I need helping choosing a bra
October 29, 2010 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Am I doomed to wear sports bras?

I have always had very small breasts, so I haven't even bothered wearing a bra for most of my life. Recently I gained a small amount of weight and I feel the difference in my chest. I need something with support, but for various reasons the only thing that seems to work is sports bras.

I have tried underwire and non... wire? (I am extremely ignorant due to not having worn them much.) Both 32A. They seem to initially fit me but as I move around in the course of my day, they slip upwards in front until half my breast is under the wire. They (breasts) slip sideways into my armpit. There is also some gapping in-between the cup and the breast.

My shoulders are very rounded and the only type of bra I can wear is racerback; straight straps fall off my shoulders no matter how tight I make them. Sports bras work GREAT because they are snug and supportive. However, I feel weird wearing a sports bra under a silk blouse.

So can you help me? My priorities, in order, are 1) support 2) comfort 3) price 4) pretty. Slight... accentuating is fine, but I'd rather not appear like I suddenly got plastic surgery.
posted by fantoche to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You should go git fit. Is there a lingerie store around - or a Nordstroms?
posted by quodlibet at 12:41 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

You would probably benefit from those camisoles that have a built-in shelf bra. There are many available in various prices and levels of visibility; some are made to be used as shirts on their own, while others are flimsy and shiny and covered in lace where you don't actually need lace to show.

Either way, they should be available everywhere that underwear is sold: the Gap, Kohl's, Victoria's Secret, Target, Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc.
posted by Madamina at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely go get a bra fitting. Chances are you're wearing the wrong size. Sounds like too small to me somewhere. And it's very common - many women are wearing the wrong size bra.

Even with small breasts, get a fitting. If your cup size works, you may be off on band size. You can try a convertible bra that gives you many ways to wear the straps (even strapless) to give you more options.

Sounds like your cup or band size may just be too small.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:47 PM on October 29, 2010

I cannot recommend this bra enough:

UO Lace Bra.

(if that doesn't work, search "UO Lace Bra" on the Urban Outfitters website.)

I have modest boobs. I hate underwires a lot. I hate padded bras more. This bra is deceivingly supportive, creates nice, natural-looking cleavage, is cheap and pretty. (I do snip off the bow. Not a "bows" kinda girl.) The lace is thin, light and seamless so it doesn't show through t-shirts. I buy 3 at a time. It really feels like I'm not wearing a bra. I love it.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 12:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

If the band is riding up like that, you are probably smaller than a 32 band. It's hard to find anything smaller than that in most US stores, even in good bra stores, so you may have to order online. For browsing - check out herroom.com or barenecessities.com, both of which allow you to search by size and type.

I have the same problem with straps slipping, and I recently bought a little plastic gizmo that essentially converts a regular bra to a raceback. (See picture here - that one is called "the strapper" but there are a few types.) They are a pain to put on and I've stopped using them, but for the occasional silk-blouse-wearing, they might be a good option. I bought mine on ebay from some knockoff manufacturer in Hong Kong, who sent me 10 of them for 99 cents, shipped (though it took about three weeks.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check out the recent bra-fitting thread, and ukdanae's comment in particular. If your cup size seems right but your band is riding up and the straps are falling down, your band is probably too loose - go down a band size and up a cup size.

I had trouble with my straps constantly falling off my shoulders until I got fitted. The correct size really will help with that, immensely.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:57 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, nthing a proper fitting, because the problems you're experiencing shouldn't be happening, even with a 32A. Nordstroms is a really great place to do this if you have one near you.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2010

It sounds like the cup is too small and the band is too big. The cup should pretty much cover almost to the armpit area, you shouldn't be able to slide out the sides or under the cup. I recently switched from a 36 C to a 34 D which I thought was ridiculous because I am not that small around or big, but apparently I am because they fit like a dream. You may find some bras that fit you in the young adult section.
posted by stormygrey at 1:58 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are there any places that have stylish sports-type bras? I can find loads of cute ones here, but then I'm in France... I feel your pain, because I'm flatter than many men, yet tall too (5'11"/1m80), so bras my size don't exist. I'm stuck with sports-style ones. And yes, I absolutely wear them under nice blouses, unless the blouses are somewhat transparent, in which case I wear a camisole with a shelf bra (viz. Madamina). I have four different camis like that, and have quite the collection of colorful bras that I'm pretty sure are made for adolescents but I don't care since they're cute and fit :)
posted by fraula at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2010

Nthing getting a proper fitting at a good shop -- not Victoria's Secret, although once you know what a properly fitted bra feels like, there's no reason not to shop there. Read the previos bra-fitting thread, as linked to above. A good bra fit is the same whether you're a 40A or a 32DD.

I have seen front-hook racerback bras. Real bras, not sports bras. Also, have you tried shopping in the girl's or juniors department? That's probably the best place to find small band & cup sizes.
posted by jlkr at 2:15 PM on October 29, 2010

I am small-chested and love this one. Not a true sports bra, kind of multi-purpose, and oh so comfy. And supportive enough for little ol' me.
posted by bolognius maximus at 2:54 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

The band is too big if its riding up like that. Go down 2 or 3 sizes or buy the smallest you can and have them take in. This will also fix the strap issue.
posted by fshgrl at 3:45 PM on October 29, 2010

There's a specialty shop in San Mateo called Lula Lu Petite Lingerie and that specializes in bras for small-chested women.

