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6 Ways Your Clothes Secretly Hurt You & What To Wear Instead

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    From the “dancing” shoes we can barely stand in to the life-sucking tights we immediately wish we weren’t wearing, many of us have accepted a little — or a lot — of discomfort as a non-negotiable tax on looking good (despite our mothers' fretting over our misguided priorities).

    But with athleisure’s takeover and the increasing trend towards more relaxed, voluminous silhouettes, it’s clear that the union of comfort and style is more in demand than ever. Yet, even if you’ve figured out how to work body-loving leggings into outfits you'd proudly flaunt outside the gym, you may be overlooking some of the most basic sources of pain, fidgetiness, and even some potential health risks in your everyday look.

    To solve those under-addressed issues happening (literally) right under our noses, we asked fashion and medical experts alike about the most fundamental wardrobe swaps to make for our well-being. Read on for the answers, including the surprising bag style for nixing upper-body strain and a comfy-cool excuse to finally kick your heel habit: KEEN UNEEK footwear. We know, Mom, we know — you told us so.

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    The Pain Point: Neck, back, and shoulder aches have you joining the #burnyourbra movement.

    One of the most common causes of bra-induced discomfort, says intimates expert Jenny Altman, is that typically people are wearing a size too small. Going too big, however, can be just as problematic. One of the complaints she hears most is from women whose bra straps dig into their shoulders.

    “It’s because your band isn’t fitted enough to give you the right level of support,” she explains. “So you’re relying on your straps to do too much work.” Band fit 101: You should only be able to fit two fingers snugly under the band; and if it’s riding up in the back, it’s too big.

    The Solve: Altman suggests going for a bra fitting at a store with a good rep and seeking out style-driven brands that offer a broad range of sizes, like Chantelle. “You can feel comfortable and still look really cute, whether you’re an A or a G,” she promises.

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    The Pain Point: You’re as hooked on antacids as you are on high-waisted skinny jeans.

    Believe it or not, tight-fitting clothing is a major cause of acid reflux, according to New York-based gastroenterologist Elana Maser, MD. “The GI tract is like a hose,” she explains. “If you compress it at the bottom, you’re blocking food from passing through. You get some backup of food into the esophagus, where it’s not used to having acid. So it burns.”

    And this doesn’t only occur after big meals. Simply wearing waist-constricting clothing, like too-snug pants, tops, and shapewear, can worsen your reflux symptoms. “It’s okay if you're going to a party once in a while, but if it’s something you're wearing on a daily basis, it doesn't take very long [for reflux to flare up],” says Dr. Maser.

    The Solve: As Altman points out, fashion trends have veered away from styles that call for shapewear, so it's a great time to replace your most restrictive denim with breezier, more fashion-forward alternatives. Our pick: a relaxed-fit jumpsuit that still shows off your shape up top.

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    The Pain Point: Nothing kills a new-clothes buzz like your skin responding with a hard "no."

    Most people don’t have an allergy to textile fibers themselves, says New York allergist Clifford Bassett, MD. Instead, contact dermatitis — signs of which include redness, itchiness, and scaliness — stems from additives such as formaldehyde, which is used to make clothing wrinkle-resistant, as well as glues and tanning ingredients. (A textile-dye allergy is a thing, too, but “fortunately dyes wash out over time,” notes Dr. Bassett.)

    The Solve: To stay on the safer side, both Dr. Bassett and Alden Wicker, of sustainable living blog EcoCult, agree that choosing low-formaldehyde fabrics, such as 100-percent cotton, linen, and silk, is a good idea. (Just make sure they're not “wrinkle-resistant.”) Wicker goes a step further by shopping labels that use all- or mostly natural materials across the board, citing “the lushness of how they feel against your skin.”

    At the very least, wash new clothes before wearing them to tone down “toxic” dyes and industrial solvents, and use a detergent that's been screened for skin irritants.

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    The Pain Point: You've been called a “bag lady,” and your sore upper bod confirms it.

    “Most women are carrying way too much weight in their bags,” says Emily Kiberd, chiropractic physician at New York City’s Urban Wellness Clinic. And our tendency to lug it all on one shoulder creates asymmetry in the body. If you’re carrying your bag on your right side, Dr. Kiberd explains, “you’re probably leaning to the left and hiking that right shoulder up, creating tension.” And that tightness in the upper back can actually cause tension headaches. (Who knew?)

    Also, women frequently roll their shoulder forward when they hold a bag this way, “which can change how you breathe and create tightness in the chest,” Dr. Kiberd says.

    The Solve: So what’s the “right” way to hold a bag? “Carry it in one hand with a straight arm and your shoulder packed down to your side, so you're opening up across the chest and pulling your shoulder down and back. And keep your eyes on the horizon,” she instructs. As for what styles lend themselves to happy holding, she recommends a handheld option that can be as big as a reasonable work bag (ditch the long strap if it has one). It’s mostly how you carry it that matters.