A question for the ladies about bras.
November 16, 2009 11:57 AM   Subscribe

It makes me crazy they can send a man to the moon but can’t make comfy bras. Do you have a favorite style/brand/retailer? Fitting advice? I’m looking for suggestions for my size, which is 32C, but it seems to be a problem for most of my friends: large boobs, small boob, post-breast feeding boobs--whatever. This is for everyday wear, and of course comfort and support are primary but looking pretty is always a bonus.
posted by greensalsa to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (38 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good luck with Natori bras for everyday (i.e., not super sexytime) wear. They're comfortable, smooth under clothes, have a much more natural fit than Victoria's Secret, and are made well enough that the elastic doesn't wear out immediately (I just started buying them maybe 9 months ago, but they still fit perfectly). They're kind of pricey, but I just get mine at Loehmann's for like $15.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:01 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you have any preferences apart from size? There are a lot of bras in the world that someone likes, so it would be helpful if you could describe either what you're looking for or what you're finding uncomfortable.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2009

i'm a 34C, and i've come to like urban outfitters bras that go on sale. i can usually get them for under $15.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2009

Seconding Natori, they are pricy but they are usually at Nordstrom Rack for cheap if there is one in your area.
Wacoal is also another popular favorite, can also be found for cheap at Nordstrom Rack. Most of their bras are not on the sexy side, but are comfortable, fit well and last a long time if you handwash them in the sink.
Have you been properly fitted lately? I had a good experience at Nordstrom, they also help you find a nice bra, more of which can be purchased cheaply later.
posted by greatalleycat at 12:12 PM on November 16, 2009

whoops, posted before i was done. my main bra problem is that my nipples kind of pop out of the bra. they don't poke through, they just come out. i also need some padding to prevent the poking issue, and i hate the whole chestplate bra thing that happens once you start going for more fuller coverage. i wear lower cut tops sometimes and those things feel like battle armor. uo bras have served me well for all of those factors.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:13 PM on November 16, 2009

I highly, highly recommend going to a shop and getting fitted. I know several people who were wearing the wrong size and didn't know it. (Boob size can change too, so if you haven't been sized in a while still go.) It will make finding bras that actually work with your body easier.
posted by Kimberly at 12:21 PM on November 16, 2009

I came in here to make the same recommendation as Kimberly. My girlfriend insisted for years that there was no such thing as a comfortable bra. I told her I would buy her a couple if she would get them professionally fitted. It turned out that she had been wearing the wrong size the wrong way since forever, and getting a professional opinion made all the difference in the world.
posted by lekvar at 12:25 PM on November 16, 2009

i'm a 34C, and i've come to like urban outfitters bras that go on sale. i can usually get them for under $15.

The only bra that has ever really fit me is the Damsel "brand" they sell at UO. I'm a 34B btw.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2009

My wife likes the Bali brand, and once she found her size, can usually get them at a pretty good price online.
posted by jrishel at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2009

I convinced my girlfriend to get fitted at Nordstrom's after reading this, and I've pretty much never seen a happier human. She had gotten her original fitting at Victoria's Secret and apparently they did not do it right at all, the band was too loose and the cups were too small just like was mentioned in that thread.

So I'll second everyone else saying before you even start to look at brands or styles, make sure you get fitted from a reputable source (VS = not reputable, with a sample size of 1)
posted by spatula at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2009

Nth getting fitted, but also Nth Wacoal.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:35 PM on November 16, 2009

Yes, Lady Grace is one retailer where they will fit you. They'll bring in different brands and sizes, adjust your straps, tell you to bend over and shake your breasts till they're more comfortable in the bra, and do a superb job of just taking care of you.
posted by Melismata at 12:37 PM on November 16, 2009

Gap bras. Comfortable, indestructible and frequently on sale. Every size, color, and shape from barely there bright pink with lace strapless and all the bells and whistles to lots of support no frills black and everything in between. Also, helpful and not weird or pushy salespeople in Gap Body. You will never go back.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2009

Nth getting professionally fitted, at Nordstrom if you have one in your area. If you can get over the weirdness of "i'm gonna stand here topless while you help me," it's really worthwhile. I am on the larger side, and when I was nursing went up to DDD, then back again post-nursing, then lost 70 pounds with subsequent boob shrinkage -- so in short, my sizes have been all over the place, and I've never had comfort or fit problems when going to Nordstrom. (And I do also Nth the motion that Wacoal makes the most comfortable bras.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:41 PM on November 16, 2009

Response by poster: My main problem is I'm always pinching the piece between the cups and pulling down because it rides up and the underwire hurts, yet I love the support of underwire.

