I’ve seen an increase in email from HerRoom customers over 50 and it got me thinking about what older women want in a bra and how they feel about their lingerie and bodies in general. As if menopause and other changes that happen with age weren’t enough, women’s breasts are likely to change after 50. Hormone changes can really wreak havoc on breast size; in fact one woman in five will have larger breasts after menopause.
It isn’t just a size thing: older breasts lose their elasticity while gravity is doing its part to pull them downward. Breast tissue also becomes less firm. For some women, their breasts actually get heavier and overall, breasts are less glandular and more fatty. A recent study showed that a woman’s breast size and shape will change six times or more during her lifetime. It’s only natural that aging and/or the onset of menopause will be one of those times.
Now, I know that sounds a little grim, but think of it as an opportunity to embrace change and to treat yourself to new lingerie. The lingerie industry (and the fashion world in general) are paying new attention to older women. In fact, brands are jumping on the older-women trend as fast as they can. Joan Didion modeled for Celine; Helen Mirren has posed for L’Oreal; Carmen Dell’Orefice is the epitome of style in her 80’s; Julia Roberts is the face of Givenchy beauty and the list goes on. After all, with the confidence born of maturity, older women can be as vibrant, sexy and fashionable as their 20-year-old selves, and maybe more so!
I sometimes hear from older women who fear that their days of fashionable, sexy lingerie are over. Not so! Age is no reason to give up on style. Here are some suggestions for finding well-constructed, well-fitting bras that are feminine and fashionable.
1. Your breast size and shape has probably changed so the first step is to get into the right size. My Bra Fitting Center will help you find your new band and cup sizes.
2. If your breasts have gotten larger or heavier, choose a bra that offers support. HerRoom carries bras with multi-part cups that are sexy and chic. The sewn cups, with horizontal or vertical seaming (or both) shape and support your breasts.
3. Older breasts are often less full at the top, creating a a gap along the top of the cups. Try stretch lace cups or bras with an encased elastic top edge. Seamed styles and push-up bras also help with shallow upper breasts.
4. As we get older, not only do our breasts change, but posture may change too. I suggest bras with a wider back band and sides. HerRoom carries bras and shapewear pieces that actually promote better posture and offer relief from aching backs and shoulders. Back-smoothing bras, with their wider backs, also benefit posture.
5. Speaking of straps, your breasts may be heavier than they once were. Try a bra with wider straps. Lots of wide-strap bras have pretty fabrics and embellishments so you don’t have to sacrifice style. If straps are digging into your shoulders, the band of your bra isn’t doing its job, either because it’s old and has lost its support or because you’re in the wrong band size. Try a smaller band size.
6. You may be dealing with side or back bulges for the first time in your life. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on attractive bras. Leotard backs, taller back bands and lightweight fabrics help smooth out back bulge. Wider, softer bands also help smooth out side bulge. HerRoom carries many side and back-smoothing bras that are an attractive solution. You could also wear a shaping camisole over a bra: it will smooth out bulges and is right in step with today’s fashion trend of layering clothing.
7. Give trendy stores like Victoria’s Secret a pass. They cater to younger women, with lots of plunge, skimpy and push-up bras. They also push bralets, which while very pretty, offer no real support. Go for brands that offer meticulous fit and construction without sacrificing style.
8. Consider a sleep bra. It will support your breasts and eliminate the vertical crease between your breasts. We carry the Nightlift bras, which were designed by a plastic surgeon. Women who try them say they’re terrifically comfortable and supportive. I also hear from customers who say they wake up in the morning with none of the usual soreness.
9. Embrace change! You may not have the body you had in your 20’s, but that doesn’t mean you’ve given up on looking and feeling great. Everyone has wrinklier, saggier or flabbier parts of their bodies as they age. But there are high-quality, well-made and beautifully designed bras that help you celebrate your body just as it is.
Helen Mirren photo source: L’Oreal