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15 Surprising Bra Mistakes Most Women Make

Aside from the ability to make or break an outfit, the right bra has a direct effect on your health, preventing back problems, muscle tension and even headaches. Here are the most common bra mistakes women make, plus tips from the pros on how to fix them.

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Wearing the wrong size

According to statistics, approximately eight out of ten women wear the wrong bra size. “Most women wear their bras too loose on the band and too small on the cups,” says Kim Levan, Country Manager at Simone Pérèle Canada. You’ve probably heard this before, but you likely weren’t aware of the potential damage to your health. Wearing the wrong size bra can cause an imbalance in the weight distribution of the breasts, says Levan, which can lead to discomfort and further pain over time.

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Forgoing fittings

Getting fitted just once won’t cut it—as your body changes over time, your bra size will, too. “It’s important to keep in mind that small changes in your body can affect your bra size, which is why we recommend a fitting session with a professional bra fitter once a year,” says Levan. Women undergoing more drastic changes (such as pregnancy and weight gain or loss) will want to schedule a fitting more frequently.

Rosa Faia Louisa Bra, $115, visit anita.com for store locator

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Wearing white under white

A white bra can actually act as a highlighter, drawing attention to your bra when worn under a white top. Instead, opt for beige or red (yes, red!). Turns out, red bras appear invisible under white. “It’s true,” says Levan. “Beige is not the only colour that can be worn under white. Red is not only classic and seductive, it’s also a versatile colour that can be worn under any garment.” As a general rule, the darker your skin tone, the better it works.

Simone Pérèle Push-Up Elles Bra, $159, Nordstrom

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blue simone perele bra

Limiting your scope

Don’t be fooled by the small range of bra sizes you often see in stores. “No one said the alphabet had to stop at D,” says Levan. “A brand such as Simone Pérèle carries band sizes ranging from 30 to 42, and cup sizes ranging from A to H.”

Simone Pérèle Wish Triangle Push Up, $149

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Forgetting the “reality test”

A common mistake women make is forgetting to test the bra for “normal life situations” in the dressing room, says Émilie Gentès, Public Relations and Product Marketing Strategy Supervisor at La Vie en Rose. Be sure to raise your arms, bend side to side and twist your torso to see how the bra fits from all angles.

La Vie En Rose My Memory Convertible Strapless Bra, $55, lavieenrose.com

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 victoria's secret bra

Relying on the straps

“Tightening the straps of your bras does not provide more support,” says Levan. In fact, the bulk of a bra’s support comes from the band, followed by the cups, underwire and, lastly, the straps. “When shopping for a bra, look for quality in the band by pulling on the back,” Levan suggests. “You want a back band that offers a high kick-off ratio, meaning a strong elastic that will come back to its form once un-stretched.”

Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels Wicked The Unlined Uplift Bra, $45, victoriassecret.com

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Overlooking proper fit

Make sure the band fits straight across the back, with the centre gore at the front resting on the breastbone, advises Gentès. “The breasts should fit perfectly inside the cups without overflowing,” she adds. “Also, underwire should contour, not dig into, the breasts. If there is any space between the breasts and the inside of the cup, then you need to go down a cup size.” Need more of an incentive to get properly fitted? The right bra can actually make you look 10 pounds thinner!

La Vie En Rose Sleekback Bra, $50

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orange simone perele bra

Underestimating the power of lace

Lace isn’t just for skimpy, seductive lingerie. “A high-quality European lace offers superior strength and support, while offering flexibility, softness to the touch and a beautiful three-dimensional look,” says Levan.

Simone Pérèle Eden Chic Soft Cup Triangle, $99

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Skipping the “scoop and swoop”

Once you’ve put on your bra, bend forward and scoop your breasts into the cups to ensure they’re properly supported in place. As a bonus, this technique will also help to prevent unsightly armpit bulges, too.

Rosa Faia Aurelia Bra, $100

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Wearing your bra too frequently

“In order to maximize your bras’ lifetime, do not wear your bra more than one day in a row,” advises Levan. “This will allow your bra’s elastic bands and delicate fabrics to ‘relax’ in between wears, which will make it last much longer!”

W’s Wireless Bra (Beauty Light), $30 at UNIQLO

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Keeping your bras for too long

“Most of us forget this and keep our bras for a lot longer than we should,” says model and lingerie designer Ashley Graham. Some experts recommend buying new bras every six to nine months, but many bras can last longer if they’re well taken care of (be sure to click ahead for bra-care tips). Generally, if the straps start to feel loose and you’ve reached the tightest hooks on the band, it’s time to toss your bra.

Ashley Graham for Addition Elle Icon Lightly Lined Underwire Bra, $70, additionelle.com

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black and tan simone perele bra

Not washing your bras enough

For a garment most women wear on the daily, bras often get neglected when it comes to laundry day. “We recommend washing bras every two wears,” says Levan. “With proper care, your bras will easily last you three to four times longer.”

Simone Pérèle Idylle Half Cup, $129

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Machine washing (and drying) your bras

Hand wash your bras whenever possible, recommends Gentès. “Machine washing is an option, too, but be sure to use a delicate, hand wash or permanent press cycle.” Hooking bras before machine washing and placing them in a wash bag will also help prevent twisting and tangles, she says. “Do not use detergent with bleach, as this will ruin the quality of the moulded cups, and ultimately, the elasticity and fabrics of the bra.” Instead, use a gentle soap, particularly one formulated for delicate items. After washing your bra, Levan recommends soaking up excess water with a towel, rather than wringing it, before laying the bra flat to dry. “Do not hang your bras by the straps,” she warns, “as this will cause stretching.”

La Vie En Rose Desire Lace Convertible Strapless Bra, $50

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red victoria's secret bra

Stuffing your bras in a drawer

“Moulded cup bras should be stored open instead of inverting one cup into another in order to minimize stress on the cup fabric,” says Levan.

Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels Demi Cup Bra, $63

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ashley graham for addition elle bra

Getting stressed out

Remember: “Have fun when shopping for a bra,” says Graham. “Shop for yourself and find something that will make you feel sexy, comfortable and confident!”

Ashley Graham for Addition Elle Fatal Attraction Unlined Underwire Bra, $65