WRITTEN BY Debby Jett Allbright of Fashionomics
One of my clients recently suggested that I write a blog on the importance of having a properly fitted bra wardrobe. She actually said, “Let’s talk about the girls!” I had been helping her get ready for her daughter’s wedding and that process always entails finding the proper lingerie to go under the MOB dress and other dresses or outfits we may find. What’s underneath the fabulous dress is of the utmost importance!!! It is necessary to pull “things” up and in and pretty much rearrange the current body to look like it is better than ever. The choices are endless but the key is having an expert’s eye to get the proper fit. There is no substitution for working with a certified bra fitter. We were working with Bronia in lingerie at Neiman Marcus NorthPark and she is brutally honest and “right on” as they say. “Beauty knows no pain” could be a better way to describe the process. I can guarantee you that it is well worth the time and effort and money.
I do a lot of speaking presentations on current fashion trends and closet organization. I met two incredible lingerie experts at Neiman’s and have been working with them and learning from them ever since. Michelle Zimmet is a rep for Chantelle Lingerie and Kaylyn Williams is a rep for Natori Lingerie. They work so well together and do a great job of presenting the latest trends in lingerie as well as explaining the importance of a well fitting bra. I have been privileged to have them accompany me on many speaking engagements. I really think I should just let them speak because the women in the audience always love seeing the pretty lingerie that they bring and have a million questions that Michelle and Kaylyn can answer with confidence and ease. I figure that I don’t have to know everything about every subject; I just need to know who to ask. And I am never too proud to ask for help in areas that are not my specialty. I also know that for your clothes to fit well you must have the proper foundation.
I have to admit that I was pretty ignorant in this area and did not realize the importance of having your bras properly fitted by a certified specialist until I spent a lot of time learning from Michelle and Kaylyn. I was always pretty flat chested and didn’t really have anything to “hold up” and I did not pay much attention to my bras. I always had to have nude lingerie for modeling and bras that added some padding so I could fit the clothes. I later had breast augmentation and started paying a little more attention to the fit. I went to NM with a model friend one day because we both needed new bras for our model’s bag. I was amazed that we were both looking for the same thing but ended up with different bras because we each needed such a different fit. T-Shirt bras usually work best for us so that the nipples don’t show through. So my lingerie bag was still not much fun or very fancy.
I feel really guilty because one of my daughters was blessed with bosoms and this was foreign territory to me. I guess she takes after her grandmothers who were both nicely endowed. I now know that I did her a disservice, and of course was always trying to save money, by not having her properly fitted in a bra until she was moving to New York. Seriously!!! I could be charged with child abuse. I would take her to Target or if splurging to Victoria’s Secrets and not very often. She probably wore her bras until they were falling apart and not giving any support. I am so sorry and feel so ashamed now that I know better.
I have just had a very long conversation with Michelle Zimmet of Chantelle Lingerie and I am always willing to ask for expert advice because I want to give my readers accurate information. I needed to clarify some of the notes I had made. Here are some of the high points and important facts that I want to share with you about taking care of “the girls”!!
I am always preaching that Fit and Proportion are key elements when getting dressed and certainly when buying foundations. When I tell you that you need a “certified bra fitter”, I mean you need someone with a lot of training and experience in this field. Even if they say they are certified it does not mean they are qualified. It is OK to ask how long they have been fitting bras and what is their experience level. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus have some of the best and most experienced lingerie specialists. Many women are wearing bras in the wrong size. Your bra needs to fit snugly around the body. “Snug like a hug but not tight”. If you take a measuring tape under your bust really snug and add 2″ that should be your band size. A new bra needs to fasten on the loosest hook. You should be able to only get two fingers in the back of the band. It may loosen as time goes by and you wear it and can fasten it on the next hook. I have found that I need a smaller band around than I was wearing and at first it feels tight. Trust the process and your clothes will fit better. You also do not want “spillage” or “double bubble” which means the cup size is too small and your breasts are spilling out all over the place or it looks like you have some extra “boobage” and not in a good way!! Michelle pointed out that women think that no one sees her bra BUT actually everyone can see your bra because of where your breast tissue is sitting. As in are you sagging, coming out of the side of your bra, jiggling too much, etc – you get the picture? It reminds me of that crazy song “Do your boobs hang low, can you swing ’em to and fro, can you tie ’em in a knot, can you tie ’em in a bow, can your throw ’em over your shoulder like a continental soldier, do your boobs hang low?” If so, you definitely need a new bra ASAP!!! And DO NOT SKIMP ON PRICE OR QUALITY!!!!! THIS IS A MATTER OF YOUR HEALTH! Also you need to look in the back to make sure your bra is not fitting improperly and creating “back fat”. There are many different options including bras with front closures and a selection of Spanx or similar type products that can fix or smooth out almost any unsightly malfunction.