Thanks for the good advice on getting fitted.
posted by greensalsa at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2009

Nordstrom is not the only place with a reputable fitter, if you look around the area for any mom-and-pop, non-chain corsetieres, you will also find an old lady with a tape measure who will be able to tell you your size when you walk in the store.

Do NOT go to Victoria's Secret and let one of those salespeople fit you. They do not know what they are doing. Same with Gap or any other chain-type store. I'm not saying the fitter has to be some old bat, but they have to have been trained by one of 'em.

Is it possible for men to avoid this thread unless they have breasts they have had bras fitted for?
posted by micawber at 12:49 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get fitted at Nordstrom and then go buy bras at the Gap. I wore Wacoal and and Natori bras for years and nothing beats a good t-shirt bra from the Gap and they're WAY cheaper. Just be sure that you know your actual size before you go to buy.
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:59 PM on November 16, 2009

I'll never be without Gap t-shirt bras for day-to-day use (34A here). Very comfy (with our without underwire), not too pricey (and they're frequently on sale anyway), and they hold up well as long as you take decent care of them (i.e., gentle wash, hang to dry).
posted by scody at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2009

Yeah, nth getting fitted. It sounds like you're not wearing the right size, or maybe just not the right bra. (Some bras seem to be made for people with close-together breasts, for example, while some seem to be made for people with far apart breasts.)

I have the latter and like Natori and Chantelle, but those brands might be totally wrong for you.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2009

Once I found a bra in the correct size and the correct style, wearing even an underwire bra is much more comfortable.

Every woman's rack is different, and a bra that works for one person won't work for another. For example, Wacoal's "full figure" bras are so uncomfortable on me, although many other women seem to like them. And I do much better in bras that are "half-cup" or "demi-cup" rather than "full cup", because my boobs are sort of close together and the wire on the full-cup bras are uncomfortable. I also find that bras with a full, flat band under the cups (like this one) are more comfortable in the long run that those with just a wire.

After you go to Nordstrom's or a specialty store, you can usually find the exact same bras for less on eBay. Just search for the model number and size that fit you best.
posted by muddgirl at 1:11 PM on November 16, 2009

nthing Nordstrom's. My partner was fitted there, and said they were very professional and helpful. Now she can shop for bras anywhere with the proper sizing. She says she would not go to Victoria's Secret for a fitting because they "focus on the wrong priorities".
posted by lazaruslong at 1:28 PM on November 16, 2009

I wear a 36 G. The only bra I've ever been entirely comfortable and supported in is Prima Donna's Madison. At $116 a bra, and special ordering from Belgium, that pretty much blows. (And there's no way I'm plunking down $50 for the matching panties.) It's taken me 15 years and many many bra fittings and brands to figure this out, too. But I've never had a department store bra (even Nordstrom!) fit me like this one does.

Where did I get it? Yup, the crazy specialty lingerie store. The fitter wasn't some crazy old bat, but a teeny little hipster girl. Still, she really knew boobs, despite barely having any herself. Don't know where you're located, but if you're anywhere near San Francisco, get yourself to Alla Prima on Hayes Street.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:29 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

The problem with getting fitted is your size/shape changes all the time. I've given up bras, but if you wear them, I suggest buying one (or two) at a time, washing it (them) by hand, and getting refitted and buying a new bra every few months or so. Also consider corsets.
posted by westerly at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2009

