Quantcast

Thursday, January 20, 2011

86

Bra Shopping for Busty Women in Denial

I don't picture myself as having breasts. When I create an image of myself in my head, the girl I see is the prettiest combination of short, pale, nerdy, and awkward that I can possibly conjure. She's thin, but not sickly; adorable, but not asexual. While she isn't totally flat-chested, her breasts are sort of a nonentity — they're there, but you don't really think about them. In my head, I am Natalie Portman.

While we share all of the pale/short/nerdy characteristics, there is a major area in which Natalie and I differ. She's a woman who's already so thin that losing ten pounds made her seem fragile enough for us to believe she's the Prettiest, Most Perfect Ballerina Ever. Meanwhile, I'm nervously hoping that I don't gain the last eight pounds that separate my "normal" from "overweight" on the BMI scale. Natalie Portman is the bra industry; my reality is 32F.

Coming to terms with my horrifically large breasts has not been a fun process. In my mind, I am a skinny pixie; in reality, I carry around an absurd surplus of flesh on my top half and an only slightly less absurd one on the bottom. Tiny-busted girls, I know you might feel a twinge of jealousy, but trust me, there's nothing fun about hearing your shoulder blades make noises that would typically merit a can of WD-40. Let's all unite in hating the B- and C-cups, for whom Planet Boob is seemingly designed.

Thanks to my "endowment," I had all of the requisite fun times. Gym-class mockery. Being squeezed into ill-fitting contraptions by commission-hungry Victoria's Secret drones who were secretly praying that I didn't know bras weren't instruments of pain. Trying on the smallest feasible size at Target, in the hope that puberty wasn't being as cruel as I hoped. If womanhood was rehab, I was Amy Winehouse.

But I've managed to develop a system. And after reading so many comments on Bonnie's foam-bra screed, in which my fellow full-busted sisters bemoaned the lack of good non-padded options, I feel obliged to share this system, and my feelings on bra-purchasing for large-busted ladies.

1. It's not your fault. If you're feeling like a freak, you're not alone. Bra sizes have risen from an average of 36C to 36DD in the past decade. And it's not just America: in the same decade, British women went from 34B to 36C. A lot of this is attributable to the overall fattening of both nations, but pound gain doesn't always equal cup gain — and many women aren't overweight, but are still obscenely top-heavy. Other potential causes: implants; the Pill; hormones in factory-farmed food; hormones secreted into water supplies by contraceptives.

2. Vicky is dead to you. This is the oft-questioned "secret": V. (um, duh, she's an alien) advertises with models who wear your cup size, but doesn't actually sell bras that fit them. In all matters relating to your top half, scorch her from the earth. (Her undies are cute, though.) This also goes for your old pals Gap, Target, et al. They are mass-market and your tits are not. At least you can still get socks pretty cheap?

3. Not only are they big, they're bigger than you think. Because the "weird" sizes (below 34 band, above D cup, etc.) aren't normally carried in stores, getting fitted for a "real" bra can be a horrifying process for those (um, all) of us who once thought DD to be the biggest non-surgical size available. The lettering system swerves wildly between American (D, DD, DDD, DDDD, DDDDD) and European (D, E, F, G, H). Neither choice is good: either you're faced with near-incomprehensible size letters, or you've been classified by a guy who was probably so enthralled with big tits that he forgot the alphabet after letter four.

Do measure, though. You might not be the size you think you are, especially if you're pretty close: a lot of 34Ds are much happier once they try their first 32E. If you have a cloth tape measure, the Internet can help set you straight on sizing. But if you're really clueless, or just lazy, go to the fanciest department store in town (Nordstrom, Nieman's, Dillard's, Bloomie's, Saks, et al), have the saleswoman bring you every bra in the place until you find one that feels insanely comfortable, and gird yourself to be totally impervious to anything that doesn't fit you like a second skin. (I did this; after the first 12 bras, the words "That looks like it was made for you" were uttered by a saleswoman for the first time in my natural life.) This first bra will cost you $80, but now you'll know a brand and a size that are just right, and Google has your back from here on out.

4. British ladies have it right. They've lobbied for decent bras, in weird sizes, in non-matronly designs, and by God, they've gotten them. My favorite bra brand, by far, is a British line called Fantasie. Their motto is "for women who are full-busted but not full-figured." If you are a certain size of lady, you may have just heard choirs of angels singing in your head.

Not only do they have a perfectly feminine, sexy, and lacy regular line (with a few beige-foam concessions for those who hate joy), they also have a junior line, named Freya, which is totally the morally compromised Skipper to Fantasie's proper-but-smokin' Barbie. Freya sells some bras that are completely inadvisable, including a see-through black bra embroidered with neon-green and baby-blue stitching, offered in up to a G cup. I own two of that one.

Other bra brands I have tried and found worth buying: Chantelle, Elle Macpherson (she runs small on both cup and strap size, though), Lunaire, Wacoal (but note #5). I've never tried Frederick's of Hollywood or Felina, but some people like them. The Brits also have Marks & Spencer and Bravissimo; you can place a web order, but shipping is pretty steep.

Oprah has gotten behind this brand Le Mystere, specifically a model they make called the Dream Tisha. I can't speak for the rest of their line, but do not buy the Dream Tisha. It is foam city, and not even a comfortable iteration, at that. Also, the Oprah imprimatur means you're far less likely to find this brand on sale.

