Women feel more confident when wearing a well-fitting bra. But if you’re like most women, you probably have a go-to style that fit great years ago, but thanks to weight fluctuations, wear and tear, and plain old gravity, isn’t providing present you the right support. To the rescue: new, innovative styles that solve your biggest bra gripes, from smoothing back bulges to supporting a large chest. Also included are affordable options that work well with different types of clothing, so “the ladies” look lifted and perky and you look 10 years younger. Read on to find the one for you, no matter what outfit you’re wearing.
Best for a Suit
“When wearing a jacket or blazer, pairing it with a structured bra will ensure breasts stay in place and look shapely in the more boxy-looking silhouette,” says Jené Luciani, bra expert and author of The Bra Book (Buy from Amazon, $19.95). The style that does just that: A fusion push-up, T-shirt bra. The combination of foam cups with graduated padding and an underwire pushes breast tissue upward and inward, instantly reversing any sagging and centering a wide-set or east-west bust, says Luciani, who adds, “The classic T-shirt design, which provides a round, natural-looking shape and ample support, helps the bust appear extra perky.”
Also flattering? Coordinate the color of your bra with your suit when forgoing a shirt underneath the jacket. The youthful style is very on-trend right now, says Luciani, since the subtle hint of cleavage imparts a look that’s sexy yet tasteful and feminine.
ONE TO TRY: Wacoal Perfect Primer Push Up, comes in sizes 32B–40DDD (Buy from Wacoal-America.com, $68)
Best for a Plunge
We love how a dress with a deeper, plunging V-shaped neckline acts like an arrow to direct focus vertically, visually elongating the figure and even helping a larger bust look slimmer. The downside? Finding a bra that not only doesn’t peek out past the V but also provides ample support. The bra that checks off both boxes? A plunge style, says Luciani. “It’s cleverly constructed so the bridge of the bra — the piece of fabric that connects the cups together — is set much lower and closer to the bottom of the cups,” explains Luciani. “Andt hen the cups are cut down toward the bridge in a V-like shape so it remains unseen without sacrificing support.”
ONE TO TRY: Ambrielle Everyday Underwire Push Up T-Shirt Plunge Bra, comes in sizes 32A–40DD (Buy from JCPenney.com, $26.99-$38)
DRESS TOO PLUNGY?
Try a stick-on “bra” like Brassybra. The skin-safe tape is strong enough to lift and hold the heaviest of bosoms — no bra needed.
Best for a Form-Fitting Dress
It may seem like the bra cups do all the heavy lifting, but fun fact: “The band is actually responsible for 90 percent of breast support, as the tension it creates in back helps lift the bosom in front,” says bra guru Jené Luciani. Too bad that back-band squeeze can cause rolls to form above and below it for a lumpy-looking back — made most obvious in a fitted dress. What can help: A bra that closes in front and has a band in back that’s made of firm-control fabrics, like nylon and Lycra, and is at least 4 inches wide. “The front closure avoids some of the bumpiness caused by clasps in back — plus, it pushes breasts nicely together in front,” says Luciani. And a wide, firm band spreads tension out evenly in back while “ironing” out any bumps.
ONE TO TRY: Spanx Brallelujah! Lightly Lined Full Coverage Bra, comes in sizes 32A–40DD68 (Buy from Spanx.com, $68)
Best for All-Over Minimizing
We larger-chested ladies know that whether wearing a fitted T-shirt, loose dress, crew-neck sweater, or tank top, our goal is to simply rein in those suckers. And while a minimizer has always been the best bet, the old-school styles were more flattening than flattering. The good news? The latest versions come with molded cups (this ensures breasts maintain their buoyant, feminine shape) and soft, stretchy microfiber (the fabric supports and controls but has some give) to help the chest look up to an inch smaller without compression, says bra expert Elisabeth Dale, founder of TheBreastLife.com.
ONE TO TRY: BARE by Bare Necessities The Absolute Minimizer, comes in sizes 30D–42I (Buy from BareNecessities.com, $58)
Best for a V-Neck
Wearing an open-cut sweater or dress showcases a beautiful décolletage. But if you’re like us, your cup runneth over, creating spillage that looks like two extra boobs popping out of the open part of your top. Bra expert Jené Luciani’s suggestion: First, check your size (see section below) to make sure you’re wearing the right one, since spillage is usually a sign of too-small cups. Then choose a bra that has triangular-cut cups that mimic the shape of a V-neck. “The angular design is similar to the natural shape of breasts, so yours will comfortably rest inside the cups,” says Luciani. “And since the cups offer full coverage, they will contain the entire breast tissue from every angle to prevent any spillage.”
ONE TO TRY: ThirdLove 24/7 Classic Uplift Plunge Bra, comes in sizes 32A–44DDD (Buy from ThirdLove. com, $72)
3 steps to finding your perfect bra size!
- Put on a non–push-up, lightly lined bra. This will ensure that when measuring, your breasts are as close to their natural size and shape as possible.
- Measure your band size. Grab a soft measuring tape and wrap it around the area where the band sits (directly under the cups). Round the inches measured to the nearest whole number.
- Measure your cup size. Wrap the measuring tape loosely around the fullest part of your bust (near nipple level), then round the inches measured to the nearest whole number. Next, subtract the band size (step two) from the bust size and the number/inch difference determines your cup size. Every inch is equal to one cup size, so an A cup is one inch, a B cup is two inches, a C cup is three inches, and so on.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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