Here's What the Experts Say About How the Fit of a Bra Can Make or Break an Outfit

Ask any expert bra fitter, and she’ll likely tell you what the doyens de cleavage at La Petite Coquette told me: You’re probably wearing the wrong bra.

The lingerie store, which you might remember from an appearance or two on Sex and the City, houses brands that cover both the basics and go to the extreme in terms of style and function. Aside from a vast, fun selection, La Petite Coquette offers something every woman should look for in a bra store: Someone who will help you find the correct bra. As I found out, it isn’t all about cup size, or even band size. You have to factor in the shape of the breast, which varies greatly from one woman to the next, as well as the brand, fabric, and type of support. Another great thing to look for is an in-house tailor— someone who can fit the bra exactly to your size. Most of us aren’t built-in clothing measurements. We’re human, baby.

So what positive results come from a bra that fits correctly?

“You look littler! Your stomach looks flatter, your silhouette is longer,” expert fitter Sheri says.

The number one complaint when people try on bras can be the “back fat” created by a tight bra. But trust, if you have a great fitting bra, people are probably not looking at the back. They’re looking at the front. Or your eyes, whatever.

“Women, we have soft skin... Even the skinniest girls can have a little coming out at the side,” expert fitter Tania says. She’s been fitting for nine years. “If the boobs are great, forget about the side stuff, the back stuff… Look at how great your breasts are!”

“That’s very important to have it snug in the band when you’re big breasted. A looser fitting band… will stretch out too quickly” meaning the breast won’t be lifted, Sheri says. “Instead of going to the tightest hook, wear it on the loosest hook,” and as the bra stretches, move one notch in at a time. Think of it, as the band loosens, it rides up in the back… so the boobs come down: Another great reason to have a tailor on hand to tighten things up.

So what other bra advice did the ladies of lingerie have to offer?

1. Our size changes over time, as we exercise or eat differently, so it’s good to get fitted regularly.

2. Don’t be afraid of being a bigger size! Sheri and Tania see so many people come in thinking they are a 34B, and after a fitting, it turns out they’re a 32D.

3. Always try your clothes on over a bra. Check out your shape in the mirror and see if you feel secure. Again, the band should be snug for a proper fit. Like a leather shoe, as you wear it, it’ll give a little.

4. Sheri recommends a rotation of 5-6 bras for the week, washing regularly. If you treat a bra right, it could last about a year. “If you wear one bra every day, it’ll be shot by a month or two,” Tania says.

5. Oh, and when it comes to washing, factor in how much you sweat. Regardless, a wash after one to three wears is standard. Sheri recommends against Woolite, as it isn’t gentle on the elastic in lace. Instead, go for a lingerie-specific wash, like Le Blanc. Use a little bit in a sink full of cool water, and always lay flat to dry. If your washing machine is new, it probably has an ultra gentle delicates cycle. This is safe for lingerie if you first place it in a mesh bag.

With all of this in mind, and knowing it’s a process to find the right fit, know that it’s worth it. “Your clothes will fit better, your posture will be better,” Tania says.

Basically, if you have a well-fitting bra, even a basic t-shirt bra, you’ll feel confident, sexy and secure.

“It’s the most important thing we should do as women. It’s the closest thing to your skin. It’s on you all day. If you’re fidgeting with your bra… You’re going to be uncomfortable. Period,” Tania says.

All of Sheri’s clients have told her how much thinner they look and feel with a well-fitting bra. (Think of someone with an ill-fitting bra, trying to hide what’s not working for her, totally ruining her posture. It’s someone you want to avoid.)

Every woman is different, but there are lots of options of types to choose from. From a structured lace demi cup, to a lined or molded cup, to a push up bra, every woman’s breast shape will determine which will offer the most support for her. Try it all on and see!

“Come in for a fitting," Sheri says. "Don’t assume you’re a 34B. Come see how nice the clothes look. It’s a very simple thing that makes a big difference.”