Crash Course: How to Find the Perfect Bra

Oprah-approved bra expert Susan Nethero gives us five tips for getting it right.

Bra-fitting expert Susan Nethero says European lines like Chantelle ($52.50 and $42, at Journelle) are worth the investment.

Poke, slide, slip, sweat. If that’s your bra talking, it’s time to review the finer points of a perfect fit. We’ve asked Susan Nethero, the woman Oprah dubbed the “bra whisperer,” to share her top five tips for choosing a well-fitting bra.

1) Support shouldn’t come from the straps
There’s more to the architecture of a bra than you might realize. Think the straps should do most of the work? Au contraire, says Nethero. “Ninety percent of the support should come from your bra band, and only the remaining 10 percent should come from your straps. Most women associate looseness with comfort, but that is actually the most common cause of poor bra fit. When bands are too loose, the back of the bra rises up, causing breasts to sag. Finding the right fit will eliminate the appearance of back fat and will end discomfort, meaning you can stop fidgeting with your bra all day! Your underwire will stop poking, your breasts will stop over- or underfilling your cups, and your bra straps will stop falling down.”

2) Be a label snob
Nethero recommends keeping an eye out for premium labels. “European brands such as Chantelle, Lise Charmel, Prima Donna, and Marie Jo are better suited for long-term wear than typical American bras,” she says. How so? “There are 9 to 16 different cup depths available rather than the American average of 6, they’re made of at least double the number of components, and they spend twice as long in the development stage as their American counterparts. So you really get what you pay for.”

3) Size it up
“A woman’s bra size [can change] up to six times in the course of her life. Most women stick to the same bra size year after year, ignoring factors like weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy, exercise, etc.,” says Nethero. This is where a professional fitting comes in handy, if you’re up for it. Bra fittings at Nethero’s Intimacy stores are free. “We highly recommend getting an annual ‘bra checkup.’ At Intimacy, we carry more than 90 sizes, A through K cup, and do free custom alterations on our bras.”

4) Variety, variety, variety
“You need a great T-shirt bra for a nice, smooth look, but also a convertible bra that will allow you to pull off tricky necklines and racerback tops,” says Nethero. And with summer coming up, now’s the time to invest in a good strapless–“another must-have so that you can flaunt those shoulders.” As for racier underpinnings? “Most women are surprised to find they can be comfortable and functional, too. The lace in better-quality styles (see tip 2) will lie so flat under your top that you should be able to wear it every day.”

 5) Ride the trend waves
“Every season, clothing designers come out with different trends, styles and colors to [freshen up] your closet. Lingerie designers are no different,” Nethero explains. “The best lingerie brands follow trends at major fashion houses to ensure your lingerie always matches your outerwear.” Nethero encourages her clients to select bras to complement their favorite clothing: “You’ll feel amazing from the inside out.” 

Ready to buy or want more advice? Nethero has 18 Intimacy stores across the nation, including one in Tysons Corner Center (on the second level, near Bloomingdale’s). Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also call 703-584-7295 or visit their website to book an appointment.