One area of the body that sags inevitably with age, no matter how much anti ageing cream you apply, is your bust line. Skin tissue softens, elasticity finally gives up the ghost and if you breast fed your babies too, you're looking at gravity challenged boobs.
However, with help, all is not lost, indeed I think that after my proper bra fitting last week at my local lingerie store Truelove, I now have a better looking bust line than I have ever had…..not to mention a waist. (Truelove, BTW has been nominated for the Telegraph Best Small Shop award this year, we wish it well, certainly gets my vote).
I would NEVER have believed that getting help with the right size, getting the straps altered so they are perfect and getting a design of bra that works best for your shape could really make so much difference. Readers, I am a new woman.
Truelove invited me to get a proper fitting from Michelle, the Elle MacPherson Intimates expert who was in store for the day to promote the store's Pink Friday, in support of Breast Cancer Month. Michelle has been fitting bras for 15 years and Liz from Truelove has 25 years of making, fitting and lecturing on lingerie under her belt (or should that be straps?) so I was in good hands.
Together, they have seen more boobs than is good for them and stressed how everyone is different. The right size bra can take pounds off (by removing those unwelcome bra bulges from under the arms and around the back), give you a waist (by uplifting the bust and highlighting the narrower exposed waist) and creating a gorgeous bustline where there was just sagging softness before.
The most common problem for women as they get older is to self diagnose themselves into a bigger size because they might have put on a bit of weight, which is wrong. Your back size (the 32/34/38 measurement) probably wont alter, instead it will be the cup size that needs to go up. Getting the straps altered to the correct level made a huge difference to my fitting and I also went for styles with wider side panels to help hold everything in more smoothly.
I liked the Elle MacPherson styles because they are lacy but strong and offer proper matching knickers, (older bottoms in thongs are, I'm sorry, just WRONG). Liz says that there is a huge difference in how each brand fits and finding someone who knows what brand's shape will work for you can be a scales-dropping-from-the-eyes moment for customers. Her customers frequently multi-buy when they find a bra that makes them look good, so try on loads of different styles.
Once you find someone you trust, listen to them, says Michelle, as often customers get stuck in a rut and wont shift from their favourite shape, which may have worked when they were 25 but now needs a rethink. Truelove keep T shirts in the fitting room so you can look not just at the bra, but at the shape you achieve with it when in clothes. It was at this point I nearly broke down and wept with joy when I put on the Le Mystere moulded bra and there wasn't an unsightly bump or bulge to be seen. I just had a great shape.
It's an old cliche, but getting the foundation right with your shape really, really makes a difference and you need help achieving it. Just think about Mad Men and how the costume department achieved that look with the underwear first, then layered on the retro styles. My worry is now that I'm so pleased with my new shape that I wonder if I'll ever go back to buying without helpers/strap adjusters/people who know what they are talking about again.
Here are Liz and Michelle's top three essential lingerie items, and remember one bra probably wont cover all your needs.
Firstly a really beautiful (well fitted) bra. A gorgeous bra gives you confidence, makes you feel good and the dullest of days can be brightened by knowing you have a killer style on. I chose the Elle MacPhearson Artistry style in red, at £35, which has a pink soft net lining and satin bow. I also bought the matching bikini briefs at £22, but you don't need to unless you are matchy-matchy freak like me (I can't go out in non matching sets, I've tried but I just feel odd).
A brilliant T shirt bra. Le Mystere Dream Tisha(£48) is a moulded bra which has fabric that covers the wire-works and bounded strap edges that even out the weight across your muscles, preventing that bulge-next-to-strap look. I have to say this terrified me when I first saw it as it looks HUGE and so reinforced, but once it's on it's very comfortable and then when the T shirt goes over it, you are wearing someone else's more fabulous tits…..I also liked the Le Mystere Camille seamless bra (£46) which was not moulded but is similarly great under t shirts.
Fabulous shape wear. We've written about this before, but getting a pair of knickers that hold everything in and remain comfortable is a joy. Liz's brand of choice here is Wolford, who do a whole range of knickers, slips and T shirts that shape you up wonderfully without making you feel like a sausage. Too many versions to mention but the best selling style at Truelove is the Velvet Control Pant £32.
Buy your bras in nude rather than white if you can't control the washing temperature/dark and light mix (middleagedad does the washing and mixes everything up) in your laundry system to avoid that tragic tupperware grey all white lingerie seems to eventually go. And once you have invested in a good bra wash it in a laundry bag/pillowcase to stop it stretching and winding around other washing, which won help the fit.
Truelove is at 48 White Heart Lane, London SW14 OPZ, ask to be fitted by the wonderful Liz.