Recommendations for supportive bra for large chest
November 21, 2019 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I am tired of bras that don't really support my 40 DD breasts, and tired of those that ride up in the back repeatedly. I have been tolerating this issue my entire adult life, and would like to experience one Truly Supportive Bra before I die.

Bottom line: If there is a big boobed sister out there who shares my desire for support above all else, and you've found your dream bra, please let me know what brand and style it is!

I hate the feeling of my boobs migrating downward and bouncing around. I hate ducking into bathrooms to readjust my bra throughout the day.

If it were socially appropriate to pay someone to walk/sit behind me all day and hold up my breasts with their firm, large hands, I'd be sorely tempted to do so.

Comfort, style, and cost are not only secondary to support, they don't matter at all if the support isn't there.

I'm aware of the importance of proper fit. I have had bras that were professionally fitted in a high end bra store that still didn't offer sufficient support and rode up in back when worn in the wild.

The bra that came closest to my ideal was an underwire from that shop. I made peace with the fact that it would *poke me in the armpits* when I twisted or bent down, because at least it offered support. I have worn it into the ground and can't even read the label anymore or I'd buy another one.

If need be, I would try a corset or something that incudes a bottom IF it does its job supporting my breasts. Though I really know nothing about this realm and would want some more guidance about where to find and how to fit.

I recently tried 4 bras from amazon based on reviews and they were all terrible. Why is this so hard??
posted by nirblegee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I few suggestions:
1) A couple brands that I've found to work for me are Wacoal and Chantelle.
2) Your given size raises suspicions for me that you've been wrongly sized - DD is often the largest cup size stores carry. Many women who think they are DDs should really be wearing a smaller band size and larger cup size.
3) To that end, if you have a Nordstrom near you, I've found their bra fitters to be extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
4) The bras will be expensive so once you've found one you like and found your size, buy one or two from them and then look on eBay for more.
posted by peacheater at 7:20 PM on November 21, 2019 [22 favorites]

Your best best is to poke around A Bra That Fits on Reddit.

It seems many or most women wear the wrong size. You might be a 36G or something.
posted by maya at 7:21 PM on November 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

Best answer: You are looking for a Wacoal underwire encapsulating sports bra. Like this. Trust me. Source: I wear a 32G, I can *run* in this bra and nothing. bounces. Sometimes you can find them on sale, occasionally they show up at Nordstrom Rack.

Please please get sized someplace non-Victoria’s-Secretsy as well, although it sounds like you have that covered.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:22 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Wacoal minimizers are great. I’ll second trying to get a professional fitting and also trying smaller band/larger cup.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:41 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I too am suspicious of your size for the exact reason peacheater mentions - DD is often the largest size stores will carry. These days I'm a 34K. I haven't been able to buy a bra in a "normal" store since I was 19, and I was probably incorrectly sized then, too.

The sports bra I have that I can jump on a trampoline in is the Panache Sports Wired Bra. It makes my boobs look and feel enormous but it also is like armor, I could probably rebuff invaders in the thing. I don't often wear it because it makes me feel so incredibly boob-forward, but it sounds like you're more in the middle of the bell curve than I am so might not have this issue.
posted by Mizu at 7:41 PM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Wacoal and I are not friends, but Chantelle and Freya and I are. All of my best fittings have been at Nordstrom as well.
posted by msladygrey at 7:43 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's likely the band is too wide on the bra you are wearing if it slips upward. There's a few previous asks on here about bra fitting. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark the one that worked for me (34GG) but it's the one where you measure three times round your boobs in different positions including leaning forwards then average them out to get the measurement.

My best bra: Pour Moi St Tropez, underwired. Bit of a workhorse, I've a few like this, find them comfortable, secure and give a good silhouette. But it suits my body type: I think you'll only find your best bra by starting with the special triple measuring thing and then trying on lots and lots of different brands. Like, preferred style of cup, width of brand, type of fabric etc are all going to be particular to you.

Anyhow here's a long thread with recs for different shops, maybe there'll be something helpful in it.
posted by glasseyes at 7:44 PM on November 21, 2019

Best answer: I went on the same quest a few years ago. What I learned is that it is about both size and shape. In the same size, some women have flatter breasts, some more projecting. Some are top heavy, some bottom. I started with a Nordstrom fitting where I found Fantasie brand bras, which work well for my shape (Wacoal never did). They are not cheap in stores, but can be found for around half price on eBay. I also shop at the online store Bare Necessities.

