WASHINGTON - For women, it is the most essential item of a wardrobe -- and a whopping 80 percent get it wrong.
Cyla Weiner, co-owner of Sylene in Chevy Chase, Md., says eight out of 10 women wear the wrong bra size.
"I don't know if they get fit at a young age and think that is their size for the rest of their life, or if they find a pretty bra and just assume it is correct, but when you are wearing the right bra and the right size ... number one, your clothes look much better ... you can look much younger ... and you can look much thinner," Weiner says.
The biggest mistake Weiner sees is a bra with a band that rides up a woman's back. This is an indication that the band, which offers 90 percent of the bra's overall support, is too big.
Instead, she says the bra should be parallel to your waistline.
To avoid skipping out on the right amount of support, Weiner says it's important to find your correct band and bra size.
To find your correct band size, measure around the rib cage and add 5 inches. Weiner says you can also use a tape measure right above the breast tissue, which will provide an exact band size.
For the cup size, measure around the fullest part of the bust. If it is the same size as the band, it's an A, an inch larger and it's a B, and so on.
Once you have your measurements, Weiner says trying on bras is just like trying on jeans. And similar to clothing, women should have a few bras on hand.
"I think every woman needs to have a variety of bras in her wardrobe," Weiner says. "You don't get up every single morning and put on the same pair of shoes, or put on the same pair of pants."
She recommends getting a seamless bra, what she calls "the backbone of everybody's wardrobe," and a bra that is closest to your skin color.
"There is a fallacy out there that if you get a white bra, that is really the only color you need. But ... if you have a white bra on and you put a white T-shirt on, that white bra looks really, really white under that T-shirt," Weiner says.
In addition to a seamless bra, Weiner recommends a multi-use bra (one that has removable straps), a sexy bra, a strapless bra and a sports bra.
Once you find a few that work for you, Weiner says to wash the bras by hand, since the dryer ruins the elastic. She also recommends rotating your bras frequently to extend their lifespan.
Many stores offer professional fittings, and Weiner says it's important to get re-sized after weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy or nursing.
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