more than the woman who signed up January 1 and hasn’t made it there yet. If your favorite form of exercise is yoga, you have different needs than a marathon runner. I would say, if you never have a clean sports bra, or you don’t feel supported during your workouts, you need to add more, or different ones to your drawer.
Finally, you need a bra or two that makes you feel pretty. Women can not live by t-shirt bras alone. Splurge on something lacy and fun colored. You don’t have to save your pretty things for date night either! Don’t be afraid to wear it on an average Tuesday. It will give you a little secret boost during the day.
This is also a good choice for a bra you don’t mind being seen a little bit. If you’re someone who likes the look of a bra strap showing, make it fun, instead of a sturdy wide beige strap.
The one bra you never need, and I mean never, is a white bra. Why are people still buying white bras? Why are companies still making white bras? White bras are not invisible under white or thinner shirts. In fact, they’re highly visible under white or thin shirts. Nude to you is a better, more versatile option. End of rant.
Ok, so you went and got a great fitting, and you’ve stocked your drawer with the right bras for your lifestyle, and you probably spent more money than you wanted. The trick is to take care of them to make your investment lasts as long as possible.
Remember I told you that you needed at least 3 everyday bras? Here’s why: The worst thing you can do is wear the same bra two days in a row. Say what? Yep, this is a big mistake women make. During the day, your body heats up, expands, and perspires a little, so at the end of the day, your bra has stretched out.
It needs a day to regain its original shape, or you’ll end up stretching out an already stretched out bra, cutting the life of that bra almost in half.
Speaking of which, how long do bras last? Everyday bras, that are taken care of properly, and rotated so they’re not worn 2 days in a row, last between a year and 18 months, depending on how many you have. I know there are women listening right now who are horrified by this and are trying to figure out who was president when you bought the bra you’re wearing. I know this can be a shock, but yeah, bras wear out faster than you might think.
In the last episode, I told you that you should buy your bra when it’s on the loosest hook, not the middle, not the tightest, the loosest. When you buy it on the loosest hook–it should feel snug, but the fitter should be able to stretch the band away from your body a little bit. If she can pull it far out, it’s too big.
Once you’ve had your bra a bit, wearing it on the tightest hook, you’ll notice that it gets a little loose, and you can pull the back far out from your body–time to go to a smaller hook, and so on and so on until you’re on the tightest hook, the band can be stretched out far, and its shifting on your torso when you raise your arms.
If you buy a bra that is comfortable on the middle, or tightest hook, you don’t have far to go.
So many women say they are miserable when they get a bra fitting, and that the fitter must have been wrong. Here’s a more likely scenario. A woman who was really a 34D had been buying bras that were a 36C, so the band was too big, to begin with.
She wore that 36C for so long that it became like a 38. So when she goes to get a fitting, and the fitter puts her in her proper size, a 34D, it feels like a torture device. My advice is to give it some time and buy a band extender to get you through the first couple of weeks.
Back to bra care. The gold standard for washing your bras is hand washing, but come on, ain’t nobody got time for that. If you live in the real world, but still want to take care of your bras, wash them on cold, on a delicate setting, in a lingerie bag. You don’t have to buy a bra ball, plain mesh bags will do. Delicate detergent, or detergent that’s made or lingerie is best. Do with that what you will.
Bras should be washed after 3-5 wearings. I always say 3 in the summer, 5 in the winter, but you do what works for you. You don’t have to wash them every single time, as it will actually wear them out faster.
When it comes to drying your bras, any dryer setting is too hot for your bras. I know a lot of you are right now picturing yourself untangling your bras from the jeans and towels that have just come out of the dryer, but no, please don’t do that.
You’re ruining your bras every time you put them in the dryer because the elastic in the band is being burned out. Bras should be laid flat to dry, or hung by the center gore over a hanger, or even shower rod. If it’s a bra with molded cups, reshape and smooth the cups so they don’t dry with lumps.
When drying or storing your bras, you should also never hang them by one strap. This puts too much weight on the strap and will stretch the bra out.
Put them in your drawer, stacking them, like they do in stores. The other bad habit I want you to quit right now, if you have bras with molded cups, is what’s called the flip and fold. This is where you fold the bra in half, flipping one cup inside the other. Over time, you’ll have cups that are lumpy and weird.
I think that bra care, and how often they need to be replaced, is probably the area that surprises women the most, but once you know how important bras are in your wardrobe, and you’ve invested in good ones, you’re going to want to take care of them well.
Before I answer the questions that didn’t get covered in either episode, I want to talk about how to put on your bra. Long story short, don’t be a hooker and a twister! This is when you put your bra upside down, around your waist, hook it in front, twist it around, and then pull it up.
This is not good for your poor bra! I know you’re going to say, I can’t reach around and clasp it, my arms don’t go that way, but unless you reverse the process and twist your bra around to take it off, your arms DO go that way.
The proper way to put on a bra is to put your arms through the straps. Place the bra on your breasts, reach around the back and clasp the band together. But if you think you’re done there, you’d be wrong. Next, you gotta do the scoop and swoop.
The scoop and swoop are when you slide your hand into your bra cup, left hand into a right cup, right hand into left, underneath your breast and scoop up all the breast tissue.
