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No matter how far feminism comes, it seems like bra inconveniences will always hold back the women who choose to wear them. It’s a sad fact of life that they are an item of clothing that requires special attention, maintenance and is always restrictive if not downright painful. What’s a girl to do? Well, if you’ve decided you’re not going to go braless, it looks like you’re stuck dealing with the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder and all its agony. Sorry.

It doesn’t all have to be totally painful though. If you get bras that fit right, work for your lifestyle and wardrobe, and treat them right to keep them in good condition this whole wearing a bra thing might not actually be terrible. Here are the best tips out there for making the most of the bra situation.

Purge the lingerie drawer

First things first, open up that underwear drawer and throw out (or donate) everything you haven’t worn in the past year and shouldn’t wear ever again. That includes bras that don’t fit, ones that hurt your back, ones that aren’t flattering and old bras that you tell yourself you might need one day but really never will. Get rid of all those and replace them with sound investments that make you feel and look your best.

Get five to seven bras that work

Contrary to what Victoria would have you believe, one woman does not need 30 bras. You realistically need a reliable five to seven of different varieties that you can turn to for any occasion. What are those varieties? We’re glad you asked.

• Basic – this is your typical T-shirt bra that you can wear under nearly anything. Get it in a nude or neutral colour so that it’s a reliable go-to that works for your everyday look.
• Strapless/convertible – somewhere out there there’s a strapless bra that works for your body. Find it and you’ll never have to worry about buying that cute strappy dress again.
• Sports bra – don’t cop out on your sports bra. Find one that fits properly, offers good support and has adjustable straps. Especially if you’re doing cardio, a good sports bra is a must.
• Bralette/Wire-free – you might think that bralettes are just for the tiniest of busts, but companies are coming out with supportive styles that can work for everyone. Whether you want something for showing off in a backless shirt or just something comfortable to run errands in, you won’t regret having one of these in your wardrobe.
• A “fun” bra – have at least one bra that makes you feel good. Whether it’s lacy, colourful, patterned or covered in fringe, get yourself a bra that you can pull out on a rainy Monday to take on the week and feel awesome doing it.

Hand-wash your bras

You’ve probably heard it a million times but decide to throw them in the washing machine anyway. You rebel. Seriously though, if you’ve invested good money in bras that you want to last a long time, you should probably get into hand-washing them. It’s not as inconvenient as it sounds.

Simply submerge your bras in a basin or sink with similar colours and let them soak for a little while with some lingerie-specific detergent, regular laundry detergent or even (gasp!) dish detergent. After 15 minutes to half an hour, take your bras out and rinse them. Done. See? We’re not maids scrubbing our lady garments against rocks by the river. It really requires very little effort to preserve those most precious of female commodities.

Dry them properly

After you’ve hand-washed your delicates, they need to air-dry. When you remove them from the water, pat the bras dry using a towel, but don’t ring them out or be too aggressive with the cups, that’s how you dent them. Once they’re adequately toweled, hang them over a rack by the center (not the straps or band) and let them dry.

Proper storage

It doesn’t seem like there should be a wrong way to store your bras but there is. If you have padded bras, it’s tempting to fold one cup inside of the other for compact storage. Don’t do that. The cup that gets folded in will quickly take on a visibly different shape. Instead, stack your bras like they do in the drawers at the store. Yeah, those people actually know what they’re doing, we guess.

Rotate your bras so they last longer

Not only will rotating through your bras make it feel like they last longer, it actually helps control some of the natural wear and tear on them. If you wear a bra two days in a row, the elastic doesn’t have enough time to return to its natural position and will wear out more quickly. Prevent that by switching up your bra every day instead of wearing the same one for a week and then moving on to the next one.

Your bras will be so much happier and happy bras = a happy you.