The Great Bra Hunt: Introduction

Okay. Let me get the awkward part out of the way first. If you don’t want to read about bras and bra-fit, just skip this series. There will be real talk about breasts and breast-issues, and photos in most of these posts to show actual fit (not website models). I know that’s not a topic for everyone, and it makes me extremely nervous to put this sort of thing out (especially in photos!). But honestly, this is the series I wish I could find from someone else, so I’m taking the plunge and going through with this. Again, just skip this post and future posts if this isn’t for you. Each one will be clearly labeled.

There is no way to write this post without getting personal, so here goes. I am extremely large-busted. This goes no matter how heavy or thin my body is. At a thin weight, my cup size is still in the F/G/H range depending on brand, and I’ve had more than one mammogram technician over the years comment on the heaviness and density of my breast tissue. It is heavy enough that I can’t use a chest-strap heart rate monitor unless I am standing upright – leaning over even slightly causes the skin around my chest wall to pull outwards, disrupting the monitor’s ability to detect my heartbeat. At a lower/thinner weight, I can compensate somewhat for cup size with band size. A 38D fits similar enough to a 34F/G that I can reasonably wear a normalish bra.

This doesn’t work so well with plus sized bras. Not only is there much more weight to support in the breast tissue, but straight-size bodies aren’t built with the same proportions as overweight bodies, which aren’t built the same dimensions as obese bodies. And that’s not taking into account all the individual body types/shapes there are! In any case, the size I need – either 40G/H or 42F/G depending on brand, with 42G being most common – can’t be compensated for with a 44/46D bra. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work, not with the way bras are currently designed.

When I was thin enough, my favorite bra was the Victoria Secret Perfect Coverage bra (which I’m wearing in all three of the thinner photos above). While I still fit into their 40 band, they only go up to a DDD (F) size and only DD (E) in the 40 band. I can still wear the Perfect Coverage bra – or at least I could, until they discontinued the line awhile back – but there was uncomfortable bumpage around the cleavage area that I highly disliked since the cups were slightly too small. Plus the bras would wear out much too quick, which makes perfect sense given that they didn’t properly fit!

Okay. So I stopped dealing with the VS bras way back in late 2016, and have spent the last four years attempting to find decent bras. I’m just going to give a quick rundown of what I’ve tried and why they haven’t worked:

  • Lane Bryant: Most of my bras in this time have come from Lane Bryant, but they tend to lose support within a single week, plus their wires dig into my underarms painfully. I’ve tried their gel-wire ones also, but they also didn’t support me and were painful on my shoulders to wear. I slipped out of them while laying on my side, and they rode up or down constantly, leaving rashes under my breasts. (green dress photo above)
  • Torrid: I’ve had several Torrid bras over the years, and have several problems with them. The fit is nice, but the materials they use for the larger-cup-sized bras are scratchy and stiff. The boning on the sides leads to a lot of pinching and poking, as well as rashes in my armpit area. The band gets scrunched up under my heavy breasts and stiffens, leaving little wavy wrinkles to cause rashes much worse than Lane Bryant. (pink dress photo above)
  • Knix: Tried them back in the company’s early days when I just barely fit into their largest size. My breasts actually felt comfortable while wearing this bra, but it was a uniboob experience that did nothing to hide nipples and just let the breasts sag as if they weren’t in a bra at all. Made me very self-conscious.
  • TomboyX: This was as if I took the Knix bra, turned it into cotton, and added a band that crinkled like the Torrid bras. Sagging, nipple-showing, uniboob situation that caused chafing/rashes so bad that I’d have to go several weeks without a bra at all in order to heal. I wanted to love these, since I love the brand message, but they clearly weren’t right for my breasts. (pic at right)
  • Third Love: Despite these having memory foam (I’m allergic), I was desperate enough to try them. I went through their fit-finder and ordered two different bras (classic t-shirt and perfect coverage). At first, they seemed to fit well, and my favorite thing was that the underwires had some wiggle room so I could move them down from my armpits. Unfortunately, both bras lost all support within two months, and the fabric ripped on one in the first week. They were the best I’d found, but not worth the cost (or allergy issues). (light blue dress photo above)
  • Bramour: I ordered the Noho front-close bra and found it immediately comfortable except that the racerback design put a little too much pressure on my neck. (pic at right) So I ordered a second one from Bramour with a back-close design (no racerback), and though it was the same size, it didn’t fit at all. But that front close one was my favorite for about two months…until one day, as I was sitting down and completely inactive, the front clasp popped/broke in half. Apparently, the pins were made from cheap hollow aluminum! There was absolutely no strain on that bra when it popped. So that was out of the question, especially since it was a $75 bra…

There may have been others over the last four years, but those are the ones that come to mind. I’ve gone back and forth between trying to find wireless bras, to dealing with wired ones that pinch and hurt and scrape up my skin, to not wearing bras at all. And I’m sick of this crap.