5. Minimizers aren't a good idea. Wacoal is a company that makes a line of pretty ugly bras in respectably busty sizes. They are comfortable, but a good chunk of their line is minimizers. While these sound awesome in theory, here is what they are: breast-pancaking modules. Your boobs will not stick out as far in front, but they will more than make up for it with added volume on the side. A well-fitting normal bra, sans foam, is actually the best minimizer. You may want one actual-factual minimizer in your bra toolkit, but it will only solve a handful of your total gapeage/stick-out-age problems.

Bonus note: For $5-10, tailors will put a little hidden metal snap in between those two shirt buttons that are ALWAYS FUCKING OPENING. This tip has changed my life.

6. GOOD LORD, THE MONEY. Yes, all the prices are nuts. But there are loopholes. Fantasie and Freya are established entities in England, established enough to have factory outlet stores. People on eBay buy the unworn stock from those stores and sell it. Type in either brand name with your bra size (searching both the U.S. and U.K. letterings behooves you), and you can usually get good bras in your mailbox for under $40, including shipping.

Also, you stand to benefit from my personal theory, the Rich Lady Rule. The RLR, as I see it, is the following: at any time, every expensive department store needs to be prepared for two different rich ladies with yoga-toned torsos and huge fake breasts to wander into its lingerie department for a bender. If they do come, the store ensures that it keeps their business in other arenas. If they don't, the store sends the useless stock to a discounter.

Every time I see a Nordstrom Rack or Filene's Basement and can make a quick stop, I immediately hit the bra section and hunt for the five-or-fewer offerings in my size. They're not always my perfect ideal of a bra, but they're usually the right mix of inexpensive and attractive to merit buying, with plenty of non-foam models. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx have also yielded results, though less consistently than the fancy-pants discounters. It is not a simple process, but combined with eBay (which also gets some of its stock from these places) and department-store sales, it is possible to pull together a decent wardrobe for about $25-30 per bra.

Also: be sure to hand-wash those suckers, and never wear the same one two days in a row.

7. Sports bras. You might have to spring for the full market price on one of these, but considering that it's probably your greatest tool for exercising both comfortably and with minimum eventual sag, $60 isn't so much to ask. BareNecessities, HerRoom, and other bra sites offer them in actual cup sizes, with legitimate separation between the boobs. (Mine is a Freya, and is probably their single non-slutty offering.) Incidentally, if you're above a D, lack of uniboob is a non-negotiable in sports-bra purchasing.

8. Swimsuits. Still a total nightmare; godspeed.

9. Strapless. Also fucked.

Even with these guidelines, it's not a fun time. I have a few mental exercises that help me feel as good as possible about the whole breast situation. For example, I have made Christina Hendricks my spirit animal. Reading the gleeful comments about her bust that appear alongside every article is a real picker-upper.
Another one: There is a whole quadrant of every clothing store that I can't buy, and I try to see that as a good thing. Were I able to shop in that sector, my wardrobe would consist largely of ensembles scientifically proven to embarrass me in a decade or less. Backless lace rompers?

Allie Pape lives in San Francisco, where Nordstrom Rack is conveniently located right next to Trader Joe's.

Tomorrow: I'm 27 and I Love My Training Bra.

Photo via FunnyPotato

86 Comments / Post A Comment

saythatscool

Glad you got that off your chest but don't you think you're making mountains out of molehills? I for one, wish to offer you my support but I don't want to nurse a massive divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Oh look! Fish in a barrel.

Edith! Fetch my shotgun.

MoonBat

Coolie, you're nuts! Why would you want to prick the balloon of hope that Allie holds out for the busty ladies? You're endowed with a vocabulary of enviable size, but poking fun, via your metaphors, is sort of a dick move, dontcha think? ;-}

spacein

notcool- I can't believe how insensitive and out of context you are. Personally, i've had girls my whole life saying i shouldn't dislike having large breasts cuz i'm "soo lucky" and they wish they had them, but really, they don't have to deal with the back pain, the discomfort in every day activities, difficulty finding cute clothes that don't come out looking either like a floozy or a nun. and if you don't have the right bra, you are uncomfortable and/or worried that it wont stay on right all day long. You make a rude comment, but she's just expressing the daily frustration of us women who have to deal with this shit. your an idiot.

EleanorRigby

I'll offer you the same comforting words my friend who has worked with Victoria's Secret models gave me, a fellow in denial busty person: they are all 32Bs (max, except for Marisa Miller), shoved into 32A's with tons of padding and some great airbrush makeup to make them look that busty. They don't wear your cup size.

winchesterwolcott

Was gonna say the same thing, but with no second-hand knowledge. They just don't look that big. Smoooshed yes.

nzle

LOVE THIS POST ALL OF IT SO MUCH

swimsuits: after an adolescence of wearing the awful tankini-with-installed-elastic things that my mother would fix up for me, i discovered aerin rose -- http://www.aerinrose.com/. the prints are really ugly, to be honest, but as long as you get a solid color the fit is GRRREAT.

i'm a 30F and i have an XS halter bikini top. it fits adorably, not sluttily, and i've worn it all day with minimal back/neck pain from all that boob weight hanging from my neck.

bonus for new yorkers: they often send out emails for fittings at which you take home a free swimsuit after trying it on for them!

punzy

@nzle Yay! another place I can look for swimsuits! Thanks. Also, bravissimo has really nice swimsuits. They are expensive but fit when you are 32G, which is a nice change.

nzle

PS my solution to wanting to wear backless lace rompers is to find that rare beast, the bra for huge breasts with only 2 hook-and-eyes on its skinny band, and embrace that sex and the city season where SJP's bra strap was visible under her strapless/backless/whatever dress all the time. you know? that season?

