Women may come in all shapes and sizes but they're likely to have one fashion item in common: a wrong-fitting bra, says undergarment expert Susan Nethero.
She has concluded from extensive field research that 85 percent of all women are wearing the wrong bra size.
Nethero, who owns the Intimacy lingerie stores in Chicago, New York and Atlanta, learned her bra-fitting techniques from the Queen of England's Royal bra fitter. In her 15 years in the bra business, she has fit more than 125,000 pairs of breasts, including Oprah Winfrey's.
Nethero, who was a guest Wednesday on the "Today" show, says women make these top 10 mistakes when buying a bra:
1. Baggy back = too much slack: The back band of your bra provides 90 percent of the support, so the ideal fit should be firm yet comfortable. When such bands are too loose, the back of the bra rises up, causing breasts to sag. This "see-saw" effect also can emphasize what every woman wants to hide: unsightly back fat.
2. Resisting revolution: As women age they often need to alter our skincare, makeup and even our hairstyle. The same holds true when it comes to bras. Thanks to weight loss and gain, nursing and hormonal changes, a bust line can change at least six times throughout a woman's life. For optimum style and comfort, make sure you get fitted for a bra yearly.
3. There is no perfect bra: Buying a bra may take a little time. Don't just get the one your best friend raves about -- everyone's body is different. To find the most flattering fit, be sure to try on several styles. Tip: Slip on a shirt so you can see how your shape will appear when dressed.
4. Don't be a softy: Most women find underwire bras to be uncomfortable, so they make the mistake of wearing a soft, non-underwire cup. The problem? There's not enough support, especially for full-figured gals. A properly fitted underwire bra should rest comfortably against your rib cage with a soft cotton casing. The end result: lift, support and comfort!
5. The big bind: Minimizing bras, commonly worn by big-busted women, actually bind and compress breast tissue, resulting in a loss of firmness. To appear taller, smaller-breasted and even pounds slimmer, voluptuous ladies should stick with bras that lift and center the bust line.
6. Confusing cups: Wearing the wrong-size cup is a common mistake. The telltale signs? Breasts that spill over, or worse yet, breasts that don't fill out the cups (resulting in wrinkles). Ideally, cup sizes should be proportional to the body frame.
7. You get what you pay for: Department stores and specialty boutiques often carry low-quality, poorly made bras that fit badly. Higher-quality brands, which offer more size options, are designed for real women's shapes and sizes.
8. Self-service slip-up: Don't sacrifice service, style and comfort because you're embarrassed to ask for help when buying a bra. Go ahead, ask questions! You'll be much happier (and more comfortable) in the long run.
9. De-compressed breasts: Athletic women often rely on sports bras, which compress rather than support. A sports bra with seams, shape and cup depth will prevent jiggling while jogging.
10. Forever free of seams: While seamless bras are comfortable and look great under your tight T-shirt, wearing them daily is a bad idea. Give your girls the support they need. Since seamed bras offer more support, try alternating between the two.
For more information on finding the right bra, visit Susan Nethero's Web site, www.myintimacy.com.