The Bra Issue: Queer Fashion Guide For Various Shapes, Sizes and Gender Expressions

What the hell are you going to do with those boobs, you big ol’ lez? Everyone has a complicated relationship with their breasts and many queers find this relationship especially tumultuous. The bra industry is heterocentricly sexualized and even queer femme shoppers start feeling a little awkward the 45th time the saleswoman tells you how much your boyfriend will love that bra. Because what about your tomboyfriend, you know?

In this spirit we bring you the first-ever AUTOSTRADDLE BRA ISSUE. As you may or may not recall, we’ve already gone through what you should do with your bottoms area in Boyshorts 101 and what swimsuits to buy in The Swimsuit Edition.

We’re attempting to address at least 50% of your needs in this piece, but the comments are wide open for you to share tips for your own gender presentation/sexual identity/income/lifestyle/taste-in-sandwiches.

Quick Note: The point of all the information contained within is not to help you “fix” anything about your body. Nothing on you needs fixing. Nobody’s breasts need to be smaller or bigger or perkier or rounder than they are naturally unless you want them to be. That’s the point of this guide — helping you find what you want, not what you “need.” Hopefully we’ve provided a wide range of options for whatever those desires may be.

Quick Note #2: Because everyone is apparently shy about their rack, every section of this guide besides Julie’s essay, Bevin’s essay and Lily’s picks aren’t attributed to anyone. It’s just a “team effort.”

1) Fit Tips

2) What the Fuck is a Demi Cup?

3) General Tips/Gender-Neutral Bra Picks

4) WHATS A BUTCH TO DO – The Bra Epidemic In The United States and the World
by Julie Goldman

5) Butch Bra-Buying Tips & Picks

6) Bras for Girls With Small Boobs

7) Binding 101

8.) Tips For Chicks With Giant Racks

9) What To Do With Boobs from a Queer Fat Femme Perspective,
by Bevin Branlandingham of QueerFatFemme.com

10) Busty Bra-Buying Picks

11)  Something Girly, by Intern Lily

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Fit Tips:

+ You’re probably wearing the wrong size bra right now, because 70% of women are.

+ If it fits right:

Straps: Should be level all the way around your body — it shouldn’t be higher in the front or the back. FUN FACT! Only 20% of bra “support” comes from straps, the rest is from the cups/band.

Center seam (space between cups) should be flat against your chest and the underwire should rest on your rib cage, not your tits.

Your breasts shouldn’t bulge out at the top or sides of your bra, they should be all wrapped up in the cup. If there’s any wrinkles then it’s too big and you need to go down a size.

Your bra shouldn’t leave any lines or indentations on your body when you wear it for a long time.

+ One boob bigger than the other like Michelle from Skins? Guess what, almost all women have one bigger than the other. You should water and feed the smaller one, but also when getting a bra, buy for the bigger breast.
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What The F-ck is a Demi Cup?
or “Different Types of Bras, Explained”

Demi-Cup: Half the coverage of a normal bra — it’ll just peek past your nipple, maybe. On the whole demi cups are likely to create cleave and have shorter underwires.

Balconette: Slightly less coverage than a demi cup — cuts horizontally slightly above the bust line to provide superior uplift. Usually padding is involved.

Contour Cup Bra: These suckers hold their shape even when they’re not on you. They provide a “sculpted silhouette” and “a specific round & symmetrical breast shape.” It hides your nips but doesn’t add size. Especially good for you if you’re in between sizes or one breast is much bigger than the other.

Soft Cup Bra: No underwire, no padding.

Padded Cup Bra: Fiber-filled cups. Adds definition and gives a “well-proportioned look” if you’re on the smaller side.

Push-Up Cup: This creates killer cleave and makes your breasts look fuller. Generally worn by C cups and smaller but YOU DO YOU GIRL you do you. Basically the cups are angled inward, pushing everything to the center, which you probably do with your arms in the shower a lot. Amirite?

Minimizer Cup: These babies reduce your breasts’ projection so you can wear front-button shirts without that gap thing happening. It shifts things around to different areas, etc.

Molded Cups: Designed to disappear under t-shirts, but not always easy to find in the right size.

Plunge Bra: The middle is super low so you can wear it with v-necks. Usually also maximizes cleavage.

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Gender-Neutral Bra Shopping

So let’s start with the basics every bra-wearing woman might want to consider having in her collection:

1) A racerback (or convertible, which is good ’cause it also goes strapless in case tube tops come back)
2) For under white shirts, a bra that matches your skin tone
3) Regular black bra for everyday use
4) Sports bra for sports and/or gender panic

You can find plenty of guides to gorgeous lingerie in mainstream women’s magazines but what about just a run-of-the-mill gender neutral bra? Not too shiny, not too lacey…? Even American Eagle manages to fuck up their seemingly homogay bras with a tiny little maddening bow right there in the g-ddamn middle:

 

In general, brands which are likely to sport gender-neutral designs include Calvin Klein, Diesel, D&G, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Just Cavalli, The Gap and American Apparel.

Autostraddle’s Gender-Neutral Bra Picks

1) Calvin Klein Underwear “ck one” Cotton Basic Convertible Bra- $36  – (32a – 36D) – The big bonus here is No Padding!

2) Top Secret Billie Jean Bralette – $54 -(XS – L) -“Sweetheart neckline” and “seamed cups” and “hip.”

3) CK One Cotton Push-Up Bra / Heather Stripe – $36 – (32A – 36C) -soft/comfy stretch cotton, a little bit of foamy push and sweet sweet stripes for your stars.

4) Lucky Brand Hope Demi Bra – $38 –  (32B – 38D) – Okay, there’s some “picot trim” happening here — but also — no padding!

5) Chaps Modern Deco Full-Coverage Convertible Contour Bra – #38 – (36 B – 38 DD)- Full coverage, “360 degree comfort-stretch foam padding for contoured shape and support,” and a “let’s go ride horses” thing happening.

6) Victoria’s Secret Full Coverage Cotton Lingerie Full Coverage Bra – $24.50 – (32B – 40DDD) – The softest, stretchiest, sexiest cotton ever.” Lots of colors, more size options.

7) Gilligan & OMalley Women’s Microfiber Racerback $10.99 – (32 A – 40D)- Cheap. Simple. Works under racerback tank tops.

8 ) Diesel Push-Up Bra – $30.00 – Blue, just like the sky!

9) Just Cavalli Push-Up Bra – $50 – Reminds me of Speed Racer.

10) Gap Favorite Unpadded T-Shirt Bra – $36.00 – (32A – 36D) – Simple, basic, no padding, etc.

11) Barely There Custom FitFlex Wire-Free Bra – $26 – (XS-XL) – Wire-free, seamless and tag free with adjustable shoulder straps.

12) Knickerocker Navy & White Stripey Bralet – $38 – (32A – 38D) – “Saucy but soooooo cute, how can you resist this navy and white striped cotton bra with red elastic trim.”

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WHATS A BUTCH TO DO – The Bra epidemic In The United States and the world.