The subreddit A Bra That Fits can help with fitting both size and shape (although they are very dogmatic).
posted by muddgirl at 7:47 PM on November 21, 2019

Best answer: Oh! At the risk of being redundant, but just in case, once you take the plunge and buy a fancy super supportive bra with antigrav technology or whatever, never ever ever put them in the dryer, and always wash them inside a mesh wash bag. Hang or lay flat to dry, always. With more hooks and more seams and more layers of different fabric comes so many more opportunities for the vagaries of washers and dryers to destroy a garment. Always try your best to let a bra "rest" a day in between wearing it again - another good reason to buy two when you find one that fits - this lets the fabric really dry out from any sweat and helps it stay to size longer. Some of this might be part of your issue with "properly" fitted bras that don't fit in the wild, as you say.
posted by Mizu at 7:52 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here are the instructions for measuring yourself on reddit. Quite complex and Highly recommended
posted by glasseyes at 7:54 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Not trying to thread sit, but just wanted to reiterate:

"I'm aware of the importance of proper fit. I have had bras that were professionally fitted in a high end bra store".

Truly, I am a 40 DD. I don't need sizing suggestions.
posted by nirblegee at 7:56 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Kinflyte bras. Life changing. I didn't realize how much a regular bra constricted my movement through my back till I got one. I can totally relax my shoulders and the straps go nowhere. You might want the max support version- order up if you get that one.

If you want a more traditional bra look up Bravassimo which only caters to large busts. I find Freya and Bravassimo brands the best. All my "regular" bras are Freya except I do have one Wacoal but I hate it because it rides up and the straps slide off my shoulders when I sit down.,
posted by fshgrl at 8:01 PM on November 21, 2019

I see your update and hesitate to be "that" AskMe person, but... I too had been professionally sized as a 40DD, and it was wrong. If your bra is riding up in the back then the band is almost certainly too big. I went for years suffering the same indignities you mention: band riding up, lack of support. I was rearranging my boobs all day. Upon being fitted at Nordstrom I learned that I was actually a 36G, which changed my life (at least with regards to boob-related matters). Who knew it was possible to just put your bra on in the morning and go the whole day without having to pull the band down or pull the straps back onto your shoulders? Certainly not I.

Even if you are wearing the right size, I recommend finding a Nordstrom if at all possible because the "best" brand for you will depend on your body shape. I have been fitted there 4 times under different body circumstances (baseline, nursing, weight loss, weight gain) and each time, after what seemed like a perfunctory glance at my chest, the salesperson was somehow able to pull out a couple of bras that fit me perfectly. Wacoal, Natori, and Anita are the brands that have worked for me, but this varies widely by individual.
posted by purplemonkie at 8:19 PM on November 21, 2019 [16 favorites]

I have also been repeatedly professionally fitted in fancy places, incorrectly. It is incredibly frustrating to say the least. A bra that rides up the back is too big around. That said, the reddit group abrathatfits, mentioned above, will provide fit guidance based on photos your provide. Use a sock puppet account and have another person take the photos or use a timer. A key part of bra fitting is the gore and for good fit, so many women find that lots of bras don’t have a narrow or wide enough gore. Many parts of the bra are like Goldilocks’ porridge.
posted by bilabial at 9:06 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah 40 DD means you have a 40” underbust and 45” bust average. (I wear a 30 D / DD ish - measure larger - and I am not “busty.”) And shape And style is a huge factor which a bra that fits above goes through. For example if the underwire was digging into your armpit the “root” of the underwire was likely too wide for your body and too tall in the side.

That said - Wacoal, curvy Kate, panache, and Freya all make large bust options with good support from what I’ve seen. Bare necessities, her room, Figleaves, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom rack are all good options for bra variety and have good return policies.

And I feel you. This is not a YOU problem. I just tried 9 bras that didn’t work even though I know TONS about my body and bra sizing and shape. Hang in there.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:18 PM on November 21, 2019

Best answer: Thirding Chantelle, they are the best bras I’ve ever worn. I get them from Journelle in NYC. You can order from their website and they have terrific customer service. Send them an email with your measurements and what you’re wearing now and they will suggest the right size for you to try.
posted by cakelite at 9:28 PM on November 21, 2019

For Chantelle, may I suggest a sister size (38 DDD)? Their DD bras have two hooks, and their DDD bras have three hooks. The difference of the extra thick band is huge.

