You knew this was next, didn’t you? The thing is, we can’t possibly talk about refreshing and revamping our mom style for the new year without addressing undies. They’re just so fundamental. Underwear used to be called a foundation garment, which is fitting because it really does form the base of all of our outfits. In many European countries, particularly France, lingerie stores are as common as drugstores, but the U.S. has largely downplayed its importance. There’s even an old saying that an American woman will spend $200 on a top and $50 on a bra and a French woman will spend $50 on a top and $200 on a bra. Don’t scrimp on this essential. Buy the best that you can afford, and care for it well, and you’ll have it for a few years.
Before you go shopping, let’s discuss fit. We all know that most women wear the wrong size, but many of us still believe we’ve got it all right. But if you’ve been measured more than a couple of years ago, or had a major life/body transition since then, you should get refitted. Every 2 years. Things change. Believe me. If you can’t find a convenient bra fitting location in your area, do it yourself or enlist your husband. This video from HerRoom will help.
Now that you know your bra size, you’ll want to find the right style. If you’re hard to fit, or simply want to check out a great concept, try a bra-finding site like True or Brayola. Simply answer a couple of questions, and they’ll recommend your ideal bra based on your preferences and former favorites.
Before you shop, assess what have and toss out the sad, stretched out bras and get ready to replace them with styles that offer fit, flatter and support. However you decide to shop, you’ll need the basics, starting with the 4 most important bra styles: The Everyday/T-Shirt Bra, The Racerback Bra, the Strapless Bra, and The Pretty Lacy Bra. To begin with, you’ll want 3-4 of the everyday style, and 1 of each of the others, for a minimum of 6 in your regular rotation.
(As always, click on the images, which are linked, to shop!)
Below, you’ll find some of my top picks in each category. And to see all of the bras at once, click on this handy-dandy shoppable catalog.
Is one of these styles missing from your bra wardrobe?
4 Bras Every Woman Should Own
1. T-Shirt/Everyday Bra
Sure, an everyday bra doesn’t necessarily need to be the same thing as a t-shirt bra, but knits are so popular these days, and t-shirt bras are so great for all-around versatility, that it seemed unnecessary to have two separate categories. The purpose of a good t-shirt bra is to disappear beneath clothing, so bring your clingiest knit top into the dressing room when you try it on. There should be no bumps, no ridges, and a smooth line, front and back. Lean over at your waist to make sure you are positioned properly in the bra, and check for fit: strap too tight or too loose, bra riding up, etc. Finally, make sure that the gore, or the piece of fabric between the chest, is lying flat against the skin.
2. Pretty Lacy Bra
This is your pick for special nights out, or in, but you can also slip it on underneath most things, with the exception of knits. Black is a classic choice of color, and soft, light colors are equally pretty, although red is a little too over the top, in my opinion.
3. Strapless Bra
The quality and fit of this style are very important. Fortunately, I’ve done my homework! Here, the full scoop on strapless bras from a previous post.
4. Racerback Bra
A great choice to wear under tank tops and other strappy styles. Look for a seamless style with straps that lie flat. Not ready to invest in another style? These clips from Maidenform transform regular bras to racerback styles in a pinch.
Putting Your Big Girl Pants On…
Now that we’ve got the bra thing figured out, let’s talk knickers, shall we? (Sorry, but whenever the topic turns a bit undignified, I find myself channeling my inner hip-London-mum-self. And the word panties makes me cringe.) I take a pretty strong position on this, so here goes. All of your underwear should be pretty. All of it. And most of it should be seamless. Yes, they can coexist. Whether you prefer romantic lacy styles or sleek microfiber, pick a style that is pretty enough for date night but smooth enough to wear under almost everything. (There are dresses, and I own a few, that require specially designed undies, like this Commando thong, which is virtually undetectable.)
I have a split personality, fashion-wise, so my inner urbanite likes the sleek microfiber, but the girly girl in me likes the lace. So I own both. They all work under everything I wear, and they are all, all, pretty or at least sleek-and-sassy. Attractive underwear is not optional. It makes you feel different, better, more glamorous. They don’t have to be skimpy, and they certainly don’t have to be thongs, but they do have to be cute. Look for undies made from the following materials:
1. Bamboo or some other eco-friendly fiber
Notice I didn’t say cotton. Cotton is bulky and rarely, rarely stays anonymous under clothing. Also, it’s not hot. And by hot, I mean cute. 😉 If you love it, wear it only to bed, or under denim and other bulky fabrics. (The exception to the no cotton rule is the really high quality mercerized cotton from brands like Hanro, which is lovely but pricey.)
(Shopping Help: For bras, underwear, shapewear, and pajamas, including a wider assortment of styles for every climate, check out my Lingerie Catalog, which is updated regularly! The links in this story are also from that catalog, and are affiliate links.)