Thursday, January 13, 2011


The Tyranny of the T-Shirt Bra: Do You Live in Fear of Your Own Nipples?

Foamy, modern, molded bras have taken over more than their share of the bra market. They seem to insist that if we decline silicone breasts, we should at least have the courtesy to hide our actual breasts under smooth, springy, vaguely breast-like shells.

It started about a decade ago. The phrase “t-shirt bra” crept into my brain by osmosis. “What are those?” I asked, shopping with a friend.

“Oh I love them!” she said. “You wear them under t-shirts.”

I touched the ones stacked on a table. They were... different than other bras. A space-agey substance. My friend stuck out her chest. “I’m wearing one now. You can’t see anything, right?”

“I can see a line, where the foam is,” I said.

“No, but I mean you can’t see anything.” Eventually I understood she was talking about her nipples.

I had never thought much about my nipples when choosing bras, preoccupied already with my bra size and why strapless bras were always so mean to me. I tried one on and sure enough, it formed a ridge. I’m a D cup; I don’t want even an extra millimeter or two of padding.

“Not padded!” every bra saleswoman insists when I ask for bras with no padding. “It’s just lightly lined!” Last year I went to Victoria’s Secret, a place I never shop, because I had a bra emergency and needed a racerback bra for a party dress that night. I repeated the lie to myself — lightly lined — but when I saw photos from that evening I was horrified to find that I had been quite visibly bustier than usual.

They continue to encroach, creeping in under new names all the time: Contour Bras for a “sculpted silhouette”; Foam-Lined Bras, defined on the Bare Necessities as the go-to choice for “protection against nipple show through”; Seamless Bras “virtually invisible!” (Like your nipples.) T-shirt Bras for an “ultra-smooth look” (you know by now what that means). Microfiber Bras! They’re all the same bras, really. OneHanesPlace adds Laminated Bras, which they admit are “a lot like Molded-Cup Bras,” which “mimic your body's contours because the fabric is molded on a cone-shaped form. So, they fit like a second skin... and work with your shape, not against it.”

I'm irritated with the implication that some part of my own form is cone-shaped. And stop telling me that your bras mold to my shape like that’s a bonus — I don't want to morph myself into the shape of the bra. I rely on bras to keep things generally lifted and... organized, not to give me someone else’s chest entirely. I don’t begrudge anyone else’s right to enhance any body part they wish (I myself may or may not have just applied controversial eyelash medication), but I find it hard to believe that women with multiple D cups and beyond are looking for “light lining.”

And these bras are not sexy, are they? You know how you're (possibly, occasionally) willing to wear bathing suits in public, but not bras? It’s not really because bathing suits cover more. They’re just made of more opaque, less-revealing fabirc. I feel even less naked in these foamy t-shirt bras. They’re more swimsuity than swimsuits.

So I’m taking a survey:

-Do you really love these bras?

-Am I the only one left who prefers bras made of stretch lace, silk, cotton, thread, what-have-you?

-Do you live in fear of your own nipples?

-Are you beginning to suspect that these bras are forced upon us for nefarious reasons I’ve yet to define, as part of a global conspiracy?

-Also, oh my god: what if a few years from now, all underwear is padded for butt enhancement? I’ll become the Andy Rooney of lingerie, and no one wants that.

Previously: Outdated Beauty Advice: The Devil Is Making Me Fat!

Bonnie Downing's first book was Peculiar Beauty: Three Centuries of Charmingly Absurd Advice, and now she's writing a book about animals and needs a new agent. You can find her at peculiarbeauty.com and in Brooklyn.

194 Comments / Post A Comment


As a somewhat busty gal, I LOATHE these bras. I have my own breasts, thank you very much. They always make a line, if not on the first waearing, then definitely after they have been washed (even hand washed in the sink!). My solution is to buy multiples every time I find a supportive, nicely structured lace bra, because you never know when you're going to find one again. If this gets any worse, I'm going to end up being a today sponge and ob tampon level bra hoarder.


Hate these bras. They seem to float about in the general vicinity of one's breasts without actually offering any support or fulfilling any bra-like duty whatsoever. I'm with bluesuedeshoes, structured lace all the way.

Edith Zimmerman

-I love these bras.

-I think I have … one bra that is not one of these bras, but I actually don't even know where it is now.

-I don't live in fear! I just like a sculpted silhouette and an ultra-smooth look that works with my shape, not against it, I guess? Maybe the nefarious conspiracy has won with me.

Bonnie Downing

Well fine, Edith. I suspect it's because your natural form is cone-shaped, but whatever.

Oh and so do I, on that last one. Badly.

Edith Zimmerman

Haha, did you respond to this before I deleted the part where I said "I need butt enhancements"? Anyway, yeah. Maybe I'll make them. Cone-shaped.

Bonnie Downing

Haaaa. Yes, I did! I am sure we both mean it in a joking way! And that neither of our butts are lacking in any way!


I am with Edith on this one. Too much padding sucks, but my hyper-aggressive nipples need a little something extra between them and the world. I haven't had the visible line problem so much.

Also, as a result of my own emergency run to a VS, I now own a polka-dot bra with the word "sexy" written in rhinestones on the side.


Team Edith! But I'm a B-minus cup with post-breastfeeding nips that must be hidden from the world lest they scare people. Can understand more well-endowed ladies' annoyance with these bras, but I love 'em.


@brilliantmistake Hahaha aggressive nipples... always biting people, yelling at strangers and getting in fights in the "bad" part of town.


As a 40DD, I loathe these bras with a passion. (And yeah, I've gotten the "Oh, these aren't padded!" response from sales women, too.)

They make me larger. (Right now I'm borderline proportional; any increase in size makes me a Tits Monster.) They also seem to float in front of my breasts, making a strange 3D effect, instead of being ON my breasts like a normal bra. So when I'm wearing them with a t-shirt, you can see the entire outline of the bra, at least from the front. Not. good.

I found a cotton, non-lined bra from Lane Bryant and bought 15 pairs. That will hopefully last me a few years.

Bonnie Downing

" They also seem to float in front of my breasts, making a strange 3D effect, instead of being ON my breasts like a normal bra."

one cow.

likewise as a 32DDer, i do not find these helpful. anything at Vicky's Sickies seems to be geared towards enhancement rather than support. am i the only one who'd like to see D+ cup bras with more than 2 hook-and-eyes & thicker straps??? their R&D department doesn't seem like the brightest g-string in the crack. i want to be a VerySexyInvisibleBioFitAngel! right?? giselle!!!!


Oh honey! As a fellow large-y, I've had to learn that Vicky's just doesn't work for us. (Also, I've had better luck with the "visible line" issue since I was fitted and learned that, erm, DD might not be quite... large... enough. Eeep!)

The queerest thing for me with these bras is flipping the one cup inside out into the other cup to pack them. That just feels a little too much like packing part of an inflatable doll in my luggage!


Calvin Klein actually made a really good lace bra with wide-ish straps and 3 hook-and-eyes like a year ago. Unfortunately, they only had one in my size, so I couldn't stock up. I found in at Macy's.


I hate when they have "D cups" with padding on the inside so there's room for maybe an A-cup.


Yeah, Victoria's Secret doesn't do well for D+ at all. Wacoal makes a really nice thick-strapped bra though. I forget the exact model, but that's pretty much the only thin I wear nowadays. Very comfortable, pretty supportive.


Oh, yes -- the Wacoal 85814. Joy!
I wear a 34C, am not afraid of my own (or anyone else's) nipples, and violently dislike wearing bras that look as if someone else is already in them. And those damn "lightly lined" things often create the dreaded 4-breast effect, unless one goes up a cup size and then they provide even less support, if that's even possible.
I always feel sorry for women I see wearing them and looking all lumpy. Just have nipples, doll!