Nthing again the need to get thee to a specialty lingerie store. It's not just the fitting, like jeans and just about every other item of clothing some brands run small and some run big... I broke down post nursing and went to a small local shop (Just Like A Woman - Portland OR) that amongst other things does fittings for women with mastectomies and boy did these ladies know what they were doing without making me feel lame for not being able to find a flattering bra! I too hate underwire with a passion and they were able to show me a selection of 4 different brands two of which worked great (in 2 different sizes...) and as a plus they filed away my preferences so I can call and order more without having to remember what I ordered (since I also have to cut out itchy tags from clothes). I'd had a fitting at Nordstroms in the past but they failed to carry anything flattering without underwire, at least at the time, and so I walked out with an expensive bra I couldn't stand to wear for more than an hour.
posted by rosebengal at 1:54 PM on November 16, 2009

I enjoy Gap Body bras for everyday wear. I would agree with the commenters above that Victoria's Secret is an absolute sham. You should get professionally fitted at a department store like Nordstrom.

All that said, this is my favorite bra ever:
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2009

Calvin Klein Perfectly Fit wireless bra.

I discovered this one a few weeks ago and just bought five of them just in case they ever get discontinued. It is simply the most comfortable bra I have ever worn (Im a 34C), it gives me great support/shape and has a light lining to keep the nipples in check.

You can get them at Macy's.
posted by osloheart at 4:27 PM on November 16, 2009

seconding calvin klein, especially their push up bras. i'm only a 32b (sometimes 32c) but i like a lot of support and i hate underwires so as long as i remember not to wear anything low cut with one to work, i've found that this is (somewhat paradoxically) the most comfortable.

also, this is one of my pet peeves, and i'm sure you're probably experiencing it too: for some reason it's getting harder to get 32s. i've been to a few large department stores in the last few months and it a lot of styles start at 34a and up. still, if your bra is riding up, you need to tighten the band or try a 30c, which annoyingly, you'd have to order online and wont be able to try on in the store. otherwise, if you're already using the third fasteners, i'd try moving a row closer to the straps so the bra fits more snugly.
posted by buka at 5:02 PM on November 16, 2009

My main problem is I'm always pinching the piece between the cups and pulling down because it rides up and the underwire hurts, yet I love the support of underwire.

Yeah, that sounds like a fit problem. You need to get professionally fitted and IANAPF, but from what I understand, the bra should not "ride up" or move around much on you at all. My best guess is that you need a smaller band size and larger cup size. You may be tightening the shoulder straps too much, in an effort to get them to do the work that a well-fitted band should do. But I could be guessing completely wrong, so see a professional.

There are some good fit tips on the Bravissimo web site, but like everyone else here is saying, there's no substitute for a proper fitting.
posted by LBS at 5:12 PM on November 16, 2009

Yep. that sounds like a fit problem. This website was a good start for me, but there is nothing like a fitting. I used to wear a 36D but recently discovered I'm actually a 34F (!). You might have a similar situation.
posted by apricot at 5:17 PM on November 16, 2009

a bit late, but would emphatically agree to those who have suggested a professional fitting. If your current bras are riding up, it definitely sounds like a fit issue. By the way, the fit problem that most women seem to have is that they compensate for a too small cup size with a too large band size. They think that they are a 36 C, when they are actually a 34 DD. I've never heard it the other way around.

There are also some great online sites that tell you how to measure yourself. I followed the direction on this site (a DC lingerie store where I was fitted in the store. I tried it at home and got the same result so I think that it's pretty accurate). That being said as rosebengal mentioned, there are going to be slight differences between different styles and brands (and even styles within brands). Your band size should stay consistent, but you might be a D in one style and a DD in another, so you still need to try them on. Oh and if you're between band sizes (if you're a 33 say) if it's not too uncomfortable, you may want to go with the smaller one as bras are more likely to stretch than shrink.

You may also find that some styles are just more flattering than others. I'm fairly thin, but some bras gave me the dreaded armpit boob. Once I got the cup/band size down, I realized that it was also (for me) about the position of the straps. And while your breasts may not change size every 6 months (some sites suggest getting refitted that often), they definitely change size when you lose or gain weight. Sometimes 5lbs could make a difference. I actually have a couple of different sizes to accommodate different times of the month and slight fluctuation in weight.
posted by kaybdc at 5:20 PM on November 16, 2009

you should also keep in mind that what one brand calls a 32C might not be what another brand calls a 32C. sizes vary WILDLY between brands.

