You’re Doing It All Wrong: How to Buy Bras & Lingerie (Just In Time for V-Day!)

Bra expert Jene Luciani's tips for avoiding Bras of Torture.

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I have a love-hate relationship with bras. I love them because they make the girls look good; I hate them because they ALL, inevitably, become Instruments of Torture. So, I jumped at the change to grill Jene Luciani, author of The Bra Book and all-’round bra expert. Jene’s working with T.J. Maxx and Marshalls to spread the word about what great, designer deals you can find in their lingerie departments, so I took the opportunity to ask her what I’ve been doing wrong all this time. (Spoiler alert: yes, underwires are necessary!)

April: Why must all bras become Instruments of Torture, even if they start out comfortable?

Jene: It doesn’t have to be that way! There are many ways to address this question. The first is that you may not be caring for your bras properly and they may not be the best quality. Opt for the highest caliber undergarments, like what designer stores T.J.Maxx & Marshalls carry. These lingerie destinations are stocked with a variety of quality undergarments at amazing prices and will make the process of searching for that special bra seamless. If you aren’t caring for them properly (like for example, if you throw them in the machine and the underwire bend and the straps stretch out) then they won’t do their job and then will certainly become instruments of torture. Also, if you are wearing the incorrect size and it’s sliding down, sliding around your body or not supporting your breasts properly or the straps dig in, then you are in trouble. They shouldn’t start out “comfortable” – they should feel snug in the store and then as you wear it, it starts to break in a little.

TJ-Pink Bra and Panty

April: Is there any consistency with bra sizing? I feel like I’m a different size in every brand!

Jene: Unfortunately no and this has been an issue for a long time. Every vendor uses a different fit model, that’s why size is a guideline and you must try them on and go through the process of trial and error to truly find what works for you. Stores with a big selection like T.J.Maxx and Marshalls is a great place to start. You could be 5 different sizes in 5 different brands!

April: Are underwires the only way to go if you have biggish boobs? (I feel like I absolutely need the support but wish they were more comfortable!)

Jene: They are absolutely needed and should NOT feel uncomfortable. If it’s riding up your breast tissue, then the cup is too small. If it’s digging in, the band might be too small. You shouldn’t feel it at all! Plus now bras are being made with fabric and padding wrapped around them – no excuse not to wear one!

April: What’s the biggest mistake women make when it comes to buying bras?

Jene: Not paying attention to key fit points as outlined above and just buying “whatever’s comfortable.” Also, not getting a large enough selection of styles to have in your closet and finally not putting it on properly (bending forward to let breast tissue fall forward and settle into cups) and not adjusting the straps immediately each time you put it on! This can correct issues like gaping in cups.

 April: Is there such a thing as comfortable yet sexy yet somewhat supportive sleep-wear?

Jene: Yes! A great camisole and tap pant set with a shelf bra is a great option.

April: What are some sexy trends for Valentine’s Day? Anything new or unexpected? 

Jene: Lingerie is so personal I say don’t go by the trends, wear what makes you feel like the hot sexy woman you are! If baby dolls that cover a tummy pooch but show a little cleavage and legs make you feel your best, then that’s what you should get!

TJ-Black Neglige

April: What are some things to keep in mind when shopping for lingerie?

Jene: Be sure to try it on and make sure it fits well, especially with fabrics like satin. Shop what makes you feel sexy but also what looks best on your shape and body type. Think about the things you like and don’t like about your body and accentuate the positives and look for something that’ll rid your body of the negatives. It’s important to find quality pieces especially when you’re shopping for such delicate fabrics. You’ll look and feel your best and your partner will definitely take notice.

Designer items above are available at T.J. Maxx.

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