Bonnie Downing

Damn it all I hate those "bodysuede" ones too. I really am cranky lingerie Andy Rooney. It's happened.
I like 55502 and 855186.

Edith Zimmerman

YES! I feel like this could be the Mach 3/4/5/900 of womanhood. More hooks! More hooks!


also! these bras are awful when you're getting naked with someone. yes, i know, boys generally just want to "get to the boobs" and don't care what's on top of them, but i think it's weird finding this vaguely boob-shaped foam item on the floor in the morning.


I always thought the "ultra-smooth look" was about the edges of the bra not showing under a t-shirt? Like the back strap?

But my bra size doesn't exist so no one should be listening to me about this.

Bonnie Downing

That's what They want you to believe!


I hardly have any boobage, but I too hate these things. I bought one accidentally a few years ago, being ignorant of the term "contouring." I felt like one of the dancing aliens in The Man Who Fell To Earth or conversely, Marilyn Manson.


I am biased in the opposite end of the spectrum, as a 32A, but I also resent the extra material because it makes me feel like a cozener.

I own one of these bras, and it is really the only bra I wear (and only when necessary), because I try to get away with tank tops and camisoles with added layers to camouflage le nips. I must acknowledge that the t shirt bra does improve my silhouette, but you know? So would boobs.


I don't live in fear of nipples so much, as the chance that something goes awry and they end up in different places and then everything is cock-eyed and... well ok, maybe I live in fear.

For trembling nipple haters like me, the lightly lined bra is a good choice. It's also great for support if you don't have a big chest and need a little adjustment here and there. If you get one that fits badly it's like wearing some sort of torture device with the added bonus of making you look like an alien, but when they fit right they do all the right things for you. Spanx makes a bra (hear me out) that has a front hook and no elastic in the back and it's so wonderful to wear it's like a dream and has ruined me forever.


I really really hate these bras, and it is so hard to find bras without any padding at all. I feel like nipples are like belly buttons, you look like an alien without them. I'm a C cup, but I generally consider any sort of padding (lining, whatever you want to call it) to be false advertising.

So glad someone else has a problem with this too! My friends think i'm crazy and obsessed with nipples.


Yeah, but you don't have to show people your belly button through your clothes constantly to prove that you aren't an alien. Also, to no one in particular...personally, I like the lining, but I think I'm suuuper sensitive. I like a barrier between me and the outside world. Also, I couldn't give a fuck about "advertising".


As a 30F (!) I get no choice in the matter ever, and wear whatever might even kind of fit me. : (

Bonnie Downing

I was about to suggest Elle MacPherson's bras which are very pretty and well-built but then I checked and you're right-- they don't make 30 band size. If you live in Brooklyn. (I know, some people actually don't) there's a lingerie store on Atlantic that tailors bras. I've heard the lady there is great.


Pretty sure Intimacy will tailor bras for you, too (though $$!). But where oh where is this fabled place on Atlantic?!

Bonnie Downing



Oooh! Thanks, Bonnie!


so into this. thank you!

Edith Zimmerman

Oh my god you guys I just WENT TO THAT PLACE LAST WEEKEND! It was the BEST! They are the nicest, the bras are NOT crazy expensive, and ... yeah, just absolutely the best. You guyyyyyyysss!!!!!


Bravissimo carries size 30. I think they even go down to 28. I'm a 32G, so I feel your pain! ;)


I'm a 32FF (it's a thing) I think Freya bras are amazing - they're British I think but you can buy online and ship overseas. They go from 28 to 48, specializing in large sizes :) I use http://clara-olivia.com/


I'm a 32FF (it's a thing) I think Freya bras are amazing - they're British I think but you can buy online and ship overseas. They go from 28 to 48, specializing in large sizes :) I use http://clara-olivia.com/


I'm a 32FF (it's a thing) I think Freya bras are amazing - they're British I think but you can buy online and ship overseas. They go from 28 to 48, specializing in large sizes :) I use http://clara-olivia.com/

Also I hate tshirt bras but don't like nipple showing through work clothes. I just rock scarves a lot


HATE the foam bras. My clothes should not still have (their distorted impression of) my shape after I take them off. I don't want to stuff my big ol' tits into a couple of funnels. I just don't want to bounce or announce to everyone in the room whether I find the temperature a bit low for my tastes. I've been known to wear my workout bras on days when no workout is in the plans. They're no less ugly than the foam monstrosity, right?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

I've been defying the no-workout-bra rule for years (that is, by wearing them when I am not working out, as well as wearing them when I happen to be working out.)


Also, I am exceedingly pro-nipples. I just wanted to throw that out there.

AllieMarie Dodge@facebook

I just don't get why seeing the contours of a nipple through a shirt is a problem. As a 28C to a 30A I can never find a bra that fits. I just wear bralettes. They are comfortable and I get the ones with wide straps so they actually add some support.


I'm a member of the itty bitty committee, and I hate these bras. It wasn't always so: my ex-husband thought I needed "all the help I could get" and when I refused to subject myself to surgical "improvement" was convinced that wearing heavily padded bras was the best thing I could do for myself.

Now that I've escaped my hellish dungeon of a marriage, I love my slender shape, and love buying little bralettes, like the ones they sell at American Apparel. If I get nippy, I think it looks seksy.

ALSO: is it just me, or is it so much nicer to have one's nips out of those padded enclosures? I feel like when they're freed from the confines of wire and padding, they seem to feel much better, more erogenous.

Bonnie Downing

The last time I wore anything bralette like was around 10th grade. My sister helpfully pointed out that I had suddenly grown actual breasts and could no longer get by with anything ending in "-ette."

"It's just clinging to your desperately like a marsupial," she said. Yes, she did.


it's topics like this that make me a somewhat smug about my little bewbies... which is a HUGE step for me. THANK YOU, THE HAIRPIN!!!

Dirty Hands

@noodge "itty bitty committee" just made me want to have teeny breasts, just so that I could be part of it. But no, I'm not itty bitty in any way.


I have lived in fear of my nipples ever since I was high in college and went in the video store and and the dude behind the counter said "is it cold in here?" And it kind of was, but then I realized he was talking about my nipples, like ten minutes later.
Before I discovered these bras I would use bandaids to keep them reined in.

Bonnie Downing

Ugh, such a video-store dude comment. Flower and heart-shaped nipple bandaids!


I heard Jennifer Aniston would always have ice cubes she used on the FRIENDS set, so her nipples were always hard during filming. Knowing someone did this is how I learned to love my nipples regardless of their state.


I only have one bra, and it is a t-shirt bra, and I like it. My boobs are average-sized but very conical, and also I don't like bras at all, so usually I just wear tight tank tops or camis with shelf-bras, and then layer. But occasionally I want to emphasize the hour-glass, so I bust out the t-shirt bra because it gives my boobs a nice shape. My husband doesn't care about lingerie either, so it's really neither here nor there in our house one way or the other.


I am wearing one of these bras now, and it sucks. I have 1 bra I like and I live in the town that invented Victoria's Secret. Bra architects surround me, and yet they fail us all.


There's a lovely, melancholic, Larkin-esque poem in this.


I get absolutely infuriated when my bff tells me I'm high-beaming. He gets so smug about it and I've yet to think of a retort to shut him down. What do you say? I guess I'm cold? Your gay ass is turning me on I can't help it? Oh good my nipples still work? Eh, not very good. However! I still prefer just a layer of cotton/lycra and no foam over my boobs. Snotty best friend commentary be damned.

