Where can I find this unicorn of a bra??
March 24, 2014 9:55 PM   Subscribe

I am having serious issues finding a bra that fits me. However, since I've been to multiple stores already, I've had some success defining exactly what I need. Previous Qs on bras don't address my very specific petite, plus-size situation. Metafilter, does this bra exist??

For background info, my measurements are:
under bust (band size): 38-39 inches
full bust: 50 inches
upper bust: 44 inches

The sizes that have come closest in a store include 40DDD, 42DDD, 40F or 42F. But these haven't quite fit me. In clothing, I usually wear a 2X or 18-20, and I have kind of a small frame with narrow shoulders, but I'm fat and have a lot of belly fat especially.

Some specifics:

CENTER GORE: I'm short from the shoulder to the waist. If the center gore comes up too high, it's a problem. However, my breasts are on the large side, so too small a center gore (as in a plunge-style bra) results in major breast overflow. So a low-ish gore seems to be right (a couple of inches high).

CUPS: Again (I suspect) because of my short-waisted-ness+large-breasted-ness, the DDDs I've tried on are too small at the bottom of the cup and kind of too big at the top, and the Fs are too big all over.

SIDES: I need the underwire/cup part of the bra to go back pretty far on the side of the bra because my breasts start way over under my armpit, not forward of that point as bra manufacturers seem to think it should?!

CLOSURE: Although my underbust measurement is ~38 inches, I have a pretty fat belly that starts just under that, and I *hate* fastening a bra and then pulling it around my body to get the closure part to the back (and most large bras have so many hooks that I can't really do them backwards). A front closure would be a lot better for me!

FABRIC/TRIM: I'm super sensitive and hate all lace, itchy/uncomfortable fabrics, embellishments, etc. I *hate* being uncomfortable due to clothing. :( I kind of hate underwire but I'm willing to consider it again as long as it's not going to be poking me in the armpit/side due to the cups of my bra not fitting me properly.

COST: It would be great if it could be all of the above and cheap, too! We do have an Intimacy store in my area, and I haven't been there yet, but I got a fitting there years ago when I was a completely different size and it was great, but hard on the wallet. This question is sort of my last-ditch effort before I go there.

For the past few years, I've been wearing bras from Decent Exposures and although they are kind of comfortable and very accommodating of my weird needs for nothing irritating touching me, they are really unflattering and make clothes look bad. I usually wear t-shirts and yoga pants, but I feel like I should probably try to dress more like an adult or something (I'm 34). But all these unsuccessful trips to stores are making me think I should just resign myself to a life of sweatpants and never leave my house. Thanks in advance for helping me to feel like I can leave my house in clothing.
posted by pupstocks to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Your location says socal... Get thee to The Wizard of Bras! Seriously, they have amazing fit specialists AND a huge (no pun intended) in-store stock of bras. They bring you tons of different ones to try on and everyone there is really, really nice.
posted by erst at 10:04 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

One thing to address the boobs starting around the side of your body issue (which I also have) is that you can buy your bras a size too large in the band and have them taken in. That way the cups are further apart.
posted by fshgrl at 10:07 PM on March 24, 2014

It sounds like your breasts might be fuller at the bottom than at the top? Have you tried non-molded bras? They can be tricky to find in non-lacy fabrics, but it's made a huge difference for me. I was wearing the right size, but molded bras still left a gap at the top and were too small at the bottom.

I also recommend Nordstrom Rack for reasonably priced bras.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 10:18 PM on March 24, 2014

As a short, top-heavy lady myself, you won't be able to find a front-closure bra that is short enough to not give you uniboob, not in our size anyway.

Finding an underwire, non-pokey bra can be done. Elomi bras tend to have shorter wires and also fancy fabrics so they look pretty. Nordstrom sells them as do various places online.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:29 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried a smaller band size (38) and larger cup size? Your proportions are similar to mine and I wear GG in British sizes. Changing size might make a plunge bra work for you if the problem is that you spill out.

I do think that you are most likely to get what you want from somewhere that specialises in bras for larger busted women. And it will be expensive.
posted by plonkee at 12:19 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I second matildatakesovertheworld on most points! You sound like perhaps you have what are called "full on bottom" breasts, and perhaps also "wide roots." Here's a discussion on full-on-top vs. full-on-bottom, which includes some specific brand recommendations. The incredible Bratabase also allows you to search by breast shape, in a very detailed manner.

As mentioned, Nordstrom Rack is my go-to for bras, as a combination of good brands and lower prices, plus more availability of unusual sizes. Although, most people recommend getting properly fitted by a knowledgeable fitter at a specialty shop first, and you might want to do it now that you're a different size. I got fitted, bought a few bras at the shop, and then filed my "real size" away mentally to shop in future at the Nordstrom Rack and online.

