About 70 percent of women wear the wrong size bra. We recommend shopping at specialty stores where staff can help you with a custom fit. (We both went up a cup size when we did this!)
To determine your own fit, measure the distance directly under your breasts, all the way around your back. (Round up or down to the nearest even number, whichever is more comfortable for you.) Then measure from the fullest part of your breast (without a bra) all the way around (round up to the nearest even number). The difference between the two numbers will determine your cup size. Zero to 1½ inches difference means you're an A, 1½ to 2½ inches is a B, 2½ to 3½ indicates a C, and so on. But remember, this is only a starting point -- not all 34Bs are created equal.
When trying on a bra, lean forward and let breasts fall into the cups. This will give the fullest look.
Your bra should feel comfortable on the center hook. That way you have some give-and-take for weight fluctuations.
You should be able to run a finger along the underside of the straps. If you can't, the straps will likely dig in and be uncomfortable. And make sure the straps appear parallel to each other. Otherwise, it's a sign of poor construction or a bad fit.
Women with large busts who need extra support should look for wider straps, larger fasteners, wider sides, and heavier materials, like a nylon-cotton blend as opposed to a flimsier mesh fabric.
Bras made in France or Belgium have a reputation for quality. Of course, you'll pay a little extra for the workmanship and beautiful fabrics.
If you want to make big improvements, try gel, silicone, or water-filled bras. They add extra weight (avoid the scale!) but do an excellent job of plumping up and adding cleavage where it usually doesn't exist.
Still not enough oomph? Silicone inserts provide a natural look and are our preferred choice. You'll pay a bit more for them than foam inserts, but they feel very natural, and you can move them from bra to bra. Look for a design with nipples for added realism.
For a boost in your bikini, try triangle foam inserts. They can be sewn right into your bikini top. But be sure to stick to thin or small inserts -- too big, and they'll soak up water like a sponge and then sag.
Aside from use in bathing suits, foam inserts are our least favorite breast enhancer. They may be inexpensive and lightweight, but they don't move with your body as well as silicone does, and foam tends to chafe.
There are good-quality suits for every budget. To stretch your dollar, remember that simple styles will stay in vogue longer than trendy fads.
Most suits can be altered by one or two sizes, but a jacket that doesn't fit in the shoulders usually can't be fixed.
Fabric is crucial. We like a wool-microfiber blend -- which will hold its shape, resist creasing, and last a long time.
Quality suits have a third layer of fabric inserted in the lapel, which allows the lapel to roll smoothly as well as lie flat.
Buttonholes should be cleanly finished, and stitching should be hidden inside the lining so you don't see thread when you open your jacket.
Lining helps clothing hang well, but it shouldn't be sewn down anywhere except in the perimeter (so at the hem and the bottom of the sleeves) and at the armholes.