By Pierra Calasanz-Labrador for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
Okay, how many of you own the bra equivalent of "bacon briefs"? While we can't possibly be expected to wear sexy lacy push-ups (with matching panties) 24/7 like movie bombshells, we should at least be outfitted in undergarments that fit comfortably, support the twins, and discreetly make tops fall better. Here are some tips to finding the right bra!
Does your cup runneth over?
While spilling out of your bra might look sexy—in fact, fashion stylists usually get a cup size smaller for sultry photo shoots—wearing the wrong bra can be extremely uncomfortable, and even unflattering.
Picking a too-small bra for that D-I-Y push-up look can constrict our breathing or pinch our skin. Or worse, when we get a cup size too big and stuff it with tissue, we have to cross our fingers that it doesn't accidentally fall out. How inconvenient is that? Meanwhile, more "blessed" Pinays who favor flimsy bras might not realize that a better bra choice can help ease back pain and prevent the saggy boob look.
Have you been buying the wrong bra size all along?
Remember, band size and cup size are two different things—a wider girl can still be flat-chested, and just because you're tiny doesn't mean you're automatically a 32AA.
Here's how to calculate your proper bra size: Wrap a soft measuring tape tightly around your ribcage, just below the bust line. Then add five inches to this to get your band size (so if your measurement is 29, add 5 and your band size is equivalent to 34).
To get your cup size, measure around the fullest part of your bust, then calculate the difference between the result and your band size. Each inch difference is equivalent to 1 cup size: so 1 inch difference is A cup, 2 inches is B cup, 3 inches C cup, 4 inches D cup, and less than 1 inch is AA cup. For example, if the measurement around the fullest part of your bust is 36, minus your band size of 34, then the difference is 2 inches, making you a B cup. So now you know that you're a 34B!
Try it on
If underwear-shopping has become such a chore that you just purchase the first bra you see, we can't stress enough the importance of trying it on. Even if your stats match the label, make sure it's a comfortable fit—after all, you'll be wearing it constantly. But did you know that there's a proper way to wear your bra? Here goes:
Hook the straps over your shoulders and fasten the clasps. The back band should fall just under the lowest part of your shoulder blades. Then bend over slightly, and jiggle your torso so your breasts fall naturally into the cups. Straighten out, adjust the underwire to get it just below the bust, and make sure that the shoulder straps fit snugly without digging into your skin—adjust to a comfortable fit. Voila!
For the proper fit, make sure that the band doesn't pinch your skin (causing your "back fat" to bunch up), your breasts completely fill the cups, the cups hug the outer edges of your breasts (no spillover!), and the underwire ends at the side edge of your breasts without poking you. And finally, make sure that the little piece of fabric in between the cups lies flat against your body.
Tip: Buy one bra at a time, and see how you like it after a few washings (handwash or delicate cycle only, please!). If it still looks good and fits well, it's worth buying a few more, and maybe in different colors!
Go for nude
For everyday use, nude-colored bra is your basic must-have. Forget white bras—they're too obvious under clothes (yes, even under white tops which are best worn with a nude bra); for ultimate discretion, match your bra to the color of your skin and opt for smooth (not textured) fabrics.
Have at least one black bra to wear under black garments, as a sexy complement to a sheer top, or when you're simply feeling a little naughty. Meanwhile, colored or printed bras with pretty straps can be fun, and come in handy in peek-a-boo instances.
Which style is best for you?
Though bras may all look the same to guys, women can get carried away—or simply overwhelmed—by the number of styles to choose from.
A basic style that's universally flattering is a soft-cup underwire bra which provides some support and gives a natural, unsculpted line (read: no stiff boob look).
AA and A cups can get away with bandeaus and non-wired bras (also great for "pambahay" for fuller girls). For subtle enhancement, opt for either padded or push-up bras—just make sure it doesn't look too fake!
If you're a B-cup and beyond, wear an underwire for support—in either a natural soft-cup or the thicker molded cup for fuller coverage and a more symmetrical look when your boob sizes don't match perfectly (don't worry, you're not alone!). If you're extremely "blessed," pick full-cup bras with thicker band and straps for better support. Soft or molded cups in seamless fabrics are commonly known as T-shirt bras, for that invisible look. Meanwhile, a cleavage-enhancing demi-cup provides lift and leaves the tops of your breasts revealed, for a lush view of your assets in a low-cut top. This style cuts through the breast line though, so the demi-cup is a no-no under T-shirts.
For tricky clothing, consider a convertible bra with straps that can be detached and arranged in different ways. Make sure you have at least one good strapless bra that stays snugly in place for tank tops, bustiers and spaghetti strap dresses. Athletes gravitate toward racerback/sports bra styles, whose "V" or "T" back strap designs provide more support and less bounce, and are made in more absorbent material like Lycra. And the list goes on.
Pretty and practical
These days, bra choices can be both pretty and practical, so there's no excuse for that tattered look (it's a Bridget Jones "granny panty" moment in the making). And even if you're not planning a night of seduction anytime soon, a lovely set of underwear simply makes dressing up more fun. The secret knowledge of wearing something unbelievably sexy under your clothes can give you a boost of confidence—in more ways than one.