Your Stylist: Dumping your "see-saw" bra for something that fits and flatters
Resident Image stylist and market editor Melissa Magsaysay soothes your sartorial woes in the weekly Your Stylist blog column
I'm 85 -- four children, time and gravity have produced seriously sagging breasts. You say the mid-line of the bust should be between the arm pit and the elbow. Mine droop almost to the elbow. I can definitely see that I have lost any muscle mass that may have been there when I was younger and 36/26/36. Just last month I was fitted for a 44C bra that was supposed to hold my breasts up to a near-normal position. However, like all the bras I've bought in the last few years they always ride way up in the back and just droop in the front. I have followed the rule of having a bra fit tightly, but that doesn't work for me either. Is there a bra out there for me?
Indeed it's a common problem among many woman of various ages, sizes and shapes. Striking that balance of a perfect fit, flattering shape and total comfort in a bra is seemingly impossible, especially when you’re battling gravity. For such a hefty dilemma with plenty of technical fit detail beyond my scope of knowledge, I felt the need to call in reinforcements. And who better in this case than the “Bra Whisperer” herself, Susan Nethero.
Nethero is the founder and owner of Intimacy boutiques (there are 12 in the U.S., two in Southern Californa) where she and her staff help woman find the right bra for their body issues. I went to visit Nethero at her Century City Intimacy location and saw firsthand how she gets a bra to fit a woman within an inch of her life. From the shape and contour of the cup to the width and support of the back strap, every element of how a bra is made and fits plays an important role in how you look and feel about your chest and in clothes.
Nethero is full of fit knowledge and for this particular issue she addresses the problem first by saying that very, very few women who should be wearing a 44 band are a C cup. This is because 40 band bras are made for women size 18 and up in clothing, which often accompanies a fuller bust size as well. She also suspects that the band of your bra may be too big.
“Many women aren’t aware that 90% of the support of a bra should come from the bra band being firm around the body,” she says “A bra is like a see-saw. When the band is too big it rides up your back and your bust goes south in the front!”
She advises remedying the situation by first making sure the band of the bra is very firm and level around the body’s frame, lifting your chest as a result. “You may not see the exact same result that you did when you were in your 20s and 30s, but you will definitely see a big improvement. There is no reason for you to be drooping or sagging!” Nethero adds that we shouldn’t put too much stock in the shoulder straps-they’re not what do all the work and lifting. The straps provide about 10% of the support. The majority should be in the band.
“Keep in mind that as you decrease the bra band, you will have to increase the cup letter,” Nethero says, adding that cup size can be equally as confusing as band size. “Many women think that all C cups are the same size, but that's not true. Every time you increase the band, the cup gets 1 inch proportionately deeper too. So you will have to increase the cup size for every band size you reduce in order to get the same depth of cup.” She recommends trying a 42D and if that's still too loose try a 40DD or a 38DDD.
If the numbers are confusing, check out the bra calculator on Nethero’s site. Input your current clothing size and bra size, and it will calculate what bra size might be best for you, as well as providing helpful tips on how to perfect the fit.
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photos: Before and after shots of a woman with a bra problem similar to the question posed here. Credit: Intimacy