Do you boobs hang low?
June 27, 2010 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Is there a bra that does not make me look like I am smuggling grapefruit halves?

Since everyone is asking about bras, it got me thinking: I am looking for an underwire bra that does not have a super round profile. All the bras I have looked at lately have a "round modern shape" (exact wordage from one of the tags). To me, these bras seem be trying to mimic the look of implants: big round mounds. I have found retro bras, vintage bras, and fetish bras that do not have the ridiculous round look. I have found bullet bras and super pointy bras, which while amusing, would be kind of silly in real life.

I have gone to Macy's, Figleaves, Barenecessities, and a bunch of other stores and websites. It is really overwhelming. There is no specialty bra store anywhere near where I live (I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific), so that is out.

But is there a mainstream brand has for a more natural silhouette? I wear a 34 C. I do not need built up straps or anything super heavy duty. Just a nice underwire bra that supports and conceals nipples. I prefer a molded cup (which may be the problem), but could go with a regular cup.
posted by fifilaru to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds weird, but I'd try checking out someplace like TJ Maxx or Ross that has a bunch of different brands, none of which you've probably heard of. I've had the same problem trying to shop at name brand stores - everything is padded all to hell and really pricey to boot. But I ran across a couple of really great, basic bras at TJ Maxx a couple of years ago and now I tend to at least give that department a once over whenever I'm in the store.
posted by something something at 2:55 PM on June 27, 2010

Paging ukdanae to the green...

fifilaru, if ukdanae shows up in this thread, listen to her. She knows her stuff.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:03 PM on June 27, 2010

I go to a store here in NYC that has an online shop called Linda's. She's been featured on many makeover shows, and I love it because the salespeople are SO helpful. If you can't find what you're looking for on their site, just ask them and they'll point you in the right direction. Good luck!
posted by Unred at 3:05 PM on June 27, 2010

I don't know if they still sell this, but a year or two ago I got a basic Calvin Klein bra at Macy's that has a more natural shape. I think it only came in tan and black colors. The material is sort of satiny and it's got a molded but lightly-lined cup.

Also, while you said you want underwire, Warner's has a great selection of wire-free bras that have a molded cup, nice shape, good support and nipple-concealing powers. The Macy's near me has a whole section of these bras and they come in a lot of styles. While they don't come in super-sexy styles, some of them are pretty, and now I don't wear anything but those underwire-free bras when it comes to daily use. Sooo comfortable.
posted by wondermouse at 3:10 PM on June 27, 2010

This is an example of one of the Warner's wireless bras.
Not all of them come up as high as that one does, but as the reviews say, it is totally comfortable and supportive.
posted by wondermouse at 3:20 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If youf ind one that looks like it might fit the bill, maybe you should try ordering it in a range of sizes so you can pick one that really works right for you. As a 34C, you might want to try 34C, 34D, as well as 36C and maybe a 32D.
Then when you find the perfect one, send back the rejects and order a bunch of the winners in different colors. Good luck!
posted by mmf at 3:30 PM on June 27, 2010

You might want to use the vocab half-cup, demi-cup or decollete when searching. Balconette maybe too, but I think those are mostly for A or B cups.
posted by frobozz at 3:35 PM on June 27, 2010

Best answer: Hi, MonkeyToes, thanks for the love!

It might be useful to get some examples of the round shape that you're not looking for, just so I understand you better. To have a stab at it, i would guess that you're looking for a shape less like this, and more like this. Is that close to what you're after? If it is, then the style you're not looking for is anything approaching balconette - this tends to have a wider distance between the straps and more of a "push up" style, which gives (what i would consider) a grapefruit effect.

Still assuming that i've understood you correctly, i think they style you're looking for is a full-cup, specifically full cup bras that have a smaller distance between the straps. This one looks to be about right, and you can tell the difference between strap placement if you open a second tab with this bra in it, and switch back and forth between them. Note that they are both "full cup bras" (which refers to the amount of breast covered), but the strap placement is very different!

Finally, because i'm thick and not 100% sure i've understood you correctly, i'm worrying a wee bit about your title (about boobs hanging low) and your (what i would consider) suspicious bra size of 34C. I'm not saying that 34C's don't exist, but i've met a whole lot of women wearing a 34C who turned out to really be something closer to a 32D or DD. If you're finding that your breasts are hanging low, or if you have any problems with your straps digging in or if the back of your bra rides up your back in an inverted U shape, you are probably wearing a band size that is too big. Try dropping your band size by one and upping your cup size by one to see if you feel more comfortable, and are happier with the shape you're getting.

