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Q. Is it taboo to wear sheer hose in the winter with a cocktail dress? My legs seem so pasty in the winter, and self tanners are always some sort of social suicide.

A. When you say sheer, I am assuming that you mean sheer nude hosiery. While not taboo, I am not a huge fan of nude hosiery. Unless you manage to find an ultrasheer shade that truly disappears against your skin, I would skip the nudes and opt for one of this season’s chic hosiery trends. The trend this season is not to pretend as if you’re not wearing hosiery, and instead wear prints, patterns and textures proudly.

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For an evening look with your cocktail dress, perhaps try sheer black pantyhose (they’re back in style!) or a sophisticated lace pair.

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’ve just purchased a sleevless black dress that has a wide belt which sits just below the waist. The dress is very fitted and comes to the knee. I have a pair of black stylish heels. If I do decide to wear hosiery would I wear nude, black or a color….I would appreciate your opinion.

A. The beauty of a black shift dress is that it’s a neutral canvas that works with a multitude of colorful accessories and legwear. Skip the nude hosiery this season and opt for black tights or one of this season’s bevy of colors, prints and patterns instead.








Q. I am 5’11’ and large busted. I have a terrible time finding a bra that fits at department stores. Help! How can I find a bra that fits?

A. We consulted Panache, the lingerie design expert for D+ cup sizes, for tips on ensuring that you have a properly fitting bra:


1. FILL YOUR CUPS…
Baggy cups are a surefire sign that you have the wrong size. Try going down a cup size. If your cups are creasing around the nipple, try going down a back size to pull the fabric taut.

2. …BUT DON’T OVERFLOW
Spilling out over the tops or sides of your bra won’t make your breasts look bigger; it will make your clothes look lumpy. It means you’re wearing too small of a cup size, so try the next size up.

3. DON’T LET THE STRAPS TAKE THE STRAIN
A bra’s main support comes from the band, not the straps. Make sure that you’re wearing the correct band size: too big, and your straps will end up taking the weight, which will cause them to dig in and be uncomfortable.

4. THINK HORIZONTAL
Stand sideways and look in the mirror. Is your bra band at the same level all the way around? If it’s riding up at the back, you probably need a smaller band size so it will stay in place and not cause the dreaded “back fat.”

5. FINGER RULES
Never mind a rule of thumb; here’s what you need to know about fingers. Your bra band should feel tight and firm but with enough space to insert two fingers under the back band, and one under the center front.

6. FASTEN A NEW BRA ON THE LOOSEST HOOK
Fascinating bra fact: a bra band can grow up to 4” due to wash and wear. When you buy a new bra, make sure that it fits properly on the loosest hook as you might need to tighten it with wear.

7. MAKE SURE YOUR UNDERWIRE IS FLAT AT THE FRONT…
The center front of your bra should lie flat against the breastbone. If it doesn’t, go up a cup size.

8. …AND SITS ON THE BONE
On that note, check the wire at the side of the bra. It should sit on the ribcage without digging into any breast tissue.

9. DO THE T-SHIRT TEST
The best way to see what shape a new bra will give you is to try it on under a fitted T-shirt. Look at yourself from all angles and make sure you have an uplifted look with no unwanted bulges.

10. GET MOVING
You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without walking around in them. So why should buying a bra be any different? Don’t just stand there: stretch out and swing your arms to make sure it feels comfortable when you move. Also, make sure to sit down in your new bra. This will tell you whether the bra will dig in and bother you when you are sitting in it all day.


Ready to start shopping? Here are some of our favorite bras for size D and up:

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Panache Tango Classic Balconette Underwire Bra
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Panache Harmony Full Cup Underwire Bra
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Le Mystere Dream Lace Tisha Bra
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Le Mystere Dream Tisha Seamless Full Fit Bra

Q. I am not too old, 49, but now I hear from my daughter, 26, that wearing pantyhose are out of style, and she never wears them, not even in the dead of winter, because only old grandmas wear them. Is this true? This past winter I decided to just wear pants to the office and not look silly wearing a skirt with no panty hose, in the below zero New England weather, however, I would like the option of wearing a suit with a skirt in the winter. What is your advice on panty hose or no panty hose? Thanks.

A. In the fashion world, hosiery tends to come in and out of style. However, whether to go bare-legged or not is more than just about what’s “in”. If you feel more comfortable in hosiery when the weather is cool, then by all means go for it. Regardless of trends, you can always opt for ultra sheer nude hosiery that matches your skin tone or opaque tights.

That being said, hosiery is very much in style for fall - aren’t you lucky! The Fall 2009 runways showed everything from sheer hosiery to funky patterns, prints and embellishments from virtually every designer. Here’s some proof of hosiery’s fabulousness for your daughter:

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left to right: Collette Dinnigan, Elie Saab, Limi Feu, Chanel, Valentino, Stella McCartney - photos courtesy of style.com

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