By Julie Goldman

Julie-Goldman-Big-Gay-Sketch-show

Yes. This global epidemic of butch ladygentlemen and the lack of undergarment resources is disturbing and just plain wrong. It’s clearly adding to GM injected foods and to babies being born without heads. This is all scientifically backed up by my butt. But it’s true that for a larger masculeen ladyman such as myself, the options for bras and underwear are few & far between.

I’ve always toyed with the idea of creating a line of BUTCH BRAS AND UNDERWEARS for the discriminating Butchesque In-Betweener. However, I have no design skills and can’t even raise money to make my movies, so it remains a dream.

The truth is — there’s just so much body image displaced weird shit running through us sensitive Butches and when you’re larger, often the last thing you EVER want to do is show your body. BUT — perhaps if we had some undergarments that accentuated and complemented our bodies we’d start feeling more confident and we’d take our sexual power back. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know many who have expressed these feelings. I am one of them.

Isn’t there something between a regular bra and a sports bra for us? I see so many fun Manties — they get superheroes, and cool colors, and fun words strewn across their sacks, like “balls here” with an arrow pointing to their packages. Why can’t we have fun with OUR bras? Why must they all be flowered? And lacy? With underwires… and crème…

Boobs are considered to be inherently feminine and the world tends to think unless it’s a sports bra, your feminine boobs require flowers, lace, and the Seduction of Men.

Well, first of all: I hate men.

And secondly — I want to seduce MYSELF and feel confident and sexual and powerful with a Special Lady. I want to hypnotize her with my boobs. I cannot do this in a flowery lace Balis Minimizer that my mother forced me to wear my entire life ’cause I carry 38Ds.

I wish someone would create a line of Butch Bras for ANY girl who wants to have some fun with her underwears and still be sexy & powerful without looking like a Victoria’s Secret Model, ’cause for some of us that look takes our power AWAY and makes us feel weird inside (Not that we don’t like to see it — on other people.)

I want something that lifts and separates and keeps my shit tight. I don’t mind showing some cleavage – I am a girl – and I’m not trying to hide ‘em.  I’m just trying to look in the mirror and feel good. I want to see a sort of masculine femininity reflected in my bra and underwear. I don’t want to strap my big ass boobs down, I want to show them off –- we just need a designer to understand for the masculeeene lady – our femininity is IN our masculinity and someday I hope there is a bra that supports that.

See what I did. Supports that. Our boobs.
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Bra-Buying Tips for Masculine Ladies

Sinclair Sexsmith, butch sex lord at Sugarbutch.net, recently did a post about trying to find bras for butches. Here’s what Sugarbutch says:

“Sports bras obviously are a little less precise in their sizing, but even if you don’t intend to wear any regular bras anymore, figure out your size. It’s amazing how hard it is for us to figure that out. There really is a difference between a 34D and a 36C, and they are not the same size. This seems to be a particularly difficult one for many of the butches I know, because bra shopping is just about The Scariest Thing Possible, and going in there and asking a professional to help figure out what size you really are is pretty much like walking into hell. But, let me just say, it has made a really big difference in my bra-buying since I actually got measured properly, figured out why the sizes are different, and what size I really am.”

Just like any other identity, butches are not a homogeneous sort. Some of us want to make our breasts as invisible as possible, some of us wanna sport some aforementioned masculeen-lady-cleve. Some of us dislike the straps that look too much like traditional bra straps. A friend of mine said she stays away from halter cuts because the straps are more likely to be visible under t-shirts.

A traditional black/grey/white sports bra isn’t hard to track down, so rather than offer you 12 black/grey/white sports bra options, we mixed it up a bit if you wanna sex it out to various degrees:

1) Champion Powersleek Sports Bra – $27 – (all sizes up to 44DDD) – this is the standard. Sugarbutch says: “Because it has a clasp, instead of being pulled over my head, I can actually buy a size that is slightly smaller and tighter, which I love.”

2) Victoria’s Secret Pink School Spirit Sports Bra – $26.50 – It turns out Victoria’s Secret manufacturer a few items that are not pink. This is like athletic and tomboyish and fun.

3) Adidas Supernova Racer Bra – $35 – runner-level support, racerback, compression support and fun fun colors.

4) Natori Sport Underwire Bra – $48 – (32B – 40DDD ) –  SERIOUS SUPPORT. This bra is not fucking around.

5) Seamless Racerback Sports Bra from Champion – $16.99 – (32ABC – 40C) – Double-layer seamless construction offers great support in a classic pullover design by Champion.

6) Performance Wear Compression Spyder Tank – $29.99 – For a full-body experience.

7) Jane-Fonda Inspired Bra -$38 –  (32A-38D) – This is for if you really wanna like get wild and stuff. “Made from a red and black stripy cotton lycra and black power mesh, this bra is edged with a black fold over elastic.”

8.) Harbour Club Plunge Bikini Top – £42 – (D cups up to HH cup) – As Julie Goldman mentioned, it’s nearly impossible to find something between a Sports Bra and a Lace/Flower Situation for anyone who’s breasts have grown out of the juniors section. Most mono-color bras, for that matter, are shiny satin material. But this sucker is cotton, there are no visible bows, and it’s got a little Nautical theme going on. The only thing is that you’ve gotta order it from Miss Mandalay’s in the UK.

9) Fila Sport Seamless Performance Sports Bra – $30- (XS-XL) –  It’s seamless, therefore providing a “smooth look under clothes.”

10) Comfort Sports Bra by Champion – $44 – (32C – 42DD) – Mesh-ventilated, molded cups, inner spacer fabric, moisture-wicking bra.

11) Booby Trap Sports Bra – $19 – “Will lock your girls down and not let ‘em go.” Available at Title Nine, which is a butch favorite for its variety and “barbell” measurement system and the “Frog Bra” which was awesome but is gone now. I weep for it every day.

12) North Face Bounce-B-Gone Sports Bra –  $28 – Less support for those in need of less support. Cute colors.

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For the Small-Breasted Girls

 

When you’re sporting an AAA, AA or A cup, your options include “not wearing a bra” and sources are split on when/where/how such a thing is “appropriate.” For example, nobody has to wear a bra in San Francisco or at Bonnaroo, but you might wanna pack one when going back to the heartland for the holidays because visible nip makes grandma nervous. Similarly, bras are useful for loose shirts or see-through fabrics.

According to most mainstream women’s magazines and mainstream fashion, all women should have bras on at all times and only hippie feminist lezzers go without.  But really there are no rules. Just whatever feels comfortable.

However, regardless of your size a lot of women just prefer to have a bra on (A cups bounce too!) and aesthetically, you can sometimes almost think of bras as an accessory which makes your shirt look cuter, regardless of whether or not you “need” it.

If you’re a AAA or AA and have nothing that really fits into a cup and you’re just looking to prevent nipping out at the office, you can usually go with a triangle bra or a shelf-bra. The American Apparel Cotton Spandex Jersey Cross-Back Bra is the standard:

via style.catalogs.com

I’m an A cup and find triangle bras aren’t especially flattering under shirts and, conversely, bras that offer a lot of coverage (like most “t-shirt” bras) are expecting to handle a much larger chunk of flesh than I have. So demi-cups and balconettes are usually a skinny girl’s BFF.

