Conceal & reveal - wearing the correct bra size
Fashion editor Bairbre Power on how to improve your silhouette by getting fitted for the right size bra
It's a remarkable figure when you consider how well- informed we are about fashion trends, yet eight out of 10 women wear the wrong size bra. It makes sense at the start of a new January fashion regime to go and get professionally fitted.
It makes a huge difference when you hoist your boobs back up to where they should be, creating a longer torso and redefining your waistline.
And, better again, streamlining your silhouette can also make you look taller and slimmer.
The downsides to a badly fitting bra include backache and even headaches. High-vis problems include the unsightly 'four boobs' syndrome when you spill out over the top of a too-small bra. Not a good look!
Susan Hunter, lingerie expert in Dublin's Westbury Mall, says: "Bras are like shoes -- you don't wear the same pair with every outfit, so you shouldn't wear the same bra every day and with every outfit."
No one is advocating that you run out and buy a bra in every colour and shape, but, moving beyond a basic, moulded T-shirt bra, you can explore the shapes that best enhance your bust and the clothes you wear (see p29).
One of the most common mistakes is to wear your bra too loose at the back and too small in the cup, with the latter often leading to unfortunate spillage. Banish that four-boobs look by getting fitted, and don't be surprised if your professional fitter takes you up a cup size and down a band size.
Fitting experts agree that Irish bust sizes are getting bigger, especially among young girls, and the average size now is 34D-DD. Sales show that women in the UK and Ireland have bigger busts compared to Spain, France and Italy.
There are a few basic things to watch out for:
- If your bra is riding up at the back, it is definitely too big in the band size.
- Always tighten up your straps after each wash and whatever about washing them in the machine, avoid putting them in the dryer.
- If you have one breast bigger than the other, you fit the bigger and tighten the strap on the smaller breast .
- For those of you wearing underwired bras, Karrin Breslin of Brown Thomas recommends you check the wires, and you will see a dimple or breast tissue coming out the side if the cup is too small.
- Don't expect the same bra to take you through the entire month. Some women's breasts increase by a cup size during their monthly cycle.
‘Mad Men’ and actress Christina Hendricks have a lot to answer for. This season, expect to see the vintage brassiere assume centre stage with a big selection of longline bras on the high street, from Penneys’ affordable blue-denim version, available in early February, to sexy mid-market M&S and higher-end Chantelle.
Evocative of the fabulous decades of style, they are supremely comfortable to wear and look so darn sexy.
Moulded or minimiser? Balconette or bustier? Padded, plunge or push-up?
The variety is endless, but which are problem-solvers?
PROBLEM: Tricky cutaway summer tops and evening dresses with low sides.
SOLUTION: Ultimo Side Cleavage, €40.
WHY? This new ‘side cleavage' bra is 40pc smaller than normal ones and this bra is made from just 90cm of fabric. It features limitless hook positions and floating underwires for invisible support. Available from Debenhams in sizes 32-36A-D, the elongated cups are cutaway for minimal coverage.
Silicon detail within the cups helps you achieve shape, with foam fingers adding boost.
PROBLEM: Shaping and supporting a big bust.
SOLUTION: Prima Donna Deauville bra, €89.99, Susan Hunter, Westbury Mall.
WHY? For bigger busts, seaming in a bra is crucial and this three-panelled cup not only provides support but it pulls you in at the side, giving a super shape.
PROBLEM: Showing off and enhancing your assets for a low-cut dress.
SOLUTION: Ultimo Black Miracle frontless plunge bra, €45.
WHY? The cutaway cups achieve great cleavage and support. There are interchangeable perspex and diamanté-centre fronts, and perspex straps adds to its appeal.
PROBLEM: Daytime V-neckline.
SOLUTION: Grey camisole bra, €24, M&S.
WHY? V-necklines are the most flattering of all and this is a bra that looks like a camisole, ideal for showing off under shirts, blouses and low-cut tops.
PROBLEM: Different fashion requirements.
SOLUTION: Multi-way push-up bra, €27, M&S.
WHY? It works five ways: conventionally, halterneck, cross back, strapless and one shoulder.
PROBLEM: Small on top.
SOLUTION: Penneys’ Maximiser bra, €7; Wonderbra's Full Effect bra, €30, and the 2 Sizes Bigger Push-Up bra, €30, M&S.
WHY? They have a V-neckline and enhance bosoms by two cup sizes.
PROBLEM: Bra for a square-cut dress.
SOLUTION: Balconette style.
WHY? This is designed to show off the top of the bust as you gently spill out of the bra. The Belle style from Fantasie (€49) is especially good and provides good support for bigger busts.