Thursday, May 14, 2009

Room at the top?

Before you can look good on the outside, you have to have a good foundation. Literally. In other words, if your underwear does not fit properly (and most people’s do not), your clothes won’t look right. I’ll put it another way: you cannot look your best if your undies don’t fit.

A few years ago, I worked at a high-end lingerie boutique and was trained in bra-fitting. So many women are wearing the wrong size that it makes your head spin. I and my co-workers became so good at fittings that we could tell just by looking at someone on the street that they were wearing the wrong bra size.

It stands to reason that if you have gained or lost 5 lbs, you need to change your bra size. I saw women who had not changed sizes in 25 years or more. These women insisted that they wore the same size they always had. Now how could that be?

Most of the stores and manufacturers would have you believe that you measure your ribcage and add 4 inches to that to get your band size. This makes no more sense than if you measured your waist and added 4 inches to get your pants size. No one in her right mind would do this! The problem is that most of the brands you buy at the department stores do not have a full range of sizes. What sense does it really make to think that a size 32 only goes to a B or a C? Or that DD and DDD can only start at a size 38?

Measure your ribcage as it is. If you get an uneven number, round up no more than 1”. In other words, a 32 is a 32. Not a 36. Jeez Louise – you’ll be swimming in that band size. You should not be able to pull the back of the bra band away from your body by more than an inch or so. The straps should stay in place and not have to be hiked up to the point where they are leaving welts on your shoulders. The bra hooks on the first set of hooks. As it stretches out over time, you move over to the next set. When you have moved to the last set it is time to replace the bra.

Cup size. Same as usual. Measure at the fullest part of your bustline. 1” more? A. 2”? B and guess what? There are E, F, and G cup sizes. Heck, I have seen and fitted J and JJ! I cannot tell you how many women I fitted for 32DD who had been wearing 36B. Or 34F who had been wearing 38C. Yes, you can get by with these sizes. For about a minute and a half. The band holds your breasts in place, not the straps. So if the band is too big then guess what? The straps slip constantly. The band should be at about the middle of your back, not way up high. If the back is up high, the breasts are down low. Not a good look. If the bra is too small, you end up with very strange looking pointy breasts. And if the breasts are sitting incorrectly, your clothes will simply not hang right.

If measuring yourself is too much of a hassle, or too confusing than go to a very good boutique to be fitted. Do not go to a chain store. They have no clue and they do not have the proper size range. How many 30Cs have you seen in these stores? How many 38Bs? 32FS? Case closed. It is worth the money.

A really good bra is going to cost upwards of $40.00 and in most cases, $50.00 or $60.00. (I sold several for over $70.00) But they last about 3 years. I would rather spend the money and not spend it again for 3 years than buy a dozen cheap bras that I have to replace every few months because they have stretched out.

Always wash them by hand and hang them to dry. No machines, please. When you are wearing the right size you look thinner. Even if you are a 34F. It pulls up the entire area. Ideally, your breasts should sit somewhere between the elbow and the shoulder, at the mid-point there.

Make sure you have a T-back style for halter tops, or cut-in shoulders. Don’t let your straps show. Ever. Not clear straps. Not any straps. Please do not do the “clear” straps with any strapless top. You are fooling no one and you look trashy. There’s no other way to put it.

“Contour” bras are not to be confused with padded bras. I don’t know how many customers I had to explain this to. Contouring is to give you a slightly better line/profile and prevents nipple show through because bra is lightly lined. It is not the same as a padded bra. Believe me; they could be used as flotation devices if necessary. Padding is quite heavy and fills up a lot of the bra cup. For those people who are very small on top these bras are great.

Your basic wardrobe should include a nude, a black, and a convertible strapless. After these have been bought, then have a ball. Buy colors. Buy lace. Go wild. The female body is gorgeous and should be celebrated! Besides, you carry yourself differently when you know you are wearing fabulous lingerie. Don’t make yourself wait for a “special occasion”. Own your femininity and your fabulousness!

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

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