There are a few specific challenges for small-breasted bra shoppers — for starters it is near damn impossible to find a bra in your size without padding as apparently all As are aspirational. For A-cups in larger band sizes, it can be difficult to find anything at all — as far as that goes, we recommend Just My Size, which stocks A-cups and B-cups for band sizes ranging from 38 to 50. Conversely, Macy’s has a few options in a 30-A, like this Molded Triangle Racerback.

If you’re out in the world and shopping, you’ll find a pretty serious selection at H&M (you can’t shop H&M online), including some sporty styles and the very best in spaghetti-strap tank top/camisoles which can substitute for a bra. Big-box stores like Target and K-Mart have healthy stocks of small bras. The Juniors section of some department stores might have what you’re looking for, and brands that cater to teens are more likely to have small sizes, such as American Eagle Outfitters.

I’ve been wearing the same two Calvin Klein bras since high school. They can be pricey, which is why TJ Maxx and Marshall’s and Loehmanns exist.

Autostraddle’s Picks for Small-Breasted Girls

1) American Apparel’s Cotton Spandex Jersey Cross-Back Bra – $14 – The classic small-breasted girl pick with every color under the sun.

2) Free People Wrap Bra – $28 – For when you’re really, really over it.

3) CK One Convertible Micro Push-Up Bra – $38 – (32A and up) – This is your do-everything enhance-everything gadget. You can adjust it to halter or criss-cross (racerback), it’s silky, padded cups give you super-cleave and the embossed logo looks fancy.

4) Victoria’s Secret Pink Yoga Bralette – $16.50 – Simple, comes in a billion colors.

5) CK One Cotton Underwire Bra – $27 – “The one for everyone.” Most important thing about this one is that there’s NO PADDING so you can rock out with your nips out all you want. (Recommended for a larger A/smaller B cup)

6) Calvin Klein’s Perfectly Fit Satin Sculpt Balconette Bra – $44 – (34A and up) – lightly padded balconette with line-free edge, hook & eye closure, satin trim, underwire.

7) Diesel Triangle Bra – $30 – sporty jersey, stretch, lightly lined.

8.) Xhiliration Juniors 2-Pack Demi Bra – $12 – Super cheap! Lined but not padded. Hard to go wrong with this one.

9) Calvin Klein Perfectly Fit Racerback Bra – $42 – (32A and up) – I’d like to draw your attention to this bra because your boobs will never look as good as they do when you undo the front clasp on this sucker.

10) Victoria’s Secret Pink Scoopneck Plunge Demi-Bra – $30 – (32AA and up) – This will go well underneath your v-necks.

 

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NEXT: Binding, giant racks, the Queer Fat Femme perspective and Lily’s Girly picks.

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183 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Someone really needs to educate the American public/manufacturers about bra sizes. This myth that everyone is a 34-40 B-DD or a 32 A or B is ridiculous, and results in so many unnecessary back problems, unhappy boobs, and low self-esteem.

    I wear either a 32DD or a 30E. It’s not the most problematic of sizes, but it still makes my life difficult. Because I don’t live near (and frankly can’t afford) a boutique, I have to order everything off the internet.

    I should mention that Calvin Klein is great for petite women with big boobs. You can find sales online at Bare Necessities and Her Room. Panache…not so much, unless you want to shorten all the straps yourself.

    European companies, like Freya, also have many fans among well-endowed American ladies. Apparently Europe has their shit together.

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      I absolutely LOVE Freya. I used to be a 30F and my best bras were from them.

      (Then my insurance paid for a reduction, so I’m a 30D now, and I highly recommend others check into their insurance policies–if you want to be smaller, it might be easier than you think.)

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          I know I’m way (WAY WAY) late to this party, but I’d just like to say that cup size is nothing without band size. A 36DD is actually technically only one cupsize larger then a 30F. You see, in sister sizes (which relates to cup volume) a 30F=32E=34DD=36D=38DD. It’s all related to ribcage/band size. :)

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        Checking Freya out right now. I’m a 30C, which seems to be one of the most elusive bra sizes out there. The American manufacturers just need to accept that some of us don’t have huge or tiny racks, we’re just all-over smaller than everyone else.

  2. Thumb up 3

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    Yes yes yes to getting remeasured – I did it a couple of years ago and couldn’t stop going on about it to everyone, like some kind of bra evangelist. But it’s so worth it.

    It’s like transforming your relationship with your boobs from this stand-offish acknowledgement of each other’s existence into TEAM BOOB via a training montage complete with 80s soundtrack, and suddenly the world is your oyster/victim to be crushed betwixt your newly empowered cleavage.

    I beseech you, queer ladies of the world, to go forth and be remeasured, leave behind that saggy 34C and embrace your true destiny of 32FUCKYEAH.

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      Where does one get measured? Would chain stores like Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret do a decent job? Going to the mall gives me a panic attack anyway and now I have to ask people who look like they hate their jobs to measure my boobs?! This sounds very scary!!!

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        Google or look in the yellow pages for a dedicated lingerie store in your town. A place that sells pretty much bras and nothing but bras, and carries every size known to man, is going to do the best job.
        The salespeople at Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, etc. are usually pretty good too – a salewoman at Nordstrom’s fixed my sizing issues and found me a style that really worked for me (Donna Karan Underwire Sports Bra 35137 – best bra EVAH for every larger gal who want real support all day long and wants the girls to look GOOD under clothes)
        If you are very shy about going to someone at a store, herroom.com has good guides for sizing yourself, lots of notes on sizing variations for various styles, and they have a very simple return policy, so you can order a couple of sizes to try if necessary. (They also have ‘bounce test’ videos for sports bras – how cool is that?)
        :-)

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          YES. Herroom is amazing. I went to specialty stores & got fitted every so often for YEARS, but (surprise surprise) I was always the biggest cup size they had – how lucky they had it in stock! Except that those cup sizes never really fit, and it took the internet to realize that there is such a thing as a JJ cup, and I am it.

          Cannot recommend that site enough for larger cup sizes, though their search feature is a little wonky once you get up in the larger cups (different manufacturers all have different sizing guides – they’ve got a great chart that converts everything, but it can take a little while to sift through it all.)

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        The mall gives me panic attacks, too. :( I’d recommend looking up a fancy bra store that isn’t attached to a chain, since those are rarely in malls, and asking if they do complimentary fittings. Many of them do, and there’s no obligation to buy anything.

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        My friend used to work at La Senza as a bra specialist (that was her actual title) and it was her favourite retail job of all time, because she got to make women feel good about her bodies. Chances are you’ll meet someone who likes their job.

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    1) i love refreshing the page and having a brand new feature article to peruse whilst scarfing down easter chocolate

    2) omg rice in your bra, wouldn’t it be so cool if all day you walked around with a cup of rice in a nylon in your bra and by the time you got home, exhausted, it was cooked and delicious, you would be like your own slow cooker, shut up that would be amazing

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    So much yes to the getting remeasured! But, also! You probably need to do that every six months! I know! It’s weird, but it’s the way it goes.