Caitlin Podiak

Such a comment ought not be dignified with a response. Just raise one eyebrow and say, "Okay?" in the most nonchalantly haughty tone you can muster.


"You're high-beaming."
"And you're staring."


No matter what size your breasts are, they will ALWAYS BE WRONG (according to bra manufacturers). I spent like an hour at Macy's once looking for a 36DD that wasn't a minimizer. It was difficult.

And no, I don't live in fear of my nipples, and I hate those t-shirt bras! They make me look bananas. Everyone should buy Felina bras; they are pretty and not too expensive and have some sizes that are big-ish.


I loathe those foam bras!! They feel like armor, they're hot in the summer, and they make everyone look like they've got implants. I like a bra that scoops everything tidily into place and sits quietly on your chest all day, doing it's job. I don't want to know it's there. I tried on one of those foam things once and felt like I'd put a muffin tin on. Didn't seem to matter whether it actually had breast tissue in it at all...and, in fact, mine didn't. My poor boob was sort of resting on the lower half of the cup. It looked nice, but I was afraid if somebody hugged me, my "smooth silhouette" would be dented..

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

I used to keep things in the upper half of the cup, when it was the style for women's pants to have fake or no pockets. Of course, this was before I owned a cellphone, but I'm sure I could have smuggled it and everything else I need in at least one of my bras.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

I guess I was anti-bag for awhile?


These bras are like boob hammocks. I'm not sure which is more uncomfortable for others....seeing my nipples or seeing me reach inside my shirt whenever one of the girls slips out of the hammock. So I like to switch it up; sometimes you get to see my nipples threatening to poke your eye out, and sometimes you get to see me wrangling the slippery little suckers back to their resting place.

Legs Battaglia

My boobs look like pudding in a foam dish when I wear these. HATE.

Bonnie Downing

EDITH: please delete all evidence that this comment and commentor ever existed and paste that sentence into my article. Then go ahead and delete all the other sentences I wrote because really that sentence is all that needs to be said on this issue. Thanks!

Legs Battaglia

I am so delighted by this praise that I'm not even afraid that The Hairpin is going to disappear me. Okay, maybe a little afraid.

Tom Blunt

I'm a gay man with no dog(s) in this fight, but I've always thought these bras look weird and impenetrable, like they could turn a knife-blade. They seem to be made for (or by) people who fear breast.

Also, LOL "marsupial."

Bonnie Downing

"Every woman over thirty needs a homosexual in her life... for their proportion, detail and style. She needs someone genuinely interested in making her look better."
--Princess Luciana Pignatelli (1935-2008)


I'm also fairly well breasted and ... I didn't realize there were bras out there not made of this? Every bra I own is made like this? Every bra I've ever seen is made like this? I can't even say that I hate them because I have nothing to compare them to?

Bonnie Downing

Well then, I guess I'm your wise elder, all bent with my walking stick and ancient, lacy bra. Back in my day, etc.


I mean, it must be VERY hard finding something else if I wasn't even aware there were other options.

Teach me, wise elder! I have so much to learn!


My biggest problem with the lace ones in any sort of Big Girl size is that, like the otherwise-very-lovely ones linked to by misspufflehuff below, they just go up so far. Makes me feel downright dowdy!

Having had success with Prima Donna bras before (I literally own five of this one), I'd say maybe this one could work? (But yeah. Spendy.)


I didn't even know what yall were talking about till I examined my bras and realized that that's all I own. HALP ME.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

I have been buying the wrong bras for YEARS. I did not know the purpose of the non-tshirt bra - I thought they looked flimsy and unsupportive next to all that FOAM. Recently I've just worn sports bras, since they don't add inches, but I am going out tomorrow on the hunt. Also, I am not afraid of nipplage, since even sports bras cannot tame these babies.

major disaster

I am kind in the middle, size-wise (not huge, not tiny), and I have always hated these things. It was really distressing to go bra-shopping years back and find that it seemed like it was all that was being sold. At the time, it felt mildly insulting, because I thought the message was no matter how big you are, you aren't big enough! And I was all, fuck you, sure, I'd like bigger boobs, but that means actual boobs, not fake padding!

I never even thought about the visible nipple issue until now, and it still makes me want to tell the world to fuck off if it can't handle seeing that.


I'm so thankful someone is speaking out against this plague. F VS in the A. It's useless, their products are useless, and their sales staff should not even pretend like they are underwear experts. The only type of bra that should be remotely constructed like that is a pushup bra, and that's for calling attention to cleavage, not hiding nipples. Also, not supportive or comfortable at all. Wacoal, Freya, Elle MacPherson, these brands are far better friends to my boobs than VS could ever pretend to be.


Also, am I really the only one who can wear a bra like this and still get visible nips. (Even through a sweater sometimes!) That's... weird.


You're not alone. I have the same problem and I resort to the foam bras to hide the nips a little. But then when I finally get the bra off it's like my breasts have escaped from prison. I might as well wear an unlined bra and let them breathe.


I have one of these bras that I bought based its polka dot pattern because I am silly, not for fear of nips, and it does feel like odd shaped foam insulation on my boobs. But I swear, there ARE bras that are actually "lightly lined" and not padded. These t-shirt freak bras are not "lightly lined" at all because that foam is bulky as shit. I am a 38 D/DD and buy bras at Lane Bryant (but they have a classy name for their lingerie -Cacique! See, you're not at a fat girl store because it sounds FRENCH) and if you take the weird half inflated air-filled pouches out of the cups, then you are left with a nice structured bra that is lightly lined so as to keep 'em lifted and shapely (but still boob shaped.)


Um, is it multi-colored polka dots on a black background with pink straps? Because that's the bra I'im wearing today .....

Also, WHY, Lane Bryant, do you include air pouches in your bras?!?!


@shantasybaby "See, you're not at a fat girl store because it sounds FRENCH"



hello. 34C here. I don't care about visible nippling (nipping?) at all, but I do like supportive bras. I find demi cup underwires to be the most comfortable --thus, over the years i have accumulated a lot of the round-on-their-own bras that everyone seems to hate. I do prefer lace or thinner material but it is difficult to find those that still have a good amount of boost---yes, i am fishing for advice!! :)


I save all my busty-lady bra rage for sports bras. It's not just the vaguely supportive spandex half-shirt that forms one giant uni-boob part, it's the nips. Like your one HUGE BOOB has eyes.


I actively detest any sort of padding in the breast area. My 15 year old self, however, really couldn't get enough of it. Different strokes for different folks & all that. But I find my nipples are a much more pleasant thing to see in a tshirt than a weird line hovering half way up my chest (which has always happened with these sorts of bras)


I pretty much love the T-Shirt Bra. I am most certainly terrified of my nipples and anyone seeing them without my permission. Also, I like the way my tits look in them. And isn't that what matters, at the end of the day?


I didn't find bra peace until I lived in Canada for a few years and discovered a European lingerie chain called Change. They have a wide range of cup sizes that actually fit large breasts--instead of being strapped into a 36DD and hoping for the best, you get a 34F that actually does the job and still looks sexy. I live in their lace bras, and still drive north of the border to stock up.

Caitlin Podiak

I recently decided that my ideal boob/bra situation would be to do enough yoga so that my entire body is naturally, effortlessly perky, and then to find some cashmere pasties so my nipples don't get uncomfortably chilly.


Don't have kids...all the yoga in the world won't prevent deflation and gravity from winning after that.


Not sure why, but the subject of bras is quite fascinating to me - despite being a guy who likes guys. Guess it comes from having two somewhat amply-endowed and outspoken sisters.

One of my sisters insists that bras only come in two styles: sag-meisters and pancake-meisters.