EggsErroneous

Thank you for the qualified alternatives. I have been bemoaning my foam collection and wearing out my non-foam collection. 29" waist, 34DD boobs. Hate. Bra. Shopping. Single? Maybe...

stalkingcat

For sports bras for the over D crowd, Enell sports bras are AWESOME. There is absolutely no movement even at a full sprint. They also last for years (if you take care of them).

Shopping for a sports bra at 40DD was odd. I didn't want to stop "the jiggle". I wanted to stop giving myself CPR when jogging. My Enell is a life saver. The first time you put it on you feel like your chest is compressed, but after rearranging everything, it works great.

madamvonsassypants

Why have I acquiesced to the sub-par, cookie cutter, broken promises of Victoria's Shitty Secret all these years? I'm somewhere in the vicinity of a 38D/36DD, and the last time I went to VS to get measured they were slightly baffled that my tits are big but the width of my upper torso ain't so much.

Upon these two boob-binding articles I've realized I've been living with bad foam bras far too long. My cups of tolerance runneth over! Wait... does that mean I'm more or less tolerant now? Fuck these puns.

Thanks for the liberating insight. Chest bump props.

insouciantlover

I *thought* I was a 38D or a 36DD and as it turns out I'm a 34FF. Don't believe their lies!!!

winchesterwolcott

They just give you whatever size they have. Seriously, I never let those bitches near my boobs. I once heard this lady arguing/pleading with a 16 year old over sizing. They just wouldn't bring her the right size even though she knew what it was. It was insane. They cannot comprehend that someone can be a 32 and a cup bigger than a B. It doesn't exist in their world. Same thing for someone who is a 34 or 36 and over DD.

heb
heb

This is true! Another reason to beware Victoria's Secret - they will NOT size you correctly. I'm a 32D, they said "Here, try this! It's a 38B!"

quonky

These VS comments totally just gave me a flashback. I'm 34DD and when I got married was gifted a $500 Victoria Secret gift card "for a fun honeymoon." Sweet gesture, nightmare shopping experience.

None of their "special occasion" lingerie goes above C. So, the saleslady kept bringing me woefully too small bras and insisting I try them on. When I argued that this was a waste of time because I am NOT that size do you know what she said to me? "Oh, hun, just buy the Cs. Men love it when you're popping right out." Whaaaaat!?

For the first time in my life I had a "I demand to speak to the manager" moment. And guess what? She WAS the manager!

Soooo, there I was on my honeymoon with my usual underthings and $500 worth of flip flops and sneakers from victoriasecret.com

insouciantlover

Freya makes swimsuits! Gorgeous swimsuits that fit well with tops that aren't halter, but are shaped like bras without LOOKING like bras, swimsuits that you put on and realize most of your breasts are covered and then you romp through the sand without worrying about your bosoms flying out.

Allie Pape

I did not know this! Day officially made!

Lili L.

Yes to Freya! They changed my non-swimsuit-wearing beach life. And Title 9 carries sports bras that actually wrangled this 32D chest into statuary. I'm serious. I understood, for the first time, what it must be like for dudes to run and just ... run, without wobbly things hurting them. It was a revelation.

Bonnie Downing

"for those who hate joy" !!!!

Antlers

8. Swimsuits. Still a total nightmare; godspeed.

No shit. "Oh hey, do you have this swimsuit in an XXXL top and a M bottom? No? Thanks anyway..."

insouciantlover

I recommend Freya... their swimsuit tops are sized like bras.

Antlers

Also, thank you for this article.

Lily Hudson

This read started out bumpy for me (I bristle at having my body described indirectly as "horrific' and 'absurd' because it took AGES for me to stop feeling that way, too, Allie!) but then she sewed it up. Nice bras totally changed my body image -- there, I said it. Go to Nordstrom and get a super expensive, French bra. Get the one you want, the pretty, comfortable one in a nice color, cause you're worth it. Then when you put it on, think about what a fucking fox you are. This has worked for me like I cannot even tell you.

Allison Davis

**I got a fantastic strapless bra at Fredrick's of Hollywood. Counterintuitive, but if you think about it, they're catering to tiny ladies with huge fake tits that are on their feet all day. They also have good heels!

Also, great article. A friend who worked at a french lingerie shop took one look at my chest 5 years ago and commented, "you're not wearing the right size". She was completely right and I have never looked back

Eeee

As a former busty woman in denial (also 32F), I have had similar findings and some more to share. My most recent and triumphant finding is a french bra company called Marie Jo. They have a great contemporary line called L'Aventure. They run about $90, but are really simple, comfortable, and chic. For swimwear, I like Figleaves.com. It's a British company that sells different brands of bras and they have their own line of swimwear that is pretty affordable.

itsureiswindy

another good company (unsurprisingly british) is bravissimo. they make bras as well as swimsuits, and they also make dresses and button down shirts specifically designed to not be a horrible nightmare.

http://www.bravissimo.com/default.aspx

dr.funke

Fantasie, word. Also, Lunaire.

theinvisiblecunt

I struggled to imagine a world in which enormous titties aren't championed every which way you turn, but I'm guessing it's located in the same alternate reality where Natalie Portman is nerdy and awkward.

