Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bra Bands: In Which I Have A Lot Of Feelings

As we know, the band of the bra is supposed to provide the vast majority of the support, not the straps. That’s why it’s important to make sure your band isn’t too loose, and it’s the element of bra sizing that’s most important to not compromise on.


So why do I find myself gazing longingly at 30HH bras on ebay when I know I measure 27.5 inches around my underbust and should wear a 28J?

It’s because I’m so sick of my bras hurting me. And I remember that back when I wore a 30, they never hurt. But it’s the not the bras that changed, it’s me—I lost some weight around my ribcage and now there is nothing to cushion me from the underwires sitting right on my bones. These are my scars:



Not so sexy. And that's after NOT wearing a bra for a few hours. Please, bra manufacturers, do something about this! Lots of people, and not just in 28 and 30 band sizes, don’t have enough natural padding around their ribcage to protect them from the hard metal wires that are covered by nothing more than a single layer of fabric. By the end of the day, I feel like my bra is attacking me. But if I wear a band that’s too loose to avoid this, I get back pain from supporting the weight of my boobs.

Totally exposed.


This awesome blog post lists some of the features the author misses from her days of wearing Victoria’s Secret bras before she knew her size. I’m so with her. All I want right now is a super-soft, laser-cut Secret Embrace bra with the underwire completely encased in a comfortable foam channel. I just want it in my size. I truly think the cool pseudo-scientific bells and whistles Victoria's Secret uses in their bra construction are the reason lots of women are unwilling to switch to their "real" size even when they know it--because brands for D+ women don't bother to do any of that stuff (some brands do a little, but none past a G cup). 


Check out that concealed underwire!
Another problem, wonderfully documented here, is the rise of looser and looser bands. In my experience that’s how bra-hating starts: you find your 30s are riding up your back…you go down to a 28…that pushes you over the edge in cup-size territory...you suddenly find yourself relegated to a few boring styles, mostly in basic colors…you long to return to the happy land of 30 inch bands and OPTIONS.

The whole situation depresses me a lot. It's obviously something that D+ bra manufacturers put on the back burner as they think instead about fashion. Personally, I'd sacrifice a years' worth of floral patterns just to have a little more thought put into softening up the bands and underwires. It would make me so much more excited to put a bra on in the morning, and a little less excited to take it off at night.

22 comments:

  1. YES! I'm in total agreement here!!!

    I have a 30 band and I get so many red marks, it's insane. The worst is that like you I'm losing weight and I know I have just enough fat around my ribcage that there's a good chance that I'll drop down to a 28 band eventually. However, that's one place that I'd really love the fat to stay at! Can't I just lose it around my mid-section and if anything put more around my ribcage... maybe even bump me back up to a 32 band?

    That other thing that bugs me to no end is that the straps are always too far to the sides on all my bras. That's fine if I need to wear low cut, wide necklines but in reality that doesn't happen too much, I'd much rather have a thick strap right in the middle of the cup that doesn't dig into my armpit...

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    1. About the straps: I have a problem that the straps are visible from the side in tanktops. I used to it, but there are people who make comments on my visible bra. I don't have any pain from my armpits (ok, I have one bra that causes it, but it's rare for me) but I would like to wear from to time UNvisible bra. If only... :)

      Paulina Angelika

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  2. How awesome would it be if we could choose where our "natural padding" goes on our body? Everything would be so much easier.

    Agreed about the straps! I'm starting to get marks where my arms meet my torso from that. It's never something I'd noticed before with my old Panache bras but I am noticing it with some of my new Curvy Kates.

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  3. Yikes, I feel your pain. Although, the marks I get haven't ever bothered me too much because I have very fair skin and get marks from pretty much all clothing that I wear... I do notice that some bras have firmer/more painful wires than others, though (the Freya Zara and the Just Peachy bra I have are definitely worse than the Cleo Poppy)

    I really, really hope that band sizes don't start to get even looser. I already can barely wear Freyas with a 28 band because they're loose for me (my underbust is around 27.5" as well). I was blogging/thinking about this recently, too... if enough of us protest, maybe this trend of loosening bands will die!