And the other I was out with one time and we passed by some fancy lingerie store. She stopped to look in the window at a particularly scandalous and sexy demi-bra and announced with indignation, "Well that's just ridiculous! You take one or two steps and you'll flop right out of that thing!"

I love my sisters...


After reading this, I immediately forgot what bra I was wearing and had to feel myself up in my cubicle. Yep, cheap Gillian O'Malley shelf-y!


32G (British) here. T-shirt bras are torture. Sweet, sweet lace is my friend. Marksandspencer.com is my life partner.
2 DD-G bras for £20 in a variety of colours is the best boob bargain I've ever had, as larger ladies don't usually get such treats: http://www.marksandspencer.com/Pack-Floral-Embroidered-Non-Padded-DD-GG/dp/B0032JITY0?ie=UTF8&ref=sr_1_14&sr=1-14&qid=1294943258
Can we have an article like this on minimisers? They are shite, aren't they? They make me look as though my boobs are splitting up acrimoniously.


Sorry the link doesn't seem to work, but just have a search on the site. I'm wearing a turquoise one today and it is making me happy!


Scratch that, the link IS working. 2-hook backs! Thin straps! Sexytimes.


I can't say I particularly LOVE these sorts of bras, but if you're a bouncer/pointer those lacy/unlined ones are practically useless because you're jiggling and pointing in every which direction and people get scared. They just can not handle the bounce! You need more...I don't know, scaffolding or someone gets a black eye.

When I bought my first foam lined bra many years back, I left it on the floor, where my ex took one look, poked it with his finger, screamed "ew!" and told me to never wear it again.


I love these bras, especially with a slightly see-through white shirt. I guess I like them because they give me an extra half-cup or so, even though I'm a C and I don't need it. SO I went out with this guy the other night, and we're making out post-date, he feels me up and says, "You have great tits. Why are you wearing this padded bra?" I died a little. Do I explain to him that it's not padded, it's just form-enhancing? I think I said it was for "added protection," whatever that means. I have not felt so much like a humiliated teen in a decade.


My boyf agrees with your date cnotes. Much prefers if I decide not to wear one at all!


I'm a B-cup and I don't like the "lining" at all -- I prefer bras that don't add any thing extra -- but I do live in fear of my nipples being ogled. So, yes, I buy the blasted things.


I wish they didn't "add" anything either. But I used to get inappropriate comments when guys could see my nipples! I mean...I don't know. I'm a B cup too so I like that I get to have shape without cleavage/nipples.
So my motivation was: go through life without the harassment, which has decreased significantly since I started wearing the T-shirt bra.


I hate them. I don't think I've ever tried on an A where my boob actually contacts the inside of the molded cup. Flatsville! Although they were great in high school (when I felt really awkward about being felt up by anybody) because foam doesn't even count as a part of my body. These days I just wear those little American Apparel deals and pack a cardigan.


I'm gonna throw a whole new monkey wrench into the works. Do y'all realize they make those foam-tittied freak bras into NURSING bras? Just imagine trying to pull a vast swath of fabric-covered petroleum product aside and attempting to feed an infant without allowing the tiny babe to suffocate under the weight and impenetrability (is that a word?) that is the t-shirt bra cup.

Also, if you're breastfeeding? The world pretty much knows that you have nipples.


Well, I don't necessarily hate T-shirt bras but I don't own one because of the exact light lining issue. I'm a 34DD and I hatehatehate when saleswomen try to offer me bras with a "slight" push-up effect. I mean, come on, offer them to those who need it but when my breasts take advantage of that push-up effect, I will look like very slutty in about anything.
As for the nipple-hiding effect, I've never really had a problem with being afraid of them because when I'm wearing a bra and a blouse/T-shirt, they don't really want to come out and play.
But, at the end of the day, if someone needs push-up and/or to tame them nipples, I don't mind others wearing a T-shirt bra. Just...would like to tell the wonderful salespeople at LaSenza that I don't really need a push-up. Ever.


Some bras breathe; those hermetically sealed foam scoops can be havens for bacteria and sour smells.


Couldn't agree MORE. If I did want to wear the damned things, I have to wash in hot water after every wearing, or my breasticles itch constantly. Nipple show-through is slightly more civilized than walking around with your own hands up your shirt, scratching madly all day.


Another member of the IBTC, I am OBSESSED with this subject. Where do y'all foam-haters buy your bras? I spent two days last fall looking and found only ONE. (p.s. also why are clothes now either totally prudish, like floor length droopy skirts and foam bras, or completely slutty?)

major disaster

I haven't been bra shopping in at least a few years, so I don't know what the most-current situation is, but all mine appear to be Calvin Klein. Pretty sure I bought them at a big department store, though not sure which one (may have been several). They were definitely pricey, which sucks, but there's no way you'll ever get me to wear one of those foam jobs.


Big fan of Felina (can be found at Macy's).


I swear by these


like I've been unable to go back to underwires...


Dude, if I don't wear a slightly padded bra then my cold erect nipples will be visible through my bra, t-shirt, and at least one sweatshirt. And my boobs are at eye-level for most people. And my tits are huge anyway. I don't need more people staring at them.


@insouciantlover Yes! And I live in Florida and rarely wear more than one (thin) layer of clothing. Tshirt bras are a MUST. I gotta work for a living and can't have the nips on display 8 hours a day. It's enough that I'm a D or DD (depending on my weight, and right now I'm 104 lbs and a D!) A. It's not done; B. People stare, and it ain't fun. L-U-R-V Tshirt bras for the protective-armor feeling.


I'm 36 b/c and I used to wear wireless bras, so I needed the molding for support. But the only thing I hate more than any particular bra is BRA SHOPPING. I think last time I went I tried on more than 50 bras. So when I needed new bras, I just chose one that was tolerable and bought 3. It is a "tee-shirt bra" from the Gap. And it makes me feel like I'm wearing a chest plate. But like I said, at least tolerable.

Katie Walsh

Yeah, I'm pro T-shirt bra on this tip (36D, hello nice to meet you). I shudder to think about the unlined nylon numbers or satin ones with the seams across the nips I wore in middle/high school before this blessed technology was created in some weapons manufacturing factory. I'd rather have industrially sculpted Fembot tits than have my nipple unknowingly fall out of some useless lace demi-cup. Which happens about 15 times per day when I wear those things. Nothing worse than bouncing along with half your naked boob bouncing about! Those are the worst!


somebody's buying these things, because goddamn why can't I find a single unpadded bra anywhere?


Thoughts! I have so many of them on this topic! (spoiler alert: I'm anti T-shirt bra!)

a) I am a 38DDD, and I learned back when I was a C, that Victoria's Secret was not made for anyone who had actual boobs to stick in there adorable, tiny bras. I wish someone would throw a wrench in their marketing machine so I wouldn't feel like a failure because I can't fit into their bras. (But I don't really feel like a failure; they're the ones who suck!)

b) Speaking of how I used to be a C, I am lucky enough that I gain weight in the boob area as I gain weight in all my other areas; I think that's why Lane Bryant includes the air pockets: Not everyone gains weight evenly, so some women can gain a lot of weight but still have pretty small boobs. I would be disappointed with my lot in life if that happened to me, so I support the air pockets.

c) I hate the war on nipples! Everyone has nipples, and men don't have to wear freaking pasties over theirs to protect everyone else's eyes. The "lightly lined" bras are a total nuisance, and the fact that men feel like they have the right to make lewd comments about a woman's nipples is the real problem. Let's get the bra architects working on how to fix that! Up with nipples! (Pun intended, oh yes!)

d) However, I don't mind men ogling my boobs. I don't care what they do as long as it doesn't interfere with my life, and I draw that line at subjecting me to whatever it is they're thinking. Go ahead and look; don't make any comments or gestures though. I don't mind the padding for its "enhancing" properties, but I hate that one day I have my regular DDDs in my lacy bra and the next day they look gigantic because I put on the foam bohemoth that morning. I like consistency and the ability to wear attractive bras everyday.

e) In closing, I refuse to wear foam bras, with the exception of one foam bra I have that has no underwire. Yes, a 38DDD with no underwire that is still (relatively) supportive! How could I pass that up? It's a fair trade in my book. I don't bother to give the foam bras a second glance when I go bra shopping these days, and I feel much prettier and more feminine in my fancy lace bras.