There seems to be some misinformation floating around about the supposed dangers associated with wearing a bra with an underwire. Once again the key element here is having a bra that fits properly. The wire needs to fit AROUND the breast tissue NOT ON the breast tissue. Most women wear the wrong size bra and that is the problem. If you are wearing an underwire bra that sits on top of your breast tissue you can do some damage. The underwire bra is designed to lift, separate and support your breast. It should not be uncomfortable or cut into your breast or skin. It is designed for a specific purpose. Again this requires a proper bra fitting with a trained specialist to determine your correct current size. Which reminds me that your size can change dramatically with weight loss or weight gain. So keep on top of things and be sure your bras fit correctly all of the time. And again, don’t be cheap, shop sale for quality if you need to save money but don’t skimp on fit and quality definitely is important.
Yes, you need a bra wardrobe. You should not wear your bra two days in a row. According to the experts I consulted you need to rotate your bras, let it rest for a day and you can wear again on the third day. Your bra needs time to regain its shape or it will stretch out sooner. In the bra wardrobe you need: several T-shirt bras (to rotate), Strapless bras (black and nude), Racer Back bra for those sleeveless tops, Lace Date Night bra(s) preferable in fun colors. You also need an array of great fitting Sports Bras. These should be snug; they have compression to keep you from bouncing. Give your sports bra the bounce test, it should hold your bosoms in place, otherwise go shopping. Chantelle has a great sports bra at Nordstrom. A nude closest to your skin tone is best under sheer or white. You only need one or two nude bras, the rest black or a color. Don’t be afraid of color!!! It is like wearing a black bra but more fun and will not show under most of your clothes. Step out and get some fabulous bra and panty sets and spoil yourself!! No more boring undergarments, please. Fashion in lingerie mimics the trends you will see in ready to wear each season. For example this spring the colors were oranges, pinks and yellows. Fall 2015 will be reds, purples, grays and black.
WASHING AND CARE
Always wash your bras in cold water and never put in the dryer. Use a zipper lingerie laundry bag and be sure to hook the back of your bras before washing on gentle or hand wash. Use a very gentle detergent like you would use for babies such as Ivory Snow, Dreft or Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin. There is a great wash for lingerie called Forever New sold at Neiman Marcus and other stores. A little bit goes a long way. Never use Woolite or anything with bleach or fabric softeners. Hang to dry. Also never fold the cup of a padded bra. When storing, layer or stack your bras on top of each other without bending or folding. I saw a great little contraption for packing your bras without bending them. If you decide to invest in this beautiful lingerie, it will last longer if you handle with care.
I honestly think that the rule of starting your mammograms at 50 is too late. Michelle and I were discussing this and we both agree that it is a good idea to get a baseline at 30-35 and regular mammograms after 40. If you have family history of breast cancer I think you should be more aggressive and proactive in your preventive care. It is of course important to consult your doctor, be aware of your family history and do regular self exams. If you see or feel anything different or suspicious, go immediately to your doctor. The technician who does my mammograms suggests that I see my internist for a yearly physical and then schedule my mammograms 6 months after my physical each year. I think this is brilliant because I will essentially have two breast exams by a professional each year instead of scheduling both near the same time.
This is a great time to stock up on quality bras and lingerie. Neiman Marcus is having a good sale right now as I am writing this and will go into Last Call. In fact Michelle just told me that the Natori racer back bra I need is on sale. I am going shopping this week. Nordstrom will have its Anniversary Sale in July 9-16 for Rewards Members and July 17 – August 2 for everyone. You can contact Michelle for an appointment if you want her expert advice at Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom. She is fabulous and will get you in the correct bra size and fit!!!