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How to Choose the Right Bra


Stylists and experts agree that the right undergarments can make or break an outfit. Yet a recent New York Times article reports that as many as 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. The right bra can make you look slimmer and more polished, as well as giving you the support you need. Here's how to find the proper bra size and style for you.

The Basics

Step 1Find your band size: Wearing an unpadded bra, place a measuring tape directly under your bust. Keep the tape straight, then exhale gently and measure all the way around your body. Round this measurement to the nearest whole number, and, if the measurement is even, add 4. If the measurement is odd, add 5. This is your band size.
Step 2Find your cup size: Measure the fullest part of your bust, keeping your arms as close to your sides as possible and keeping the tape comfortably taut (not tight). Round this measurement to the nearest whole number. Subtract your band size from your cup measurement. For each inch in difference, the cup goes up by one size. For example, if your under-bust measurement is 32" and you add 4, your band size is 36. If you have a bust measurement of 38", subtract 36 (your band size). The 2" difference means that the cup size is B (a 1" difference is an A cup size, a 3" difference is a C cup size, etc.).
Step 3Consider your needs: Are you looking for a little lift? Need lots of support? Going for a jog? Once you find the right fit, consider your outfit. A demi cup may not have enough support to see you through a pilates class, and a sports bra isn't going to look good under, well, anything! Look at how you spend your time to see what you need most.
Step 4Build a bra wardrobe: You don't have only one type of clothing in your closet, and you shouldn't have just one type of bra in your drawer. Experts recommend you have a selection of everyday bras, along with a strapless or convertible bra and a sports bra. And don't forget one for seduction!

The Lingo

Convertible bra: a bra with straps that are detachable and adjustable, allowing it to be worn in a variety of ways, including strapless, racerback or one-shoulder.
Demi bra or demi cup: a low-cut, underwire bra that enhances cleavage by lifting breasts up.
Minimizer bra: a bra that reduces the appearance of large-breasts while providing support.
Nursing bra: a bra with cups that detach discretely and allow new mothers to nurse without removing the bra
Push-up bra: a bra that uses padding and underwire to enhance cleavage and give the appearance of fuller breasts
Seamless or t-shirt bra: a bra that uses a single piece of fabric for the cups, so there is no seam or stitching on the cups. This is perfect under t-shirts (hence the name) or sheer fabrics.
Soft-cup bra: a bra that doesn't have wire under the cups, but instead uses fabric or elastic for support
Sports bra: a bra that provides extra support for use during exercise, and that often incorporates other workout-friendly features, such as extra-absorbent or sweat-wicking fabric. These bras generally don't use underwire.
Underwire bra: a bra that incorporates wires under the cups for extra support and a perkier appearance

The Experts

Vital Juice says"Best (sports bra) for A's: Handful bras ($40) feature pretty details like a gathered front and criss-cross straps. We're tempted to wear the eye-popping pink version under tank tops outside the gym."
Good Housekeeping says Bali's Downtime was the comfort queen (for big busts), thanks to its great design. Testers loved that the straps didn't fall down and that the underwire didn't dig in. Plus, the cups are lined with CoolMax, a fabric that wicks away sweat to help keep you feeling comfortable all for $29." Consumer Reports says"Gilligan & O'Malley padded demi, $11 : Bra-vo! It has better cup molding&; the underwire is flexible and well padded, so it won't pinch or poke. This bra also held up better after washing. All three panelists found it comfortable, with a good fit."

The Brands

Maidenform was once a more utilitarian brand, but has now evolved into a modern line that creates fun styles in colors and prints.
Victoria's Secret is a popular mass market producer of lingerie and clothing. They're known for a large, oft-changing variety of sexy colors and styles.
Felina makes sophisticated and feminine bras and lingerie at a competitive price point.
La Perla is a French company offering the gold-standard in luxury lingerie.
Affinitas is an American company that produces fun, sexy lingerie at a reasonable price point.
Cosabella is Italian for "beautiful things." It's a high-end lingerie brand known for colors and prints.
Bali makes basic, affordable bras that provide full coverage and lots of support.
Playtex is a well-known and affordable brand that makes quality bras and is known for its various lines of 18-hour, Cross Your Heart, and other supportive styles.

The Price

$: Victoria's Secret Cotton Demi Bra, $26
$$: Calvin Klein Perfectly Strapless, $42
$$$: Sassybax Pretty Torso Trim Cami with Underwire Padded Bra, $110

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