    If you are a generously-racked lady who wishes to buy a bra, and you live in the UK, I beseech you to head down to Bravissimo. You stand there, they eyeball you, you tell them what kind of bra you want and they bring them to you. No endless browsing and getting irritated. It’s awesome. Not cheap, but awesome. And the bras last for-fucking-ever. My favourite of all of their bras are made by Freya.

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    Just realised I had a dream last night were I was wearing a bra. So that’s weird. I really only wear tank tops instead of bras because I think the band right under my boobs is weird. Anyone else? Also there is uneven amount of fabric and my stomach is then like colder than the top part of my chest?

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    Oh my god I have so many feelings about this. I have the chest of an 8 year old boy. It’s so frustrating! I’m a 30B but guess how many 30’s exist in store!? Not a whole lot. Only in specialty stores and this would mean washing the one bra every day for the rest of the year because they cost an arm and a leg.

    So i had to deal with the 32B but let me tell you my friends, 32A/32B is not the same! It’s all about tightening the straps to compensate for the loose band but then the straps are too tight so it leaves marks (that now wont go away) and it’s just a terrible fit.

    I’ve got serious issues about the nip revealage, so I can’t really go around wearing bralettes/pulling a Shane. And sports bras make me look flatter than flat ie Concave. What’s the solution??

  7. Thumb up 0

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    After reading this article, I decided to get dressed and put on my demi-cup bra, which I found at a bra shop when I actually had $40 to spend on a good bra.

    It is covered with lace and transparent and awesome and makes me feel like my boobs are a secret garden.

    Autostraddle changes lives.

    (Also, I <3 this article and think people should spend more time writing about boob kindness.)

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    I had my enlightening bra-fitting experience at a spot called Secrets From Your Sister in Toronto (conveniently located across from Honest Ed’s). Bought one bra new and now I troll ebay for the same brand/size. Worth every penny!

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    “Victoria’s Secret CANNOT HANDLE OUR SHIT.”

    this. truth. as a skinny girl with massive boobs I have a lot of bra feelings and that might be the number one feeling.

    I got fitted at intimacy 7 years ago and it changed my life. The prices at those specialty stores are hard to swallow at first, but they last FOREVER. Only last month did I finally lay to rest the first bra I bought at Intimacy, after wearing it weekly for SEVEN YEARS! I only own 5 bras, all of which are at least two years old, and I never feel like I don’t have enough options because they are all beautiful and versatile and make me feel sexy.

    Also I am a big fan of non-moulded cup bras. They have seaming and structure that means everything stays supported AND the nipple issue is a myth! There is a seam there to prevent embarrassing nipple incidents! I also just feel sexier in them. I think because I feel closer to being braless than with some chunk of styrofoam between my boobs and the world…

    I will say that I might cheat on Intimacy with this Panache company… their bras look gorgeous. Thanks Autostraddle!

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      So, I agree about the non-moulded cup bras – but my problem with them is that the seams always show under my clothes, and I feel like it looks weird. But then I like that they have better support. Do you usually wear your non-moulded bras under t-shirts, or just things where the seams don’t show?

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        oh! good point. I do have one moulded cup bra that I wear under t-shirts if I am feeling self conscious / seeing my mother. I also have a non-moulded cup bra without seaming that goes with t-shirts, but nipple can show through.

        I will say that 99% of the time I will wear non-moulded cup bras with t-shirts and the seaming shows a little and I am ok with it. I guess I kind of feel like its obvious that I am wearing a bra, why is it that the boobs themselves have to be perfectly smooth?

        But also some seamed bras are better than others at being discrete. The once a year I go to buy a new bra I usually bring a couple of shirts so I can make sure I like the way the bra looks under clothes. Not just seaming wise either, shape and placement too.

        All of that said, I get really self-conscious about cleavage. I hate it when a bra or shirt gives me obvious cleavage. Soooo everyone is picky about something…

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      Oh my–if seamed bras changed your life, you will LOVED Panache. I own two Tango IIs and a Harmony balconette (I believe it’s called a Melody now and uses slightly different lace.)

      Another plus for the style; if you are large but not firm, with the right bra and size you will look smaller in a natural way, as opposed to the horror that is a minimizer (which just squish your boobs into your armpits). Molded bras tend to make my 4’9/36F self look like I belong on the prow of a ship; seamed bras make me look more proportional.

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    Hey, this is great, but: QUESTION. Is it possible to find a decent strapless bra if you are someone who has hardly any breasts (like 36A-ish) but who also really likes the support and nipple-coverage that bras give and consequently always buys bras with at least some light padding? My feeling is that a strapless bra on me would probably just fall down or flap around, but also sometimes I want to wear dresses where bra straps would just look dumb. Suggestions?

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      Well, with most strapless bras the support actually comes from how well it fits around your ribcage. If you can find one that fits going around well, the next challenge is finding one where the cups don’t stick out and make weird indentations in your shirt/dress/whatever.

      Basically I would suggest trying a bunch on in the lower cup sizes and make sure to bring a strapless top of some sort (or even just a t-shirt) to try on over them to make sure the cups to bulge out. You should be able to find one that fits (though maybe not at Victoria’s Secret, because as mentioned, “Victoria’s Secret CANNOT HANDLE OUR SHIT”).

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      Absolutely! I have small breasts (I am “the flat-chested one” amongst the less tactful of my friends) and have been able to find a strapless bra that stays up/doesn’t show nipples. I think the trick is getting one that fits securely enough and is the right size. I’d recommend jumping about in the fitting room a bit in it, just to make sure it is capable of such feats as not falling down during daily life/at dances when EVERY OTHER SONG instructs the dancers to “throw your hands in the air like you don’t care (if your strapless dress slides down with your boobs out in the air)!”

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        i’ve had a few strapless bras, usually i get a convertible bra so that i can use it for different things including strapless. There’s this like latex-y thing on them usually that makes it stick.

        recently i’ve been doing a thing where i put on a strapless bra and then put on this super-tight seamless tube top camisole situation I got at Mandee several years ago over it and then i put on the dress.

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          Oh I CANNOT HANDLE that sticky latex-y business. It makes my skin hurt/turn red/freak out. Once I bought a bra that had that stuff on it and, after mostly destroying it by trying to somehow scrape it off with scissors/knives/etc., had to throw it out.

          I mean part of my problem I guess is that buying new bras is only ever about #8593 on my list of life priorities, so I am just super unlikely to do the whole “try on a million styles and do a lot of little dressing room dances” thing. I love buying clothes, but it’s no fun buying clothes that you can’t even ever see. (Might be different if I were femmey enough to be into the sexy lingerie thing, but even under my fanciest dresses I’m still probably wearing boyshorts.)

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        True story: I went bra shopping today and they had these exact same bras there! And I thought, terrific! It’s gonna be just like Autostraddlers said! And then I tried one on and there was just no way I was coming anywhere near filling the cups even of the A, though I did find another Calvin Klein bra of, nominally, the same size that fit me fine. Sad times. However, my torso’s resemblance to that of a 10-year-old boy did serve me well in buying an perfectly-fitting blazer designed for a 10-year-old boy, so there’s that.

