image via zazzle.com

Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you wear shamrocks on your boobs. This post is about what lies beneath. THE BRA.

Breasts, gazongas, the girls, jugs, melons, your rack. None of these names work well but for the sake of this blog entry I’m going with boobs. Boobs are one of those annoying things that if you have too much you wish you had less. If you have too little you wish you had more. And at one point you just want them to stand up straight, no matter what size they are.  I wish they could be an accessory and we could select different sizes to make certain things look better.  Big, bold, long statement necklaces look best on a flatter canvas. Strapless dresses, on the other hand, look better when there is something to hold them up.

Lilly Pulitzer® 'Payton' Print Fit & Flare Dress

Lily Pulitzer dress via Nordstroms.com

Either way, you can’t build a beautiful outfit without a solid foundation. The right bra makes ALL the difference. Although it can be a pain, it is worth investing the time to find the right one for your shape. There is no universally flattering bra because boobs are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Sometimes even on your own body! But over the years I have learned a few helpful hints.

1. CONSULT AN EXPERT

There is a correct way to get measured for a bra. If you go into a shop and ask for help, and they DO NOT ask to fit you then consider going somewhere else. Even if you think you know your size you might be wrong. The size you were last year is not necessarily the same size you are now. Be open to change and to a new number or cup size. There is no prize for how big  your cup size is versus your rib cage, so be willing to try on something you might not have tried before.

2. RETHINK HOW YOU TRY ON

If you just put the bra on as is it WILL NOT FIT.

Lengthen the straps.

Everyone’s torso is different, and the length of the straps needs to be accounted for. Do this before you even try it on. Start on the largest band setting. If you buy the bra it will stretch over time. The goal is to start on the LARGEST SETTING, so that over time you can get more wear out of the bra by tightening the band in.

Give the girls a hand.

Lean over and put your chest into the bra. This way you know you are not smooshing or cramming them in. Conversely there shouldn’t be room to store extra change or snacks. If it is too small or too big try a different cup size.

Adjust the straps AGAIN.

The band should be carrying most of the load, maybe like a 75/25 split, shared with the straps. Make sure they are doing some work but not so much that they are digging into your shoulders and creating marks. Check your back. The band should be even all the way around. Look sideways in the mirror and make sure it is not riding up.  This is another indicator that the strap length needs to be pulled out. Each strap on each side may need different adjustments.

3. PUT YOUR SHIRT BACK ON

Try to come prepared by wearing something simple and semi-fitted, like a white t-shirt. This will allow you to check your profile in the mirror. Experts say the ideal location for your bustline is halfway between your shoulders and your elbows. This provides the right amount of life off of your ribcage and can make your look 10 pounds thinner.

image via gap.com

4. FIND A SHADE OF SKIN

This is also where the white t-shirt comes in handy. A perfect basic bra should match your skin tone as closely as possibly. White actually shows through most whites so find the right hue of nude. It might not look pretty but you want it to almost blend in. Look for names like nude, latte, and buff.

5. VICTORIA’S SECRET IS OUT

I may get some backlash for this, but I think the secret is that their bras are terrible. I also have a problem with the sales staff constantly saying panties. Ewww.  Are their bras gorgeous? Sure! Do they fit? Beautifully, if you are Heidi Klum, or if you are in the kind of shape that you plan on strapping angel wings to your back.  I think they do have their place in our wardrobe. Or should I say when we are not wearing our wardrobe. But as foundation pieces to build our outfits on? Not so much. All that lace and boosting can create some funky effects under the clothes.  Sometimes the uglier the bra the better it looks under clothes.

6. BE PREPARED TO DROP SOME DOUGH

Unfortunately a great bra is not cheap. It’s kind of the same thing as jeans. Once in a while you may luck out and find a reasonable priced option, but usually the better bras are in the range of $50-$80. Sometimes my bra has actually cost more than my entire outfit. Conversely the wrong bra can ruin an entire outfit. So it is worth it.

*Insider Tip – Watch your back.

Many clients find the right fit for the front, but are dismayed that the back creates bulges above and below the bra line. It doesn’t mean you have back fat, it just means that the band is too narrow, and you need a different style. Look for styles that have wider bands around the back and seemless edges. Spanx and Sassybax have almost limitless options.

image enlargement

image via soma.com

*Insider Tip – Share your favs.

Help out your sisters, mothers, friends and share your wealth of information. What worked for you? When I first started at Elizabeth Maar I met a rep from the Le Mystere line of bras. She gave me an education in bra fitting, and made me look like I had a lift done at the doctor’s office.  I am hopelessly devoted to their Le Mystere Dream Tisha bra, also known as Oprah’s favorite bra. And if it is good enough for Oprah it is good enough for me! Another friend of mine swears by the Soma Intimates store. They are a national chain with locations all over, and a very knowledgeable sales staff. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comment section.

Le Mystère 'Dream Tisha 9955' Underwire T-Shirt Bra

Le Mystère ‘Dream Tisha 9955’ Underwire T-Shirt Bra
image via Nordstom.com

*Insider Tip – Buy Insurance.

Found your fav? Buy 2! Rotate them to give the elastic in the band time to rest in between wearings. You never know what could happen if you only have one. When our dog was a puppy he ate mine. Weird and gross,but true. I guess there are worse things a dog could do.

12 Dogs Share Their Most Embarrassing Confessions

Have you checked out dogshaming? It is the best site.

Need another laugh? While I was/am recuperating from my recent surgery I almost busted my stitches from laughing at the new show on the E channel called Burning Love. It nails the train wreck of a series that The Bachelor has become. So good! I’m rooting for Agnes, the 84 year old cougar contestant. For all the contestant’s (faux) bios click here.

Thanks for reading!

Suzie