And if there are seriously women who were only able to realize that people flip their wigs over huge racks upon the recent emergence of Christina Hendricks as 50s throwback sex symbol, they probably live the WASPiest existence imaginable, just sayin'

Allie Pape

Natalie Portman is a secret nerd! She was an Intel Science Fair semifinalist. Listen to her laugh:

http://www.asylum.co.uk/2011/01/17/natalie-portman-s-geeky-golden-globes-giggle-is-the-cutest-thing/

HarrietB

Errrrmmm....so we aren't supposed to wear the same bras two days in a row. Does that make me disgusting?

hungrybee

It's more about elastic preservation. I try to adhere to this rule, but I fail. Sisters in disgustingness!

Allie Pape

It actually doesn't have anything to do with cleanliness-- not wearing the same bra two days in a row helps the elastic bounce back a little, which means you don't stretch the bra out as quickly and it lasts longer. I force myself to not repeat because bras cost so much money, but my will definitely weakens when it comes to repeating, say, pants.

twistedspinster

Tip for full busted ladies shopping for sports bras - Title 9 sports has great reviews, but a substandard return policy. Read the reviews, then find the bras on Bare Necessities or elsewhere. HerRoom has a great selection (and occasionally puts brands like Chantelle and Wacoal on sale), but a mediocre return policy/process. BN is the easiest large bra retailer I've found in terms of returns, low shipping costs, and selection.

One comment about Wacoal's minimizers - some of them are indeed ugly (or just plain), but I've actually had great luck with fit - my everyday bras are minimizers that don't honestly do a ton of minimizing, but are terrifically comfortable and supportive on me.

I do love Fantasie - I don't own any right now, but they are just lovely and amazingly well constructed.

myguitarplaysit

I agree with you on pretty much all of this however, Fantasie makes strapless bras, however they are foam for the fact that they need to support more weight. You can sometimes find these on ebay at more reasonable prices. Also, I believe Panache has strapless bras, but I personally haven't tried any. Lastly, there are specialty stores that sell bathing suits for bustier women. I only know of one in Santa Cruz at the moment, but that gives me hope. Also, if you go to websites such as biggerbras.com, you can often find swim suits for your particular size, and considering they're made for larger chested women, they don't tend to have the halters(which just pull on your neck more than you'd like). Hope this helped!

Allie Pape

Thank you for the tips! What is the name of the Santa Cruz swimsuit store? I am down there every once in a while, as I live in SF.

myguitarplaysit

I think it's called Nubia Swimwear. It's been awhile since I last went, but their website includes a section for "hard to find sizes". It's been almost 4 years since I went there last, but it's in Capitola, which is fairly close, so maybe I got confused about its location. Nonetheless, it's on 112 Capitola Avenue, Capitola, California. If you want to call before you trek down, their number is(831) 476-1435. Hope this helps.

myguitarplaysit

Also, I don't know if you checked out biggerbras.com, but they have some cute stuff in your size- http://www.biggerbras.com/catalog/bras-lingerie-swimwear.cfm?sstype=Women|Swimwear|Top&sssize=97&ssbrand=&sscolor=&stock=0&price=&offer=

LoveDoll

I created an account just so I could post this. When it comes to sports bras I absolutely adore Shock Absorber but http://www.lessbounce.com/ has a big variety of bras that go all the way to HH. The site's British but if you don't want to order from them at least you get a pretty good idea of what's out there. Now as far as every day bras go, http://www.brastop.com/ has a very large selection at discount prices and they have sales fairly often plus they have a lovely selection of swimsuits all the way to a size K. They also have strapless bras although they don't carry my favourite which is Wonderbra's Ultimate Strapless Bra since it goes only up to an F cup (which is my size). Oh and my favourite bra brand is Curvy Kate, it isn't as big as Fantasie or Panache but their bras are gorgeous and so very comfortable.

firespinner526

My favorite brand is Chantelle. No question. So comfortable and pretty. And for us bigger bigger-breasted girls, Lane Bryant just started carrying F,G, and H sizes. Not too many styles or nearly as comfortable as the French or British bras, but a hell of a lot cheaper.

Helvetica

I have to say, I was in bra hell until La Senza opened a store in my country and I've been in paradise since then. of course, I don't have access to any of the good stores mentioned here but as a 34DD I find myself sometimes still disappointed that lingerie manufacturers don't understand the need to stock bigger numbers. I mean, there are loads of local clothing makers who also carry gorgeous lingerie but when their largest cup size is a C, I can deny all I want but I will not fit into that. So yeah, La Senza pretty much saved me but sometimes I wish I could walk into another lingerie store and not be disappointed that there aren't big sizes or they only come in granny design.
P.S. I found my perfect swimsuit at a sport's store, I think it's Nike and it fits me so perfectly. It cost a lot but the investment's more than worth it. And for my bikini, I also used La Senza because they make them in real bra cup sizes not in a vague S/M/L that tells you nothing.

Heidi

Pregnancy has increased my bra size from something fairly proportional to something totally off the chain crazy-sauce. 4 months in, I've out grown cup sizes twice while my band size first shrunk then stayed the same. Which is all to say, thank god for these tips, because otherwise I'd waste my future child's college fund on new bras for the next 5 months.