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    I’m with Julie Goldman, someone needs to create a line of Butch Bras, that would be effing brilliant and make my life so much easier.

    I’m incredibly picky with bras, I don’t like having any padding/molding in the cups, so there’s like one style of bra from jockey that I get.

    And it took me like a decade to figure out the whole, if you don’t want your bra to show under a white shirt, wear one that is close to your skin tone.

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      re: the white shirt/skin-tone-matching bra — ME TOO!! I don’t even remember anymore how it is that I discovered this but I was like OHHHHHHH. I used to just wear black bras with white shirts and tell myself it looked sexy.

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        i once had this black long sleeve shirt that i wore ALL the time & assumed since it was black, i could wear whatever bra was clean at the time. then one night someone took a picture of me & apparently the threading on this shirt was the “thin kind” (?? i don’t know the right term here) where it didn’t matter that it was a black shirt because you could see my oh-so-white bra underneath. EVERY. TIME.

        god that sucked.

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        I used to wear white bras with white shirts thinking that because the bra would match the shirt you wouldn’t be able to see it, but that never worked and all I gained was an aversion to wearing white shirts

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          A dear friend of mine and I were discussing what bra to wear under a white shirt before going out one night in college. Her mother had always told her to wear a black bra under a white shirt and my mother had always told me to wear a white bra. We could not figure out why our mothers would give us opposite advice. I am embarrassed to say that it took me years, literally years, to realize it was because she is black and I am white.

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    I have irritatingly sized boobs at 34DD (UK, not sure if it’s the same in the USA because NOTHING EVER IS). It’s not too bad, except a) I’m 16 and would feel awkward getting eyeballed by old ladies to check what size I really am, and b) Everything is either 34D or 36DD, which is NOT ME.

    It’s sort of a family thing; my mother has huge breasts and she is adamant she is a 36E. I’m guessing more like 36G, but she won’t listen to me, and her quad-boobs are embarrasing in public.

    But yeah, WOO BOOBS! UK gals – if you want cheap non-satin bras, Marks & Spencers are actually pretty good. I’m wearing one of their strapless bras right now, and it is a beautiful thing.

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      Bravissimo! Bravissimo! No, seriously, Bravissimo. The assistants tend not to be old ladies – the last time I went I had a hot young one with tattoos, which, okay, was kind of awkward in my head because I was all “I am half naked in front of a hot girl I am not having sex with!”, but still awesome.

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    Dear Autostraddle- thank you for letting me think about boobs for the past half hour and pretend it was for bra-purchasing ‘research’ purposes.

    PS. If you have never been fitted, do it!!!! It will save you from thinking for years you must be a 36 AA or AAA because no 36 A ever fits right when actually you are a 34 B and that size fits you like magic.

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    For those who want the girls tucked away neatly without cleavage but not bound—the Soma Kahala Bra. I’m a B and these bras keep ‘em squared away without binding. I have five of these suckers, they’re almost always on sale, if the peach or black doesn’t work you can dye the white to your skin tone, and the faces the old ladies at my local Soma make when I express my love are priceless.

    Also, remember that every breast sits differently on the chest; half the reason the above bra fits me so well is because my breasts are slopey and low-slung; even the sturdiest underwire isn’t going to make a difference, because it’s trying to lift an area that doesn’t need lifting. The way your boobs sit is another factor to factor into this.

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    Bra fixing tip for people with small boobs who feel the need to wear ‘em sometimes:

    Step1: purchase a cheap bra. whatever, it’s just a nipple warmer.

    Step 2: remove bows, lace, tags, tackiness.

    Step 3: Slice a tiny hold in the corner of the bottom band at each side.

    Step 4: remove underwire. pointless/always shaped wrong.

    Step 5: surgically shorten straps.

    Step 6: wonder why you bother and return to just wearing little boy’s undershirts.

    This has worked well for me but those american apparel things are even better. except their extra small is still a little big for me… wtf.

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    Note: The champion sports bra (number 5 for butches) fits REALLY small. I wear a 34 D usually, bought a 34D of that bra and it could double as a binder for how tight it is. My boobs completely disappear in them and it hurts to wear for more than a few hours. (I do wear it as a binder sometimes but that’s cause I’m all gender confused and poor). I would go up one or two band sizes if you want that one.

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    I never realized how much I needed see-through bras until this moment.

    Seriously. Fuck my flannel-wearing, non-shaving, Jay-and-Silent-Bob-and-MJ style. I. Need. Seethrough. Bras.

    You know how Eddie Izzard says he’s a male lesbian? I think I’m a female transvestite.

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    I have to contradict something from the large-busted post. Two sports bras is NOT a good idea. Gasp! No!

    Get a GOOD SPORTS BRA.

    IT IS SO IMPORTANT!

    Two sports bras is not effective for reducing bounce and side-to-side motion (which a good sports bra will do), and it also makes it more difficult to breathe because your chest is constricted. I cannot run without a sports bra designed for my D-cup, but with one, I feel invincible out there. I like Moving Comfort sports bras but I’ve heard good things about other brands, so go to the running or other sports store near you and try them ALL on and jump around.

    They make technical sports bras even for larger ladies (I know there’s a brand called Enell that Oprah likes.)

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    I used to hate being flat so all of my bras were super padded monstrosities. After a while I got used to them, and eventually loved them. Last summer I celebrated a heat wave, my lack o’ rack and my odd work schedule with Tits Out Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Ooor… if I have to wear a bra in a nipple appropriate setting these are my favourite. Who doesn’t love bright yellow boobs.

    http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?itemdescription=true&itemCount=80&startValue=1&selectedProductColor=&sortby=&id=17284209&parentid=W_INTIMATES&sortProperties=+subCategoryPosition,+product.marketingPriority&navCount=0&navAction=jump&color=&pushId=W_INTIMATES&popId=WOMENS&prepushId=&selectedProductSize=

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    My favourite bra is from Jacob, which is a boutique I love soo much because it is from Québec and it has such cute and affordable bras. I hope you’ve got them in the States.

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    Once upon a time, a mother took her daughter to Macy’s (or was it Bloomingdale’s?) to get measured for bras. The woman there said, “you’re a 28B,” the girl said, “that’s not true. That doesn’t even exist,” her mother said, “you don’t exist. You’re a unicorn!”

    Ever since, the girl has been wearing bras by Delta for Maidenform from the girl’s section of Target in size “34.” They do not have a cup size but it is prolly an A. It might be a little embarrassing to shop in the kid’s section but these bras are cheap and comfortable and great. Years later the girl was finally brave enough to get measured again at a real lingerie store where they knew what they were doing. She has one lovely, expensive Natori bra in a 34A from them. She still likes her target kids bras better.

    The end.

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    This article was so needed, so relevant to my life right now. I’m not butch but my gender expression & gender identity aren’t aligned & I have a huge problem (literally, ha) with cleavage. I have had sites with binders open dozens of times in the past few months & still haven’t clicked “purchase” for whatever reason. I wear a lot of sports camis that compress, my friends usually think I am a B even though I’m dubs D. My mother had a breast reduction, somehow breast size is my most evident gene inherited from her side of the family. So, thank you for this article because I keep bouncing back from considering a reduction so I can come closer to finding out how I really am meant to express myself & continuing to try to find the perfect bra to make my life more livable. I think I will go get fitted at Bra*Tenders. Also I always wish that the websites & catalogs would notate which cup size the model is for accurate comparison/shopping like some companies do with clothing.

