Underwires: Friend or Foe?
Are you one of the millions of women who hate to wear underwire bras? Do you run to the bedroom to release the girls from their captivity the moment you come home? Do you have nightmares about the underwires poking through your bra and gouging your eye out?
If this describes you, then you’ll want to read this. In this post I will answer some questions about underwires and give you some information that can help you avoid the terrors of the underwire bra.
Boring Information About Underwires
Is your body flat? No, but guess what. The underwires in your bra are. Your body’s rib cage has a curvature to which the underwire must conform. However, the underwires must also support the weight of your breast, so there is the conflict. The underwires must be flexible and rigid at the same time.
They must be flexible enough to bend and open with the natural curve of the body when the bra is on, but they must be rigid enough to return to their original shape when the bra is off. As you guessed it, some underwires are more flexible than others, and thus more comfortable. After months of wearing, some underwires will actually change shape to conform to your body.
Underwires come in different varieties: round gauge, flat sheet metal, and plastic-coated metal. The flat sheet metal variety tend to be more firm, while a version of the thin, plastic-coated metal variety are more flexible.
Now for Some Useful Info
I’ve heard many women say they don’t like underwire bras because they are so uncomfortable. Oh sweet lady! If your underwire bra is uncomfortable, it’s probably because you are wearing the wrong size bra or the incorrect underwire curve.
How Should the Underwire Fit?
The underwire should fit just below your breast crease and follow the same curve. On the side under your arm, it should lay right next to the breast tissue. It should not rest directly under your arm pit. Breast tissue should be contained in front on your chest, not on the side under your arm.
In the center, the underwire (the gore or bridge of the bra) should be flat against your chest wall and not come up higher than your breast tissue. The height in the center will depend on the style of bra you have. A demi-cup or plunge bra will have a shorter underwire than a full-coverage bra.
Remember, the underwire is meant to follow the same curve as your breast crease and tissue, so if the underwire is hitting at your side, where there is no breast tissue, then the underwire is too big.
If the underwire is too small and sits on top of your breast tissue, then your cup size is too small and you may feel a pinch. (BTW, if you have breast tissue spilling over the top of your cup, aka quad boob, that is another sign that your cup is too small.)
Which leads me to the next topic.
Why do My Underwires Break?
There are a few reasons why underwires will break.
Sometimes underwires will break because too much stress is placed on the wire. If the cup is too small, the extra breast tissue will cause an abundance of stress on the wire. This can also happen if your band is too tight. A tight band will cause the wire to stretch more than it’s designed to.
Laundering can also affect the underwires. If you put your underwire bras in the washing machine, please, for the love of lingerie, stop! The agitation in the washing machine can cause the underwires to bend. In some cases, the underwires can even get caught up on other clothes, which has happened to me. The result was a deformed bra.
The best way to care for your bras are to hand wash them and hang them to dry. I like to use a big bowl, add some detergent, swish the bras around in the soapy water, and then just let them soak for an hour or two. Then I will swish them again, dump the soapy water, fill the bowl with clean water, swish, dump, refill with clean water and repeat until all the suds are gone. Then I just hang them on a hanger to dry. Piece of cake!
Now to Answer the Question
It seems like many of the issues that we face come from wearing bras that don’t fit. If you’re wearing a bra that doesn’t fit, then you would say the underwire is your foe. If your bra does fit, then it’s your friend. Fit is everything when it comes to bras! Well, that and support. 😉