So back in November, I decided to go on a Great Bra Hunt. Over the last couple months, I’ve ordered around 15 different bras from various brands. They’ve ranged in cost from $25 to $90 each. When each arrives, I try them on, and if I don’t like them immediately, they get returned. To be honest, I expect most of the ones I’ve ordered to go back. Several already have. But I’m going to keep going until I find bras I love, and I’m going to share this information publicly, because I know there are other plus-sized, large-busted women out there suffering from uncomfortable bras. It shouldn’t be that way. I’m on a personal mission to change that, at least for me, and if I can help others along the way, so be it!

Life is too short for uncomfortable bras. Let the Hunt begin!

***********
Notes:

1) If you have suggestions for good plus-size, large-cup, wireless bras, pass them along! I have some other brands saved up for potential trials if none of these work out, but you can never have too many recommendations. I prefer to hear good things word of mouth than relying on internet reviews!

2) This particular Bra Hunt is focused on wire-free bras. I refuse to wear wires anymore. They are uncomfortable with my heavy-tissue breasts that cause them to rub, scrape, and enflame my skin.

3) Thankfully I found decent sports bras for larger band/cup sizes a few years ago. I highly recommend the Glamorise Custom Control Wire-Free Sports Bra, which has a front panel that allows for different levels of support based on your activity. I own several of these and would never use another kind of sports bra.

(stock photo)

4) I have no affiliations with any bra brand, and any links I put up are for reference only. I don’t get any money or perks for linking out, and have not been in contact with any brand. If that changes – if some bra company wants me to give them a try for free or something (ha!) – I’ll note it in my post!

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in Personal, Wellness and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Great Bra Hunt: Introduction

  1. heatherd1018 says:

    Highly recommend giving Soma a try. They are a bit pricey but they have sales often (they have one going on right now) and the stuff is very high quality in my opinion. I checked their sizing before sending this message and it looks like they go well past the sizes you mentioned. Good luck šŸ™‚

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    • Amanda says:

      I just tried my first Soma today! Unfortunately, the band caused a lot of chafing within two hours of wear, so it needs to be returned. My skin is just so sensitive! Otherwise, I loved the fabric. Makes me think I might be able to try a wired one from them at some point!

      Like

      • heatherd1018 says:

        Aw that’s too bad. They have a TON of styles though so maybe post-pandemic if you have a store near you, you might be able to try some other options. I totally get having sensitive skin! I have red marks under my boobs almost all of the time and it is so annoying and frustrating. WHY does it have to be this way?! I have some calvin klein bralettes I got that are relatively comfortable but not very supportive. Since I’m totally work from home right now I’ve been wearing those most of the time, which has been very comfortable.

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      • Michelle says:

        I was just going to recommend Soma as well. I would recommend going into the store. They are SO helpful, plus they take old bras and recycle them for you so you don’t have to throw them out. There are so many options available too, with multiple fabrics. I’ve tried almost everything out there as well, and I keep coming back to Soma. Their Vanishing Bra line is amazing!

        I have also fallen in love with MeUndies bralettes. They are so comfortable, and depending on the style you get, there is no uniboob. They do tend to run a bit small, but for a bralette, they offer a surprising amount of support.

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      • Amanda says:

        I’ll definitely go try a Soma store when I can. There are a few on the other side of town and I’ve had at least three recommendations for it from friends.

        As for MeUndies, sadly they don’t make them in my size. I can get the band my size, but they only go up to fittings for E cup and I would need much bigger! Boo.

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  2. kay says:

    I don’t have any recommendation, but I relate a lot to your post as I also went on a Great Bra Hunt last November. Bras really are the most annoying piece of clothing to shop for! I found a calculator online, realized my actual size was way off and ordered new bras, and it felt like a revelation. I’m still not quite there yet but it makes a crazy difference.

    Like

    • Amanda says:

      I had that ah-ha moment a few years back – thought I was supposed to be in a D or DD cup for the longest time and wondered why they didn’t fit properly. When I figured out that I was meant to be in a G cup, I was astounded. Of course, each bra calculator online has a different technique, which doesn’t help. I’ve literally been told that I’m anywhere from a 48A to a 38K… (Neither of which would fit me. A-cup, are you kidding??)

      Like

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  4. Chandrani says:

    Nice post!I am yet to find a bra that is actually comfortable!

    Like

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