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    Holy eff, I’m apparently wearing a bra that fits properly.

    But I’m just wondering after reading all the comments… am I super weird? I wear boxer briefs, but I don’t have a problem with the lace on a couple of my bras, and I do in fact own some with little bows. Yeah, they are kinda stupid, but I don’t really care. All that lace and ish sometimes makes me feel pretty damn sexy. I’m also more likely to take off my shirt, which no ladyfriend has ever complained about.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: can someone who wears boxers also want to have a sexy, sexy, Victoria’s Secret rack?

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    word on this calvin klein and american apparel for the flat ladies thing. i’m a 32A and it makes me SO MAD that everything is padded because i think i have MARVELOUS breasts and don’t want to change anything about them other than maybe not have my nips everywhere all the time. i’ve also had the same 2 CK bras since junior high school — plain, black, unpadded, a lil underwire, no frills, no weird boobsquish-can-we-make-cleavage-out-of-these-oops-no-sorry nonsense going on. Urban Outfitters actually usually carries plenty of plain-black-stretchy-lace bralette things too.

    for the other B-and-smaller high-femmey crowd who consider lingerie a really worthwhile occasional indulgence, let us also recc’ that sadly pricey lingerie stores — journelle in nyc for one, brooklyn fox in williamsburg, and generally european ‘designer’ labels like eres — are usually also excellent if you feel like splurging on yourself/indulging your girlfriend’s eyes and, like, actually want something that’s cute-ish (plain black lace!) and not a training bra with hello kitty on it.

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      yes! obviously i wrote the flat ladies section (34-36a) and seriously find that high-end stores are more likely to have everything i need, from un-padded bras to pants that are both skinny and long. i just wanna get a $15 shirt at old navy dammit.

      i think i just started buying calvin klein bras because that was the only brand i’d heard of (all my underwear was CK too) b/c of *ahem* some convincing ad campaigns for CK one in the 90s — i’ve had periods of being a B and they still fit then too — they last forever, and i can’t say that about any other bra brand i’ve tried, ever.

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    This is amazing!! amazing!! I can’t stand girly bras and the tips for the butchier bras seriously made my life! Just because I dont always dress butchy but more so plain really doesnt work out with la senza/ victoria secret bras… I do like to keep my boobs firmly secure sooo this was a life saver and just plain wonderful omg!!

    – also I now need to go do some serious online shopping yay! :D

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    …I just don’t wear one. I’m not small chested, either. Am I alone in this? I’ll print this out and bring it with if I ever purchase one, though.

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    I have SO MANY FEELINGS about this article in general and about the busty-butch-bra issue in particular. Too many to write.

    But really I just want to wear a T-shirt with a design on it that doesn’t get stretched and distorted. Or go jogging. I want to wake up and go to sleep without back pain or wear button-down shirts and be able to button all the buttons. I want to feel like my chest is actually a part of me and not some weird Alien-incubation cavity or something. I want to look proportional, not like some top-heavy gaming avatar.

    Is there a bra that can make this possible? Or should I just start pooling my liquor money towards breast reduction?

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      Thank you for clearly stating all my thoughts about my 34Gs.

      I dislike them in all practical situations. Especially 1. t shirts 2. back pain 3. button downs 4. proportion
      oh wait you said all those things.

      Just so you know: you should look into whether a reduction would be covered under your medical plan wherever you live, if that is something you would seriously consider.

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    I’ve been kind of freaking out about going on my first bra shopping trip for a while now, but this article has calmed me somewhat! Now instead of intense anxiety toward the idea, I feel the same vague sense of worry that accompanies the first time I do basically anything. Yay!

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    I generally just like sports bras unless I’m going to a wedding or something because bras tend to fit my boobicles weird.
    Also, does anyone else have trouble getting fitted? One day they tell me I’m a B, and the next they tell me I’m an A.

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    My mum had a lingerie party (seriously) a few months ago for this Australian brand called Intimo, and the aptly named saleswoman, Debra, fitted me. Turns our I am actually an A cup. Suddenly everything is comfier!

    But seriously, comfiest bras I have ever worn. If you’re an Aussie, go check Intimo out. They’re pretty girly, though. They have plain coloured ones, too, I think, but still pretty girly. I’m not sure if they ship overseas, and Australian sizes might be different. But go check them out.

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    DO NOT WEAR ACE BANDAGES
    They do some serious damage if used frequently. If you do it occasionally,its fine i guess.. But if you are binding day to day DO NOT use ace bandages. Permanent Damage.

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    I feel like this post is exactly like boobs in a bra. You see it at the home screen, looking promising, wondering what treats lie behind. Then you click on it, take the cute bra off and it’s magical and more than you ever expected. Like boobs.

    I heart you, Autostraddle.

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    sometimes I just want to get down on one knee and propose marriage to Autostraddle, like for realz, like baby please be mine.

    articles like this also make me want to stack up five paychecks and get that real engagement ring, too….

    maybe this is something I should write about but let’s just start with a comment.

    i am not a femme lesbian but i’m definitely not AG or Butch in the more traditional sense of the word.

    i’m definitely not cool enough to be a raging gender queer, either…

    i’m just kinda one of those chicks that falls in the middle.

    i really dig the middle.

    Don’t worry, i’m not about to go into some sob story about no one representing me, not this time anyway.

    So once again, i love the middle.

    i LOVE wearing a blue striped button down, dark blue sweater vest and a silver tie with combat boots to Easter dinner with the fam knowing that underneath Im wearing a matching pink and white bra and panty set from Victoria Secrets Pink collection.

    Girly underwear is a turn on for me whether she’s wearing it or I am. love it. maybe mine arent lacy or flowery but they’re fucking cuuute.

    red,black, polkda dots, hearts, you name it.

    I got it. Especially if she finds them sexy on me…it’s a done deal

    whoa, i said it. My secret is out. I’m still here…it’s all good.

    It’s like i’m a prancing unicorn in a sea full of AG macho lions whenever I admit that I wear gir’s underwear.

    so this article really is just perfect because I like girly stuff (hold the bows and the sequins, please n thank you mmmk) and the butch stuff (minus the bowties n wingtips).

    i also totally dig my breasts. love them. always have cuz i was a chunky kid n there were always some type of boob things hanging off my chest.

    but uh 17 was a good year for me and my breasts evened out their relationship with gravity and discovered some really awesome proportions…

    so anyway, a good bra is hard to find. I’m always somewhere between a 36D and a 38DD and so my options usually lie in granny beige or hooker print cheetah for “the Sassy Big Girl.”

    and also, i’m not the rich type, so dropping mad money on good bras is often not an option.

    so once again, without any prior conversation, Autostraddle has read my mind and put out an awesome bra guide.

    one thing, remember that for larger breasted women the price you see for a bra in a “regular” size even in the same style can and usually is 5-15 dollars more expensive.

