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Q&A: Susan Nethero, the 'Bra Whisperer,' dishes on common bra-fit blunders

June 15, 2010 | 11:00 am
10 Underwire that cuts into your ribs, straps that fall down (or dig in), cups that gape at the top. These are only a few common bra-related maladies that Susan Nethero, a.k.a. “The Bra Wisperer,” has the power to soothe.

Nethero, owner of high-end bra boutique Intimacy, which launched two stores in Southern California last week -- at the Century City mall and South Coast Plaza -- was trained under the queen of England's Royal bra fitter and has 18 years of fitting experience (she even sized Oprah Winfrey once).

Intimacy boutiques, including the two new ones here in SoCal, are staffed with employees trained in “Bra Bootcamp” under Nethero. A visit means spending nearly 30 minutes with a trained fitter in a spacious dressing room while she assesses your needs.

Prices are higher here, with most bras falling somewhere between $50 and $110, but the roster of European brands -- La Perla, Le Mystere, Eberjey, Chantelle and Simone Perele, to name a few -- is decidedly more swanky than that of Macy's.

We caught up with the underwire goddess to find out what we’ve been doing wrong.

What are some common mistakes women make when buying bras?
Most women are buying bras that are way too big around the body and not giving enough support. Ninety percent of the support comes from the bra band. When it’s too large, the bra shifts up the back, causing back fat and giving no support up front. All the pressure ends up on her ribcage. Almost every woman coming in we end up bringing down at least one back-width. All of a sudden, she’s lifted right up.

What’s the main mistake women make when it comes to cup size?

Women tend to get cups that are too small. They’ve gained or lost weight and they don’t adjust their cup. A 10% weight gain or loss tends to change a cup size. A lot of women are overflowing.

How often should women get fitted for bras? And when is a refitting necessary?
Once a year women should come in and get fitted. Women should have five to seven good working bras in their wardrobe, but most women have four, and they wear less than half the bras they buy.
And definitely a woman should get refit if she’s had any major life changes like weight gain, going on birth control, or childbirth. After children, breasts are more pendulous and not as firm. It might not be that they need a different size, but it might be they need a different style of bra.
How do we rid ourselves of back fat?

Women think they can’t go any tighter, that it will lead to more back fat, but we want to pull the bra down in back so it’s level or lower than the front. If the bra is riding up the back — even one inch higher — you’re an inch and a half bigger around. It will be more level and stable when it’s further down.
What about straps that fall down – what’s happening there?
Straps that fall down are a function of the back riding up. It’s very common. And what I always tell people is, they have adjusters on the strap because of people’s different heights. But straps are not meant to be adjusted to give lift. That comes from the bra band.

-- Emili Vesilind

Photo: A display wall inside the new Century City Intimacy boutique. Credit: Intimacy

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