What You Are Probably Doing Wrong When Shopping for Bras and Underwear24.06.2022
The right lingerie underneath is essential for any look. However, the underpinnings of any look are often overlooked. As someone who has been guilty of wearing sloppy, unflattering bras, I am constantly thinking about how to organize a drawer of the finest lingerie items. It should feel as beautiful and intentional as the wardrobe that I aspire to build.
Although I don’t like to admit it, I was wearing a couture gown I had saved for years to purchase on TheRealReal. I paired it with an old cotton bra underneath. Only after I put the designer top on, did I realize how much the outfit had been ruined by my unwisely chosen undergarments.
As many people, my early adulthood was filled with buying bras and underwear at a haphazard pace. I bought things out of impulse, without really thinking about the basics of a good lingerie collection. As I enter my thirties I am eager to start over and have many questions about how to do this. What pieces can I use as a second piece of clothing for those moments when I feel bold? What have I been doing wrong with bra size? It seems that no matter how much I buy it, it doesn’t seem to be as comfortable as I hoped.
This may sound familiar? I have consulted experts to help me create a comprehensive collection that includes bras, underwear and lingerie-adjacent items. They also gave me important tips on caring for everything and confirmed what I had suspected: that there is a correlation between liking what you wear underneath and feeling great in it.
When I get up in the morning to get dressed, I find that I enjoy choosing the right support pieces underneath my clothes. It makes me feel more prepared for the day ahead. These tips will help you feel the same.
The Building Blocks
When I started this journey, one of my first steps was to determine what everyone really needed in my lingerie drawer. Luckily, Cosabella President & Silvia Campello, Cosabella President & CEO, was kind enough to give me a complete checklist. She suggests the following styles for bras: everyday tee, push-ups, racerbacks, date nights (read: sexy), wireless, sports, strapless and plunge-front. This may sound overwhelming but there are only nine bras and you can adapt them to your personal style and lifestyle. If you don’t like to go to the gym, get rid of the sports bras. Are you not a fan of statement styles? You don’t have to pretend.
Campello recommends having a variety of underwear. This includes everyday thongs and boy shorts, at minimum one G-string, low, mid, or high-rise styles. They should also include lightweight pieces that can be worn for travel and summer weather, as well as breathable moisture-wicking options. This list is flexible and can be modified to suit your personal style, but it’s important to remember that you will need more than a pack of cheap cotton bikinis from the grocery store.
Next, I had to get rid all the old lingerie which wasn’t working for me anymore. Fleur du Mal’s Founder & Jennifer Zuccarini, CEO, was kind enough to act as my guide. She said that bras are too often kept on the shelf. She advised me to toss those old, dingy bras, especially if the elastic is not supporting you. You don’t have to have so many boring, neutral bras in your wardrobe. Your lingerie wardrobe is an important part of your fashion wardrobe. It doesn’t have to be the only thing you own.
Sets were my first love. Two matching pieces are so simple and elegant. It elevates even a basic tee or jeans. Most lingerie companies offer a combination of some of their designs. Bluebella’s Isla set, Electric Purple, is perfect for someone like me who prefers her bras barely visible under a white shirt. It’s stylish, romantic, and easy to wear. Bluebella founder Emily Bendell said, “Wearing beautiful matching sets — or a conflicting set if you prefer — makes it feel beautifully dressed and puttogether, and perfectly you.” It doesn’t matter if anyone sees it.
After my first venture into intentional underwear, I was inspired to visit Journelle, a luxurious lingerie boutique. All these dreamy boutiques are located throughout New York City. They have velvet curtains and are designed in soft, romantic colors. I chose the Journelle Victoire Plunge Bra & Victoire Thong from this boutique. They quickly became my favorite “everyday” set (which I consider a distinct category of my own). Next? Simone Pearle’s Rev set is also on my radar in dusty pink.
Sapna Palep, Journelle CEO, had some words for me when it came time to revive my bra selection. She says that fitting properly is the most important thing. “Bras stretch over time so even if you have a lot of bras at home, it doesn’t mean your bras will fit the same with a new bra.” I went to Journelle and was fitted correctly for the first time since I was a teenager. I discovered that my cup size was too large and that I had been wearing too small a band. I am happy to report that everything I have subsequently purchased has felt night-vs-day different to the simultaneously too-big-yet-too-small bras I’d been wearing in the past.
During my fitting, I realized that I didn’t need to wait so long to get fitted in person. This is because many people don’t know how to ask for the right size bra. Don’t be afraid to ask for bras next time you visit a store that sells them. It takes only 10 minutes to fit a bra. You can then shop from the comfort of your own home. Although there are many guides that can help you determine your size at home and make it easier, nothing compares to an in-person consultation with a professional.
Also, a strapless bra was a big hole in my arsenal. So I chose the Cosabella Forte Convertible Bra Strapless in Lace, which is both supportive as well as sexy. I’ve always been a 32D and strapless bras and tops have been my Achilles heel. A bra with a lift, full cups and an underwire was my best option. However, a great option for special occasions gowns that have a backless is the sticky bra. Ernest Leoty’s elegant styles echoed those of Parisian ballerinas and made me feel like a new woman at my Pilates class. Finally, Journelle’s Sapna plunge bralette was my choice for weekend mornings at the house while I read and drank coffee.
Campello’s list for essential items in lingerie drawers made me realize that I was doing quite well in the area of underwear. To add some fashion to my wardrobe, I decided to go beyond my low-cut brief and thong style. My favorite? The Helas high-waisted short from Eres with matching Deja Triangle bra. For those quiet AMs who lounge around at home, another category in my lingerie drawer was severely lacking, I chose Etam’s 360 boyshort reversible.
Thinx is a brand of underwear that’s specifically made for menstruation. These underwear were so liberating that I wore them instead of a Tampon. It was something I highly recommend to anyone with periods.
Once I began to pay attention to my underwear and bras, I realized that it was not logical to make changes to them while leaving my sleepwear and tights alone. Falke is a beloved stocking designer. I chose a pair stay-ups for their sex appeal and classic net tights to match my fashion sense. They will be worn with more casual dresses in fall and winter to give them a little edge. It became clear that I could not continue to wear sweatpants to bed. I preferred a silk slip and silk pajamas. Breezy linen or organic cotton are also great fabrics for summer.
A bustier is another next-level addition. I was ready to up my lingerie game and turned to Etam again. They know how to wear lingerie on the streets like the French. I wore their Panama Bustier and paired it up with a blazer, high-waisted pants and a blazer.
Caring for Your Lingerie
After spending so much money on quality pieces, I wanted it to be clear that I was properly caring for them. Palep suggested that lingerie should be hand washed or placed in a bag with lingerie in it. Never put them in the dryer to prolong their life. You can let them dry in the air instead of drying on top of the dryer.
My final touch to my lingerie collection was a delicates washing from The Laundress. This line has been long praised for its ability extend the life of expensive garments and make laundry a pleasure.
Lauren Michael, CUUP’s creative director, gave me some great advice that I had never heard. She said that wearing your bra for multiple days is one of the biggest mistakes. Your bra should be viewed as a pair of jeans or shoes. You want them to have time to recover between uses.
It’s much easier to follow her advice with the lingerie drawer that I have now constructed.