I'll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself. :)


You know what I hate the most though, is that ridge at the top of your boobs when you wear them - what's that about? How is that better than a pair of sexy nips? I do try keep my nipples under control at work mind you, so's not to get perved on. My nipples are permanently sticky-outie, no matter what the temperature is. I tend to let it all hang out at the weekend though, as a small B/C cup I can get away sans bra as long as I'm not doing any hectic activity. And yeah, there are times I do like pushups for a bit of extra oomph but generally the nipples themselves work everytime, even in us less endowed ladies!

Bonnie Downing

The ridge, yes. And we're not talking about about a ridge formed from a too-small bra, known in some circles as quadroboob. It is the ridge of foam which is prominent, not a ridge of flesh.


I'm going to use my first comment here to admit that I do indeed live in fear of my own nipples. I own to bras both strapless (they work better for ladies with a lot of side boob) and they both have quite a bit of padding. These are probably the least sexy bras in the world and yet I refuse to do any thing other wise because my nipples show through any other bra. A high school friend referred to them as super nipples and I'm positive it is true.

amy wins again

Oh man, I am so late to this party, but I wish I could reply to every poster and exhort the importance of getting yourself fitted for a bra by someone who knows what they're doing. So many women wear the wrong size, and so many bras are nowhere near standard in terms of the size on the tag versus the actual "size" of the bra.
My extended family's old "family business" is a lingerie shop in the greater Detroit area, going back to the 1950s. So I have spent my life having old Greek women size up my chest and wrangle me into the right bra. But when they do it, the bra always fits comfortably and looks good, whether padded or not, and the issues like "phantom boobs" that some people were describing haven't been an issue, even though my chest is a little bit on the big side of things.
If any Hairpin readers are in the greater Detroit area, I will give you the address of my family store! And your breasts will thank you.
Also, it goes without saying perhaps that the crap Victoria's secret pretends are bras ought to be burned, and the earth where their factories once stood should be salted, ere that nothing else may grow there.


Oh, do I know how right you are! I was fitted when I was quite young for the first time (maybe 14-15) and since then the bra size has changed, so I'm not scared of being fitted. However, I must admit that some of my friends don't really know what a difference smaller band/bigger cup does so it really is a bit problematic, the relationship between a woman and her bra size.
At the same time, I wish that every time I go bra shopping, I could wear a sign that says "Yes, I know my size, no it has not changed" because a) I shop at the same place all the time and b) since I don't really gain or lose weight frequently, etc, my breasts stay the same size they are.
P. S. Maybe someone could write a new article here about the many other complicated aspects of the relationship between a woman and her bra?


34D here. I'll go ahead and say it:
1. I love mold-y, push-uppy, "trashy" bras. I admit to it freely.
2. AND I love Victoria's Secret! It makes me feel like a ho but I looove them!

I'm wearing a polka-dot padded push-up bra at work today and I think I look great in my sweater.


What about getting felt up before your bra is off? Those things are like chastity belts for the breasts--you can't feel a thing--and a little foreplay isn't always a bad thing. I am a low B post-nursing third time around and I still don't mind some lace, some feeling, and really, I don't much care if you see my nipples if I have to exchange some nipple sightings for those hot, styrofoamy cups!

Christina Taylor

I like my nipples. I will not wear bras with and padding and the only thing that keeps me from going entirely braless is the negative comments I would expect to receive.


I have pierced nipples and b-cups that vary in largeness/smallness based on the time of the month. I always hated wearing bras. I have basically given up on being self conscious about people seeing my nipples' outlines through my clothing and no one really comments on it save for a few friends thinking they're clever in asking if I'm cold (still, I get more comments on my facial piercing than my nipples).
I do, however, keep one foamy bra for special events involving parents, whether it's mine or someone else's because no one wants to see someone's dad creeping on your nipples.


I wear a small bra size, and don't actually mind foam bras. However, for some reason, our Current Affairs shows keep talking about getting awesome bras for everyone (as they should); therefore, they showcased This Site. Some of the bras are really pretty, and no padding. It is an Aussie site though, although I find it hard to believe that no one else has one (or that they don't ship internationally)
(I cannot believe I signed up just to comment on bras :P)


It stripped out my link! http://www.bellaforma.com.au/shop/home.php


LOVE this thread. I am breastfeeding and pumping at work during the day and there is NO BRA on this planet that can stop these nips. Un. Stoppable. I'm not used to men (and women) checking out my boobs and nipples and have to say as a former IBTC chairwoman, it makes me uncomfortable. The real reason I'm writing, though, is to make this suggestion: if you are a T-shirt bra hater, I suggest checking out these super-comfy, not-lined-at-all nursing bras. They are amazingly supportive despite not being underwire. Check out Bravada. Super-comfy. A little spendy but they have weathered a lot of washing quite well.


My mother has been trying to pawn these off on me for years. I like my boobs to move freely and have never cared much about my nipples, why should I?


So that explains it.


Good to know I am not the only one!

As a 34 D, I can't abide any extra padding, so the links and bra recommendations are immensely helpful. Thanks!


as a 33E, every bra has to be tailored unless i want the 4-boob-effect or additional back boobs.
my corstier (dont i feel fancy saying that!) says those padded ones give women breast cancer. I suspect he just likes visible nipples though.
and although i live in Africa, where tits n ass are everywhere, its still a great and exciting moment to find anything bigger than a d-cup.

Queen of Pickles

36D – Am I the only one who has found peace at last with Target bras? They fit/support me perfectly. I even wound up running at the gym with one, and it was surprisingly comfortable.

Three hook/eye enclosures, different kinds (padding, no padding), and they cost like $12.