Mrs. Brown's Lovely Daughter

@Heidi Oh man I'm right there with you (7 months later). I'm sure I wasn't in the right size before.. probably needed a smaller band and larger cup, but I didn't realize just how out of the range of normal I was until a friend sent me a link for an alternative way of measuring bra sizes. It completely explains why it took me 3 hours in a department store to find a bra that sort of fit.. and now I know really really doesn't fit. *sigh* a couple more weeks before the girls level out and I can attempt to get something that REALLY fits.

FYI to anyone looking for nursing bras in high cup sizes that aren't ugly: HOTmilk is an awesome brand looks-wise. I haven't been able to try any yet, as I'm still not quite sure what my size exactly is.

flooooon

OMG are you me? No, seriously, you have the same bra size/imaginary self-image--I frikken love Natalie Portman. Anyway, can we PLEASE somehow get together and create an American store that actually carries a range of sizes?

Where I live there is one store that I can go to which actually does carry a variety of bra sizes (thank the heavens!). I'm trying to change my friends & family's image of how bras should fit... I'm making progress in some areas, but I think some people simply want to believe that they are a 36C when their torso is like half the size of mine. My 16 year-old sister is pretty much case in point here.

I tend to get dirty looks from her every time I let it slip out that I hate Vikki's secret........

themegnapkin

Skip Nordstrom, get measured at a specialty lingerie shop. I just got measured a few days ago, and apparently I'm a 28F, and now finally comfortable. Victoria's Secret had me in a 34C.

There are tons of girls out there with tiny rib cages. Why does the industry standard start at 34???!

kumquatmay

Nyc ladies, get thee to orchard corset where the very. Nice orthodox man will take one look at you and give you bras in the right size. And they are cheap! They always have some good deal on wacoals.

Online I strongly reccomend www.breakoutbras.com. she carries a smaller selection, but her fitting method is the only accurate one I've seen (none of this add inches shit to your band measurement), and every bra style has a comment about the fit: this runs large in band and small in cup, etc.

She was a motherfing godsend after I had my son and the goddamn medela nursing bras that are everywhere were driving me crazy. Its nearly impossible to find underwire nursing bras, but omg they are the BEST. Especially if you're at a 36 G to H.

Bonnie Downing

I go to Orchard corset too. They are accurate, the bras are high-quality and discounted, and the experience gives you a good story to tell.
But their selection varies wildly and if you don't like something you're offered there is sometimes pressure to understand that you really do like/need it.

kumquatmay

oh, yeah, you need to be super pushy at Orchard Corset. At one point at my last visit there was a three way shout/conversation going on.

Me: I don't like the padded straps
lady helper: She doesn't like the padded straps!
Orthodox guy: Whaddya mean she doesn't like the padded straps!
Me: I don't like em! And I want a lower cut.
lh: she wants the sexy bras!
Orthodox guy: the what?
lh: the sexy ones!
OG: ok ok ok I hear you! Try these.

Edabelle

Totally feel your pain. I was diagnosed as a 30DD (after years as a 34D) by the kind people at Bra Tenders (icky name) in NYC. Highly recommended. Now I buy all my bras online at Bare Necessities. It's the only place I can find anything attractive in my freakish size. For bathing suits, try Aerin Rose. I got a gorgeous DD cup maillot from them last summer.

Shopping for a wedding dress was a nightmare. It is so hard these days to find a non-strapless wedding gown, and none of the bridal salesladies I encountered could understand why that might be a problem for someone with a body like mine.

Autumn

For the busty woman who wants to go strapless, I have only one word:

Corsets.

Beautiful, well-made, sexy corsets. If it's sized right and sits correctly on the body, it can improve your posture and reduce back pain as well as give you a more Hendricks-y silhouette (you know, if you like that sort of thing).

Make sure you get quality, though, none of those plastic bone and frothy lace contraptions from Hot Topic. A few tips for the top-heavy lady when buying corsets:

1) Overbust corsets are for the boobs and waist. Underbust are for just the waist.

2) Steel bones are best, full-stop. Look for "spiral steel" which better conforms to your own shape.

3) Invest in a quality, durable material. Brocade silk is a good standard, but denim, leather or vinyl can work for the daring.

4) Always get a sweetheart neckline. Straight-cut corsets are for smaller-chested women looking for lift. We don't need any help in that department.

5) Metal busks are the best corset closers. Zippers are decent if you don't pull too tightly, but if you're ever in the mood for some serious waist definition, they can tear.

So Google around, do some research, and then go here: www.corsetwholesale.com. You'll be showing off those gorgeous shoulders in no time.

PS: For swimsuits, vintage repro shops are a good bet. I especially like www.pinupgirlclothing.com.

Other Alice

Super late, but a question about the pinupgirlclothing. Super cutes bathing suits, but they use the usual "small, medium, large" sizing that leaves disproportionately busty ladies out. On their size chart, I am a L, S, and XS simultaneously. Any tips on how to work that out?

veeerules

Freya has some very cute, retro-looking suits and separates with bra sizes. Usually only affordable on ebay!
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/BNWT-NEW-Freya-Darling-Harbour-Halter-Swimsuit-VARIOUS-/390197361641?pt=Women_s_Clothing&var=&hash=item99ab41cec9

bessbrowning

My 36G breast will be my ultimate downfall. I once had a saleswoman at Saks look me up and down BEFORE I EVEN ASKED FOR HELP and told me, "We don't carry your size here." I haven't been able to find any specialty shops in my area so I'm contently relying on Nordstroms to help me out. Thanks for everyone's great website recommendations.

