A few years ago when I landed my dream job and needed to spruce up my wardrobe (including the intimates) to better match my senior position, I put lingerie and office wear together in a search bar. Up popped questionable images that left me red-faced and fumbling – think 50 Shades of Grey or sexy Secretary! To be honest, lingerie can leave even the most well-informed buyer puzzled. There are innumerable parameters such as size, shape, the outfit you are matching the underwear to and your personal choice; all of these come into play making buying lingerie a rather difficult task. And it’s not just that, every kilo of weight gained or lost, any hormonal fluctuation and of course a pregnancy can change the bra size to the extent of requiring a complete lingerie makeover. So here’s a quick guide on what to do and what not to do when it comes to intimates that go under formal and office wear. No one said being a woman was easy, but you might as well make it fun.
1. Intimate and Yet Not
The biggest blooper when it comes to wearing lingerie is letting it show from beneath your clothes; unless you are Lady GaGa or RiRi then avoid doing this, especially in the work environment. There are lots of ways to cover up a bra; slippery straps and bungling clasps. Also remember that the right shade to wear under white is not white, contrary to popular belief (but hey, don’t let us stop you – it certainly doesn’t seem to stop the celebs). White does show under white.
Why nude? Anything sheer is already playing peekaboo with your skin. A colored bra, even one matched to down to the same shade and hue of a sheer top will be visible. For anyone preferring modest dressing, nude intimates are the best choice – invisible and discreet support, under anything. You have to buy at least 3 pairs of matching nude bras and briefs – and nude means YOUR skin color, not what a brand thinks nude to be. Alabaster white, peachy pink, champagne or chocolate – whatever is your skin color – that’s what’s nude is for you.
2. Bra Blunders
Uniboob, side-boob, quadra-boob or the bouncy twins – symbiotic as their existence may be, bras and breasts do not always get along as they should. Here’s a quick checklist of what to do, and not to do, when it comes to buying the correct bras.
- The right size & fit: The first step is to get your size right, down to the fit. Remember that bra brands don’t follow any particular standard when it comes to sizing – get measured by each brand separately – or be loyal to one brand that gives you a dream fit. Also, when you try on a bra, don’t just stand there admiring your silhouette. Move around a bit, stretch, jump up and down and even do a few waist and side bends. The idea is to ensure that your bra encases your breasts especially when you move. We don’t just stand around looking pretty all day long – there’s a lot that we do and bras are meant to support us through it all, especially in formal settings.
- The right fabric: While personally you can go as sheer as you like, under office wear you need bras that give you nipple coverage to ensure no embarrassing pin points in cold meeting rooms. Common sense dictates satiny T-shirt bras that either offer light padding or double fabric. If in need for an intimate boost during a particularly trying office week, wear those lacy and racy bras under thicker, less contouring outfits.
- The right cleavage: Wearing a push-up bra will hoist those boobs up. If you really need help for sagging and silhouette issues then push-ups are the correct choice. But if it’s only some extra support that you need due to an ample chest, try underwired bras or those with thicker straps before you rush to the push-up bra section.
3. Knickers in a Twist?
Just as you get up to deliver that keynote speech, you feel your panties slithering up, or down – not the best of starts, no! Going commando may be good for you, but that is far from ideal in the office, even if your pants of the day are body hugging to the extreme – think basic hygiene, camel-toe and just TMI on display. Go with seamless underwear that doesn’t show, or you can always fallback upon a (cotton please!) thong. Remember that when it comes to underwear, you shouldn’t confuse fashion and comfort – the two are not synonymous and are often more foes than friends.
Also remember that unless you want to resemble a muffin, wearing tight underwear that squeezes you right in the middle will make you look weightier than what you are and can be unspeakably uncomfortable.
4. Shape-wear Slip-ups
First things first, shape wear isn’t supposed to be super tight, ever. If you wish to drop several dress sizes, then there have to be more radical steps involved, than just slipping on a shaper. The thumb rule of buying shape wear is to get it in your size – not a size smaller. Too tight and the shape wear will end up creating unsightly bulges, as well as tending to muffin you up. It also may end up rolling down – which can be quite embarrassing in itself. Remember there can also be several health problems related to shape wear – from nerve compression to UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections). Only buy after you’ve tried; so before you embark on a shape wear hunt online – visit a few stores and try on various brands and sizes. Get something that gives you a flattering silhouette without altering and squeezing your internal organs to the point of pain and damage!
5. Do Intimates Have an Expiry Date?
Technically, no, they don’t. But there’s only so much you can wring out of a bra or even those ultra-expensive knickers! Common sense dictates throwing out intimates once they start showing signs of wear and tear – think warped elastic, stained gussets, things that are oh-my-god-I-can’t-breathe tight or gosh-this-will-slip-off-for-sure lose! Also, any intimate stuff that you haven’t worn in the last decade, or gives you the shudders every time you look at it needs to be binned. Do remember to buy at least eight to twelve bras and pairs of knickers, so that you do not wear each more than two to three times a month – this gives the fabric enough time to breathe and regain its shape. Hand-wash your intimates and don’t wring them – air dry them instead. Also remember to keep period panties separate from office wear – try leak-proof and hygiene underwear during your period to avoid any unsightly stains.
So let’s face it, while we may be awesome workers and great employees, women do have it tougher at the workplace and not just when it comes to gender discrimination. Hard work and determination apart, our wardrobe can go a long way in helping or hindering us in climbing the ladder of success. Remember that looking good starts from the inside out and when it comes to clothes, it begins with the intimates.