I thought I was the only one who detests these PADDED bras! I am pleased to learn that I am not alone (even if that doesn't mean there's any more unpadded bras available).
I am a 32D/DD, and the molded cups not only don't fit me properly (for the reasons others have described already), they make my already disproportionate to the rest of my figure breasts look even larger. My nipples may be visible for 20-30 seconds a couple of times a day : Not often enough for me to want these bras, even if they *did* work for my body type. Maybe if I had some kind of medical condition where my nipples were always erect, I'd feel differently, but as it is , I'll pass. (And if I did, I'd wear pasties under an unpadded bra .)
My size is hard enough to find at all, finding non molded cups is just that much harder. I prefer satin cups, not lace, double lined or not, no seams across the cups, full coverage cups, in beige/'nude'/tan/sand/whatever fancy word for "light brown , won't show through fabric". Lace trim, ribbons, etc, make the bra prettier, but can also show through fabric, limiting the garments with which the bra can be worn-so I prefer smooth satin cups.
What strikes me-horrifies me, actually-are the number of women who say they get harassing remarks from "friends" or complete strangers when their nipples show. I was born in 1965, and in all the years I've worn bras (and the foam cups didn't exist till 2000 or so) I NEVER recall one person saying anything about my nipples. Is it possible that the mere existence of these bras is giving some people the notion that visible nipples are ONLY caused by a sexual response? Not that that makes harassing strange women acceptable …I'm just wondering if that's why they are doing this, because in my memory, visible nipples just weren't that big a deal in the 1970s…the 1980s…the 1990s…up till 2000, when these bras became ubiquitous.If erect nipples had been a big deal then, surely I would have been teased in high school (graduated 1983) , since in HS, just about anything can be used as an excuse to tease someone. But no one ever did. I really wonder if these padded bras are not so much preventing harassment as causing it, as some men are concluding that women encasing themselves in foam MUST be to conceal embarrassing signs of sexual arousal. Just a thought.
Anyhow : For those who like these bras, I'm glad they're available for you. I just wish there were more of the other kind available for those of us who loathe them. As for me, I have been reduced to buying used bras off ebay.
(FWIW, these bras were discussed on a long thread elsewhere recently. Someone made the claim that the real reason these bras have just about crowded out all other kinds is, it's cheaper for the manufacturer as the premolded foam cups don't require any "engineering" for different sizes, you just machine sew the shaped cups to a band, add straps, and slap a price tag on. While charging the same price or greater as would be charged for the older style bras, which required different shaping for differing sizes.Don't know if that's true, but it wouldn't surprise me. )

Bonnie Downing

Where is that thread?! That is exactly what I suspected: cheapness.


My mother, a devout Catholic and a woman in possession of a fine, substantial bosom, wore nude-colored wireless unlined bras. You could see her nipples from Mars. I predict that clearly defined nipples are going to make a roaring comeback, and that VS is going to start making bras with big, foam nipple-countouring nubs in the middle. At least, I hope so!


Weird that you would mention that... they did. The Miraculous Bra featured HEAVY padding (you were supposed to look two sizes bigger) and a fake nipple, so you could claim you really were that size: "See, can't you see my nipples, they're not encased under an inch and a half of foam?"


Be happy w/ the cone shaped breasts. One of the eternally popular search terms to get to my blog is--strangely-- "pointy boobs," so somebody's into them...



Here is the thread you asked about:


The bra discussion branches off from the "Oprah Winfrey in general" thread, IIRC the stuff about the padded bras being cheaper/easier to manufacture is towards the end.

It's at this site:


Bonnie Downing

Thank you! this is fascinating. Of course Oprah is behind it. I am going to get to the bottom of this. (also: I am very much a dachshund fan myself.)


You guys are gonna hate me, but I love VS. They send me coupons for free underwear all the time (and c'mon, nothing is better than going into a store with a coupon, and then when they ask you if you want to use the additional "x amount of dollars off" coupon you say "No, just the free shit, thaanksss.")

Recently they've started selling bras there that don't force your boobs up to your chin, but I feel really judged when I buy them. I'm a 38D and the sales girl was trying to convince me to buy this new bionic superboob bra thing that adds two cup sizes? TWWOOOO?? I don't understannnnndddd. Kind of wanted to buy it to use as a neck pillow though, it was made out of this tempurpedic-esque material that, while I don't necessarily want to put on my boobs, I do really want to put behind my head while I'm reading.)

Also, I picked up a pair of underwear that I fancied, only to find that It had a bunch of dangling butt crystals on ribbons. WHAT IF THEY FELL OFF AND GOT IN YOUR BUTT COULD YOU IMAGINE????????????

Chelsea Caumont

I once had a very strange conversation with a very strange guy at a sort-of-lame party about how, with new bra technology, boobs are being made to look like butts. The lift and smoosh that bras supply is rounding out our breasts and making them look fuller and "meatier" like butts. Why? Because men like butts. Ask one.

Bonnie Downing

But.... they also like... breasts...?


Awesome topic! I'm truly surprised tho that a self professed D cup doesn't consider light lining and/or padding tools of support and instead views them as cosmetic additions used to mold us into some industry standard. As a 40DDD (and that's after the reduction) I can honestly say there's no way in hell I'd go a day without lining/padding. Most gals I know rocking a D cup or more would agree these things aren't light and require a little extra support to keep em happy & healthy. Too little support can cause irreversible tissue damage, not fun for any gal no matter her bra size (hint to all to go get fitted proper by a pro and no your significant other doesn't count!). Whatever your preference, be it sexy, supportive and/or scandalous, I think there's enough choices out there for us to define the mold rather than be forced into it. Happy bra buying all and for the record I heart my nipples!!!


I've never bought one of these bras, because I could never get one to pass my rigorous dressing room tests. I'm lucky because my current size I can still squeak by in commercial shops... well shop. I go to Frederick's of Hollywood for all my bra purchasing as they still have some gorgeous structured lace bras, and their extreme cleavage collection gives me a pretty cleavage without making me look bigger. (also all their padding comes with the bra but is removable! A big winner for me.)


But, surely you've heard of the Victoria's Secret Miraculous Bra with nips? Apologies if it's already been discussed.

As for the survey:
---Yes; t-shirt bras are my favorite, but I'm a B-cup. My boobs sit nicely inside without being propelled into space. I will admit that I've [successfully] tried on several C-cup bras that fit very well due to all the tempurpedic padding.
---Maybe. These types don't give me any kind of support
---See above
---I should never use such things. But I think this is already entering our world: I've totally seen those "booty pop"...underwear?...things at Bed, Bath, and Beyond [of all places].


Seriously, I feel like I just snapped out of a terrible boob-armor trace. And who put me in that trace? OPRAH. Years of shows that convinced me that my 36F boobs would look like saggy feedsacks if I didn't wear Oprah's! Favorite! Bra!, the Le Mystere Dream Tisha. I somehow thought that horrible ridge was my fault (?!).
Working from home I started wearing what they call "leisure" bras, I guess because your boobs can only be comfortable if you don't leave the house? Ya'll have made me determined to track down the happy medium between Oprah's Armor and my beloved Sleep Top.


I am so late to the party... But, YES! I love them. Only the ones made by Fantasie, though. I do hate VS. I am well endowed, so I am afraid of my nipples. When an observer can see the little bumps on the nipple it is time for a little lining!


While I would say I am probably not afraid of my nipples, I am afraid of my employer/random creeps noticing my nipple piercings, so these bras afford me a little discretion even if they're not the most comfortable thing ever.


I have a DDD chest, with an even bigger belly. I like these bras because they make me feel more chest/waist proportionate.


34D. Love these bras - I usually wear the GapBody Favorite T-Shirt bra, because they're comfy and affordable(ish). I just don't like to worry about my boobs swinging around or nipples showing through. Sounds like this makes me un-feminist or something?


i don't hate "lightly lined" but what is do hate is the idea that seems to exist amongst "bra architects" that everyone wants the biggest, most-obvious, in-your-face breasts possible. i have started wearing lilyette minimizers and i'm not even that big (36c or 34d). most other brands put the cups really front-and-center and push as much side-boob as possible into the front. i just want a natural look. as i already have a "strong back" i don't need any extra boob volume, making my shirts even tighter.


Bra design still has a long way to go. The straps on regular bras constantly work their way down my shoulders. The only bras that I don't find myself adjusting every few minutes are racerbacks, and often stores don't stock them, or only have one make/model in a given size.


-Do you really love these bras?

Yes and no - I'm not sure what bras you're putting on but I only get ones with a THIN layer of plush -just enough to wipe out the nipples. Bonus: these bras don't ever have that seam line across them that makes your nipple chafe and itch!

-Am I the only one left who prefers bras made of stretch lace, silk, cotton, thread, what-have-you?