Mrs. Brown's Lovely Daughter

@bessbrowning At least she admitted it. Every store I've been to recently (since accepting that I'm greater than normal in that area) has tried to stuff me into something completely wrong just because it's what they carry.

sheistolerable

I have an appointment at a fancy bra store in Chicago tomorrow and I'm very excited to read all these tips! Another one I've heard but never put into practice: buy a band that fits on the last hook so as the band stretches, you can actually tighten it. Genius.

Allie Pape

Major points for mentioning the using-the-last-hook strategy, which I forgot! It's another thing that helps them last longer and fit correctly. Start on the last hook and work your way in.

natsw

I'm in the UK and have been a loyal Bravissimo shopper since the early days. Fantasie used to be my favourite bras but although it was a joy to have a bra that finally fitted me I did find that my boobs were pushed apart and knocked into my arms! My favourite brand is now Panache. Really pretty bras in fantastic colours (as well as the usual boring but necessary ones) and also a nice line in bikinis and swimsuits. Like everyone else I was previously wearing completely the wrong size - a 40DD until I discovered I was actually a 36H. Thank goodness for Bravissimo who have literally changed the shopping landscape for the bigger-boobed women of this country,

sreilly23

For all those chiquitas with busty bodies, J. Crew has some great options. You can buy sizes that are cusom made for size D and possibly DD (can't remember about that). Also, they have ones with all kinds of straps, aka: halter, bra-like, 50's strapless with the tiny halter straps, basically all sorts of types for different kinds of bodies. They're a bit pricey, but for one good bathing suit, it's worth it.

Other Alice

Coming in SUPER late here, but I respectfully disagree. I bought one of their "D cup" bikini tops online. When it showed up it didn't fit. At all. So I compared it to my roommate's B cup bra with the same band size as me and ... perfect match. Maybe I got a defective one, but I was pretty bummed.

sheistolerable

I had the same experience with J. Crew, bought the D cup and was constantly popping out. Now Intimacy in Chicago has diagnosed me as an F so there you go . . . but they don't offer anything larger! And their stuff is so cute! *sigh*

Another rant, they change the colors from season to season so if you only needed to replace half your suit (my towel bled onto my bikini bottom in the laundry) you're SOL.

Toleda

Soma.com (which is somehow associated with, meh, Chicos) has a decent selection of $45-ish basic bras with a bunch of 32dd models, and larger cups from 34 up. They're not gorgeous, but there is virtually always some kind of discount deal or another--register with them and go through ebates.com to the website for an extra couple of bucks off. They also do many markdowns. They're changing them constantly, so keep an eye on the site. The bras are not sized absolutely consistently. I called them before ordering, and the CSR swore up and down that using there sizing guide would yield a bra that fit. I had the CSR agree that if a bra didn't fit, they would refund shipping and pay for the return. Good thing, too--I ordered 3 full coverage bras and each fit differently. One just had a smaller band, which wasn't an issue, one fit, and one was way off. Soma also makes a nice tightly woven mesh panty that is almost always available for under $3-5. No boyshorts, but decent hipster and bikini cuts.

Hilary Vreeland HolisticHealth

Thank you for this manifesto! So true! Finding a non-Victoria's Secret bra that actually fits me has changed my life–and my wardrobe–for the better. I have good swimsuit and strapless tips:

Swimsuits: I get cute Freya ones that fit me perfectly from BiggerBras.com

Strapless: My strapless is by Fantasie. It looks like a boat, not unlike this post's pic, but it works!

I go to the store Intimacy, which now has a ton of locations all over the US. They have free alterations, which is really great since my band size is a 31. You can also take your bras in and they'll take the band in once it starts to stretch. Happy shopping, busty ladies =)

butters_mom

As a large busted lady (34G), I've had trouble with swimsuits for a long time till I somehow ended up on the mailing list for Athleta. Athleta.com (now owned by Gap I think) offers swimsuits in C-DD and their DD actually fit. They have underwire, are supportive and provide enough coverage. Plus, they don't just offer halters, which honestly by the end of the day on the beach holding up 10+ pounds kill my neck. I got a ton of different swimsuits from them and am really pleased. I'd say their bottoms run large too. (Size 10 with a decent sized rump and I am definitely a medium or else I risk a scene like the Coppertone kid coming out of the water).

veeerules

Created an account just because of this article. Great advice, most of which I have learned from years of experience. I hit DD at 16; at 30 I am a 32GG. I'm glad others have commented on the swimsuits! It is possible thanks to the wonderful Brits. I also hate the Dream Tisha (from Le Mystere), but I love Fantasie's t-shirt bras. The lining is not so thick, and and doesn't lose it's shape or get weird bumps after washing. The moulded style can help camouflage when cold, so do DIMRs (try herroom.com).
Try http://www.bravissimo.com for great swimwear, bras, and even CLOTHES FOR BUSTY LADIES!!
http://www.brastop.com for sale prices on D-K cups

I sound like an advertisement, but I thought I'd share what has helped me! Great post and fantastic comments - thanks everyone!

Chelsea Kristina Liddy

You and I are the exact same size. I am so happy I am not alone, literally everything you said about your bra shopping experience is spot-on.

