Lift and Separation: Finding a Great Fitting Bra

Who knew my search would end at Victoria's Secret?

By , Columnist

I cannot think of one issue more universal to women than finding a great fitting bra. In fact, every bra fitting website and television show segment makes mention of the fact that 85% of American women are wearing the wrong size bra. Some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering what the big deal is. After all, it's just underwear. But you are wrong!

Some women have high breasts with fuller tissue up top. Some, like me, have lower breasts with very little fullness on top. Many women have "side breasts" and need more support to push the tissue in and up a bit, while other women do not need that support. Add in the fact that we need to wear these bras for 12-15 hours a day so they need to be comfortable, and you have an engineering nightmare.

Put in too much wire and women get stabbed and poked; not enough wire and the girls sag. Put in too much Lycra and they have no support, not enough and the bra is uncomfortably stiff. Then there is the issue of where most of the support should come from. While for many years the reigning wisdom stated that support came from the shoulders (useless if you have heavier breasts because the straps dig into your shoulders), the current line is that the support comes from the strap around the body, putting many of us into a smaller number size than before.

I started out life as a 34B, which is still the most popular wrong size bra. By the time I was 35, after years of hormonal issues and weight changes, I sized as a 38D via Lucille the bra lady at Bala Cynwyd, PA's Saks Fifth Avenue (immortalized in Sex and the City). But then even those crazy expensive Wacoal bras didn't fit right and I was in limbo again.

It occurred to me that in Manhattan I should be able to find a good bra fitter and bra, and that landed me first at the Upper East Side's Linda the Bra Lady. I entered the tiny shop and was immediately swooped upon and measured to a 36DD, but then all the bras they sold me were high end Fs (DDDs) which I somehow needed, so I felt like Madonna in her '90s Gaultier cone bras and spent too much money. Exactly one year later I went to the Upper West Side's venerable Bra Smyth, where they sized me back to a 38D, and I spent a year falling out of the extremely expensive cups.

One day I was discussing this with a friend who works for Victoria's Secret and she suggested that I check them out. She told me that the bra engineering was sound, the new fabrics (including memory foam) were light and supportive, there were good sports bras as well as every day bras, the prices were good, and they had sizes up to a DDD cup. So I trucked on over to Soho to see Linda, their top bra fitter.

Linda took one look at me and requested a full coverage Body by Victoria bra in 36DD. It fit perfectly and was literally half the price of the more expensive lines I had been wearing. Several weeks later it still fits perfectly, and the memory foam has molded to my body. I also picked up a couple of Incredible VSX Sports Bras, which actually allow me to run without bouncing. But the proof of the great fitting bra is right here (use the door handle height as a measure):

BraSideOld.jpg BraSideNew.jpg

And from the front:

BraFrontOld.jpg BraFrontNew.jpg

It's like losing a few pounds and getting better posture — but all I did was get a new bra! Yes, I look much happier in the new bra photos, because I am. I look better and am more comfortable.

The moral of this story is that all women should be wearing a great fitting bra. That bra should be light, supportive, comfortable, and most of all should make you feel like you look your best! Do not be swayed by sales people or supposed experts. If the bra feels weird in the fitting room it will not get any better on your body as you wear it, so don't waste time and money. While Victoria's Secret may not fit everyone, this experience opened my eyes to the fact that it is not necessary that I wear the most expensive bras, but the bras that fit me the best.

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NYC resident Lynda Lippin is a world-renowned Pilates, Fitness, and Reiki instructor with nearly 25 years of experience. She is also an accomplished writer and a former Philosophy professor. In her Featured Column, Lynda will lead you on a path towards Fitness Sanity. Got Questions? Want Lynda to checkā€¦

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