The Look

(By Sora Devore For The Washington Post)
Sunday, November 19, 2006


During a recent lunch with an old friend, I complimented her on how svelte her figure looked. Her response: "It's the foundation." Whaaaa? Apparently it was her new bra that had accomplished this feat of engineering.

Intrigued, I decided to find out how to get that gravity-defying look. The key word, it seems, is "lift." I went to two experts who have been putting women in bras for a total of more than 50 years. Here are their tips.

If you can't make it to a professional fitter, Cyla Weiner, above, the co-owner of SyLene (4407 S. Park Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-654-4200), advises measuring tightly under your armpits around the top of your chest. The number (34, 36) is your band size -- add one if you get an odd number. Then loosely measure around the center of your bust and subtract the band size from this number. Each inch denotes a cup size, so if you get one, you're an A; two, a B; and so on.

Shirlee Blanken of Underwraps (4928 Hampden Lane, Bethesda, 301-656-4900) says, "The straps should be tight enough for support but not too tight that they dig into you." Try on your bra under a fitted T-shirt to ensure a seamless fit.

The thing in bras right now is the constructed look -- padding that adds lift, not size. Natori Underneath's Sheer Mesh ($46 at SyLene and Underwraps) is a contour bra with a see-through center band for low-cut shirts.

A new strapless option is the Feather-Lite Nubra ($35 at SyLene and Underwraps), two silicone cups that link in the front. For bustier women, minimizer bras such as Chantelle's Volupte ($68 at SyLene) offer support while taking you down a size.

An addendum to my investigation: There's a lingerie solution to almost every body woe. Body Wrap's High Waist Long Leg Brief trims thighs, while Spanx's Higher Power panty slims the body from thigh to midriff (each is $34 at SyLene). Sassybax's Torso Trim ($65 at SyLene) eliminates bra bulges, and Lipo in a Box's capri-length body suit ($84 at promises a toned look from head to toe.

And you thought lingerie was supposed to be sexy.

-- Janet Bennett Kelly

© 2006 The Washington Post Company