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  4. I have the same problem too. I'm longing to get my bra off by the end of work (and I'm a teacher, so the end of work comes a lot earlier for me than most!) so I often cave in and use an extender - which leaves me with a bra band I can pull right away from my body like my old 32s. Why does a piece of clothing we all need to wear every day have to be like a torture device when bras have been around for so long and they have the technology to make them comfy??

    As for the band sizing issue, I refuse to buy, and try hard to ignore, all Freya styles except the Deco/variations on the Deco. Even the Deco I only put up with because it gives me great shape, but I have to stitch the bands tighter after owning them for a couple of months. I would never dream of buying a £30 dress that didn't fit right and stitching it smaller, so I don't want, and shouldn't have, to do this with an equally costly bra.

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  5. I have the same problem with underwires, and I'm glad that you and others have spoken up about it because it's not acknowledged that widely (for example, otherwise-helpful sizing guides that advise wearing the tightest band you can fasten... not ideal for anyone with prominent ribs). I've resorted to non-wired bras, but many women don't find them supportive enough and they're unfortunately very scarce in small-band/large-cup sizes.

    I wonder, are some manufacturers just offering smaller band sizes instead of designing more supportive bras? In other words, are they compensating for bad construction by selling and fitting people into tighter bands than they really need? I could be way off the mark, but it would be interesting if a bra's overall construction influenced how tight it had to be.

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  6. anyway, Dont go depresses: Smile and Lift Up your Mood :)
    ...maybe the answer is dont wear Bra that you hate? ;)
    Ciao Aurè
    the Sicilian Busty ART & Fashion

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  7. Wow I am so glad I am not alone, after going from a 32G to a 30GG I am finding the 30" bras hurting me and leaving angry red marks. But the 32" is riding up my back on the tightest hook

    I do not have much natural padding left around my ribcage so this is bothering me a lot

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  8. I used to have this problem a lot when I was thin, too. Now as a chubby chick I get a lot of red marks (my skin is sensitive and marks easily) but not a lot of pain and stuff like I did when I was tiny.

    Have you looked into underwire cushions? I thought I recalled seeing something like that in a shop, so I did a google search and found some various types. They might be worth a shot, at least.

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    1. I have never looked into them--I will see what I can find! I sometimes just use bandages or medical tape, but those can also be irritating to the skin beneath. Thanks for bringing this up!

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  9. Oh and June, you do have control of your padding to an extent: you can choose to eat a little more fat, and muscle also protects your padding. A workout routine that builds up the muscles over your ribs. I used to know a woman who said that if she could feel her ribs, she wasn't working out enough.

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  10. I'm a 32, and have very little "natural padding" around my ribcage, and have marks like that under my cleavage, and a red line around all the time. Why they can't have some padding there in all bras to protect against the metal wires, I have no clue.

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  11. I actually emailed Freya & Fantasie about this. No response. This is why there are times I sacrifice proper fit & shaping for just plain comfort. Especially for the one week of each month I get swelling & tenderness in my boobs. I reach for a Wacoal or Bali or Olga. Even though they don't go above a DDD(E)all have amazing comfort features: foam-wrapped wires encased in soft satiny fabric, no 'power mesh' bands that scratch, no sharp 'edging' on the straps. Of course I have to go up a band size (or 2) to get the cups to approximate a FF/G. My go to now is Lilyette Keyhole Plunge. The band runs tighter than most, & it has lovely fabric: silky microfibre with a high spandex content so it hugs & moves with you. The foam-wrapped wires are heaven. But. All Lilyette are 'minimizers', which I hate. So the price for all that comfort is a very round, slightly flattened shape. For PMS week, or when I have to travel for work, I just don't care. Last time I wore my Freya Mischa on a long plane trip, I had an actual painful rash where the endpoint of the wires had rubbed & dug while I was crammed into my seat for a 2 hour flight. I was unable to wear a bra the next day. That doesn't happen with my US bra.