    But other than that, good job ladies. thank you for the pictures of all types of women in bras, looking sexy and fine.

    Julie, thank you for your honesty. I am so down with everything you said and am so glad you said it.

    It’s awesome to hear a more masculine woman talk about feeling feminine and sexy.

    And you said:

    I don’t mind showing some cleavage – I am a girl – and I’m not trying to hide ‘em. I’m just trying to look in the mirror and feel good.

    word. right on, mama. I’m with you.

    And if you start that Bra n Underwear line, I will be all over that shit.

    So what do you say AS, wanna get hitched?

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    As a small-breasted (30AA) genderfluid person, I usually see to my nipples-hiding needs by wearing tight, brightly coloured ribbed vests under clothes. (They also go great with my brightly coloured boxer-briefs, for values of great that include “clash alarmingly”.)

    I do occasionally wear actual bras, but as 30AA is fiendishly difficult to locate, I wear the only bra style in the world I have ever found to fit me while also not having the words “My first bra” somewhere on the labelling. It’s a Triumph brand 28A that comes in just one colour (a dreadfully exciting beige) and I can only get hold of it in Asia. *frown*

    (Though I am looking at some of the fantastic Autostraddle suggestions for small-racked folks and I may try out a couple. *highfive* I like the idea of at last owning a black bra. That would be awesome.)

    For when I bind, I use the top bit of tights cut off (are tights called something else in American? pantyhose?), like a very compressive tube top. I’m pretty sure it would only work if you’re similarly under-endowed in the chest department, but it’s another potential option.

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    Julie, thanks for your essay! I too am a butch dyke cursed with enormous bosoms. I cannot wear tank tops, because my frame demands I wear a 48 DDD bra, which only comes in one style FULL COVERAGE! Which means that my straps are huge and I get two color choices, black or nude. I cannot pull off cute butch because I am confined to the world of t-shirts, woe is me. However I could easily pull off the “Holy shit look at my tits” look if I so desired

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    I saw it mentioned in the comments once, but I just want to expand on it…

    DO NOT bind with Ace bandages. Autostraddle, I less than three you forever and a day, but I have to disagree with your advice on this.

    Ace bandages are made to constrict the more you move, and breathing is most definitely movement. With every breath you take (every move you make) ((i’ll be missing you))…ahem…

    But seriously. Every time you breath or move, the ace bandage gets tighter and tighter. People who bind with ace bandages have bruised/cracked/broken ribs before. At the very least, it will cause some serious pain and bruising.

    So please, never bind with ace bandages. Better idea? Take some old compression or spandex shorts and cut the crotch out of them. It works – I used that method for years. Since it’s spandex, it’s designed to move with you and not boa-constrict your chest every time you breath.

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    As a boi with a larger chest (Thanks a lot Mother Nature!) I must agree that binding with ACE bandages is NOT the way to go.

    If you can’t afford a “chest compression shirt” from a site like Underworks (http://www.underworks.com) then I say go with the Champion racerback sports bras from Target. Are we allowed to shop there again? Either way I find that these are pretty reasonably priced vs. Nike or Adidas. I normally wear a Large but opt for a Medium if I’m trying to attain a flatter look.

    Really though, if you’re a butch/boi who wants your button-down shirts to lay flat or want to actually enjoy shirts that are slim cut, then save up and get a compression shirt from Underworks. The best part is that it slims your midsection too! Woo!

    If that doesn’t work, try out compression shirts from Under Armour like the pros wear under their jerseys, etc. Good luck!

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    great timing with this post autostraddle! i have finally saved up enough money to replace the binders i currently have. I’ve been eyeballing the underworks binders for quite some time now

    don’t use ace bandages! it is uncomfortable and dangerous! i tried ace bandages at first because i was poor, but i quickly realized i needed something better. it was too frustrating having to rewrap many times throughout the day and it wasn’t very comfortable. that’s when a friend recommended t-kingdom binders to me. they are much more comfortable than ace bandages.

    t-kingdom binders are ok. i’ve had the m690 and the m1700. it definitely does its job, but i have had people notice i was wearing “something that wasn’t a bra or a shirt” when they hugged me. the material of the binding part is not very soft and the section where the velcro is can feel lumpy. it also does not breathe very well. after binding with these for the last 2 years, i am sick of the loud velcro rip when i have to adjust it or take it off. it was nice to have the velcro when i first started binding because it made it easy to put on and to adjust tightness while i was getting used to binding.

    i will report back once i get my underworks binders and let you know if they are better than t-kingdom ones or not!

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    i have A LOT of feelings about this post and i’m not sure how to process all of them….after years of being too thin, my boobs had been perpetually small. my mother demanded that i had to wear a bra, but after a shoulder injury, i could never get the straps to fit right. the bra was off by 3rd period study hall.

    skip ahead 16 years of no-bra-wearing life and i have filled out to my proper weight, gained some boobage and i also have fibromyalgia (constant chronic nerve pain — i dont want to wear clothes most of the but def not a bra.) my skin, my muscles, my mind — none of them want to wear a bra. i dont think i even own any womens clothes anymore….hmmmmmm.

    SO, question: is it *really* ok to traipse through life not wearing a bra? or should society get the fuck over it? after all, mother, they’re just boobs!

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    As no one else seems to have said it yet – BONDS! They are an Australian underwear company (well I think they’re made in China now but anyway) and their bras are all spunky and NO FRIGGIN’ BOWS. (Sometimes lace, but it’s not all flowery lace.) LOVE THEM.

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    Ok, 3rd time’s the charm, right? After a phone freeze and a 3G abandonment here I go with my spcheel. Boobs. Ugh. They are just trouble for me. I got measured last summer as a 32DD in denial, formerly a 36C in denial; result 32GG/30H on an 18 year old, 5 foot tall boi. Can you “say does not compute”? Bras and I don’t have a very great relationship. I tried binding and it didn’t work. I’m on the verge of considering a reduction but I’ve been warned that they can grow back. And I absolutely could not handle that. I don’t know what to do. Because I’m kind of afraid to have surgery and I’m so used to having huge boobs, they’re my trademark in a way, I feel like I’d seem more disproportionate to myself after a reduction. I would love to have a flat boy-chest, I even dream about it but my gut tells me it wouldn’t go over well. Any advice?

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    I have the worst luck with bras. I got correctly sized at a Nordstrom’s lady and found out that I was not in fact a 34C but at 32DD. Now that I know my correct size I can’t shop anywhere except lingerie boutiques and Nordstroms. Not even Victoria’s Secret has my size and all their damn models are skinny with big tits! Where’s the love VS?

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    Why are all the large rack bras also full figure? Not everyone with ginormous racks are also plus size, so it seems like you’ve done this demographic a disservice by giving it such short shrift.

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      From what I know about AS, they get their writers to write about what they know. And so those who wrote for this wrote about their specific body type I’m assuming, or wrote about some common demographics… but jaysus if we aren’t all different! They can’t cover everything. The comments are where we the readers can be like “hey, what about this *inserts helpful knowledge*”…which they love us doing…to fill the info gap.

