So you’re getting to know your size, and you’re getting to know what’s out there in terms of styles. I’m sure you would LOVE it if I gave you a shopping list and sent you out to build a lingerie wardrobe, yes?
Nah. Honestly, the kinds of bras and accessories you want to stock your lingerie drawer with are and should be entirely up to you. Sorry to be vague. I like order and directions and following instructions, but in this case, you have to call your own shots. I hope the internet is teaching women everywhere that there is no “right” size of boobs, no “correct” proportion, and furthermore that there is no “right” style. Red lace doesn’t = sexy for everyone, and not all “nude” bras match everyone’s skin tone. Some women find one perfect style that suits their lives to a T, and they just want multiples of that one bra, maybe in a couple of different colors, forever and ever, and that takes care of that. Some women want all sorts of different configurations of strap and cup style and padding to accommodate different clothes. Some want every color of the rainbow in all the fabrics ever invented (Hiiiii, that would be me). Some want corsets and retro bullet bras and seamed stockings and suspender belts. Some want wire-free bras. It’s totally a matter of personal taste, what you find comfortable, and what underwear works best with your current wardrobe. If you love extreme bullet bras but work in a conservative corporate environment, yeah, you’re probably going to need to expand your bra wardrobe to include some other staples, but you’re more than able to call your own shots. So I’m not gonna make a list and tell you that you NEED a t-shirt bra, a plunge bra, a “sexy” bra or what have you, or that every lady should own a pair of stockings or some such nonsense. You’ll find what you need. The only thing I would adamantly insist that every woman own, without exception and without regard to age or size?
A well-fitting sports bra.
Look, the simple answer is that you really should have a bra set aside that you sweat in so as to protect your delicate lacy and satiny underthings from the breaking-down/staining effects of perspiration (ew, real talk). Another simple answer is that I think every woman deserves to move, challenge, and celebrate her body and feel supported at the same time. The more complicated answer that I’m not fully anatomically-savvy enough to explain completely is that your breasts don’t contain the kind of muscles that you can tone back up, like I’ve heard tell some people can do to their abs. Yeah, I just had popcorn and jelly beans for dinner. La la la la la. Ahem. Yes, so, once gravity works its magic on the ligaments and tissue in your breasts, there’s no natural way to reverse it. You’re a low-rider. So get a good sports bra in your true bra size. Especially if you’re fuller figured or fuller busted, because if you don’t have one, it’s gonna hurt, and you’re not going to want to take your fabulous self out for a spin. Actually, eff that, also especially if you’re average sized or small-busted. You all have ligaments there that need support. Don’t skimp. This one (pictured above) is my new one true love. For me, it’s amazing. It feels good, it looks good, and it holds me steady. I’m on the treadmill all “oh yeaaaaah, New York Sports Club, check out the perkiness!” Except not really, because gym skeeving is gross, don’t do that.
* * * *
But look, back up to the “make your own rules” point, the other reason I’m not going to provide a shopping list is because not every bra can be everything to every woman. Nor should it be, because “real women” are not all alike. Some women are desperate to find bras with narrower wires and small bands to fit their narrower ribcages. Some women need side slings with strong mesh to support their shapely curves. Some women want organic cotton and other natural fibers. Some women need a fake boob in one or both cups. Women with breast enhancements, women who have had mastectomies and/or reconstructions, women with sensitive skin: we all want beautiful underwear that satisfies our needs. So when you’re offered a bra and told that it will solve all of your problems and make you happy forever and ever, what do you do if you . . . don’t actually like it that much?
There’s this bra in Full-Bust Land called Deco, and it’s made by full-bust gateway drug Freya (I am a legitimately huge fan of the brand, even though nowhere near every bra they offer suits me. Many women being fitted for full-bust bras in the U.S. get to know Freya first). Deco is one of the most popular full-bust mid-price molded-cup bras out there, and lots of women love it. Absolutely love it. They will buy their “sister sizes” (ex. if you wear a 30H, which Freya doesn’t offer in Deco, you’d order a 32GG to achieve the same cup volume, and deal with the slightly imperfect fit) rather than live without it. There is a long record of pleas online for extension of the Deco size range, so that even more women can bask in its glory. New color-ways are ooohed and aaahed over and collected and cherished. Deco doesn’t show under plunging necklines, it gives you gravity-defying cleavage, and there are no seams. At all. No nipple show-through, no seams visible through thin tops, just perfectly rounded perky breasts.
I hate this bra.
I mean I really, really don’t like wearing it. I found one at a deeply discounted price in a perfectly fitting size and bought it, thinking that it would be a good staple to have. But every time I put it on, I recognize that my boobs are hoisted and smooth and round and generally awesome looking, but I just don’t feel supported, I feel like I’m going to fall out of it, I feel wobbly and bouncy, and I sweat a lot in it (ewwww, real talk). I hate this bra. And as the online reviews came gushing in season after season, I felt myself regressing back into that feeling of “oh no, something is wrong with me, I am the outsider, I am damaged, I am wrong.”
NOPE. The problem isn’t you. The problem is never you. Your boobs are great. It’s the bra. So move along. Find a better bra, one that you love, and that makes you feel fantastic. (For the record, I ADORE the strapless version of Deco, which I wear with the straps on like a regular bra. To each her own.)
Victoria’s Secret and her ilk will yell loudly at you that you NEED her bras, or something’s wrong with you. You should wear one of the sizes she offers, and you should want the styles she offers, otherwise you’re screwed. Ignore her. If you don’t fit into the bras at the Gap or Victoria’s Secret or hell, even Bravissimo, because you’re too petite or you’re too full-figured or you’re too full-busted, it doesn’t diminish your womanhood or your sexiness, and it doesn’t make you a problem. Just walk on by. If padding or lace or satin or silk doesn’t rev your engines, you keep on trucking. The internet is wonderful because as it pours out sizes and styles and colors of all kinds, it’s helping women say “you know what? This isn’t for me. I deserve better, and I deserve good fit, and I deserve good style.” Listen to the internet; lo, she is wise.