That could be a reason people are so adamant about getting out of the DD range. It’s like the difference between a size 16 normal pants and size 16 plus size pants. The size 16 normal pants are just a skewed sized up size 4, while the plus size 16s are built for that size.
posted by politikitty at 9:29 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: On the off chance that you live in Southern California, I'm going to recommend Jenette Bras, an amazing shop (with a few local locations) that only goes from D up. They are the absolute masters at fitting exclusively large sizes. Via them I found PrimaDonna Bras, which are my absolute favorites. This is my favorite one -- it doesn't look like much, but when it's properly fitted it's got hella support via its perfect engineering. (And if you have Amazon Prime I'd just take advantage of the free-both-ways shipping and order it in several sizes to see what's best.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:50 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am tired of bras that don't really support my 40 DD breasts, and tired of those that ride up in the back repeatedly.


Truly, I am a 40 DD. I don't need sizing suggestions.

The fact you're saying you don't need sizing suggestions indicates that you have not had the magic of bra sizing revealed to you. You are also a 38E and a 42D and one of those sizes may fit you better. Measuring takes 10 minutes using the A Bra That Fits method and will give you lots of returnable, road-tested bras to try as a result.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:58 PM on November 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I’m going to join the chorus that says that if you haven’t been to Nordstrom... go to Nordstrom. The women there will fit you and find you a range of options in your size and they also know when different brands work better in other sizes.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:01 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hi! I’m going to chime in and say that anything moulded or padded doesn’t work for me. (30E/F). Shop around, but if you’re buying t-shirt bras, consider trying an underwire unlined one. For me, I’ve pretty much worn Freya with the occasional Fantasie or Change thrown in. I’ve bought the same beige Freya Rio over and over for maybe 15 years. So once you find the one, you can just put on a bra and not think about it all day.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:41 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I know this is marked solved, but I wanted to add some context! Chantelle, specifically the three-part cup/cut-and-sew style. These have side boning that feels barely-there, and the strap attaches to a piece of fabric that curves along the outer side and under the breast, to support weight, so you never feel it on your shoulders.

It’s a life-changing bra, IMO. I was a Wacoal devotee before I found it and it’s miles ahead in structural terms. Usually comes in a variety of colors and fabric treatments.

Editing to add: This is one version. I own four of these. You can usually find them cheaper (US ~$30ish) on eBay.
posted by verbminx at 1:32 AM on November 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I hear you.

This is my current favorite bra, and it comes in your size. It is the first non-underwire bra I've had in a long time that actually holds my boobs where they're supposed to be. I've worn it on very long (16-hour+) travel days, and they don't move all day. It's also cheap enough that I can have a bunch of them; they also go on sale twice a year.

Good luck!
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:19 AM on November 22, 2019

Best answer: Wanted to give you one more option to look into. I'm a 38E, so not quite the same size but definitely in the large-specialty-bras arena.

My favorite, ultra supportive, so comfortable I feel like I'm not wearing anything bra is the Prima Donna Madison. I have other bras, for the sake of variety and for specialty purposes, but this is the bra I buy again and again. Here's why:
-they're full coverage, but pretty enough to feel special
-the material is very soft but extremely supportive--it was explained to me that lace actually contributes to the structure and support of the bra
-the underwire does NOT poke--you might have to get used to the underwire sitting against your chest in the middle, but that is how it's supposed to work.
-they do not go high up into your armpits--there is good sideboning but it sits lower, around the ribcage
-it does not ride up in the back (as long as properly sized)--once it's quite old (year+ for bras) you may get some riding up but see below
-I really like the upturned shape it gives my breasts--I feel like with large breasts a bra can be overly rounding and contribute to my chest just looking like one big lump, whereas the Madison gives me two perky distinct breasts (even after breastfeeding!)

A long note on proper sizing for this bra: Prima Donna is a European brand so even though they use an American-equivalent size chart, the sizes aren't exactly the same. I do recommend getting fitted for your first one--so you can try different sizes on and have the knowledgeable salesperson make the correct adjustments. Then you can just order more from wherever. I have always been very happy with my fittings at Rigby & Peller, which has locations all over. They carry a lot of the Prima Donna line and can advise you on the fits of the different styles. They also do alterations, so if the bra stretches out, you can actually have it taken in! I've never taken advantage of this but it seems like a good idea for preserving longevity.