    Why isn't there a single brand (that I know of) that can combine the superior comfort features of US bras, with the superior cup shaping & size range of UK bras? Why!? Is there any brand at all that does big cup size with foam encased wires? Any....? I know I sound slightly crazed, but I know you all understand the exasperation.

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    1. Don't worry--I totally feel your pain! I end up on the Victoria's Secret website on the bra section at least once a month. Even though I know their bras could never work for me, I just fantasize about the comfort.

      I just wish the US companies could do a collaboration with the UK companies--combining the best of both worlds!

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    2. I am in complete agreement with Callie the Collie on where to go for comfort. I love Wacoal and wish I could get support with a larger band size so I might keep my favorites. I got excited when I read a new brand (Lilyette), but I have a deep loathing for minimizers (even blogged about it).

      Have you tried Fantasie brand, Callie? It's not the perfect marriage between comfort and appearance, but it holds up well for a work day.

      Maybe if we all keep looking, we'll find that magic bra that actually looks and feels good at the same time? A girl has to dream. :)

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  12. You can play harp on my 25" rib case. And for the longest time I didn't know what to do about wires digging in. Usual routine was cursing my body for having a bra before school ended, and when coming home: removing the bra first. It didn't end with red marks: there came a time I had actually wounds. Afterwards I wore a softcub sportsbra for a month.

    I once complained about it in the shop where I buy my Freya bra's. They told me Eveden didn't know what to do about it because Fantasie, Fauve and whichever didn't have those problems.

    The shop offered me a very unconventional solution: bending the ends of the wires away from the body. It works quite well, you'll have a lot less pain. Tip: wear the bra so you'll know exactly where you can bend them without loosing support, and have somebody bend them for you: They can move freely and use more force to bend them.

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Like you, I also always bend my underwires, check out my post on the topic: http://brasihate.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-to-do-with-those-pesky-wide.html

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  13. Even with the correct fitting bra, I'm in pain! It never bothered me until I turned 55. I'm thinking of trying an ace bandage wrapped around. Anything for support with comfort.

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    1. Don't wrap use an ace bandage! Ace bandages are deigned to constrict, and can cause real damage.

      "Ace bandages are NOT made for chest compression at all. In fact, they’re probably the worst thing you could use. Ace bandages are made to be wrapped around sprains to compress swelling. As you breathe you push the bandages out and they compress tighter and tighter. This leads to cracked or broken ribs. You can also become very short of breathe as it constricts around your upper body and faint."

      (Source: http://pleasestopcosplaying.tumblr.com/post/11969057576. This is from a blog on chest binding for FTM trans people, but the information still applies. DO NOT use an ace bandage!)

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  14. ah man, I'm going to be sizing down to a 28 (getting my bra size figured out i'm somewhere between a 28HH and 28J) before I used to wear a 32G, which obviously does not fit..but I'm finally getting a proper fitting ^_^) but I'm so worried now about the cutting in, and breaking in of bras, and I agree with you wholeheartedly on the comfort of vicky's bras..

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  15. why not sew in some cushioning/try out some moleskin or other do-it-yourself adaptations?

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  16. Ah,yes,this.While a plus size chick,my ribcage is pretty large anyways and when I lose weight that's where I tend to lose it first.As well as right on top of my hip bones...lovely.lol.So then I can get uncomfortable from that.It worries me that if I managed to lose more weight and needed a 30-32 band,that I may have so little padding by then it would be quite uncomfortable but that a looser band would ride up.
    Really,though,I am a fabric snob and can be quite aghast at some of the fabrics used to make bras when there are so much better ones out there.One reason why I am going to try to make my own bras soon.I'm adding padding underwires somehow to my list of how to make them.Maybe someday I'll be able to make bras for other people if all goes well...I'm sure I'll need loads of practice first. O.o

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