Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
On the grand spectrum of things that are confusing, bra sizing is right up there with crop circles and Justin Bieber’s Instagram captions. A 2011 study revealed that roughly 85% of women are wearing the wrong bra size — and whether or not that exact statistic is correct, it’s safe to say that your own bra probably doesn’t fit as well as it should.
And by wearing lingerie that’s too large or small, you’re doing yourself — and your boobs — a disservice. Ever suffer from slipping straps, gaping cups, or a band that rides up your back? These are all telltale signs that your bra’s just not right.
Of course, the search for properly supportive undergarments all starts with a professional fitting, so we headed to the Journelle boutique at 125 Mercer Street in Soho to get measured — and to get the scoop on how to buy, wear, and care for your bras. A few takeaways:
- Every bra has a "sister size," which you can figure out by moving down one size in the band and up one size in the cup (or vice versa). Cup volume is always the same for both sister sizes; it’s a good idea to try both to see which feels more supportive and comfortable. Don’t get hung up on your cup size!
- Buy a bra that fits snugly on the outermost set of hooks. As the elastic loosens with time and wear, you can then move inward to the others.
- You should wash your bras after every three wears or so, using lukewarm water and lingerie wash — not Woolite, which is meant for wool and heavier fabrics. Allow them to soak for 20-30 minutes, and always air dry afterwards.
- Don’t wear the same bra every day — rotate between several to prolong their lifespan. Replace each bra after six months to a year.