I feel like as soon as I get a decent bra collection going, I go up a size. I thought I was a 34DD last year (GRR Victoria's Secret) until I was professionally fitted at the ONE BRA STORE 25 MILES AWAY THAT CARRIES MY SIZE...

And yeah, bikini shopping is a crap-shoot.

Thanks for making me feel better about my huge gazongas.

j. preposterice

I think folks have covered most of what I usually say about bras. I usually wear either a 30JJ or a 32J, depending on how the band size runs, so as you can guess I have done a lot of searching over the years. I have 2 things I'd like to mention particularly: sports bras and nursing bras.

My favorite sports bras are the Freya Active and the Shock Absorber Level 4 D+ (runs quite small in the band, so a 34 at their largest cup size is what I wear) -- these I've used for rugby and running. I think the Freyas are better than the SAs but I love them both. A lot of folks recommend Enells, and those are *great* if you are under an F cup, I find. If you have a very large cup with a small band, you will fall out of the bottom of an Enell big enough to go around your breasts. Sad but true!

Nursing: when I was nursing my kid, I actually sized out of the largest manufactured nursing bra. It was somewhat less than awesome. MANY people will recommend the Bravado bra for this, but these are pretty much useless if you are over a DD cup. They *claim* to work up to, I think, a G cup, but this is a dirty lie; they just get overall larger and then you fall out the bottom or over the top. Here is my summation of the larger-cup nursing bra makers...
- Goddess. Comfortable, runs small in band. Limited availability over F cup.
- Fancee Free. I thought the shoulder straps were set really wide; I have narrow shoulders and they kept falling off. Really ugly. Worked fine, was comfy aside from strap issue.
- Royce. These gave my boobs a VERY WEIRD shape, like...flattened sideways-pointing triangles. Has the largest cup size range, but runs a touch small in the cup.

What I ended up living in was Decent Exposures bras. These are custom-made and not cheap. You can get nursing flaps put on, but I found that I could nurse just fine in their regular bras. They will also do all KINDS of custom things to your bra, camisole, etc. -- email their customer service and ask! Now, every so often, I put in a batch order with a bunch of bras & cami-bras with all my favorite modifications, and a few weeks later, there they are at my door! They are BUTT UGLY bras, the ugliest I have ever seen in my entire life, but PERFECT. Comfy enough to sleep in but supportive enough that I know women who wear them to white-collar jobs; sometimes in the summer I forgo a "real" bra and a shirt entirely and just wear my cami-bras around.

kumquatmay

for nursing bras, Anita makes them in F and I think G cups in both underwire and non-underwire. (and thank god because otherwise I'd have been SCREWED).

sparrow303

I actually like Vicky's secret bras in their lightly-lined iteration for my 38Ds, but had a terribly embarrassing experience trying to find anything remotely resembling "fancy" lingerie there. Never again!
As far as bathing suits go, I found a lovely one at LL Bean, of all places. You have to order early because by summer they'll be sold out. And I've got a swim-team-style thing for swimming laps and bleaching to death in my local pool, which surprisingly I have been told is flattering.

Diane77

I am a 30FF and am so thankful that I live in the UK!! Here we have such a great variety of beautiful bras which are sexy and not the typical 'over the shoulder boulder holders' normally associated with big boobs! I was so surprised on a visit to the US that the choice of bras for sizes bigger than a D cup was so limited. Surely this is a fantastic retail opportunity for someone!

I love Freya bras and swimwear. Last summer I also got a great bandeau bikini from figleaves (www.figleaves.com) and some fantastic bikinis from cheaky beach (www.cheakybeach.com). The cheeky beach bikinis are expensive but they regularly have decent sales on so you can sometimes get them at 50% reduction. These bikinis look fantastic though and are more glamourous than a lot of others.

Bravissimo also stocks clothing so they have halter neck and spaghetti strap tops which have a bra fitted inside them....fantastic for summer. www.bravissimo.co.uk

jrose

I'm 15 and currently a 36FF. i was a D cup a year ago. fortunately i live in the UK so i go to bravissimo-BEST SHOP EVER! i used to go to Marks & Spencer but i had big trouble getting anything that fitted properly, as i have narrow shoulders so most straps just fall off. the fitting service in bravissimo is much better too. my fave brands are probably fantasie and panache, they're both quite expensive but the best fitting bras i've had. however, due to how much they cost and how often i grow out of them, i am guilty of wearing them 2 days in a row-i can't afford to get more than 2 or 3, and if i only wear thm once i can't get them washed in time.

eliss

I was trained as a bra fitter (I know! I pop that one into conversationas ALL. THE. TIME.) and let me tell you, I have seen girls with a zillion different sizes - including someone 32F, like you.
You are spot on with Freya and Fantasie, and in Australia, where Im from, they also do a line called DimitySo, which I think is connected to Bendon, which do uber pretty bras for bigger cup sizes. They kept the straps pretty too (dont you hate how the bigger the cup size goes, suddenly the straps move from cute skimpy double stranded with a bow to wide measuring tape sized behemoths?)

she0102

seriously, I've never been measured right. I was wearing 36Bs & Cs that were awful and uncomfortable until a friend of mine--a 34DD--took me to her house & made me try on her Chantelle bras. It was like stepping through the looking glass. They fit so well! So comfy! I was always pretty stick-figured and had a big butt, but never did I ever think I had boobs. I didn't entirely believe it until I tried on another 34DD at a Calvin Klein outlet and it fit. I started preaching the gospel from that moment on. I made my Mom try on my new bra and it fit, though she's still in small-chested denial at 56 years old. I don't think anyone is wearing the correct size out there.

lulu

Grah, unrelated to the main point of this post, can I just say how much I hate that traditional method of bra sizing? For whatever reason, it does not work for me--it puts me at a B cup (and that, just barely), and let's say I still have scarring memories about the VS lady trying to squeeze my bubbies into a painful, pinching, way-too-small B. I can't be the only who that "Add 5 and then subtract" blah blah blah thing doesn't work for, right? Or have I somehow been deluding myself, and my fits-in-Ds/too-big-to-button-up-blouses really actually truly Bs? GAH!

