Usually, when we go into a lingerie store, we turn around and walk right out. It's so overwhelming. We don't know if we need a plunge or a push. And, our bodies don't exactly look like the fit models. Recently, though, we had an eye-opening experience that every woman hopes for. We went in for a bralette, and walked out with a new vision of our bodies (read: our boobs).
It was during that ah-ha moment when sales ladies with the measuring tape corrected our purchases and redefined our size that we began to see the truth: We had been doing it ALL wrong. Our ribs were smaller than we thought, our cups were bigger than we gave them credit for, and, as a result, our confidence was, well, enhanced. And, we knew immediately that we needed to pass along this new found body-image and bust knowledge to you dear reader.
We are proud to present the boob bra bible you've been waiting for, chock full of tips and buys to create the bra wardrobe of your dreams. Experts Helen Mears (of Adore Me) and Nicole Willis (of Intimacy) share all of their brilliant underthings know-how. Your cup's about to runneth over — but, we promise it won't result in spillage.
1 of 15
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
It's easy to assume the support you get from your bra is all about the straps. Isn't that what those little adjust-y things are for? Mears explains that it's actually the band that gets your ladies in the right place. So, it's also the part of the bra you can test for the right fit and support. She suggests clasping the band on the loosest set of hooks: "When at this position, you should only be able to pull out the band approximately half an inch from your back before feeling strong resistance from the band."

Willis notes, the band is also where all the magic happens. "The band of your bra should always be firm. Your bra works like a seesaw, so if the band is positioned low and firm on your back, you'll get fabulous lift." Who knew?
2 of 15
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Underwires tend to be annoying. But, that's probably because they've been sitting all wrong on your chest. Mears says the underwire should lie flat against the chest bone right in the center and go all the way around the breast tissue. If you find yourself constantly pulling down your underwire to adjust, you probably need a bigger cup size (woo-hoo!) "If the underwire isn't laying flat in the center or completely cupping the breast tissue, you must go up only in cup size — not band size — to achieve the perfect fit." Indeed, Willis says to achieve the most "flattering, va-va-voom silhouette, make sure that your bra is pulling your breast tissue front and center." No sideboob, ladies.
3 of 15
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Although you may think straps are the major antigravity device in your bra, they're really just an auxiliary function. As such, Willis says the straps shouldn't be too tight: "A majority of your bra's support comes from the band. If you're relying on your straps for support, your bra doesn't fit you properly."

Mears echoes these sentiments, noting the straps should only be tight enough to not fall off the shoulders. "If the straps are putting pressure on the shoulders, they're working too hard and more of the support should be transferred to the band." That means no more bra-dentations on the shoulders, ladies.
4 of 15
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
It's important to keep the breast contained within the cup (the phenomenon endearingly — or perhaps notoriously — known as "spillage"). Mears advises: "Make sure it's not pressing into breast tissue and creating a lump when worn with a tightly fitted top." So, if you do have some over-the-cup issues, how do you fix it? Mears says, "If loosening the strap doesn't fix the lumpy look, then moving up in the cup size until it disappears" is the next option.
5 of 15
Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Your bra collection shouldn't just include one nude and one black option. Wearing the same bras over and over will dramatically shorten their lifespan, according to Willis. Plus, your bras should be a true reflection of your style. Mears recommends you get out of your comfort zone: "It's easy to get stuck in a rut with what lies beneath, choosing to go with the basic and easy over anything else. But, lingerie is just as important as fashion, and it also changes with the seasonal trends. Take advantage of all the style options you have out there. You never know what might catch your eye. And, don't be too embarrassed or lazy to get measured."

Willis promotes the unofficial motto "every woman should have a bra wardrobe," and she recommends you have seven to ten bras in your collection. Try out a variety of textures and styles, like smooth, lace, sports, and strapless. "It's important to have different bras for different outfits — just like shoes!" And, don't be afraid of lace. "European lace bras have seams that will give you fabulous shape. And, they're sexy, too!"
6 of 15
7 of 15
8 of 15
9 of 15
11 of 15
13 of 15
15 of 15

More from Shopping


R29 Original Series