10 Lingerie Rules to Live By

By Jocelyn Voo
Ladies’ Home Journal online

If your underwear collection has pieces dating back to your college years or if you’ve given up on hiding your bra straps, you’re not alone. Most of us aren’t sure how to find undergarments that fit perfectly, or that work seamlessly with our outfit. It’s time to create a foundation that flatters with these 10 commandments of lingerie every woman should follow.

1. Everyone should own at least one sexy matching bra-and-panty set. Even if you wear mismatched pieces more often than not, splurge on one special set. Whether it’s black lace or clean white cotton that makes you feel scrumptious, wearing a sexy bra and panties can give you a secret boost your confidence. "Don’t be afraid to go and try something you’ve never tried before," says lingerie fit expert Lisa Cole, author of Lingerie: The Foundation of a Woman’s Life . You might be surprised at what looks best.

2. Eradicate all panty lines. With the countless number of underwear styles available, there is absolutely no excuse for visible panty lines. Thongs are the most effective option, but beware of wearing a too-tight thong, which creates the reverse problem: visible flesh bulges. If you’re not comfortable with a thong, try seamless underwear. This includes boy shorts, which tuck underneath the curve of your bottom, or laser-cut underwear that have a clean finish, such as La Perla’s Vintage Laser Cut Hipster Panty ($48) or Naturana’s Invisible Touch Laser Cut Short ($12). The same rule applies to lacy or patterned bras. Invest in a good T-shirt bra or other wireless, seamless bra in a flesh color to wear underneath snug or light-colored tops.

3. Get fitted. Wearing the wrong bra or panty size is not only unsightly, it’s uncomfortable as well. "Whereas small-busted ladies need little support and can opt for wireless "triangle" bras in gauzy fabrics with thin straps, women with a D-cup or above should choose a bras made especially for a fuller figures," says Rebecca Jennings, owner of plus-size lingerie boutique Hips and Curves. "Underwire bras, soft-cup bras with a fuller band beneath the bustline, and bras with wide-set, thicker straps will offer more support and won’t cut in to your shoulders. Look for bra cups made of heavier lace and fabrics to provide more shape and support." Also, women should get re-fitted once every six months. As women age, their sizes fluctuate, so if you’re still wearing the same bra size as when you were in college, there’s a good chance it’s time to make a change.

Extra Tip

Too shy or time-crunched to go for a fitting? Figleaves.com has $3 shipping and free returns. Order lots of sizes and styles, figure out what works best in the comfort and privacy of your own home, then return what you don’t need.

4. Treat your undergarments gently. Not surprisingly, lingerie is made of the finest threads to keep its fine, delicate design, so treating your undergarments gently will extend the life of your collection. "Rotate your bras," suggests Cole. "Buy six or more, and don’t wear the same one every day. When washing them, use a washer bag, use specialty soap, and never machine-dry them."

5. Do a purge. Throw out all undergarments that are raggedy, don’t fit anymore, or are older than the bag of peas in the back of your freezer. This goes for all underwear with unraveling hems, your nylons with clear nail polish covering runs, and yes, even your comfy "laundry day" granny panties. New bras should be bought at least once a year, says Cole.

6. Wear activity-appropriate underthings. Not only does a snug sports bra prevent painful breast movement when you’re doing intervals on the elliptical, but it also lends health benefits, such as preventing Cooper’s droop — the phenomenon where connective tissue in breasts (called Cooper’s ligaments) permanently stretch. As for underwear, a thong — preferably in a fabric that breathes — lies smooth under fitted exercise pants.

7. Get in the buff. If you think nude-colored lingerie is strictly for grandmas, think again. Though flesh-colored undergarments have a reputation for being dowdy, current lingerie collections, like Calvin Klein’s, include lots of sensuous, modern cuts in nude shades for every skin tone. They’re both practical and va-va-voom.

8. Eliminate the risk of peekaboo underwear. Wear a slip underneath dresses to prevent sticking, chafing, or the embarrassing see-through phenomenon with sheer skirts. If slips aren’t your style, biker short shapewear is a double-duty alternative, acting as a liner and medium-control girdle. Spanx ($25 – $68) makes a variety of seamless body shapers that slim everything from your middle to your thighs.

9. All hail the all-purpose convertible bra. Wearing a strapless dress? An asymmetrical one-strap shirt? A racerback tank? Rather than buying three separate bras, invest in the MacGyver of all bras — the convertible bra. Not only does this cut down on lingerie costs, but a convertible, like The Body by Victoria Convertible Bra ($40), also allows you to match the appropriate bra to your top so unsightly straps stay hidden.

10. Flatter your body. There is no hard-and-fast rule as to what a woman can or cannot wear, but there is something to be said for a woman who knows how to flaunt her assets, be it her rich skin tone or her curves. Wearing your correct size is of utmost importance. If you want to be a C cup but a B cup is what really fits and flatters, remember that no one can see the tag on the back of your bra, but they can see how your clothes drape. Also, color can drastically affect how you look and feel. "Women with olive and dark complexions look great in brighter hues like aqua, bright pink, and mauve. Pale-skinned women look pretty in pastel shades like petal pink, baby blue, and peach. The fail-safe shade that suits everyone? Black," says Jennings.

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