I got a request from a dear friend for an all-or-mostly-cotton shopping guide, and seriously, could the timing be any better? In four days New York has gone from 65 degrees to 95, and the city is just one giant concrete-and-skyscraper heat-trapping hell-hole. Sometimes. Not always. But I am not alone in wishing that more subway-riders took up deodorant.
SORRY. Where was I? Cotton. Cool, lovely, breathable cotton, the fabric of our lives, but not, so often, of our bras. Particularly once you break out of the standard sixteen sizes (32-38 A-D), unlined mostly-cotton bras are few and far between. Cotton doesn’t always give the same supportive-yet-stretchy fit synthetics do, it can be trickier to fit perfectly, and then to top it off cotton prices have risen dramatically in the last few years. We just don’t have as many options. Bravissimo used to stock a bra that was a beautiful cotton eyelet, but the brand (Faubourg) seems to have stalled, and I’ve only seen swimsuits from them this year. There are a few sizes of the cotton bra left in the sale section.
Calvin Klein and some other department store staples seems to stock a regular supply of cotton bras, but they also tend to be padded or molded, thus defeating the heat-relief-seeking purpose. Otherwise, cotton and natural fibers show up primarily in maternity wear, wire-free bras, and bralettes. Bralettes are awesome (see Sandmaiden Sleepwear on Etsy for more pretty, natural-fiber choices), but finding full-bust and full-figure options that are also cute or stylish can be a challenge.
My favorite first. This is a lovely, simple, stylish bra from Huit, a brand I’ve mentioned before. The cotton is organic and eco-friendly, and it looks breezy, supportive, and comfortable. Available in sizes 30-36 A-DD, and in a wire-free style in sizes 30-36 A-C.
This is a nice option that sadly appears to have been discontinued, as it’s on sale at Figleaves, and I haven’t found it anywhere else (the brand is in the midst of transition, so it may show up as either Bestform or Vanity Fair if you search for it). Unlined cotton with decorative mesh along the top of the cups, available in white or mocha in sizes 32-42 C-H (UK cup sizes, some out of stock).
Lejaby is a French brand that I’m not familiar with, fit-wise, but their cotton range is lovely, if a little basic/unexciting. Their cup sizes seem to run A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, so if you do order, make sure the store has a good return policy (I’m finding more links to UK sites than to US) unless you’re absolutely sure of your size. While they offer some foam/padded cotton options, I’d look for the three-part unlined style above (30 DD-G, 32 D-G, 34-38 B-G, 40 B-F, 42 D-E) or for a smaller-bust style like this one, on sale at Figleaves.
I am DYING to try some Claudette bras, but I haven’t found any local shop carrying them in my size (yet), and I haven’t been able to commit to an online order. Claudette is a relatively new brand that makes beautiful, beautiful bras in sizes 30-38 A-G (UK cup sizes, woohoo!), including this lovely, unlined cotton underwire bra, which comes in black, white, and mauve. They also make painfully awesome neon sheer mesh bras, and they plan to expand up to K cups by 2013. Yes, please.
Once we move away from these prettier, more delicate bras, the search actually yields more results. They’re not the loveliest things in the world, but when it’s a million degrees outside and you’re just trying to cool off, a low-key or even wire-free style is going to feel a lot better than lace and frills. Many of these styles are constructed based on more old-fashioned patterns, so the shape of your bust may look different in these bras than you’re used to, but at least you’ll be cool. Temperature-wise.
Available in white and beige in sizes 32-46 AA-DDD. This is an all-cotton, latex-free, wire-free bra that also features pockets in the cups for the insertion of a prosthesis or padding to correct breast asymmetry.
A wire-free cotton-blend seamless bra available in white or beige in sizes 32-38 A-C.
Many full-figure or full-bust women find it more comfortable to sleep in wire-free bras. This is a pretty cute option for full-figure customers, and wonder-of-wonders, comes in a pattern (the polka dots always get me), in addition to black, ecru, heather grey, pink, and white. Available in sizes 36-52 A-B, C-DD, F-H (US cup sizes).
Available in black and white in sizes 34-46 A-DD.
You’ll notice that there’s a customer base I haven’t offered a suggestion for: the small band/full bust market. If you wear under a 30 band and/or over a UK G cup, it’s much harder to find an all-or-mostly cotton solution. If anyone has any helpful tips, I’d love to hear them!
Also, you might be wondering: whither the knickers? My immediate answer is that most of the shopping links also include matching accessories. A more helpful, reassuring answer is that a panties, briefs, thongs, knickers, and shorts post is in the works and on its way soon!