I hope i've understood you correctly - if not feel free to MeMail me or point me to some links so i can get a better idea of what you're looking for!
posted by ukdanae at 3:45 PM on June 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

I've recently done some intensive bra shopping. I know what you're talking about; most bras are designed with so much lift and shaping that you end up semisperical. You might have luck with a demi bra or balconette style. With these, about 2/3 of the breast sits in the cup, and the upper part isn't covered. Depending on the size, you can end up with the super round profile, or a more relaxed natural profile.
posted by wryly at 3:47 PM on June 27, 2010

Seconding the Calvin Klein ones. I adore the slightly thicker material ones (unlined) as they give good support without being the vast architectural wonders of the world that most bras around 34C and up seem to be these days.
posted by elizardbits at 3:48 PM on June 27, 2010

Not sure what you mean, but check out Freya.
posted by lucy.verdad at 3:59 PM on June 27, 2010

Best answer: How bad do you need to avoid nipple show-through? If you really want a natural silhouette I think you need to get away from molded cups entirely; your boobs are always just going to pour into the shape they're given with any kind of foam cup. You want something like this Gemma bra where it molds to your boobs. The microfiber may be supportive enough to forgo molded cups.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:13 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can get silicone covers that go over your nipples to hide them. I've never used 'em, though, so I can't vouch for them.

If you want something that's natural and not bullet-y you might want to stay away from seams. (Unfortunately, no seams and not thick & molded tends to mean somewhat less support.) You could try something like Wacoal Halo Lace.

I'm not sure if this is the issue you're talking about, but I feel like those bras sort of allow the slightly hollow/flatter area above the breast to be hollow rather than pushing breast tissue up into it a lot.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:13 PM on June 27, 2010

(And I just realized the "fitting tips" on the page I linked to say that that bra does do that, but that's not my experience with either Wacoal Halo or similar stretch lace bras. They allow this sort of slight teardrop shape rather than grapefruit shape.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:16 PM on June 27, 2010

I've had the same experience as needs more cowbell with the Wacoal Halo Lace bras. I like them a lot. But I totally agree that it's next to impossible to find good, cute bras without rounded molded cups these days and it does seem like it's just the style right now.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:22 PM on June 27, 2010

Response by poster: thanks everyone, I am going to be looking at all the suggestions. My husband thanks you too, since he has to go bra shopping with me and I don't think he really enjoys it.
posted by fifilaru at 9:19 PM on June 27, 2010

Best answer: I don't have any real advice about finding a bra, but i wanted to add a data point to the advice to get yerself properly fitted. I was wearing 36D, and realised that my boobs were indeed hanging low. (I had been wearing this size for YEARS.) I got fitted and discovered that i'm actually a 32G. I was SHOCKED. I also discovered that this new bra size instantly made me look 5-10 pounds thinner.

If you don't have specialty shop around that will measure you, it's pretty easy to do yourself. Take a soft tape measure and measure around your ribcage, where your bra band sits. That number is your band size. Next, measure around the fullest part of your boobs. The difference between that number and your band size is your cup size. (So, if you measure 32 inches around your ribs, and 35 inches around your boobs, you're a 32C, because there's a 3 inch difference.) To be clearer about it,
- 1inch difference = Size A
- 2inch difference = Size B
- 3inch difference = Size C
- 4inch difference = Size D
posted by Kololo at 10:05 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't know whether that's a mainstream brand where you live, but I have a bra from Barbara Lingerie that has a less modern shape (pointy but not super-pointy). It's not molded, but very high quality and really pretty.
posted by The Toad at 11:26 PM on June 27, 2010

I'm not a C cup, but I've attempted to use the covers that needs more cowbell linked to on Amazon, and unfortunately I can't recommend them. Since they have a particular curve to them (they're very firm), they only look good if your shape happens to match perfectly. Otherwise it's super visible and awkward.
posted by tantivy at 12:01 AM on June 28, 2010

Maybe ukdanae can verify this, but I'm 99% sure you add two inches to your ribcage measurement to get band size, Kololo. (there are other ways to get band size including one where you measure above the breasts but I don't have any idea about that). For example, I have a ribcage measurement of 30, and I wear a 32 band. For bras that run large in the cup or tight in the band (Le Mystere lace, I'm looking at you), I can sometimes drop down one cup size and up to a 34 band and still have a great fit. I would never, ever be able to fit into a 30 band size in any cup size.
posted by peep at 9:43 AM on June 28, 2010

Sassybax is getting good reviews. I learned about them over the weekend, and can't wait to go to a local store to try one one prior to purchasing.
posted by 6:1 at 10:21 AM on June 28, 2010

Best answer: peep, i've never found that taking measurements work for me -- if you put my measurements into a bra-sizing formula similar to kololo's above, it says i should be wearing a 40D instead of a 36G. I don't use a measuring tape for two reasons:

1. Sizes can be inconsistent between different manufacturers, styles, and even styles within the same manufacturer. Fabric will also have an impact on size, because of how much stretch is in the fabric. A 36G in a silk back would never fit me because the silk won't stretch, but put me in a Rigby & Peller powermesh bra and it's perfect. That's probably why you can drop a size and still have a great fit, peep.

