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Q. I just lost some weight and I’m having major bra issues. My old ones are too loose and I’m having trouble finding a bra that’s comfortable and fits well while giving me the right amount of lift. How do I know which style is right for me and what size to buy?

A. I recently had a life-altering experience (no kidding) with Susan Nethero, owner of {intimacy} stores and known as The Bra Whisperer. Susan, who has appeared numerous times on The Oprah Winfrey Show, has made it her life mission to prove to women that the right bra can instantly improve and transform your figure. As someone who has been professionally fitted for bras before, I was stunned to find that I’ve been wearing the wrong size bra for my whole life! At times wearing a 36C and 34D, Susan showed me that I am actually a 32F, and embarrassingly, amongst the 85% of women wearing the wrong size bra!

Once my true size was determined, I tried on several bra styles and learned some truly useful information that will change my bra choices forever:

  • The back band of your bra provides 90% of the support, so it should fit firmly, yet comfortably, against your rib cage and never ride up your back. For those women who rely on the shoulder straps for most of the support, you’re wearing the wrong bra.
  • Women with fuller busts should avoid minimizers, which compress your breast tissue and make you look wider. Instead, look for bras that lift and center your bust line, making you look taller and thinner in an instant without compression.
  • While seamless bras are comfortable and look great under a tight t-shirt, seamed bras actually offer more support and shaping. Susan recommends alternating between the two.
  • Lace bras are actually more durable and retain their shape better than smooth bras which stretch out over time.


Susan prefers to fit people “holistically”, which means she doesn’t use a tape measure which she feels can be inaccurate. She offers a size guide on her site, but this is only a starting point. Here’s how to tell if you are wearing the right size bra:


1) IS YOUR BRA TOO LOOSE? melissa_bramistake.jpg

  • If you can pull your bra away from your body two inches, IT’S TOO LOOSE!
  • If you raise your hands over your head, and your bra rides up over the breast tissue, IT’S TOO LOOSE!

  

2) IS YOUR BUST LIFTED AND CENTERED?

  • Your bust should be midway between your shoulder and your elbow, or your bra is BUSTED!
  • Your bust should be within your body frame, or you’re busting out of your bra!


3) IS YOUR BRA POSITIONED PROPERLY?

  • If your straps are falling down, your band is riding up your back
  • Your band should be level across the bodice from front to back


4) ARE YOUR UNDERWIRES HURTING?

  • If your bra is the right size, YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL THE UNDERWRE
  • If your cup is too small, the bra will dig into breast tissue


5) DOES THE CUP SIZE FIT? (DON’T OVERFILL OR UNDERFILL!)

  • If you’re overfilling your cup, you’ll spill out of your bra
  • If you’re under-fillling your cup, you can have puckering in the cup


Susan proved to me that the right bra can make you look better in your clothes, look taller and thinner and feel more comfortable. My best advice for every woman is to get a free professional fitting as soon as you can. (find a bra-fitting store near you)

Q. I am attending an auction gala at the end of February. The theme is Denim & Diamonds, so I’ve got the jeans and boots ready, but what type of top could I wear that would amp up the outfit?

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A. What a fun party invite! Here are some outfit suggestions:

  • Pair jeans and cowboy boots with a glam sequin blazer layered over a t-shirt. Or choose a velvet blazer or tuxedo jacket as an alternative. Crystal (or diamond) drop earrings and an evening clutch finish the look.
  • Instead of jeans, pair a cocktail dress or evening gown with a denim jacket or vest.

Q. What is a functional yet fashionable school tote for a college student like me? I have noticed that many female students at my school carry around Longchamp Le Pliage bags. I do like these, but would like something more unique for under $200, and perhaps more durable.

A. Whether you’re a student or someone entering the job force, a functional, chic and affordable tote is a must. You want something that’s stylish, lightweight, roomy enough for all of your essentials and can fit over your shoulder. Here are some options you’ll want to carry with you everywhere, and they’re all under $150:

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Q. I’ve been considering piercing my ears for a while, but I’m worried that I’ll be allergic/get an infection/etc. I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on how much earrings contribute to an outfit or someone’s style. For example, I notice that with many of my fashion idols, like say Alexa Chung or the Olsen twins, or models in photoshoots, they usually don’t wear earrings. Is there a particular reason for this, or a general rule as to when/how one should wear earrings?

A. My ears have been pierced for so long that I’m always surprised when I meet someone whose aren’t pierced, but this is something chosen by many women for various reasons. Personally, I fall in and out of love with earrings. Often, I’ll wear no earrings or small studs, allowing a chunky necklace to take center stage. Other times, I’ll forego a bold necklace and opt for dramatic earrings instead. Similarly, earrings fall in and out of favor with the fashion world with chandelier earrings being called a must-have one season and statement necklaces the next.

Earrings are by no means a necessity, but they are a great way to add interest to a look and draw attention to your face. Angelina Jolie at the 2009 Oscars and Vanessa Williams at the 2009 Emmys are shining examples of how earrings can elevate and enhance your look.

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I would never try to convince someone to get their ears pierced, and am no expert on instances of allergies or infections from piercing. I do know that millions of women (and some children) have had pierced ears for years without incident, so I would guess that it’s a relatively safe undertaking. If you’re unsure, clip-on earrings have come a long way and are the perfect way to give earrings a try:

Q. I wear Ecco perforated sneakers to work - super light, but not dressy. What’s the best comfy + dressy black shoe?  ( submitted via Twitter)

A. For a style upgrade from your black leather sneakers, turn to comfortable ballet flats and wedges from brands like Sofft and Cole Haan. Here are some of our picks for cute and comfortable black shoes to wear to work:

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