A helpful thing I learned at Rigby--the bra should fit you at the outset on the loosest band setting. Over time, the elastic will stretch, and you can adjust/keep that tight supportive band by clasping it on increasingly tighter settings.
posted by CiaoMela at 6:34 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if you have having riding up problems consistently then you probably need to be more flexible on sizing. Someone upthread already posted about sister sizes, but based on the style and coverage your size may vary too. My standard size is 32DD but wear 30 or 34 and D-G depending on the cut.

One thing that is really important for support is to makes sure the straps are non-stretchy. So many bras have stretch straps which renders the bra completely unsupportive.

In terms of brands, I wear Wacoal occasionally, but have never found them to be the most supportive. The most supportive brand for me is Freya, followed closely by CurvyKate. Chantelle and Panache can be supportive but some are not, it depends on the model.

You can get most of these brands at Nordstrom Rack for a significant discount, but available sizes are limited.
posted by seesom at 6:42 AM on November 22, 2019

Best answer: I just went running so I am wearing the bra Mizu recommends right now. It's very stiff and I wouldn't wear it on a regular basis. It comes very high up in the armpits. But it holds my boobs in place really well.
posted by vespabelle at 6:46 AM on November 22, 2019

Best answer: It was a revelation to me that I may be able to wear a wireless bra and still be presentable. I own several Vanity fair 71380 and find them to stay put, be comfortable and provide adequate support for my day to day activities, which are on the sedentary end of the spectrum. They give me a nice shape and I am happy to wear them under all my normal clothes. I wear a 44DD.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:44 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A couple of things:

For me, size is only half the equation. The other half is determining the shape of your boobs. Wife or shallow root? Full on top or not? Projected?

I have narrow roots, and I like Panache and Fantasies bras best. I like bras with a side sling for a more forward projected shape, and I like the support found in most British 3 or 5 cut bras. But each brand has their own variants on cut.freya bras are too wide for me, for example.

When I am browsing for new bras and can't make it to Bravissimo, I like to use the Bratabase: a user created database based on the fit of different bras. It helped me understand what I like and why.
I also love 3+ hook closures. Wider bands are my jam.

Don't get too attached to your size measurement. I am different sizes depending on the bra model, even from the same company.

Panache underwire sports bra is the best I have found so far. If you are doing lots of jumping, try it with a boob band- a band thatsits over the top of your boobs and holds them in place.
posted by troytroy at 8:35 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a 40DDD, and literally every single bra I own is the Cacique Balconette (in different colors). They hold me up without pain, they aren't prohibitively expensive, and you can go to the store to try them on.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:03 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was coming in to say Cacique Balconette as well. I bought mine at Lane Bryant.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:17 AM on November 22, 2019

Best answer: I’m a 38G, relatively perky after nursing for over a year, and Natori works for me. Wacoal and Chantelle did not. Nordstrom was the only place I could find to try on.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2019

Best answer: Another vote for Chantelle. And a warning: I got the first two (black and tan t-shirt bras) at Nordstrom. I thought "I've got the hang of it now" and ordered the next two from Amazon. When they arrived, not only did they not fit, they were different in fit from each other. Same label, same size, same everything. But different. When I get my next pair I'm going back to Nordstrom. They're too expensive (and my boobs are too awesome) to fiddle around with sending non-fitting bras back and forth in the mail.
posted by Gray Duck at 12:08 PM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I would like to plug the Elomi bandless bras as the most comfortable and supportive bras I've ever had for everyday wear for my E-size boobs.

(For sports, I have found nothing that beats the Enell bras, ugly as they are).
posted by TwoStride at 8:08 PM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just want to amend my previous comment and say I've learned that Rigby & Peller stores are not as widespread as I thought--looks like they may have closed some locations and seem (in the US) mainly to be in major cities.

Still recommend that bra, though! Also, I actually just went for a fitting yesterday and found out that PrimaDonna is now making a larger-cup-size plunge-style bra and it's glorious! (I sound like a shill but with my 38Es, new bra styles are something to get excited about.)
posted by CiaoMela at 8:38 AM on November 24, 2019

Seconding Elomi, they're so perfect for large boobs that I've resigned myself to being a brand loyalist (instead of occasionally buying other brands in hopes of finding something cheaper)
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:16 PM on November 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

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