How many bras do I need, really? Please say it's a thousand. There's a sale.
It is a thousand. Also, you should have a bra in every color of the rainbow, or it's bad for your skin or something. You are welcome.
No, seriously. Although you may of course buy as many bras as you want and can afford, you only really need four:
One really nice bra, preferably that converts to strapless, so that you can wear it with any neckline.
One sports bra that actually fits. Those stretched out ones from college don't count. If you work out every day, you should obviously have more than one, unless you love doing laundry so much that you want to do it on a daily basis. In which case, drop me a line and I'll let you know where I live. There's a laundry pile at my house that has layers dating back to the Paleolithic era.
Two everyday bras. I like to have at least one nude bra, and one black, but the really important thing is that you rotate them daily. Wearing the same bra every day will make them wear out faster. Also, if you think about, it's kind of gross. You wouldn't wear the same shirt for multiple days in a row. (Please tell me you wouldn't wear the same shirt multiple days in a row. Lie to me, if you have to.)
The other important thing to consider is how well your bras -- four, forty, or four-thousand of them -- fit you. As our genius lingerie Guide Marie Redding points out, this means that all your bras will probably be different sizes, and that's fine.
To make sure yours fit, put on your bra and see how it looks in the mirror, both when you're standing and sitting. (Again, Marie has a great explanation of why this is important, here.) There shouldn't be any gaps or bulges, either in the band or the cups, and it shouldn't dig into you in any spots. The last thing you want is to get all gussied up for the day only to wind up totally distracted by an uncomfortable bra.
If you've tried on the bras you already own, and have discovered that they don't fit, you're not alone: some experts think that as many as 85 percent of us are wearing the wrong size bra. This has a big effect on our look as a whole. The wrong size bra can make you look heavier, older, and just plain unhappier. (See previous re: digging wires and straps and their effect on our general happiness.) If I were running a makeover show, the very first thing I would do for every client would be to take them to a bra fit specialist to get underwear that fits for once.
Which reminds me: If you've never been fit for a bra, it's worth going at least once to have the lady with the measuring tape figure out your correct size. Most large department stores have a bra fit specialist in their lingerie sections. You don't even have to buy your bras from the store in order to be fitted. I go every few years, just to be sure I'm still measuring everything correctly, and not one bra lady has ever bugged me about buying something when I'm done.
If you want to give it a try at home, you can use Marie's excellent guidelines, here. It explains how -- and why -- to take the three measurements that are required in order to get your correct bra size.
Hope this helps.
Image: The Lingerie Addict/Flickr