Picking out some new lingerie is a classic romantic gesture, but did you know that buying a new bra can do your body a favor, too? The right bra can dramatically improve a woman’s shape, according to Molly Hauge, manager of Intimacy at Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza. Fuller breasts, better proportions and a slimmer appearance are just some of the miraculous effects. While it’s best to enlist the help of a fitting expert, here are a few ideas of what to look for when you bra shop, courtesy of our friends at Intimacy:
The right fit
Eighty percent of women are wearing the wrong size, and an incorrect band width is usually to blame. A new bra should fit on the middle hook and go straight across the back or slightly lower. It should be comfortable, but firm. Other things to consider:
Cup size: The cup should fit all around the breast tissue, with the underwire resting behind it. If the bra is too full in the cup, change the style, not size.
Straps: You shouldn’t be getting too much support from the straps. Think of them as “the suspension on a bridge,” says Hauge. They should rest comfortably on the shoulders without digging in and require little adjusting.
Types: Whether you’re super slim or va-va-voom, you’ll need a variety of styles to cover your wardrobe. Demi-cups work well for scoop-necks and wrap dresses. Pick out a plunge for a low-cut blouse. T-shirts, turtlenecks and sweaters look best with a full-coverage style. And beware of front-closure bras since you can’t tighten them after they’ve stretched with wear.
One final note: Hauge warns against using a measuring tape to determine size, since every body is different. Several women could call themselves a 34B for example, but breast shape depends on a variety of factors, including weight gain or loss, pregnancy, age and implants.
Quality is key
We invest a lot of money in our clothes, but what we wear underneath them is just as important. Intimacy mainly carries European lines because the quality is two to three times better than American brands, according to Hauge. The main difference is construction. On average, the bras are built from 50 to 60 pieces, which results in better fit, increased comfort and longer wear.
Don’t be afraid of lace or color
In America, the best-selling bra is a smooth, nude T-shirt style, while European women prefer lots of adornment in either white or bright colors. For them, lingerie isn’t meant to disappear under clothes, and to this we say AMEN! Sure, you should have a few good basics in your collection, but a little hot pink lace peeking out from a silk blouse doesn’t hurt once in a while, especially on date night.
While it depends on your lifestyle, a well-rounded collection includes seven to ten bras in the following styles:
• Full coverage/T-shirt bra
• Fashion (lace, color, pattern)
If you rotate your bras and wash every two wears to protect the integrity of the band, they should last two years.
For average busts, choose the Simone Perele Andora in nude and Marie Jo L’Aventure Tom in black. More voluptuous women will have luck with lingerie from Chantelle, Prima Donna and Panache.
The correct bra size is just as critical for developing girls as it is for women. Teenagers with fuller breasts can end up with stretch marks if not properly supported. While a good quality bra comes with a higher price tag, kids don’t need more than three, including one for athletic wear.
It’s not us, it’s them
Many of us hold on to our bras like we hold on to bad boyfriends. If they’re just not working any more, i.e. stretched out, too tight, faded or unflattering, it’s time to move on. At Intimacy, customers often leave their old bras behind, so the store now offers to refurbish and donate them to charity. (We wish they offered the same service for bad boyfriends!!)