Charla Krupp gives 10 tips for finding the best, most flattering bras for you.
By Lois Joy Johnson, BettyConfidential.com
One of my best friends is a petite peppy blonde you've seen lots of times on the Today show. She's Charla Krupp, author of the bestseller How Not To Look Old ($15.99 reduced to $10.87, amazon.com) a.k.a. the bra-queen. Charla has been known to eyeball a friend or colleague's chest (over lunch no less) and pull out of her large Gucci bag a bra that "you must try right this minute because it will change your life." She's always right and saved a large group of her N.Y.C. and Hamptons chums from looking saggy or like deflated party balloons in our DVF and Milly sheaths this summer. Buy her paperback to get all the info but I asked Charla to give the Bettys her top ten bra tips:
1. If you haven't gotten a professional bra fitting in the last year go now! If you gained or lost weight, had a baby, are menopausal, went on or off the pill … you need an update. Bra manufacturer Wacoal says in the last ten years average size went from a 34B to a 36D. Wow! Major department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales all have specially trained fitters in their bra departments.
2. The right bra will lift your breasts up and off your ribcage and give you a couple of more inches of torso right under the bra band so your body looks longer and leaner. This is the skinniest part of your torso so don't hide it under saggy breasts! I once did a bra segment on Oprah and this tip really got amazing viewers raves.
3. Get a molded underwire bra especially if you're a D or larger. For years I wore minimizers thinking the compression made me look smaller. I ended up looking like I had a uniboob … or like I had four boobs, depending on the bra. They either squashed me together or emphasized excess spillage at the top and sides.4. You need a wardrobe of bras to avoid a panic situation when you're getting dressed. How many times have you put something on and realized the bra didn't work? At the minimum, you need a T-shirt bra, a strapless bra, a cleavage bra, a sports bra and a casual weekend bra.
5. Forget white bras forever - no more! Buy nude and black. Nude disappears under white clothes and sheers and black works under everything else. If you have to start out with just one, get nude.
6. Get a casual weekend bra. So many women just skip a bra altogether when they're at home hanging out but you still need support. The Spanx Bra-llelujah! bra comes in underwire and soft cup, or try the new racerback underwire: perfect for cutaway sleeveless tops (32A to 38D, $62 nordstrom.com). It won't give you back fat even in skinny fitted tees and there's absolutely no metal or stitching to irritate. You feel like you have nothing on.
7. I keep saying that the Le Mystere Dream Tisha bra (underwire, 32C to 44G, $68, nordstrom.com) is the ultimate T-shirt bra and it is. I know it's pricey, but it's better to splurge on a good bra when you're busty and scrimp on clothes, because a quality bra like this one makes anything you wear look expensive and this will get your boobs up and off your chest.
8. Bras should lay flat one on top of the other in your drawer, cup to cup. Never roll or fold them up! And if you do wear molded bras, invest in a firm contour travel container like the Bra-g bra case ($49.95 the bragcompany.com) so they don't get squashed in your luggage.
9. Wash your bras by hand, and never put them in the dryer or sun-dry them. I know you're tempted to throw them in the machine but it wrecks the elasticity. I soak my bras in the sink in a gentle liquid designed for hand washing or Ivory Snow. Right now I'm using Forever New Delicate Fabric Wash ($17, amazon.com). FYI, a single bra lasts about 100 washings from brand new to worn out so you need two of your everyday basic: one to wear while the other one is being washed/dried. Please don't wear the same bra everyday! Believe it or not your bra needs time to "bounce back" so it doesn't lose its holding power.
10. Let the band, not the cups, do the heavy lifting. The band should sit low on your back below your shoulder blades and feel snug. The bra should stay up even without the straps in place. Some women hike up the straps and raise the band but that actually creates back fat. When trying a new bra, always fasten the middle or loosest hook. With wear, the band stretches and then you'll want to shift to the tightest closure.
Read more about bras from BettyConfidential.com: Help! My Bra Straps Keep Slipping off My Shoulders and Shower with Your Bra!