Today I’m talking knickers, well, not just knickers, but all foundation garments. Like building a house, if the foundations aren’t solid, the house won’t be stable, your underwear has a huge effect on your overall look and how great you will look. Let’s start from the top!
Studies show that around 70% of women are wearing the wrong bra size and I think this would be accurate. So many people are wearing a band size that is too large, and a cup size that is too small, which means that their breasts sit lower than the optimal point which is half-way between elbow and shoulder. When your breasts are sitting lower, then you will find that you have a shorter waist and you lose your waist. I love it when I find a great fitting bra for a client and they try it on and then clothes on top and I hear them say “I’ve got my waist back!”.
A well-fitting bra will sit horizontally around your body, under your bust, with the underwire sitting against your chest wall, and not sticking into your breast tissue. If the underwire doesn’t sit against your chest wall, then you will end up with the ‘mono-boob’, no separation between your breasts. If the band is too big (and when you buy the bra, the band should do up on its loosest hook, so that as the elastic stretches over time you can tighten it up), then it will ride up your back as the weight of your breasts pulls it up, and they will sit low.
Make sure that the cup is large enough – any spillage, over the top, out the side, underneath – means that the bra cup is too small. Keep going up cup sizes until you find the one that encases your breasts completely.
Not sure of your size? Here is a great tool to help your current bra size. Want more bra fitting tips?
The way your underpants fit is as important as your bra. If they dig in and create lines and bulges, this will show through your clothing. Underwear that creates a muffin top is to be avoided. I usually advise going up a size or two to ensure that all the elastic in modern underwear doesn’t dig into your skin and create bulges. I will always remember hearing that Marilyn Monroe would refuse to wear knickers so that she didn’t have to worry about having less than a smooth line.
Be careful of the colour you choose – those red knickers may be cute, but if they show through your lighter coloured skirt/dress/pants then the world will be focussing on them, not your smokin’ style! Nude or black are two pretty safe colours for your everyday underwear.
Be aware of how your underwear appears from the back. A full-length mirror that you can see yourself behind in is important to ensure that underwear is just that, under whatever else you’re wearing, and not making itself obvious!
The average celebrity wears two pairs at a time under their regular clothes.
Shapewear – that’s the word for the new-fashioned girdle. But what I love is that shapewear now comes with many different options, from the granny pant knicker to the tank top with built in tummy control, either one that goes over or under your bra. If your legs need extra support you can try the short or long leggings or even shapewear hoisery.
Rather than squeeze yourself into shapewear so that anything extra spills out the top or bottom, go for a slightly larger size so you get a lovely smoothing effect and you can still breath!
Figure out where you need the shaping. If you are an X, 8 or A shape you will probably prefer shapewear knickers or bike shorts. If you are an H, V or O shape a tank top is more likely to give you the smoothing you desire.
When your foundations are strong it’s so much easier to appear stylish!\
More Tips on Choosing Great Foundation Garments
Great point on the bra too loose and riding up the back! I see this mistake all the time when I’m out and about.
Underwear is so superimportant to be comfortable and look one´s best. I am a pretty average size, 8-shaped woman and I love to wear silk knickers that resemble biker´s shorts. “Leg wear” it´s called in Swedish, and I go up a size to make sure it´s not digging into my waist. Having prominent high hips, other models just dig into the one bit of my body I don´t really want to flaunt, no matter if I go up a size or not. And for anyone who sweats a bit, I warmly recommend silk under- and sleepwear, winter as well as summer.
Hi Imogen, great post and very timely! I had a bra shopping trip plan for today so after reading all your tips, went to the store. I spent about 2hrs trying on bras — a variety of sizes, styles and brands — And came home with 4 absolutely fabulous bras. I wish I had taken the time earlier to try on all the different options — they are comfortable and hold the girls up where they should be and secure. I love my newly refound waist!
RM – fantastic – good bras make such a difference!
I’ve had trouble finding a good bra ever since I can remember because my breasts are highly unusual. As recent personal analysis has revealed they are v wide-set, something in between these two in terms of shape:
so the centre panel on the bra is always too short. I have now resolved to take matters into my own hands, I have more than a dozen different bras, none of which I ever wear as they don’t fit (no matter than when measured that’s what I’m meant to be wearing) so snapped the centre panel and substituted it with a safety pin. I think I’ll attempt to sew a rubber band in its place when I’ve mastered the art of sewing a bit more.
Now trying to properly ascertain my cup size/style. any suggestions with regard to this? my breasts are a bit droopy and point slightly outwards so won’t fit into those perfectly shaped round cups properly and as I said I need to see for a breast individually to see what cups them from underneath but this is also problematic as breasts tissues spills sideways not forward.
bra-matters have been the bane of my life, all my life, need a solution!
Susie – go and try on multiple brands – you may find that one fits you better than the others. Some are made for wider set breasts (which you have) others for narrow ones. Sometimes if you have a wide rib cage you may need to go up a cup size to get the width too. You may also need to go to a bespoke bra fitter who can do the alterations necessary for you.
Discovered bralets yesterday. I generally don’t need any support per se, just a big of coverage, and oh my god, are they more comfortable than bras. Fellow small busters, take note!
As long as they don’t make you look all squashed!
Great advice on bras which I plan to take to heart. I wonder though, am I the last woman in the world who hates the thought of shape wear? It might not be practical for every woman out there, but my preferred solution is just to watch what I eat, work out, and keep my chassis toned. Good for the health and good for the soul. Also on knickers (panties)–I’ve always worn cotton since I grew up in a hot climate. Great for avoiding yeast infection because they breathe. Even in cold climates, air circulation and heat can be an issue when you bundle up snug. (Would silk work as well? I don’t know.)