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Get to know your breasts

Looking and feeling your absolute best starts with understanding your own body..

Large, small, perky or not – we’re all very different when it comes to our breasts. But you can look fabulous whatever shape they are.

Knowing your breasts is about knowing what makes them look good – and that starts with knowing (not guessing) their true size.

We’ve all heard the statistics – 80% of us are wearing the wrong size bra, apparently – thereby compromising comfort and style, and meaning breasts are not properly supported. Quite simply, if your bra doesn’t fit properly, you won’t look or feel your best.

The perfect fit
It’s easy to tell if your bra is the wrong size – if your breasts are spilling over the top or out of the sides it’s a clear indication that the cup size is too small, and if your straps are digging in, it probably means the band size is too large and you’re compensating by tightening the straps. In fact, thinking that you can make your bra fit by adjusting the straps is one of the biggest bra-myths around.

Straps are the least important part of your bra and a well-fitting bra supports breasts at the band. You should be able to pull the straps completely down and still feel supported. In general, the underband of your bra should fit comfortably in the middle of your back and not rise up or down. The underwire should never dig into your breast tissue, but should fit snugly under your arm and lie flat against your breastbone.

Women who wear the wrong size bra almost always have their back size too large and their cup size too small, perhaps because most high street stores only stock sizes up to a D cup. While the official average bra size of women in the UK is a 36C, most experts agree that it is more likely a D or even double D. What’s more, back sizes correlate roughly to dress size. A size-10 woman should probably wear a 28-30 bra back size, size 12 a 30-32, size-14 a 32-34 and so on. A bra that fits will be supportive and comfortable. Your boobs should be lifted and separated by the cups and the back should fit snugly without being restrictively tight.

Many lingerie retailers now offer bra-fitting services that go beyond simply measuring your breasts. While the tape measure can be a good rough guide to your size, it’s important not to rely on it entirely, but to concentrate on how a bra looks and feels.

Bra sizes are about volume and proportions, not straight line measurements. So it’s worth while taking the time to try on different sizes, styles and don’t forget – when trying on a bra, fasten it on the loosest hook so you can tighten it as it stretches with wear and washing.

Specialist help
Sheer Delight was established in 2002 and is a qualified lingerie stylist in the heart of Surrey, offering a friendly and highly professional fitting service. Its aim is to show ladies how much difference a well-fitted bra will make to how they feel about themselves. Customers are all shapes, sizes and ages and the > products cater for all – including first bra to nursing, mastectomy and sports, swimwear and hosiery.

Maximise your assets
Bras come in a diverse range of styles, each of which work well with particular clothes and body shapes but the three most common are:

  • Full cup or T-shirt bra – as its name suggests this style covers the entire breast and is designed to give more support for the breasts. Plus they look great under T-shirts or high necks as they give a smooth line.
  • Balconette or half-cup bra – this style is cut horizontally across the breasts and looks great under low
    cut tops.
  • Plunge – this style is cut away at the inside of the breast and cut further down into cleavage, meaning you can wear deep v-necks without any danger of your bra showing.

Whatever style you opt for, the key is making the most of what you have – showcasing your natural shape with gorgeous lingerie that will boost your confidence and get you looking and feeling nothing short of fabulous in seconds. As Gok says: ‘Proper underwear does in seconds what surgery takes months and big money to achieve.’

So ditch those greying, baggy bras that look tired and are doing nothing for your shape and invest in some gorgeously feminine, glamorous underwear. Chantelle Lingerie has been creating couture lingerie since 1876, encapsulating Parisian style and elegance. For more information, visit www.chantelle.com

Big boobs?
For larger breasted women the key word is support. Structured full-cup bras with wide straps work best – but there’s no reason why these can’t be gorgeous, too. Pretty details, such as lace and ribbon mean bras can be flirty and feminine as well as practical and supportive. Styles that push up and divide your breasts are particularly good as they stop you from getting that dreaded shelf look. And low-cut styles will allow you to wear deep v-necks that are really flattering for curvy women. For a fantastic range of bras for big boobed women visit www.bravissimo.com

