What does an 80-year-old woman have between her breasts that a 20-year-old woman doesn’t? Answer: Her navel.

Things could be different.

Sandy Hosein has been fitting bras for 20 years at Bare Basics Lingerie, her boutique in Richmond, BC. She tells women that a good, supportive bra not only flatters the figure but it also helps them feel better.

Bras are blamed for a whole range of health problems. A poorly fitting bra can lead to slouching and poor posture, resulting in spinal problems. A recent survey found that 59 percent of women believed their bras were responsible for back, shoulder, and neck pain. Bra straps that have been adjusted too tightly can interfere with proper circulation, leading to headaches and arm pain.

The best way to avoid these problems is to consult a professional bra fitter at a specialty lingerie store. These experienced consultants are trained to take accurate measurements and make personalized choices from the wide selection of product lines.

Many women feel intimidated by having to bare their breasts in front of a stranger, but professional bra fitters are competent and their clients feel cared for rather than embarrassed. The first and most important measurement a fitter will take is the band width, the chest circumference directly underneath the breasts. This is the part of the bra responsible for 90 percent of the support. Next, they will determine your cup size, which should accommodate all your breast tissue with no overflow or puckering. The straps, which take the last 10 percent of the load, are adjusted about halfway to prevent red marks or shoulder pain.

Custom bra maker Donna McRae of Top Hat Apparel in Dundas, Ontario, says that when women are wearing a properly fitted bra, they appear 10 pounds thinner and their garments look more stylish. She reports that her clients experience a tremendous boost in self-confidence and self-esteem because of their improved appearance.

Although many of us make do with an ill-fitting bra, we can all benefit from a professional fitting. Finding the right bra will not only help you avoid pain and discomfort but it will also make you feel great about the way you look–and it will keep your navel in its proper place.

The “Running Shoe” of Bras

The Amazing Bra (TAB) was designed when Yvonne Hogenes, owner of Malary’s fashion boutique in Surrey, BC, realized that many of her clients wore ill-fitting bras. Customized engineering and design lead to a line of bras that are custom fitted offering health, comfort, and beauty benefits.

The TAB bra has no elastic and does not rely on shoulder straps for a proper fit. It is contructed using microfibre which allows the skin to breathe and offers support from underneath using a “shelf” design rather than underwire. “It certainly isn’t the sexiest bra,” Hogenes says. “But like a good running shoe, the TAB bra gives comfort all day long.”

Unravelling Underwire Worries

In recent years women have become increasingly concerned that wearing an underwire bra can cause breast cancer. Now this worry has been dispelled. According to the National Cancer Institute, an individual’s risk of breast cancer is related to hormonal factors, not the bra you wear.

About the Author

Josie Padro is a Vancouver writer who recently had her bra properly fitted and is proud of her new inner strength.