Also, have you tried the "scoop and swoop" method of putting on your bra? There are videos if the description is confusing. I think it's supposed to help with the side-boob/underwire-poking issue, as well as help bras fit better in general.
posted by spelunkingplato at 12:31 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm the same size as you and it sounds to me like your band size is way too big and your cup size is too small - for comparison, I wear a 36G. The problem that you're having with the bra not covering your boobs under your armpit is a big sign that your cup size is too small - the underwire should be going all the way back to your armpit. Bras are graded in a way that if you decrease the back size but increase the cup size, you're still getting the same amount of coverage, it's just getting redistributed. That's why if suggest trying a move from a 40 to a 36 but adjusting the cup size too.

The other way to tell your band size is too large is if your bra rides up on your back like an upside-down U. The band should be flat, because really, the band of your bra should provide all the support, not the straps. If you pull down the straps of your bra and your support goes, your band is too big.

Check out brands like Freya, Fantasie, and Elomi for bras that have cups beyond DD (and if you see any bra with more than two D's in the size, don't buy it. Those people have no idea what they are doing). It sounds to me like you should be trying on 36-38 G-H size bras.
posted by ukdanae at 1:09 AM on March 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

I can't emphasise enough what erst said - go to a specialist bra store and have them measure and fit you. Department stores are not great for this, particular for non-standard sizes.

I was fitted at Rigby & Peller in London a few years ago. I went in wearing a 38C (which I thought was the 'right size') and left in a 32E bra, a Prima Donna, which cost me £65 - the most I've ever spent on a bra. But that bra still looks good as new a few years on, so it was value for money. And it gave me a template for buying the correct size in other stores. In Marks & Spencer (the UK's leading lingerie department store) I take a 34E, and in Freya bras it's a 34DD. So different manufacturers will have different sizing on bands/cups and I'll find I have to vary the size up or down, but only slightly.

And the professional bra fitters know their stuff. I walked into Town Shop in New York wearing my Prima Donna bra and the saleslady took one look at me (fully clothed) and said "well, girl, I can see you're in the right size".

So get measured, fitted and buy one or two good bras from the bra store - one underwired, one not. You can then work around those sizes to find cheaper bras online or in department stores.
posted by essexjan at 2:38 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have a look at Bravissimo. Even with the exchange rate and shipping, it might be cheaper (or at least not more expensive) than a specialist bra shop in the US, plus they have a good selection of stuff/wide range of styles.
posted by you must supply a verb at 2:50 AM on March 25, 2014

You MUST get to a professional bra fitter. I've had great luck at Nordstrom and with Wacoal bras. My cup size is G and they have many options in my size.

They also do bra fittings at Lane Bryant/Cacique. My Wacoal bras last a couple of years, the Cacique bras...not as well. But, they are adorable and you can get matching bra and panty sets.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:17 AM on March 25, 2014

CLOSURE: Although my underbust measurement is ~38 inches, I have a pretty fat belly that starts just under that, and I *hate* fastening a bra and then pulling it around my body to get the closure part to the back (and most large bras have so many hooks that I can't really do them backwards). A front closure would be a lot better for me!

I finally recently learned to just hook the bra before putting it on, and then put it on over my head like I would a tshirt. Same thing with taking it off.

I too hate clasping it in front and then tugging and pulling to get the hooks to the back!
posted by vitabellosi at 6:26 AM on March 25, 2014

You're TOTALLY wearing the wrong size.

You're band is 38 to 39. I would start with a 38 band. 90% of your support should come from yoru band.

Your bust is 50. (Is that standing or bending over? Bending gives you a full measurement of your breast tissue because all that stuff under your armpit is boob and needs to be measured too!)

50 (bust) minus 38 (band) is 12 inches. This calculator put you in a UK size 40H or a US 40G. *Although I don't have all your measurements. AND I would try a 38 band first.

HERE is all all in one guide from A Bra That Fits.

For reference I am an underbust 28, standing bust 32, leaning bust 33. I am a 28D/28DD *I wear closer to a 28D because of my shallow, bottom full breast shape. Get fitted! Also my thread and TONS of helpful links, charts, and calculators!

