O's Bra Intervention
Actor and producer, 28
Before: "It's hard to find sexy support," Vivienne admits. In the back, this bra rides up and makes her look fleshy; in the front, she needs "a deeper, less rigid cup so she won't pop out," says Susan Nethero, president of Intimacy, a bra-fitting business with stores in Atlanta and New York City. "In a T-shirt, she'd seem to have two sets of breasts—the 'double bust' effect."
After: Vivienne went from a 32C to 32DD for better coverage and greater stability ("I can walk without jiggling!"). This "balcony" style, midway between a demi and a full cup, is both cute and practical: "The fine lace and silky texture make me feel flirtatious."
Actor and housepainter, 31
Before: "Cleavage" is what Saudia says she wants in a bra. But this low-cut Janet Jackson–esque style is verging on full disclosure. There's also too much space between the cups (the centerpiece shouldn't be more than an inch across), so she looks wide rather than high and firm.
After: A front-closure contour bra with a racer back gives Saudia "nice definition and plunge," Susan says, yet it's snug enough to stay with her when she's painting. Many stores don't stock bras smaller than size 32, so Saudia may need to have hers altered down to 30 inches. "Being fitted was awesome," she says. "Susan educated me on what I need. This bra is very comfortable, and it doesn't slip or slide."
Documentary filmmaker, 50
Before: "I don't like a lot of bra," says Gayle, but she does appreciate comfort and support, and her lacy Parisian number simply doesn't deliver. Its wide-set straps and cut make her look as if she has "nothing in front," Susan says, and because of decreased elasticity in her breasts (a.k.a. sag), there's no volume in the upper part of the cup.
After: "This is a very soothing bra, physically and emotionally—it makes me feel young and sexy and cared for," Gayle says. The narrower space between the cups and smaller band size (32C rather than 34C) keep the bra centered on her body, so her breasts seem "more important," as Susan puts it. "It adds shape but doesn't make her look excessively busty."
Public relations student, 28
Before: "Spillage is my problem," Bernadette says. But this "minimizer" is so big that her body seems wider and thicker (plus, the flattening action is bad for breast tissue). The band creeps up in the back, causing unfortunate bulges, so Bernadette has compensated by shortening the straps, putting most of the weight on her shoulders.
After: Firmer, happier, younger looking. "Finally—a bra that doesn't cover my entire chest or have five straps in back," says Bernadette. This 34F contour style (replacing her 36DD) is level on her body, and it's hooked in the loosest position. Later, when it stretches out, she'll have plenty of room for adjustment.
Program assistant for nonprofit organization, 47
Before: Although Debra once had implants and often uses gel inserts in her bras, she's become quite comfortable in her own skin ("There's nothing artificial about me"). Still, she wouldn't mind "a fuller look," and this bra gives her no support or definition.
After: "Small-busted women like to be small busted," Susan says. "We want to give her enough volume to make her clothes fit better yet not change her sense of self." A side bump panel on this padded push-up bra moves breast tissue toward the center and gives Debra a rounded, natural shape. "I feel more womanly in this bra," she says, "and it's nice and clean looking—I don't like dressy-dressy stuff."
Communications student, 25
Before: "I want a bra that lifts and separates while also being attractive and feminine," Jordan says, "but full-figured girls don't have a lot of choices." The cup is too shallow and inflexible to handle Jordan's breasts, Susan points out, so it binds her, creating unnatural-looking cleavage.
After: Her surprisingly narrow back and her full volume were both accommodated by this bra (34F instead of 36DD). Well-built side panels stabilize her breasts, and seaming in the cups brings them forward for a lovely rounded shape. And the style, chocolate-and-navy embroidered lace, surprised Jordan: "I'd never seen anything like this for women my size. It's sexy without being trashy or over-the-top."
Next: 3 sports bras that offer healthy support