Maybe!!! I hate them - not only do they show off nipples, but they don't seem to provide much support, let the boobs fly about, and they don't seem to last as long without stretching out of shape. also they seem to be worse about the "cone" shape in my experience.

-Do you live in fear of your own nipples?

Yes- I don't want to walk around with the mailman, my dad, my grandma, my boss and the neighbor kid all looking at my nipples. And when someone I know is talking to me while they're nipping out, I just can't stand it, it drives me nuts- people shouldn't have to think about other people's nipples unless they want to!

-Are you beginning to suspect that these bras are forced upon us for nefarious reasons I’ve yet to define, as part of a global conspiracy?

Well, ALL women's clothes seem that way to me, they're all just sluttier and sluttier every year, even for little girls and teens, you just CAN'T buy modest anymore!

-Also, oh my god: what if a few years from now, all underwear is padded for butt enhancement? I’ll become the Andy Rooney of lingerie, and no one wants that.

Ugg I would never wear those, I don't have a lot of butt but I'm good with what I got. Plus, no nipples on butt so I'm good.
I am a 34C 115lbs in case it matters :)


Hahahahahaahah. My boyfriend totally makes fun of my 'hide your nipples' bras, but he only does that when he sees them -off- of me. While they are on, he finds them more than acceptable, because they do a good job of hoicking up, shaping, and evening out my crazy asymmetrical boobs.

I also teach college. I spend much of my workday in the company of adolescent men (I include in this group both the chronologically adolescent and the mentally adolescent). Concealing my very, very perky nipples makes social interactions far less awkward.

Kate Cross

Molded-cup bras are not all stiff and fake. In fact, for me, this molded-cup bra is the only bra of any type I can wear without pain and still look normal under clothes:


No, it isn't sexy, but it is comfy, it comes in colors that aren't white, beige, or pale pink, and it keeps my nips from shriveling up painfully in cold weather. That seems worthy of some appreciation if you ask me.


Weird that you would mention that… they did. The Miraculous Bra featured HEAVY padding (you were supposed to look two sizes bigger) and a fake nipple, so you could claim you really were that size: "See, can't you see my nipples, they're not encased under an inch and a half of foam?" It was on clearance when I saw it.


I have major issues with two different sized breasticles and the more padded bras are the only ones I can wear. If there's no padding at all, then one cup is super overflowing or super underfilled. Overall, they just look awkward. The very padded bras still have a bit of unevenness, but it's much less than with any other type of bra.

Feminist Killjoy

victoria's secret is just terrible. they don't measure you correctly and their bras totally stretch out and lose shape after about two weeks. nord$trom all the way, yo.

Melanie Russell Galliano@facebook

I have tried to like these bras. Tried many styles and sizes, and I always feel like I am smothering. I have taken scissors to these bras and CUT THE FOAM OUT!! Ahhh.... perfect.


I LOVE this article

-Do you really love these bras?
HATE, I only own one now for when (as a not very well endowed lady) I really want some oomph.

-Am I the only one left who prefers bras made of stretch lace, silk, cotton, thread, what-have-you?
It's so hard to find them isn't it? I have spent years now wandering in and out of high street shops, cursorily glancing at all the foam bras and leaving again straight away. I loved this shop though could only afford cheap stuff when in the sale, but guess too many people love the foam cos they folded: http://www.boudiche.com/ Still, go look at all the AMAZING bras that could be in our shops...why not?

-Do you live in fear of your own nipples?
Ok, I admit I do slightly. But only cos I have one inny and one outy, and that makes me feel uneven. Half-beam anyone? But other bras can protect with lace and lining rather than foam.


I am a 34DD (and late to the comment party but still) and I nearly always wear "lightly lined" bras. No push up or anything, just a bit more solidness-it helps hold me in and makes me look more proportional (I'm also 5'2"). Also one of my breasts is slightly larger than the other so a lightly lined bra makes them look more even. I don't like "t-shirt" bras but a full coverage "lightly lined" bra from victoria's secret? I'm there-it helps keep things tied down so I don't look indecent in everyday clothes. But to each her own-what works for me and my slightly lopsided boobs might not work for someone else.

Catherine Dee@facebook

As a busty girl, myself (34DD/DDD/E, depends on the brand honestly) I loathe them. My idea of a t-shirt bra is a plain satin or silk bra with no lace trim, no pearls, and no bows for an actual slim silhouette that works under most of my wardrobe but doesn't scream "I'm wearing a faux push-up bra of material 1" thick". I don't need a push-up bra, I just need one that holds the girls in place and still fits correctly. Oh and preferrably isn't beige, covered in lace and other old lady trim, and looks like it could double as armor. Sometimes big boobed girls want to feel sexy (depressing note - last fall I spent several hours at La Senza trying on bras until I found one that more-or-less fit. The underwire doesn't touch my ribcage even so and the bit in between the breasts that's supposed to also touch my ribcage, doesn't either. And it was the best fitting bra I could find in the entire store). Maybe it's a sign that I should switch to wearing corsets, as a re-enactor I've worn them enough that they are comfy and they really do provide better support as they spread the weight over the length of the torso and actually hold the girls in place.


So, I own several of these bras (most of them hand-me downs which I don't properly care for and as such they are more than a little warped), and I don't really like them. A bit uncomfortable and artificial feeling. At home and on errands and whatever, I usually just do a tight tank top. HOWEVER, I work with little kids, and if you've ever had a two-year old say "what is this spot?!" while grabbing your nipple through your shirt in front of his mom and dad (your bosses), you'll understand why I always go for concealment over comfort at work nowadays.


VS must not be that concerned about showing nips, because every time they measure me they insist that I'm a 34A, which only covers part of my boobs, and not the nipply part. Now that I'm preggo and they no longer want to fit in a C-cup properly, I'm venturing back to get remeasured.
It never made sense that their bras claim to be invisible or "seamless" and then show awkward lines along my cleavage. Some of their bras are even impossible to wear under clothes, due to all the bumps and ridges caused by lifting foam, bows, and baubles. They look pretty fantastic uncovered, though. Sigh. I should probably just invest in some practical maternity/nursing bras (yes, there are sexy-is ones out there, but there's something discomforting about unlatching my "Sexy Momma" bralette to feed a newborn). At least the padding is for "leakage," which should never be mentioned in an ad for anything.
On a positive note, even t-shirt bras beat corsets, which give you shelf-boob and painfully correct your scoliosis.


@Catherine Dee: I was a reenactor, too! Civil War. I loathed wearing my corset, though. The girls were comfy enough, but, even as a teen, my back would ache for days. My mom had it custom made for me because I begged and no one made my size, so I felt obligated to wear it.

katie s.@twitter

i wear 34E, and these foam bras do exist in larger sizes but absolutely not at VS or stores like that. while i prefer non-foamy bras for a lot of reasons (better fit, shaping, etc.) i do tend to keep one around just to avoid the texture of lacy or seamed bras under a lot of thinner or clingier materials. plus, my seamed, non-foamy bras do a really good job of lifting! and separating! and not quite as good a job of giving me cleavage as a demi-bra with lining that's a little sturdier in keeping things up and forward.


Ack! Thank you! I have a love-hate relationship with these things. I'm an average-chested gal and as such require slightly - ok significantly - more shape and support than what is offered by the unlined OTSBHs (the nipple show-through thing doesn't bother me so much). But I resent feeling like a failure when my lovely lady lumps do not fit perfectly into their pre-molded homes. Does anyone else end up with one cup that over-runneth while its twin doesn't quite fill out the cup so you end up with this wierd hollow boob that has more to do with foam than your assets? But still, I argue that it's better than unlined bras which offer no support at all. Something in between would be nice. As an aside - Victoria's Secret even offers a bra that bumps you up 2 cup sizes and goes up to a 38-DD... which creates a 38-F? Is that even necessary?


