Best Big Bras That Won't Break the Bank
October 9, 2015 5:11 PM   Subscribe

This is not a question about the best bras, but merely the best ones under $50, specifically those for a chest that's approximately a 42H. What are your favorites? I am looking for bras with underwire; my non-underwire needs are sufficiently covered by bras from Decent Exposures. If you have found the miracle underwire bra for less than $50 that can be machine washed, I especially want to hear from you.

I know bras in this price range won't last forever, but I am in pretty dire straits on this front, and need to buy several at once, hence the budget.
posted by ocherdraco to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Nothing specific to recommend, but Kohl's sells extended sizes online, and they have 20% off for Columbus Day.
posted by florencetnoa at 5:26 PM on October 9, 2015

When I was in frugal times I did this: Go to Nordstrom and get fitted by their bra experts. Buy one bra during their summer sale. This cost $50-$70 depending on the bra. If I like the bra, I set up an ebay search for the model and size I need. Got great prices that way.

You may want to post your query on reddit: /r/ABraThatFits/.

The Hourglassy blog has great reviews for bras, though they tend to focus on higher end models.
posted by valannc at 5:36 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm going to recommend a specific bra: Chantelle Intimates 'C Magnifique' Underwire Bra. It goes upto a 42H and both my mother and I loved it (and I'm wearing it right now). So comfortable and really great support. The saleswoman at Nordstrom specifically recommended it and said that it's by far their most popular bra for larger bust sizes. As you can see, it's not cheap, but I bought several pairs in July during Nordstrom's big bra sale. Otherwise, you can buy one bra at the high price and then eBay them once you know exactly the style and size you need. Apart from Chantelle, I wear a lot of Wacoal bras. My go to is the Wacoal Awareness Seamless Underwire Bra. Again, not cheap, but eBay is definitely a pretty reliable source for these (I haven't tried with the Chantelle ones).
posted by peacheater at 5:41 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh and just wanted to add that I bought the Chantelle bras for $45 each during the Nordstrom bra sale.
posted by peacheater at 5:42 PM on October 9, 2015

You asked about machine washing: I've machine washed all of my bras in a lingerie bag and then hung them up to dry. They don't last forever but bras rarely last longer than 6 months for me anyway.
posted by peacheater at 5:44 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like the Lane Bryant bras, they fit my shape & go up to 42H, they are around $50 each but if you hit the sales you can usually get 2 for 1. I machine wash them, but I do use the delicate cycle, but they get regular washed from time to time and I've had them easily last a year or so, a couple of my super comfy "weekend" around the house bras are hitting the 18 month to 2 year mark.
posted by wwax at 5:48 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wait for Chantelle and Panache bras to go on sale at Bare Necessities and Her Room and then grab them.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:49 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I bought one of the Chantelle 'C Magnifique' bras this past summer and it's really great. It also comes in prettier colors sometimes, even though Nordstrom just has the usual blandness right now.

I stopped machine washing my bras back when my parents' top loader ruined all the underwires. I have a front loader now, but even so I wash my bras by hand in the shower with shampoo. Hand them to dry on the shower head or lay them on the bed on a towel. They last for ages.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:07 PM on October 9, 2015

I love the Britney Spears line at Changes, I have a 38K on right now and I know it went up to 42H. I paid less than $100 for three. Underwire, I machine wash and they last me for ages.
posted by saucysault at 6:23 PM on October 9, 2015

Cabernet is Dillards store brand. This style is comfy, comes in colors that change seasonally, lasts well and is machine washable. They are a measly $20. They have other styles that are similarly priced too, but this is my fave. They are all very well reviewed.
posted by Requiax at 6:43 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think all bras are machine washable in a lingerie bag (and I wouldn't put any in without one.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:52 PM on October 9, 2015

Do you have a big, older bra store in your area? Not a newer place with $150 lacy things, but an old-school place with pro fitters and racks and racks and racks of bras, mostly beige, mastectomy fittings, etc. I have had great results from going in and saying "I want X, Y, and hopefully Z, but for under $50." (As mentioned, once you hit on The Bra, stalk it on eBay.)
posted by kmennie at 6:55 PM on October 9, 2015

I got fitted at a Nordstrom and bought one bra in store. Since then I check the Nordstrom website on a regular basis and watch for things to go on sale. When a few things I like are on clearance I order a few of them. Then I can try them on in the comfort of my own home and see how they work with different shirts, etc. I return anything that didn't work at a Nordstrom so I don't have to worry about shipping. It's a little more work than being able to walk into a Target and grab one off the rack for twenty bucks, but if you watch the sales you can get something really nice (Panache or Freya) for under $50. I machine wash mine on delicate in cold water in one of those mesh bags and hang them to dry and they hold up fine.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:32 PM on October 9, 2015

here there are a few here around $50...
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:41 PM on October 9, 2015

