Between trying to compare sizes at different stores and battling dressing rooms, shopping for clothes can be quite the nightmare. Lingerie shopping offers its own set of challenges. Sometimes the process seems so overwhelming that you grab the first thing in your size and bring it home as quickly as possible to avoid long dressing room lines and the trying-on process.
I have an overflowing underwear drawer as a result of buying things I don’t need from Victoria’s Secret way more often than I’d like to admit. And I’ve made it my mission to help fellow shoppers make the lingerie shopping process less daunting and perhaps even fun, with a few tips.
Tip #1: Get fitted
Getting fitted for bras is not fun. Let’s face it, it’s really awkward to stand in a dressing room while some teenager or woman your mom’s age has you lift your arms as she measures the width of your bust. The last time I got measured at Victoria’s Secret, I was so skeptical of what they told me that I got measured at all three of their stores in Mall of America just to be sure (though I’m still not fully convinced their sizing is not a total conspiracy). While you can measure on your own at home, it can be difficult, and every store sizes their bras a little differently so it’s hard to reliably measure yourself. Thus, the first step to lingerie shopping is to get measured wherever you are shopping—at least once—to help guide your purchasing decisions later. The awkwardness will be worth it after you realize how comfortable a properly fitting bra can be, and will help you save time online shopping later if that’s what you prefer.
Tip #2: Shop the sales
Contrary to popular belief, there are many great places to buy lingerie besides Victoria’s Secret, despite what their commercials and annual fashion show would lead you to believe. I personally love Victoria’s Secret and Pink, and spend a lot of money on clothes and bras there, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Their semi-annual sales (in January and June) and clearance sections usually have pretty good deals if you do enough digging (perfect for people like me who refuse to pay full price for things). But there are a lot of alternative stores too. Aerie, an American Eagle offshoot, has cute and affordable underwear, and they frequently offer 7 pairs for $26.50 in a variety of styles (their sizes do run a little small, though). I highly recommend signing up for store emails at both places, and re-entering your email each time you make a purchase. I’d also recommend signing up with your address. The store emails may be annoying, but I’ve gotten many coupons for a free pair of underwear or $10 to $15 off a bra both places, so it’s well worth it.
Soma is a slightly pricier option, but their bras are amazingly soft and last for years so they’re worth the investment. They have a lot of basics and some fancier options too, plus a wide range of pajamas and nightgowns made with super soft fabrics. They have free expert fitting in stores and their fitting is one of the better fits I’ve gotten—they really know what they’re doing and the sizes match up with their bras well. They offer sizes 32A to 44G, which is helpful if you have a harder-to-find bra size. Their clearance section online offers good deals year-round. They also have their own semi-annual sale around the same time Victoria’s Secret runs theirs after Christmas (probably the best sale they do), so there are definitely cute and affordable options to be had here.
For a wide variety of options, try department stores like Nordstrom. They also offer many different sizes (28D to 48I, according to their site) so it’s another good place to try for hard to find sizes. Target also has cute and affordable options if you want something new but don’t want to spend a lot. TJ Maxx and Marshalls have lingerie sections with great deals, but their sizes are more limited since their stock is smaller and less predictable.
Tip #3: Buy what makes YOU feel good
Almost constantly (especially this time of year), women are bombarded with images of supermodels in lingerie. There are a ton of different bras on the market. And there are twice as many advertisements on TV, in magazines, and online portraying a certain societal definition of what bras and underwear are considered “sexy.” But here’s the thing:
A small percentage of our population looks like a supermodel. Hint: It’s the supermodels, whose job is to look the way they do. But everyone—including the girl on your favorite magazine cover—has stretch marks and scars and places on their body that they think look a little weird. And we should; our bodies have grown and changed and probably been through a lot. So if you feel the most comfortable and confident in a sports bra and boy shorts, buy that. If you love lace and feel the best in a pushup bra or fancy garment from Victoria’s Secret, wear that. If you like solid colored cotton bras and underwear, wear that.
Don’t spend money on something fancy if that’s not “you” and doesn’t make you feel good, because then you’re just spending $50+ on something that will sit in a drawer forever and make you feel inadequate when you shouldn’t. People say this a lot but it’s really true: wear what makes you feel the most confident and comfortable, and shop for yourself. If you’re wearing something to please someone else, that’s great too. But make sure you feel comfortable in what you put on and are buying it for you, too. If someone gets to see it, then they are lucky to be seeing it in the first place. Plus, they already think you’re cute/hot/that “perfect combination of sexy and cute,” or they wouldn’t be trying to take your clothes off. They also will have plenty else to focus on—like how confident and comfortable with yourself you are feeling and acting.
Love yourselves and your new bras, ladies. Happy shopping!
Have a favorite lingerie store or tried and true shopping tip? Share it in the comments below!
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