It’s been about a year since I discovered the world of properly fitting bras, and after my ‘there’s such a thing as a 28 band?!’ revelation I thought that the label in my bras was pretty much all there was to it. At first I thought my bras were still uncomfortable because they just needed breaking-in, but before too long I began to realise there was a whole host of things I had yet to consider.
I’ve always preferred plunge bras, because the wires on balconettes tend to dig in between my boobs. I thought this was because I’d been wearing the wrong size, so I branched out into balconettes in the right size and thought my troubles would disappear. Unfortunately, I still have this problem with most bras with a centre gore higher than about an inch. I tried bending the wires away from my body, which helped a little but didn’t make a big difference. And then about two weeks ago, I realised something so incredibly obvious I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before: my boobs are really close together! At the top the distance between them is smaller than my little finger. This means the wires in my bras are sitting on breast tissue, which is not at all comfortable.
The two bras in this picture are a Curvy Kate Thrill Me, which digs in, at the top and a Masquerade Rhea, which doesn’t, at the bottom. Notice the big difference? Even the Rhea is slightly too wide at the top but it doesn’t cause me pain like the Thrill Me. I’m going to try altering the centre gores on bras like the Thrill Me, but because of the width of the wires I will have to make them overlap, and I’m worried this may cause them to dig in for a different reason.
Which brings me on to my second problem. I’m quite a small person, wearing a UK size of 6-8 in most of my clothes, and my underbust measures 25-26 inches. 28 bands are, a lot of the time, too big for me and hence don’t provide me with as much support as a bra should. But when they do fit, they’re often so painful I can’t wait to get it off at the end of the day, just like back when I was wearing the wrong size. So the next realisation was that sometimes the right size bra hurts. This is because I don’t have much natural padding on my rib cage, and when a bra band doesn’t have a lot of stretch, it digs in and causes angry red marks.
Here are two bras in a 28 band. The first is the Curvy Kate Thrill Me again and the second is a Masquerade Lula-Mae. The bands have fairly similar measurements at rest. But when I stretched them, it was a different story. The Lula Mae would only stretch to 27 inches, while the Thrill Me stretched to a whopping 33 inches. I probably don’t even have to tell you that the Lula Mae has a very supportive band for me, whilst the Thrill Me does not. But I still love and wear my Thrill Mes (I have three!) because they are so comfy that I’m willing to compromise on support. I suspect this is a decision a lot of women, particularly smaller ones, make when told they need to be wearing a tighter band. In my case, I just try to alternate them with my more supportive bras.
I should also mention that it’s a bit unfair of me to use the Lula Mae in this example (it was just the first one that was at hand), because it actually is still pretty comfortable. I can just feel it all day when I breathe, which isn’t always what I want!
Another realisation I’ve made is that not all bras are created equal. This was a pretty dumb thing to assume, especially as I do a lot of sewing and I know what clothing constructions suit my body best, but I’d never really considered bra construction before. Back when I wore a 32E/34DD and I could shop on the high street for my bras, I bought the pretty ones in the £5 La Senza sale. I never thought about what they’d look like under clothes because they all looked the same: unsupportive!
Nowadays, as the bras I buy are far harder to find and hence more expensive, and I can rarely try before I buy, I am far more picky. That’s partly why I started my blog and read so many others, because the candid, detailed reviews that other women give have been my bra-buying guide for as long as I’ve been in the right size. I know that my boobs are fuller on the bottom, so I can’t wear bras with shallow cups at the bottom. I know I like a rounded shape and bras with vertical seams are good for this. I know my shoulders are quite narrow and wide-set straps will often dig in. And yet, I’m sure there is still more for me to discover about my boobs, as the recency of the first discovery I talked about shows!
What have you discovered about your boobs as you’ve got to know them better? Has this changed what you look for in a bra? Let me know in the comments!