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Comfort Counts: Sizing Up Bra Shopping

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwired) -- 05/05/14 -- (Family Features) Despite having hundreds of options to choose from, finding the right bra -- in the right fit, style and color -- is a task many women dread.

However, getting smart about how to choose the best bra for your unique shape and needs will ease your mind, so your only worry is finding the perfect outfit to wear with it.

Comfort is key
Ensuring you've found the right size bra means little if it doesn't feel good. In fact, women's No. 1 complaint when shopping for a bra is finding a size that is comfortable.

Innovation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of bras, but a quick visit to the lingerie department of any retailer demonstrates today's selections are a far cry from undergarments of decades past. New developments in bras -- especially the emerging use of seamless knit technology and flexible fabrics and components -- give much greater attention to comfort in fit, while also delivering support and style.

Many popular brands have introduced flexible fit bra lines using seamless construction and advanced components such as straps, cups and bands that feel customized to the wearer. The flexibility of these bras has led some bra brands to replace the traditional cup-and-band sizing system with a simplified alpha Smart Size system. Similar to sports bra sizing, this sizing system makes it easy to find the right bra quickly. The brands say that 10 simplified seamless, shape-to-fit Smart Sizes ranging from XS to 5X are equivalent to more than 30 cup-and-band sizes ranging from 30A to 52DD.

"Smart Sizes revolutionizes how women fit and buy their bras," said Sandy Waitz, vice president of intimate apparel design and development for HanesBrands, one of the largest intimate apparel companies in the world. "With the flexible fit properties of Smart Sizes, women can find a bra that literally molds to their individual shape, including unique fit challenges such as between sizes and unevenly sized breasts."

Popular bra brands like Bali, Hanes, Playtex, Barely There and Just My Size all offer bras with Smart Sizes that are available at leading retailers around the country.

Size it up
For years, experts have lamented that the majority of women are wearing the wrong size bra. The complexity and limits of traditional cup-and-band sizes can exacerbate finding the right fit. Here are indicators of a problem fit:

  • If the cup is not filled out, or it wrinkles, a smaller cup or a contour cup may be needed.
  • If flesh overflows, a larger cup or a fuller cut style may provide a better fit.
  • The band should be snug to the chest; if it rides up, it is too loose or the wrong size.
  • If the straps dig into your shoulders, you need a more supportive cup and frame. Your straps should not be doing any of the "lifting."

Bra Care 101
Follow these guidelines to keep your bras in tip-top condition:

  • To avoid snags, tears and underwires poking through, hand wash bras in cold water using laundry detergent formulated for delicate washing.
  • If you must machine wash, always place bras in a lingerie bag and use a delicate wash setting with a cool water temperature. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions regarding how many items your bag can accommodate to avoid overfilling.
  • Always air dry bras; heat will damage stretchy fabric and result in misshaping over time.

Signs that it's time to replace your bra:

  • You spill over the cups or no longer fill them.
  • The bra rides up and/or straps fall down on a consistent basis.
  • You're experiencing back or posture problems.
  • Your bra has rips, tears, pilling or other damage, such as color fading.
  • You're uncomfortable.

Smart Solutions
For women looking to simplify their lives and lingerie drawers, consider these tips from bra experts:

Fluctuating bra size
If you find your best fit falls between traditional sizes, your bra size changes due to weight loss or gain or you have unevenly sized breasts, a flexible fit bra that offers a more custom fit may be your best choice. Many flexible fit bras also take the guesswork out of finding the right bra size with easy-to-find sizes like XS through 5X.

Wardrobe versatility
When you want to avoid showing straps under your favorite tops, look for bras with convertible straps and cups designed for a plunging neckline, such as Hanes Wirefree Everyday Comfort Convertible Push-Up or Bali Comfort Revolution Smart Sizes Convertible Straps bra.

Color coordination
If you want to avoid the peek-a-boo bra in a light-weight or thin top try wearing a bra in a complementing color. The Barely There CustomFlex Fit collection offers a variety of styles and color options, allowing you to move beyond the basic white, black and nude shades.

Larger sizes
Look for bras that eliminate uncomfortable seams and slipping straps. For example, the Just My Size Pure Comfort Seamless Wirefree Bra, available in 1X to 5X, boasts an innovative, seamless construction that offers knit-in support. The wide-bottom band helps prevent roll-up, the broad straps eliminate slippage and a wide rounded back delivers a touch of smoothing.

Active lifestyle
When your day keeps you on the run and in need of a supportive bra without the compression of a sports bra, try the Playtex Play Funwinder bra. This style provides seamless support with cushioned adjustable straps, lightly padded cups and wicks away moisture to keep you cool through all your daily activities.

Underwire support
Look for styles that provide the support of a traditional underwire bra but with a wirefree feel. For example, Bali Comfort Revolution Smart Sizes Underwire features a comfortable underwire that delivers support and knit-in zones that provide targeted shaping.

Visit for additional tips on finding the right style and comfort fit that will work best for you.

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