Just got bras on sale at Macy's...I think they were $35 for two! The brand is Bali and I like them. also wear a large size (not a large as you though, but they had larger sizes). The ones I got had underwire.
posted by bearette at 8:50 PM on October 9, 2015

What will fit varies so much depending on your particular shape, but here's a datapoint: I wear a UK 40G and I have a variety of bras by Elomi. I've found that after buying one that fits properly I was able to buy more, and even other styles, off Ebay - I've only landed one that wasn't a good fit this way. They make very pretty bras that are also supportive and (for me) comfortable. I wash mine in the machine (cold water, gentle cycle, in a lingerie bag) and while they probably stretch out and break more quickly than they would if I lovingly hand washed them, they usually last a year or more, and I really can't complain about their longevity. (This may vary depending on your washing machine, however.)

Assuming you're in the US, the Elomi sizing may be a bit unfamiliar - this seems to suggest that a US 42H is the same as a UK 42FF. If you are able to try one in the flesh and purchase it full price (about $55 - $75 depending on style, on preview there are several at the Nordstrom link posted by Green Eyed Monster above), you could still easily get the average price below $50 if you were buying 3 or more.

Ebay results for Elomi 42H < $50USD (31 at the time of posting)
Ebay results for Elomi 42FF < $50USD (58 at the time of posting)
posted by Cheese Monster at 9:05 PM on October 9, 2015

My Lane Bryant size isn't the same as my DE size.
posted by brujita at 9:40 PM on October 9, 2015

Seconding the Wacoal Awareness Underwire Bra. It's a bit over your budget, but it is so very very comfortable.
posted by merejane at 9:52 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I also wear the Lane Bryant Cacique bras. Specifically the balconette style in a 42H. They last about a year and yes, I wash them in the machine and hang them to dry.

You people know an awful lot about me.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:11 AM on October 10, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you for all these suggestions! I really appreciate it!
posted by ocherdraco at 4:41 AM on October 10, 2015

I went for a professional fitting and they turned me on to Goddess bras. They are all I wear now. Frequently, you can get them discounted through Bare Necessities, and many good retailers carry them.
posted by Miko at 8:22 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Goddess are my fave, and lots of them are on Amazon Prime for under $50! I like the Alice!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2015

Wacoal full-figure t-shirt underwire bra is my favourite. A pain to get here in Canada, but I've got it through Nordstrom in the US many times.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:23 PM on October 10, 2015

Response by poster: I've decided to order the Cabernet from Dillard's to at least hold me over until I can spend more. I will let you know what I think!
posted by ocherdraco at 7:26 AM on October 11, 2015

Response by poster: I've gotten several of the Cabernet bras and have been reasonably happy with them. Certainly my happiness per dollar spent is higher than with nearly any other bra I've owned over the past few years.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:25 PM on November 9, 2015

Response by poster: The Cabernets are still going strong. If I hadn't bought so many of them (I think I have 7?) they might be more worn out, since I have been washing them and drying them in the machine. But I have lots, and they are holding up great!

They don't have the best cup shape in the world, but for the price they're incredible.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:28 PM on March 28, 2016

Response by poster: It's about 10 months since my purchase, and finally these bras are wearing out. I'm debating whether to purchase another round; my only reason for not getting them is that the cup shape really is pretty dowdy. But the value! I'll probably get some more, but augment with a couple more expensive bras in a shape I like more.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:00 PM on August 31, 2016

Try a Goddess. I was just thinking how the bunch I bought for my wedding, now 2.5 years ago, are still in great shape.
posted by Miko at 9:11 AM on September 1, 2016

Soma has expanded its size range and has A bra in your size now. Ok, maybe they make 2 in our size. Anyway, they run sales all the time so I bet you can find a Soma bra sub $50. I've had one for about 7 months now, it's in super heavy rotation and its holding up nicely. I machine wash but air dry and its dry overnight.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:35 PM on September 3, 2016

Response by poster: I've just rechecked my size using this size calculator (I've had some weight changes this year). Apparently I'm now something like a 38K (!), which is well within the Goddess size range, so I'm going to check them out.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2016

Response by poster: (That's 38K in US sizing; 38H in UK.)
posted by ocherdraco at 8:01 PM on September 3, 2016

Response by poster: Tried the Goddess Keira; I'm a fan! I'll explore more of their line.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:44 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's the one I happen to like best!
posted by Miko at 11:22 AM on September 6, 2016

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