As you get older you need a good, supportive bra – here’s what to look for and what to avoid.
We’re talking here about your everyday bras – the type that hoick up your boobs, stop all jiggle and give you a great silhouette under clothing. This type of firmly structured bra has to be chosen for practicality rather than overall beauty, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t attractive options to choose from. For evening or special occasions, of course, it’s great to wear a lingerie bra – pretty, lace, flimsy in construction – but this kind of design just doesn’t cut the mustard for every day.
Here’s what to avoid.
Skimpy fabrics. Yes, they’re pretty, but they won’t give the support you need. There are now many beautiful options in sturdier fabrics, such as this Claudette bra from Glamorise (above left) – the days of white-only over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders are long gone.
Convertible bras. A kind of Jack of all Trades, but many of them won’t master your boobs and their thin straps can cut you like a cheesewire. If you regularly need a halter-neck bra, etc, consider having one made or try a good basque or bustier, like this Venus basque from Panache (right).
Strapless bras. Forget it if you’re above a 40D – the physics just won’t wear it. Go for a basque or bustier instead, especially if you’re carrying any flesh around your back, where a strapless bra can really dig in.
Moulded cups. If they’re soft, they won’t support you; if they’re thick, you probably won’t fit the exact shape of the cup shell, so you may find they cut in or have baggy, empty sections. Women like moulded cups because they’re almost invisible but you don’t have to forgo t-shirts if you wear a seamed cup bra – just buy one designed for the purpose, such as this Speciality t-shirt bra from Fantasie, which still has a three-section cup for great support.
Demi-cups. These may be the boys’ favourite bra designs but they just don’t give enough support for every day. If you’re over a B cup, you can end up jiggling around like a jelly, and if your breast tissue is starting to sag at all, the last thing you need is to reveal it like this. Giving up demi-cups, once again, doesn’t mean switching to nun’s undies. Look instead for a full cup with a pretty, lacy top section, such as this Thalia design from Empreinte (right).
Plunge bras. Many plunge styles don’t give enough support. This multiway plunge design from Wonderbra (below left, in red) is very pretty, but does nothing to support your breasts – look at how thin and flimsy the construction is, especially the central join (the band doesn’t go right around the bra). The central section of a supportive bra – the bit between your breasts – needs to be at least 2.5 inches deep, but this need not make a bra less pretty, as you can see in this lacy Cally bra from Fantasie (below left, in black).
Thin shoulder straps. Although the shoulder straps of a bra are designed only to take 20 per cent of the weight of your breasts, they still need to be thick enough that they can do their job and not dig in. Anything under five eighths of an inch just won’t do it. Sturdy straps need not be ugly, however – many bras have straps that are wider at the shoulder, then narrower down the back, to keep them visually light.
Triangle bras. That’s bras without an underwire and cut like the top part of a skimpy bikini. You probably don’t need telling that pretty much anyone except an A-cup teenager looks simply rubbish in these – all they do is cover your nips. Avoid them like the plague if you don’t want your boobs round your ankles and save this design for lingerie tops and nightwear.
Thin bra band. The bra band – the band that goes around your body – is what supports the cups and if it’s too delicate, it’s not doing its job. Most women like a delicate bra band, especially at the back, because they think it won’t show, but in fact if you’re carrying any weight at all and your body isn’t as tight as a drum, it will dig in. For real support, you need a back deep enough to take at least three hooks, up to as many as you want – this beige one by Elila has five, so no slipping there.
Almost all the bras above are available from Figleaves.com