Bra shopping
Photo: Hannah Anderson
A successful makeover needs a strong foundation. So before our O staffers slipped into their new clothes, they visited Linda Becker of Linda's Bra Salons to find the right bras. They left the fittings with smoother, slimmer silhouettes—and a new way to approach bra shopping. Here's what they were doing wrong and what they (and you) should do instead.

Mistake #1: Choosing Comfort over Support

Can you fit more than two fingers underneath the band of your bra? If the answer is yes (and for about 80 percent of the women who visit Linda, it is), you need a smaller size. A bra that makes your breasts look lifted and full must have a snug band. (Most of your bra's support should come from the band, not the straps.) All of our makeover subjects went down one band size and up at least two cup sizes. (Because the cups get smaller as the band size goes down.) When you buy a bra, it should fit firmly—and be completely straight—around the smallest part of your back, when it's on the loosest hook. As the band stretches over time, you can tighten it and extend the life of the bra.

Mistake #2: Settling for the Wrong Cup Size

Many women think that bras max out at a D cup. In fact, you can find bras today that come in everything from a AAA to an N. The most common cup size in Linda's stores is an F. The right cups won't wrinkle or gap or let your breasts spill over the top or out the bottom of the bra.

Mistake #3: Buying the Same Size You Wore 10 Years Ago

Your bra size will change multiple times over the course of your life—weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy, hormonal changes and aging all affect the size and shape of your breasts. (Linda herself, 62, has fluctuated between an A and an F.) Get a bra fitting once a year to make sure you're still wearing the best size for you.

Mistake #4: Making Bra Shopping a Biennial Event

Even the highest-quality bra won't last more than 12 months (assuming it's one of three or four in rotation). Over time, the elastic wears out and the bra no longer offers strong support. To get the longest life out of your bra, hand wash it in lukewarm water and mild detergent, and hang it to dry. If you wash your bras in a machine, use the gentle cycle and hang them to dry. Never put a bra in the dryer; the heat damages the elastic. When you store your bras, don't bend one molded cup into the other. Instead, lay them flat, one on top of the other, to preserve their shape.

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