Then you want to swoop it all up, toward your shoulder, or outer edge of your neck, not your chin–unless you’re trying to create some serious cleavage!
What the scoop and swoop does is make sure your underwire is sitting below your breast, not on, and that your breast tissue fills the cups of your bra and gives a nice shape.
This is the cheapest breast lift you can get, and you might find that your cup is too small, if the scoop and swoop create spillage or pillowing over your cup. Remember, human women have 2 breasts, not 4. Putting your bra on the right way might take a little getting used to, but give it a shot!
Last up, let’s answer the questions I got in the Everyday Style Lounge that didn’t get answered already.
For those who asked for specific recommendations, I don’t know you, your body your boobs or your budget. The best advice is to go get a fitting!!
The first question is What is a girl to do when the girls are a full cup size apart? a lot of women are not perfectly symmetrical–I say even most women, and if there’s less than half a cup size difference, you can usually use the strap adjustment technique to get a custom fit.
If it’s a half size, I’d look for bras with removable padding inserts underneath, and then take one side out. If the cups are a full size apart, a mastectomy bra with an insert might be your best option, as it will fill out the whole breast, and the insert will stay put.
There were also a couple of ladies who asked about bras when you’re basically flat-chested. They didn’t really say what they wanted to know, but I think a big misconception is that women who don’t have big breasts don’t need fittings or good bras.
Maybe it’s not as important, but a good fitter will help you find the right bra that is comfortable and gives you the shape you want. It never hurts to try. One of my clients swore she was a 36a, so she didn’t need good bras I bet the cost of my services that she wasn’t. Turns out, she was a 32c, and for the first time, had comfortable bras. So, go get a fitting.
There were also questions about bras that don’t “break the bank”. I want to state for the record, that this question, regardless of what you’re talking about, bras, vacations, roofing services, can’t be answered by anyone but you, because only you know what your bank is. No one knows your definition of “affordable”, or what would break the bank.
With that said, I want to talk about why bras cost more than most women would like to spend on them.
First, bras are absolutely one of those you get what you pay for items. A $15 bra is not the same as a $50 bra.
Bras are actually very technical garments that require more hand construction than other types of clothing. Creating a bra that actually does what it’s designed to do, whether it’s lifted, shape, support, enhance, minimize, whatever–as well as look good and be comfortable requires a lot of engineering and a lot of work.
According to an article in Teen Vogue on this topic, the most inexpensive bras have at least 30 different components, while high-end bras can have over 100. To put that in perspective, jeans have 15 and an expensive men’s dress shirt has just 26. So the cheapest bra out there has more pieces and requires more hand construction than a high-end dress shirt.
The quality of materials makes a huge difference too. Cheaper bras often use cheap plastic underwires that snap–I know you’ve had that happen, plastic sliders on the straps, and low-quality hook and eye closures that bend easily. Also, Materials that feel good against your skin, cost more too. The lace on a cheaper bra will be scratchy, whereas higher-end lace will feel good. But if you want lace that’s constructed to feel good and give some support? That’s gonna cost you.
Finally, the truth is that bigger bras require even more engineering, and better quality materials, as well as more materials, so they do in fact cost more to construct. Typically, lines that offer a wide variety of sizes don’t charge less for the small ones, and more for the big ones–they spread the cost across the whole size range, so the whole brand costs a little more.
In addition, some lines, like Third Love, offer up to 80 sizes. That’s 80 patterns to create, to cut, to manufacture–that drives up the cost.
Stores that offer a limited size range will often be cheaper in part because they don’t have as many different sizes to create or manufacture, and they’re not pricing based on sizes that require more work.
I think it’s time we stop looking skeptically at higher-priced bras like they’re just trying to rip us off and start looking skeptically at inexpensive bras, and wonder how they made it so cheaply.
The very last thing I want to talk about before we close the chapter on bras, at least for a while, is what to do with those bras that don’t work for you. You probably have a drawer full of bras that don’t fit, aren’t comfortable, and that you don’t want to put on each day..or at least you will after you upgrade.
But before you throw away the ones that don’t work for you, I want to ask you to give them another life with women who could really use them.
There are a couple of great organizations that give new life to your gently used bras, and make sure that women who could really use them are taken care of. Often, you can contact a local women’s shelter and ask if they’ll take them, but my favorite resource is I Support the Girls, which has partners all over the country.
This is a wonderful organization that collects and distributes essential items, including bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products, allowing women experiencing homelessness, impoverishment, or distress to stand tall with dignity.
I’ve got a link to find a partner in your area on my website. And, if you can, consider making a donation of another essential item with your bras. The Everyday Style Lounge community did an online product drive for I Support the Girls over the holiday season, and you fabulous ladies sent in almost a thousand dollars worth of products, so thank you for continuing to be wonderful people who make a difference in the world.
So, I told you that you had a little extra credit homework this week. If you still need to get a professional fitting, get it done! Then, find an I support the Girls affiliate or a women’s shelter near you that can do great things with the bras that weren’t right for you.
That’s it everyone–I’ll see you Monday with office hours, and we’ll be back in a couple of weeks with the next full episode. I don’t know what we’ll be talking about. I feel a little lost now that bras have been covered!
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I’ll see you next time, and until then, Stay Stylish!