2. There's a big difference between bra sizing and bra fitting - instead of measuring someone, I look at what size they are currently wearing, and how it fits them. Based on that, I can usually recommend a new size. Here is a more detailed version of how you can fit yourself:

First, start with the size of the bra that you are wearing, then check three things:

1. Feel underneath your armpit for the end of your underwire. Is there any breast tissue past the end of the underwire? If there is, your cup size might be too small -- your underwire should sit directly below your underarm, and should cover the entire breast area. Another indictator of a too-small cup is if you have any painful pinching from underwires.

(Another good indicator of a too-small cup size is the dreaded quadraboob, or breast tissue bulging out of the top of your bra. Also, if you can stick your finger between the bridge of your bra (that's the fabric bit in the middle) and your torso, you might have too small of a cup size - the bridge should lie flat against your sternum)

If there's a little breast tissue past the underwire, add one cup size. If there's a lot, add two

2. Reach around and pull on the band of your bra. Can you pull it out very far? Can you "bra snap" yourself? If so, your band is probably too big. Most women assume that the support of their bra comes from the straps, but in reality it should come from the band. You should be able to take your straps off completely and still have decent support in your bra. When i was sized properly I found the band to be almost too tight at first, but it quickly becomes comfortable because you're properly supported.

If you can pull out your bra strap a lot, shave off two band sizes. If only a little, shave off one.

Most people i've met are wearing a cup size that's too small, and a band size that's too big. It doesn't help that the US in particular has this mad obsession with not going past a D in their sizes, making DD+ seem like no-man's land. I've even seen bras advertised as a "6D" (that's DDDDDD) rather than a G-cup because of this idea that anything above a D is mutant.

I'm deeply suspicious of 36C in particular, because so many women i've met claim to be this size, and almost always end up being something like a 32F or 34DD. In terms of dress size, a true 36C would be about a size 16-18 with relatively small breasts. And DD isn't that big at all - here's a photo that we use at my site to illustrate what a (32)DD really looks like.

Sorry, that was a really long way of saying that I have a lot of issues with measuring for bra sizes, because I think it leads women away from supportive, comfortable bras. To me, the big question is, "how does this bra fit me?," because two bras never seem to fit the same way, even with the same measurements. I hope that makes some semblance of sense!
posted by ukdanae at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2010 [43 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with ukdanae's assessment, but I've gotta point out that there's a lot of full-cup or t-shirt bras out there that have overly-molded cups. Wide-set straps definitely contribute to lift, but I've found that what really drives the bionic boob effect is the material and construction of the cup itself. Even at 34C (which shouldn't count as a full-figure size) you're still likely to find bras that have an unnecessary amount of scaffolding.

I've had a lot of luck with lightly lined demi cup/balconette bras without dramatically angled underwire. The more cotton or lace that's in the cup, the less ridiculous the shape tends to be - stay away from anything with space-age microfiber nonsense.

Also on preview: it is hard, especially if you're in North America, to think of yourself as anything larger than a C cup if you're not particularly large-breasted. There are so many brands that don't (regularly) offer C cups in band sizes smaller than 34, so people tend to end up with this idea that 34C is the "basic" size for a thin-ish woman who isn't very small-breasted. I don't know where you're shopping for bras, but if you're you're going to...I dunno, any department store lower-end than Nordstrom or even Sears, there will be a ton of brands without good options and no fitting services in sight.
posted by thisjax at 1:11 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

peep, 'adding two inches' is the reason so many people are wearing a band size that's two big.

with a measurement of 32 and a band size of the32, my bras are indeed a little snug. when i first get them home from the store, they are in fact a tad uncomfortable for the first few wearings. but by wearing #4 or5, they no longer are uncomfortable, they have done most of the stretching they are going to do, and i've got a bra that fits.
posted by Kololo at 12:47 PM on June 29, 2010

peep, 'adding two inches' is the reason so many people are wearing a band size that's two big.

Actually, I believe at many, many places (including Victoria's Secret), they add 5 inches, and you'll find that advice on the internet quite commonly, too. That's crazy! For me, 32 is very snug (and is the band size I wear most commonly), 34 is still snug (and I can only wear this band size in a tight-running bra), but 30? I literally would not be able to hook it, not even in a G or H cup.

I've honestly never heard the advice that your ribcage measurement equals your band size, and I can't see how it would work for 99% of women. Unless you mean with your lungs fully inflated with a full breath of air? I measure in a neutral postion, lungs neither fully exhaled or fully inflated.
posted by peep at 1:26 PM on June 29, 2010

my measurement is 32 and my band size is 32 (although i also have bras that are 34, that i wear on the tightest set of hooks). So there's one data point for you!

I suspect this has to do with the inflation of sizes, which i beleive is more common in the states than its is in Canada. (Ie. a size ten in the US is way bigger than a size ten made me a non-US manufacturer.)
posted by Kololo at 8:49 AM on June 30, 2010

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