Small boobs?
If your chest isn’t quite as voluptuous as you’d like, fret not – the right bra can work wonders. It’s all about the push-up padded plunge to boost that cleavage and make you appear curvier. Light-coloured, patterned fabrics such as white lace also add curves and draw attention to your breasts, and for a real enhancement you can’t go wrong with Gok favourites – chicken fillets. Beloved of skinny celebs, these boob-boosters come in different cup sizes so you can vary the size depending on the impact you want to create!

For a huge range of gorgeous gel-filled bras and swimwear, as well as breast enhancers (chicken fillets), visit MaxCleavage.com. The company’s founder Emma Clark is passionate about selling products to clients and customers that offer the same benefits as breast surgery without the pain, risks or expense. For more information on the range visit www.maxcleavage.com or call 0845 230 2377 for a free brochure

Post-mastectomy
Thankfully, the days when most mastectomy bras looked like something even your great, great grandmother would describe as dowdy, are long gone. And breast cancer survivors no longer have to > compromise on their style or sacrifice femininity for practicality in the changing room. Many high street stores, including Marks & Spencer with its Truly You range, have recognised the need for pretty, comfortable underwear that also provides good support to a prosthetic breast. And a number of these stores are also offering free fitting services to ensure all your needs are met. Eloise Lingerie offers a wide range of bras, swimwear and prostheses and provides a personalised, private fitting service. For more information call 0845 2255080 or visit www.eloise.co.uk

Royce Lingerie’s new range of pocketed bras for after a mastectomy will ensure that the usual white, black and skintone mastectomy bras are a thing of the past. The Caress Indulgence range was designed with input from lots or women who have undergone mastectomies, resulting in pretty, glamourous matching sets in sumptuous fabrics, laces and embroideries in shades of pink, chocolate and cream. All the bras have bilateral, deep seamed pockets to hold a prosthesis. Pink Champagne and Cocoa Blush come complete with removable inserts for extra coverage and to help hide any scarring. The new styles are available from selected Debenhams stores and all good lingerie retailers across the UK. For more information call 01295 265557 or visit www.royce-lingerie.co.uk

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when getting fitted for a post-mastectomy bra:

  • Make sure the bra has at least two hooks to fasten at the back
  • Good straps and good depth under the arm are a necessity
  • The bra shouldn’t be too low cut or part of the prosthesis may show.
  • Following a lumpectomy the bra needs to be fitted to the larger breast
  • If you do have one breast that is different in shape, a bra made from elastic material will fit better.
  • Following a bilateral mastectomy if you decide to wear two prostheses you can choose the bra cup size you want. Adjust the straps so that the cups are about halfway between elbow height and your shoulder.
  • If you choose not to wear a prosthesis, wear a bra with more elasticity in the fabric and no wires till the scar area is healed.

FOR GOOD MEASURE…
Use this step-by-step guide on how to find the correct bra size for you…

First, you need to measure under your bust: add four inches if the measurement obtained is an even number of inches. And add five inches if the measurement obtained is an odd number of inches.

(For example, if your underbust measurement is 31 inches, add five inches to obtain bra size 36, or, if your underbust measurement is 30 inches add four inches to obtain bra size 34.) 2 Measure around the fullest part of your bust to determine size. If you measure:

  • The same as your bra size, your Cup size is A.
  • One inch more gives cup size B
  • Two inches more gives cup size C
  • Three inches more gives cup size D
  • Four inches more gives Cup size DD. (So, if your back size is 34 and overbust measurement is also 34 inches, your cup size is A, Therefore, the correct fitting would be 34A.)

Gok says…
‘Good-fitting, quality underwear does in seconds what surgery takes months and big money to achieve.’


WORDS: CHARLOTTE MAUGHAM | photographs: getty, shutterstock, istock

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