See this article, where I heard about them. I'm a bit too big, but not by much, so it caught my attention.
posted by rw at 3:50 PM on October 29, 2010

American Apparel has some cross-back bras that are vaguely sports-bra-ish but not quite as thick or sturdy. That link is just one example - they have a few types.

I'd suggest a fitting too, but beware of the salespeople who foist massive amounts of padding and shaping on flat-chested women. They think it accentuates your shape but I often feel like it looks totally ridiculous or out of proportion. Just get measured, ask for suggestions with lining or very very minor padding, and don't feel pressured into buying something you don't like. If you really are smaller than a 32A then they'll have these cotton or spandexy bras that work really well. Nordstrom has their own brand which is quite popular among my small-chested friends and family.
posted by barnone at 4:02 PM on October 29, 2010

You probably have the wrong size - just because it fits when you put it on doesn't mean it's right. I've got a small chest too, and I used to wear kind of uncomfortable 34A's all the time, and the first time I put on a 32B it was like a revelation - so much more comfortable. You may be better off in a "sister size" like 30B or 34AA. Try those out, or get fit in a real store.

Also, I wholly recommend bras without wires whenever you can get them. They're really not necessary for "support" when you have a small chest, unless you want a push-up.
posted by vanitas at 4:41 PM on October 29, 2010

I feel a little uncomfortable suggesting this, but here goes anyways. I'm a 32A (actually probably 34AA, but the first is easier to find) and up until about 2 years ago I was too small even for that. At the age that girls were buying training bras, I was buying nothing, so I really had no idea where to buy bras smaller than 32A that fit my body.

Target girls' section carries the house brand bras for $4 and they fit like a dream. They're only identified by one number (30-38ish - I wear a 36 and my ribcage is like 33" around so I'm not sure what the sizing is but it isn't just band size) and since it sounds like you have a pretty small brand size, that might be a good place to look. It's kind of awkward for an adult to buy them but just pretend you're shopping for your daughter. Maybe buy a couple sizes and try em on at home (or just bring them into the dressing room if you're bolder than me).

I feel like I'm belittling you by suggesting kids bras, but seriously, I love those. And plenty of them are simple solid colors or other more grown up styles.

If you don't want that, I've found great underwire-less and/or padding-less (though most of their are padded) bras at H&M, and I've heard good things about American Apparel/Urban Outfitters/similar stores.
posted by R a c h e l at 5:34 PM on October 29, 2010

I wear sports bras almost all the time. They are so much more comfortable than other kinds. I don't really see the problem with wearing them even under formal clothes. If they are skin colour and the straps aren't in weird places, they won't show.

Also, when I do wear "real" bras, I find that if I've put on a little weight and my boobs get bigger, they slip out the bottom as you describe. So I suggest that if your bra is riding up, it might actually be too small - perhaps you aren't the A you think you are.
posted by lollusc at 6:23 PM on October 29, 2010

The Little Bra Company may be just what you're looking for.
posted by Logic Sheep at 7:13 PM on October 29, 2010

To supplement Logic Sheep's post, you might want to check out this blog entry and video review of The Little Bra Company and their products: http://www.frmheadtotoe.com/2010/08/ask-ms-bra-fitting-101.html
posted by Rora at 7:38 PM on October 29, 2010

To underscore, please get a fitting, and Nordstrom's (or comparable) is an excellent place for a beginner. The fitting is as much about your shoulders, your ribcage, your carriage and what shape you like to see under clothing as it is about your breast size. Once you've done that and purchased the bra you are most comfortable with, and you understand how to adjust the shoulder straps and which hooks you should start out on (that changes as time goes on) you can shop on your own in other stores. Invest an hour!
posted by thinkpiece at 8:07 AM on October 30, 2010

nthing everyone above me that you need to go get fitted for a bra (and not at victoria's secret either). I worked retail and had to fit people for bras years ago, and the one thing i remember is that most women wear a band size too big and a cup size too small, so that's a good place to start.
posted by inertia at 6:39 PM on October 30, 2010

I had exactly the same problem for YEARS, and had issues whether I was professionally fitted with a bra or not. Until I found out one fine day, that I was putting on the bra wrong!


Put on bra as per normal.
Now, with your left hand, hold your left bra strap just above the cup.
Using your right hand, reach INTO the cup, and scoop up your boob from the bottom of the cup.
Still using right hand, pull boob upwards.
Ensure base of boob now sits ABOVE underwire/band.
Repeat on other side.

NOW, let go.
Feel your boobs settle INTO the cups of the bra, rather than feeling like they're just being covered.

I still need to adjust a little bit, but the 3 second method above seriously changed my life.
posted by shazzam! at 3:12 AM on October 31, 2010

« Older Anyone got any suggestions for a small but...   |   Is there a "hoarding gene?" Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.