Essential Undergarments

Step 4 in our Instant Update series is: Opt for Better Underwear.  Your clothes can only look as good as the shape your undergarments create inside them.  Your first step may well be replacing a worn-out or ill-fitting bra with one that gives you the smooth, proportional, lifted look that makes the most of your figure.

Don’t assume  you always wear the same size.  Because bra fit is more exacting than garment fit. Even a slight weight gain, loss or shift can make a big impact.   The most common fitting mistake: a too-large band (the number) and a too-small cup (the letter).

When the band is too large it creeps up in back and droops in front, providing little or no support. Perhaps it evens allows breast tissue to droop our from the bottom of the cup.

When the cup is too small, you get the double-bubble effect – one shape within the bra  and a second bubble of flesh above the cup. You may also get a bubble of soft tissue at the underarm.

Measurements can help point to your correct  size.  Start with a snug measurement of your rib cage, below the bust.  Add 5, then round down to the nearest even number to determine your most likely band size.

Next measure your full bust and subtract the band size.  Each inch of difference equals a cup size (1” difference = A cup,  etc).  But measurements don’t tell the whole story.  Like shoes, each bra fits differently, so trying on is a must.


Look for styles with the cup design you need.  For firmer tissue a flirty little demi-cup can work fine.  For softer tissue (from maturity, weight loss, recent pregnancy) a full-coverage cup provides more flattering shape.

For maximum support, choose underwired styles.  In the correct size, you won’t  feel the wire.  And no, it won’t set off alarms in airport security screenings.

To appear smaller-busted, choose a minimizer style with a seamless, rounded cup designed to redistribute breast tissue slightly side-to-side and minimize forward projection.

To look fuller, choose a maximizer style with a seamed cup and good side coverage to push  tissue toward the center and increase projection.

To ramp up cleavage, find a push-up style with padding in the lower half of the cup.  (Or you can add removable booster pads to the good bras you already own.)

Take an assortment of styles into the dressing room – at least 2 sizes of each – and  try on each one to evaluate for comfort and lift.  A properly-fitted bra should feel so natural you forget you have it on.  It should close comfortably on the second hook, and it should lift your bust so the fullest point hits halfway between your belly button and that little hollow at the base of your neck.  The higher your bust, the longer your torso appears and the slimmer you look.

For the final test, slip a body-skimming lightweight T-shirt on over the bra.  Its outline will immediately spotlight fit problems you might miss focusing on the bra alone.

There are many nice bra lines to choose from, but I’m a particular fan of the Wacoal brand for their beautiful designs, quality construction and highly trained fitting staff. Call your local department store and ask about the dates when a Wacoal fitting specialist will be visiting to provide shoppers with her high-level expertise … no extra charge.  You owe yourself the comfort and flattery of a great bra – no excuses.

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. TC Ferrito on January 8, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    I will echo Nancy’s endorsement of Wacoal. The fit is fantastic. The straps never fall down the and the under wires don’t dig in. They may be a little expensive , but they are worth it. And if you get to know the staff in your lingerie department, they will let you know when they go on sale.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.