Once you start getting into the right size, then we can discuss fit, because right now all of your issues are wrong-size issues.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:40 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sounds like you need a bigger cup size. Getting a professional fitting changed m my life and made bras almost comfortable. What might help to is if your can find a fitter to show you how to put on a bra properly, if you have large breasts you pretty much have to lean over and lower the girls in, this helps your breasts sit right on the cup, and helps with gaping and slipping into the armpit problems. I've had good luck with lane Bryant bras, which are ok price wise if you hit a sale. I am a g cop and they are the only bra I've written that will get my boobs out of my arm pits and to the front and hold them there.
posted by wwax at 7:03 AM on March 25, 2014

OH! and I forgot to mention. Once you get sized and are trying on bras, start with a fitted band size first, then adjust the cup size. So for instance if I tried on a bra in my measured size of 28D and the band fit snug, but the cup was too shallow and I was spilling out, then I should try that specific bra in a 28DD next.

Why? Because again, the band should be 90% of the support. Going up a band size changes the band by 2 inches, whereas changing your cup size only changes the bust area by 1 inch.*

*(or less/more depending on the manufacturer.)
posted by Crystalinne at 7:17 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to what specific size you should wear, but this

COST: It would be great if it could be all of the above and cheap, too! We do have an Intimacy store in my area, and I haven't been there yet, but I got a fitting there years ago when I was a completely different size and it was great, but hard on the wallet. This question is sort of my last-ditch effort before I go there.

Probably just isn't going to happen. For ladies that are bigger on top, bras off the rack are basically never going to fit right. And we have to wear them every day! If it's at all possible, I would highly recommend prioritizing a nice bra that fits you well (think $50-$70 range) even if you can only afford one to start.

I vote you go to your local intimacy store and get properly fitted.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:30 AM on March 25, 2014

Response by poster: You guys are awesome. Thank you so much!!!

I am hearing you: I need to go to Intimacy (Wizard of Bras also sounds great! Intimacy is closer to me, but if they don't work out, I'll head WoBward). I have actually been measured at each non-Intimacy store I've been to so far, but as I suspected and y'all are confirming, they didn't seem to know what they were doing.

(SIDE RANT: More than one store apparently now determines your band size based on your UPPER BUST measurement!!! WTF!!!! More than one salesperson measured and initially told me I was probably a 44D or DD. Even I knew that was way off.)

Also I wanted to add that I just tried measuring my full bust while bending over and got a 52!

And also it had never occurred to me to try fastening the hooks and pulling the bra over my head like a t-shirt. Possibly life-changing!

I'll report back in a few days after I've had a chance to go to Intimacy. And I'll keep checking here in case more brilliance is bestowed on this thread!
posted by pupstocks at 7:47 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bra over the head works for me. I have some pretty bad arthritis in my shoulders and I can't reach behind my back. It takes a bit if fiddling at first, but once you get used to it everything works fine.
posted by kathrynm at 9:29 AM on March 25, 2014

I definitely think you're in the wrong size, particularly in the cups. I had the exact same problem as you describe - the underwires would poke into my sideboob and leave marks and were incredibly uncomfortable. I was in a 40B or a 38C at the time. I followed the advice on A Bra That Fits and a couple of other websites and I'm now in a 36DD and it's PERFECT. For you, based on your update, I'd start with a 38G or 38H. You're probably out of luck with the front closure requirement, but you should definitely be able to find a comfortable, supportive bra in that size at Intimacy. Once you've found a size that works for you, check out the sales at HerRoom because they have some really great deals sometimes.
posted by bedhead at 9:31 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since SoCal was mentioned, I cannot endorse Jenette Bras enough. You make an appointment, walk in, go to a fitting room where a saleslady measures you and brings out bras that go with your measurements. You try them on, she checks to make sure certain things fit. It's a conversation about what works for you.

You will pay $100 for the bra, but that fucker will fit you better than any bra you've ever tried. And it will last. And then they keep a record of what you bought for future reference. They have locations in Pasadena and East Hollywood.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:15 PM on March 25, 2014

Seconding the scoop and swoop; it's a game changer.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 7:11 PM on March 25, 2014

Intimacy is amazing. They don't even measure; they just look at you and know. And when your bras get a bit stretchy (loose on tightest hook), you take them back and, for a small fee, they'll alter them to fit right again.
posted by Joleta at 8:30 PM on March 26, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone again for the excellent advice.

I went to Intimacy and was immediately put in this bra in a 40F. (And I paid a lot more than I would have on Amazon, by the way, but I felt like the genius who helped me deserved to be paid, you know? Even though I'll buy any additional ones elsewhere for cheaper.) It really did fit well and felt good even though it has lace on it. Hopefully I'll still like it after wearing it for more than 2 minutes!

I really appreciate the push to just deal with it and go to Intimacy. It was the right decision, I think/hope.
posted by pupstocks at 10:15 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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