I just found this line of conversation. For a long while, I really thought these bras were the best invention out there. I am a somewhat larger-chested lady (40 D), so my WHOLE YOUNG LIFE my mother took me to JC Penney to buy boxed 18-hour bras that were unlined and had inch-thick straps. As you might imagine, this was somewhat embarrassing, but I felt I had no recourse. At the time, there were no cute or sexy options for largish 15-year-olds. Just when spaghetti straps were coming into vogue, I lived in fear that my giant straps would be discovered.
Well, college came and went, and along came Lane Bryant and their lightly-lined balconette tee-shirt bra. My life changed! I got a boyfriend! My boobs were UPTOHERE!
Fast forward a few years...to now. I was getting sick of the insanity of having a boob shelf. I went out and bought a no-wire, thick-strapped bra from Fashion Bug to wear as my "weekend bra." To my surprise, I looked skinnier and more attractive in (what I had thought was) a schlumpy piece of cotton than a highly-structured boob-arranger. I looked at my husband (same boy!) and said, "I think I'm going to start getting old lady bras again. You know, the kind without wires and lining." And he said, "Wait. I thought you already wore old lady bras?" Talk about sea-change. So here I am, to tell all you people out there that boys think your tee-shirt bras are weirdly opaque and definitely not sexy.


*WHAT* is so terrible about nipples? Do some people have them and others not? Are women with nipples freaks of nature? Is hiding them behind an inch of padding really going to convince others that the points of that particular set of tatas is smooth?

I bought a T-shirt bra (once) without trying it on because it was the same size and brand as I always bought in another style. I know, silly me. It was so stiff and so big that the front of the bra actually popped inward under a fitted T-shirt. Yes, I had "inny" nipples that day. Thank God the actual nipples didn't show, though. Someone might have noticed I had them....

I just want a nice, normal fabric bra. No space-age polymers, no pre-shaped cones, just my natural boobs supported...nipples and all.


I agree....real breasts against T shirt bras! And it is getting hard to find a good underwire, lace, unlined bra that is in the $80-$200 plus range.
We definitely have nipple fear in America. I have written about nipple fear on my blog www.pawannabe.blogspot.com

Another issue:
I have been to a La Perla store recently and was "fitted" in a plethora of fabulously overpriced European lingerie, but it was very satiny, non-structured and clearly designed for a very non American aesthetic. The bras were more mesh, satin slings that did not flatter my D cup breasts. But they look very chic and flattering on a slender model type B cup. It was disappointing. But my husband enjoyed being in the dressing room with me and the salesgirl as she put bras, thongs and garter belts on me!


I don't know what it is about women & their nipples. I can't stand to wear a lined bra. Even though I wear 40B bra. I perfer to wear a unlined seamless underwire style bra. The brand I perfer to wear is Bali brand, I've been wearing this brand for years. The style of their bra that I use doesn't come unlined. that is why as soon as I get another new bra, I cut that linning out very carefully. I love having my pert nipples showing through my clothing, as I walk about.

AllieMarie Dodge@facebook

@0 I get called slutty for that. I'm a 28C to 30A and like to go braless or wear a bralet. Those don't really hide your nipples well. They're just a natural curve of your body.


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So glad to find this thread, but sorry so late to the party. Back in the 1970s, a "T-shirt bra" actually referred to a bra that allowed you to APPEAR as if you WEREN'T wearing a bra. It was part of the bra-burning era that allowed large-breasted women to fit in. The cups were a seamless, single layer of fabric with or without underwire, emphasizing the natural breast shape rather than the bullet shape of the 1950s-60s. I around 2002 was when I first saw the foam-cup bras being advertised as "t-shirt" bras with the reverse logic of blocking nipples and giving breasts a hyper-round shape. So strange.

I have to admit that I avoided the foam-cup bras until last year, when in a crowd of visitors a male co-worker (gay) came up to me and whispered that my nipples were showing. The tone of his voice implied that I should humilated by this fact. He even handed me his jacket as we were about to take a group photo! So I've gone with foam until I could collect more info about it, although it has been a pain, since I'm a 36DD and don't want the padding. Opinions on nipples seem to fall into age groups: younger women want to cover up and women over 50 don't care (unless they are from So Cal). The 40s women (my age group) seem to be mixed, but aim for comfort.

Now, for women who want to go bra-less, they sell something called "petals", which cover the nips. Wasn't the point of going bra-less to make a statement about controlling your own body? How did motivations and marketing get so lost?


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I hate those bras!!! Give me a stretchy, lace UW any day! I am a 38D-DD. I have nipples that show through most of my expensive bras, and I could care less who sees them. I am covered by a shirt, so if you can see my nipples, oh well, I am comfortable.


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I have tits like snoop dogg's got swag and I cannot stand these bras. In the past 5 years I have managed to find one singular bra which isn't padded.

The most joyful thing is that when I bemoaned the world's lack of unpadded bras, I was advised by a friend (male ofc) to "just buy a bra you like and cut the padding out"

Anyway, if anyone finds a place that does 32F and doesn't state it's for maternity or make it look like they're your grandmothers brassiere, do let me know. Even my trusted M&S has failed me.


@Mosey If you happen to be in Toronto, there's a place called Secrets From Your Sister that is good for that. The bras are expensive, but the saleswomen are helpful and don't ever seem to mind if you are there for two hours trying to choose two out of four bras. I was a 32.5 F before getting pregnant (now 32.5...G? H?), and I've never gotten a granny-style bra there--ONLY sexy-yet-functional ones. No padding or "light lining" either, though they carry them. I even got a "t-shirt bra" (Chantelle Pearl, sadly not made anymore) that didn't have lining! I've also heard of a store in Toronto called Nearly Naked that is supposed to be better (as in more variety and cheaper) than SFYS, but I've never been there. The other good thing about these fancy bra-fitting places is that once you buy a couple in your preferred brands (so those nice people who helped can get a commission) is that you can then buy more of the same for vastly lower prices online.


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Hate these bras. They seem to float about in the general vicinity of one's breasts without actually offering any support or fulfilling any bra-like duty whatsoever. I'm with bluesuedeshoes, structured lace all the way.
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As a completely hip-less and DD bust teenager, I'm disproportionate enough as is, and I have absolutely no interest in making what I have any bigger. However, neither do I have any interest in letting my nipples show. It's basically a catch-22, but I think we really need an option without any padding (and you're absolutely right--it definitely is padding)that still doesn't let anything show, because in answer to your last question: YES! I will admit that I do live in fear of nipping out.


oh my goodness I LOATHE tshirt bras. For the longest time that's the only thing I would purchase, and then a wash or two later get fed up with those stupid bra lines under a shirt. If I want my bra to show underneath, I want it to be a sexy lace bra!! I much prefer the unpadded, unmoulded bras. the ONLY moulded / slightly padded bra I have found that doesn't show lines is the Marie Jo Avero bra -- what a miracle!! It's super comfortable and worth the $120+ price tag. You will have to go up a cup size though, as the sizing can run small.


OMG I thought surely I was the only one!!!!! I think my breasts are quite nice. I prefer nipple show because I like looking like my breasts are "organized" but naturally fabulous. Foam is too hot! My other major gripe is that I am black and (beige) nude shows under clothes. Why the hell can't I find an unlined (NO foam) medium brown, seamless underwire bra!!?? If you find it, let me know!


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Salomon Ptasevich@facebook

great post, As a man i have tho say those bras are just great! but I get where you are coming from. Do you think that bra size matters?

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