(for any fatties visiting the thread, i highly recommend lane bryant's full coverage cotton underwire and full coverage cotton no-wire bras. the no-wire are super comfortable for staying at home and cleaning and all that jazz and i've slowly started just wearing them all the time *even out in public* because i have no one to impress.)
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:36 PM on November 16, 2009

I'm a 34DD. Le Mystere are pretty enough but look f'ing fantastic under your clothes. Great, great, great support. Chantelle are beautiful to look at but offer slightly less iron-clad support than Le Mystere (at least for me). These are the only brands I wear these days. I get them at Nordstrom, where I also get measured from time to time. They run from $60ish to $90ish and are 100% worth it.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:07 PM on November 16, 2009

Nthing get thee to Nordstrom's. It's the best thing I ever did for my posture, self-esteem, comfort, pocketbook, etc. The fitters/saleswomen really know their products, and they know how to fit you. I bought two different styles and ended up deciding I preferred one and then bought some more online. It's totally worth it.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:45 PM on November 16, 2009

YMMV but I take out the underwire on all my bras. Much more comfortable, and still plenty of support.
posted by DeltaForce at 4:54 PM on November 18, 2009

nthing Nordstrom's for a professional fitting. Made me very happy and comfortable. I look better in my clothes.
The Nordstroms lady fitted me with a Fayreform bra. They come in half sizes. Expensive, but comfort and looking good are worth it. I bought one Fayreform at Nordstroms and another on Ebay for half price.
Good luck!
posted by valannc at 6:28 PM on November 19, 2009

A professional fitting changed my life. I was wearing a much-too-big band and too-small cup, so the correct size felt like a crazy squeeze until I got used to it. So when you get your first fitting, consider that when you're thinking about comfort. Concentrate on the feel of the fabric, and whether anything is poking or scratching (and of course how it looks and shapes you), but try to ignore the squeeze!
posted by kmel at 10:59 PM on November 19, 2009

Seconding Prima Donna. Costly, but the first time ever in my life that I like my bras. I got fitted at Intimacy here in New York, on the suggestion of Oprah who was fitted at Intimacy in Chicago. myintimacy.com . Definitely go to a high-end bra shop and get fitted there. Your band size will be smaller and cup size larger than you expect, and at first you'll feel like you've been strapped into a straitjacket, but give them a week and you'll be so glad you sprung for pricey, well-fitting bras. And the girls will look better than ever.
posted by orangemiles at 4:28 PM on November 22, 2009

How do you know you're wearing the wrong size? If it's uncomfortable. If your first urge is to take off your bra after you get home from work, you are ill-fitted. Apparently it's a common problem, lots of women are wearing incorrect sizes.

I also recommend Prima Donna. It's a seperate line by Marie-Jo and especially suited for bigger busted ladies (sizes go up to H).

Both lines are owned by Van de Velde, a Belgian family business. All bra's are made by hand (although the assembly itself doesn't take place in Belgium anymore, contrary to what I believed) and are not only comfortable, but also durable, beautiful and luxurious.

Their collection consists of beautiful, sexy, feminine bra's which make me swoon. Every time I buy a new one (which is not as often as my enthousiastic prose would suggest) I keep the new bra on after the fitting just because it's so comfortable.

Costly? Yes, maybe. But for the comfort they give me and the fact that a bra is a piece of clothing you wear every day, I get more than my money's worth. Even as a poor student I saved on other expenses to be able to wear Prima Donna. And, cheaper bra's stretch out over time, but I find my older Primma Donna bra's to be almost as elastic as new ones. They last a really, really long time.

Although I'm Belgian, I'm not in any way affliated with Prima Donna. Just a very, very, very satisfied life-long costumer.
On preview: Okay, I sound crazily over-enthousiastic, but it's really impossible to describe the joy of a comfortable bra.

posted by lioness at 2:00 PM on November 27, 2009

« Older Here's all my passwords dude   |   Leonids by BART? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.