Strapless bras... in 36H?
October 11, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

So after serious effort with measuring and trying on a million bras, I got myself into the right size about 9 months ago -- UK 36H or 36HH, depending on the bra. Relief! However, I have developed rotator cuff tendinitis and an angry trapezius muscle and now, bra straps cause agony. I'm thinking a strapless bra might be the answer, but with my size and a few other challenges, I'm not sure this is going to be possible. Is it?

I'm a 41-year-old graphic designer who graduated from cosmetology school this year, so I went from desk work all the time to standing all the time, lifting my arms up and down, sometimes holding heavy-ish things like blow dryers, sometimes performing strenuous movements like applying tension to hair with a brush. I'm on leave right now while I attempt to heal. I've had a cortisone injection; I'm in PT and will be for the next bunch of time.

The Elomi Betty was my previous "wear every day" bra. It's adorable, yes, but it's seriously comfortable, other than the strap issue. The band doesn't move a smidge while I'm moving all over the place, but it doesn't dig in painfully, either. I scoop tissue from nearly under my arms into the cups as I'm putting the bra on and it stays in place til I take the bra off. It gives me a flattering shape. I'm short and short-waisted, and full coverage bras come up way, way too high for me. The plunge style of this bra means that I can wear things like v-neck shirts.

I would love to find a strapless bra that offers at least some of what I like in this bra. Reviews of some of the bras available in my size make me worry that I'll end up with bullet boobs or with cup fabric up to my chin. Also, I worry that the bra will slip down to my waist, with the amount of up-and-down movement I have to perform with my arms. Aaaand, I'm worried about serious discomfort.

There aren't that many options in UK 36H, which seems to be a whole lot bigger than US 36H. Some bras seem to run big in the cup, which might give me some more choices? I don't know? Help?

Any experiences or advice, before I resort to duct tape and a dish cloth?
posted by houseofdanie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Elomi has this strapless bra in 36H, which looks like it's using UK sizes. Not inexpensive, but likely worth it.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:22 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am about your size and the Fantasie strapless molded cup bra works perfectly for me. Actually, all of their bras are amazing!
posted by joan_holloway at 5:23 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried a sports bra with very wide straps? The way you describe your job, it sounds like a workout, and that's what sports bras are made for.

Alternately, if the strapless bras actually do slip down to your waist, maybe a strapless bodysuit would work.
posted by acidic at 5:41 PM on October 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I love Elomi too; I have a 34 inch underbust and a 44 inch overbust. I have a very short torso and honestly the straps on my Elomi bras (I basically just wear Caitlyn in various colors all the time) are rarely if ever providing any support at all. They tend to slip even when I have them as short as they'll go, and when they do, my bra cups aren't affected. The band is so stable and the side support panels are so good at keeping everything in place that the straps aren't relevant. Have you tried just tucking the straps of your current bras under your arms for the day to see if treating them as strapless make a difference for you? You might be able to find a tailor (via your cosmetology connections?) to cut the straps and put snaps or buttons on so you can have straps if you want and not if you don't.

If you do find a supportive strapless bra (try Nordstrom if you can't find an independent boutique with a selection for your size) and you're worried about things siding down your torso, look into tanktops and camis with built-in shelf bras. No, it's not going to work as a bra itself, but what it will do is provide an extra bit of help keeping the bra from sliding down.
posted by Mizu at 5:55 PM on October 11, 2014

Goddess (who are basically the same company as Elomi, except their sizes run bigger) do a strapless bra in your size called the Marilyn.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 6:50 PM on October 11, 2014

The Wonderbra Perfect Strapless is great in 32F and is available in 36G - might be worth a look. Hopefully it scales well.

Bravissimo has a strapless option in your size.
They are usually quite good at recommending other options as well.

Also - check out Panache Sport for a bra with straps that you barely notice. This sports bra has become my go-to bra for everyday life. Comfortable, not visible under clothing. A lifesaver for me.
posted by troytroy at 7:34 PM on October 11, 2014

Make an appointment at Intimacy (there are several locations in NYC). They should be able to fit you in something comfortable.
posted by Joleta at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2014

Seconding corsets as a possibility. Here's a write-up on "everyday" corsets.
posted by entropyiswinning at 9:15 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I adore strapless longline bras for situations like this, as they provide support from below and are very comfortable to wear for hours on end.
posted by RogueTech at 10:34 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Simply Be has several strapless/multiway bras. The cup sizes go from G to (skipping H), but as a fellow H cup, an I fits me just fine.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:10 AM on October 12, 2014

Decent Exposures may ship outside the US, but it says one has to contact them.
posted by brujita at 2:57 AM on October 12, 2014

May also be worth looking at halternecks and multi-ways, depending on which part of your trapezius is sore. I worry that a strapless won't be comfortable over a period of weeks while you heal (I find I get chafing after a day or two). You just need something to stop the bra slipping up and down as you move.

If it's just one side could you just slip your bra strap off on that side? That would be a heck of a lot easier.
posted by tinkletown at 7:22 AM on October 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding tinkletown. Halternecks and multi-ways are usually easier to find in large sizes than strapless.

Another alternative, if you don't mind gravity, is to wear skin-tight tank tops under your clothes. If the shirts/dresses are cut with an empire or wrap top, you may be able to position the breasts in the top in such a way to minimize the appearance of drooping.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:52 AM on October 12, 2014

The other thing you might consider is investing in a step stool for blow-drying, etc. Repeated lifting of arms abone the shoulder is a great way to get tendinitis as you have learned. Minimizing that type of overuse should help. Ask your PT or doctor to refer you to occupational therapy to make your job easier when you return to work.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:56 AM on October 12, 2014

Have you had a look on lingerie blogs? Fuller Figure Fuller Bust is particularly good.
posted by mippy at 4:47 AM on October 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all of your help! I apologize for the delay in responding and thanking you.

I never thought to try just tucking the straps of my already-fitting bras into the cups. I gave it a whirl, and it kind of works! Some of my bras have more side structure than others, and those are the ones that perform better this way. My breasts are gravity victims, and while straps only support 20% or something like that, 20% of that much weight is still quite a bit. It isn't perfect, but it's surprisingly okay, with the right shirts.

My sports bra of choice is indeed the Panache. Since I'm short and short-waisted, the top comes to almost my collarbone on the outer edges of each cup, so it's not a solution for many of my outfits. I do feel the straps after a short bit, too. Right now, any downward pressure on my shoulder is unbearable. I hope that improves soon.

I appreciate the suggestion for OT after PT. Luckily, I'm a color specialist, so the drying and pulling is minimal compared to a cutter. I dream of a setup where the client sits in a little pit. If I were to use a stool, I'd probably step right off of it and break my neck, after getting used to walking around.

I do follow several lingerie blogs, and I peek in on the bra-related subreddits. The deal with breast size vs. breast shape vs. wires vs. cup construction will drive me to insanity. Buuut, based on what I've gathered there and what was recommended here, I've ordered the Fantasie molded strapless, the Wonderbra Ultimate, and the Elomi Maria. I had to do some sister-sizing. I'll report back with results, for anyone in similar straits searching later on.
posted by houseofdanie at 10:35 AM on October 14, 2014

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