09/07/2013 09:44 EDT | Updated 11/06/2013 05:12 EST

How to Buy a Bra in Your 40s

I have spent many rainy Saturday afternoons lying in bed still wearing my pajamas from the night before, munching on carrots and watching reality makeover shows. First rule of any good makeover: you must get a proper-fitting bra.

A bra that fits for me, is one that can just keep everything in, despite the burning red marks on my shoulders or the pain. If everything is locked down, then we are good to go.

There comes some miraculous point in every woman's life, where the bra gods look down at you and designate a lifelong bra size. I would march into a lingerie shop (let's be honest: a department store) and ask the sales person for my designated size. And lo and behold, it would fit.

Year after year, seasons change, life moves on, but the bra size stays the same. At least in my mind. Lynda Barr, Director at Diane's Lingerie says otherwise.

"Any woman will be a different size depending on the brand of bra," she says. I could feel my world shifting as she continued to explain: "It is really dependent on a lot of factors; style, brand, materials. No woman should think she is the same size for every bra."

With one look Lynda sized me up and came back to the fitting room with a handful of bras. Lynda has been trained how to fit anyone from a size AA to N . As the straps glided over my swollen and crimson strap marked shoulders, I felt this sense of relief. The kind of relief you feel when you find the perfect boots and you know you will wear them for years to come, the day you pull on a pair of jeans that fit you just so.

Lynda revealed the top five tips for a perfect fitting bra (for any size):

  • If the bra has a wire, the wire should sit behind the breast (under the arm area)

  • The bra band provides the most support (not the straps)

  • If a bra fits properly you should be able to have the straps hang over the sides of your shoulders

  • The bra band and cups to completely support you

  • A woman should be fitted every year for a new bra (bras can lose shape or your shape changes)

I tried several other bra styles and the memory foam bra. Yes, like the mattresses, these bras will remember your shape and keep that shape over the lifetime of the bra. I loved how it supported and also was gentle on my shoulders. The biggest shocker (pleasantly) was when I pulled on a top over the shirt, I looked smoother, not just on top but my silhouette. At this point, I was a believer.

If the comfort of a proper fitting bra wasn't enough, this really changed me, "Breast health is an issue, if a bra is too tight and the underwire is not properly positioned behind the breast tissue, this could cause constriction of the lymph glands, also known as lymph nodes," says Lynda.

I confided to Lynda that on top of not having a proper fitting bra, I was guilty of storing my 'fancy' bras for some special occasion or fantastic date that was around the corner. Problem is, the lacy stuff just sits in the back of my drawer waiting to be worn. Like good china, I was reluctant to wear the dressier lingerie for anything short of my impending date with George Clooney. Lynda shared with me that women in Europe wear lacy bras under with anything, no special occasion needed. She told me the lovelier under things can brighten anyone's day.

So now I am a convert. Now after feeling how a properly fitted bra feels, there is no turning back. I will be wearing my French lace to the local grocery store, no more waiting for George to call.