Bonnie Downing

This is like a bra encyclopedia!

rmo
rmo

THANK YOU FOR THIS. I was a 16 year old 32G and everyone thought I was crazy. Nordstrom was a godsend - and Le Mystere does have some good bras.

Oh, the women of Victoria's Secret - I used to have such fun going in, letting them "size me," putting on the bra that they picked out, and then inviting them into the fitting room to announce that there seemed to be a problem.

My boyfriend once thought he would get me a gift card for this store - so I took him on a tour and pointed out the 3 bras they carry in my new size - 32D. They are all padded. How unnecessary is that? Are they trying to suffocate me with my own tits?

As the most widely known lingerie store in the country, you would think that it would be lucrative for them to carry more sizes, right?

morrrgo

I am too a 32F and 27 years old and I have something important to say.

PAY ATTENTION, THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT:
No man or woman has ever, when presented with me shirtless and my large bra, said "oh no, 3 HOOKS? not interested".
NO ONE CARES. THEY STILL JUST WANT TO BURY THEIR FACES IN MY AWESOME, HEAVY BOOBS.

Bras serve the purpose of keeping our boobs from bounding around our chests when we walk, to keep others from being TOTALLY distracted by the voluptuousness of size F boobs on the street, on the job, at the gym. WE ARE PROTECTING THEM FROM THEIR OWN IMAGINATIONS.

Also, I suggest fighting back by referring to anyone who can wear victoria's secret as being "flat chested".

Tigermoth

Two words for all the busty women who want to be perky, but don't want to be showing lace under their t-shirts: Prima Donna. They lift better than Chantelle and are totally seamless. Pricey, but well worth it.

Linzo

Freya does a range of totally sweet swimsuits. Living in a hot country, they have literally saved my life. And my dignity.

Kate Cross

Why on earth do you need to insult those of us with smaller busts and/or larger ribcages to feel better about yourself? I happen to be both, 42freakingB, and if you think YOU have a hard time finding a comfortable bra, I assure you I have at least as much trouble. So far I have found exactly one style of bra that looks remotely normal under clothes and does not reduce me to tears and/or leave welts and sores on my body the next day. It is not sexy, oh no, it is dismal and ugly on its own, but I can wear it without anyone but me (and my partner, of course, but fortunately he's man enough to care about the tits inside the bra, not the bra itself) knowing how ugly my bra is.

We should all be celebrated for our unique and special selves, and I mean that in the least airy-fairy way possible (I know, I know). Please direct your anger where it belongs, at big corporations who would like every woman to wear something in the 34-38 B-C range. They are the ones who direct their employees to sell things that don't fit. They are the ones who label bras in incomprehensible ways. They are the ones who construct bras with itchy materials that wear out in no time despite having cost you $80. Me and my tiny tits and linebacker chest, we're just over here trying to make peace with the one bra that doesn't hurt or itch.

Allie Pape

Kate, I didn't want to insult you or your fellow ladies of large ribs/small bust. I don't think the bra industry is fair to ladies on the far side of both the band and cup spectrums. And I definitely don't want anyone to feel badly about how they look– if anything, this article was about how finding good bras helped me come to feel better about my natural shape. Knowing I had a place in the order of boobs, no matter how obscure, was enormously comforting and empowering. If you're a weird size, traversing normal bra shops can sometimes make you feel left out of the female race entirely.

Bra manufacturers, listen up! We need more diversity in both large cup/small band and small cup/large band situations.

Tiia Kekkonen

I used to love MarieJo's bras but got too big for them (natural 80H). Nowadays I'm using PrimaDonna's and I truly love them. They keep my boobs in place, are comfortable and the profile/shape is wonderful. Not sure if you can find them in States, but at least in UK they sell them. Drool: http://uk.primadonna.eu/

AuroraNibley

I just found this a couple or days ago and then immediately found myself in possession of a little extra cash, so I went straight to Nordstrom's and found out I was WAAAYY bigger than I thought. When the saleslady said to me, "No, you're very narrow in the middle, you just have naturally large breasts," it probably made me happier than anything anyone has ever said to me.

I was a 32C in college (which nobody sells either); I'm a 34G (!) now. And it's true. Finding a bra that actually fits really does make you look MUCH thinner.

If you've actually made it this far down the comments section, you must join the rest of us. Trust me, you won't regret spending the money.

iluvme&am$$$$honey

I agree with most of you all bought got sized and committed to a 36dd and found that am a 40ddd. So it is about proportion and one size up and around. Not ashamed loved the fact of walking out still loving who I am. That's what it all about.

kvittan

I'm a bra lady that is an independant representative for Essential bodywear. Look it up at www.myessentialbodywear.com/A10762. Carry sizes 32a-44H

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account