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    It’s been a few years since I last went bra shopping. I only own one bra that I actually like. I’ve got it in both black and white.

    You guys motivated me to finally go bra shopping today. It was SO FRICKEN HARD to find something that wasn’t pink, patterned, push-up or covered in lace. I ended up buying the only half decent bra I could find. (Plain, Black, Convertable to racerback – and of course, kind of expensive) (They did have really cute/super comfy mens boxer brief, that I now want: http://www.lavieenrose.com/wcsstore/LVERCatalogAssetStore/images/catalog/size05/view01/988-812-0-13.jpg)

    Then I went to Costco, and they were selling 2-packs of convertable CK bras for $30, and Champion Sports bras (#5 on your list) 2/$18. Should have just gone there in the first place.

    So…success?

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    NO BRA IS THE WAY!!! I love the natural feeling of no bra. I find that after years of not wearing a bra I have trouble wearing one again. I do have smaller size breasts, but have you seen my mothers! so I’m definitly in the potential of getting bigger. But hey I’m still not gonna wear one :D

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    I loooooove that there is a bra article so much. I have the grey striped Calvin Klein one, actually, and it seems more “Katy Perry” than “Gender Neutral” but it gives the best cleavage (I’ve had a hard time finding a DD pushup bra).

    I found a good strapless situation: a pale peach bustier at Nordstrom, by the brand Felina. It’s also pushup, you can wear low-cut things with it, and it stays up without that sticky stuff, because it is a bustier. Also because it’s a bustier, you can feel like a pinup girl if you want even though it has no decoration (not even a little bow).

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    I AM SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW
    the FIRST few posts on this article were things i could immediately relate to!!!
    i am a 30F (and can easily fit a 28, if i can ever find one)
    i am a tiny girl with huge boobs, and as awesome*~ as that sounds…. i really am not too keen on it, haha. :(
    but yeah, i would like to agree with a few above girls in saying that freya is INCREDIBLE, im pretty sure almost all my bras are freya.

    <3 thanks for this post autostraddle, and for covering such a wide range of bra/boobs issues/wants!!

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    I need a sports bra and I love those Victoria’s Secret ones! But a) they have yet to include my college, despite the fact that we won the PINK vote last year, and b) currently only West Virginia and Utah are available anyway, and they’re not bringing back the rest until the school year starts again.

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    I avoid bras and have for all of my 35 years, and guess what- no saggage whatsoever. I’m convinced that bras weaken chest muscles. I have a natural bra.(years of heavy lifting may have caused this) I wear t-shirts or tank tops. I swim topless.

    Problems solved and money saved. Whenever I ‘have’ to wear a bra for some reason, I feel like I have a chest wedgie. It’s just awkward.

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    These are great articles overall. Thank you to all involved in writing and posting them.

    I do have a few comments, though. From “Picks For Large Racks”, the Panache Tango comes in more sizes than listed. The style pictured is the Balconette version, which actually ranges from a 28 to 44, and cups range roughly from D to a UK K cup. The Plunge version of this bra is a bit less inclusive, with band ranging from 28 to 38, and cups from D to UK H. As a result of its wide range in sizing, this can be a great bra for finding your size (Balconette is preferable to plunge for this). However, Panache cups are wide and shallow, with wide-set straps, so they’re still not for everyone. I need Freya’s deep, narrow cups rather than Panache’s broad, shallow cups.

    Also, in the “For the Small-Breasted Girls” article, one paragraph says, “I’m an A cup and find triangle bras aren’t especially flattering under shirts and, conversely, bras that offer a lot of coverage (like most “t-shirt” bras) are expecting to handle a much larger chunk of flesh than I have. So demi-cups and balconettes are usually a skinny girl’s BFF.”

    I understand I’m nit-picking a bit, here, but this is implying skinny girls have small boobs. This isn’t always the case. I’m certainly a skinny girl – my ribcage is 26″ around and my waist is 25″. But my bust is 35″ and I tend to wear a 28FF bra. Skinny girls can have not-small busts and, honestly, this makes clothes shopping a challenge. Most of my body tends to need a size 0 or 2, but my boobs need a size 4 or 6. Some styles simply cannot fit me – there’s not enough fabric to cover even half my boobs. Even simple t-shirts won’t fit right – they’re either clearly baggy, or tight on my bust. “Women’s cut” Ts will have the armhole pulled forward by my bust.

    There are so many differences in sizes and shapes. Beyond that, there are differences is what we want from our busts – even from day to day, what I want to do with my bust changes. As a result, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to address everyone. Overall, anything that helps people be more comfortable with their bodies is a good thing.

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      Yeah, where is the information for skinny girls with big boobs?? I’m in the exact same boat in terms of bra size and boob shape. I haven’t bought a bra or swimsuit in an actual store since I was a teenager (gotta buy them all online from UK manufacturers…figleaves.com is the best!).

      And a lot of girls who are very skinny with small breasts are probably in a similar boat, in terms of bra-buying. All the bras recommended for small breasts start at 32 band, but bands go as low as 28 and in some cases 26. Because cup size is relative to band, a 32A cup = the same boob volume as 30B, as 28C. Conversely, a 32A has the equivalent of one “cup size” MORE volume than 30A. If 32A is too big in the cup, small-breasted girls might want to try going down a band size instead of trying to find AA and AAA bras with a too-big band.

      Though these articles address some great issues, it’s really missing an entire segment of the bra-wearing population — people who wear bands smaller than 32. Part of the reason that 70% of women are allegedly wearing the wrong size (where did this stat even come from?) is because they’re not aware they’re wearing a band that’s too big. Many women also aren’t aware of the go-down-a-band-size-go-up-a-cup-size volumetric rule, so they hear DD (or anything bigger) and assume it’s monstrously huge, when my 28ff, for example, is the equivalent cup volume of a 36D, which is the “average” American bra size according to some articles.

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    While this was very helpful for my b-cupped self, I was really upset to see that you condoned binding with Ace bandages. It’s super duper dangerous to do that to yourself. Especially because people who do that do it regularly. The best thing to do is try and get a binder, like the half shirt whatever things from underworks that are $30. And even that you shouldn’t wear everyday like my boyfriend does. If you can’t get your hands on a binder or you only want to be flat chested once in a while 2 sports bras and a couple of layers is the best I can offer you. Really sucks if you’re a bigger breasted person. Not only because it’s really hard to get near to flat, but also because you need more support so that you don’t have back and rib issues from binding. Like my big breasted boyfriend does.
    I hope this helps.

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    I’m awfully late to the party here, but I can totally vouch for the awesomeness of Come As You Are and their Underworks binders. As someone who does masculine more often than not, their binders rock – though I think I’m due for a new one.

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    does anyone know where i can take my partner to get fitted? i’m in nyc. he’s a transvestite and he doesn’t dress outside of the house, but i hate to see him in uncomfortable in bras that don’t fit! if i could find a place that is super friendly and open to lgbtq people maybe i could talk him into a proper fitting. or is there a resource anyone knows of so i can learn to do it myself?

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    Underworks binders are seriously the best thing ever if you live in a chilly climate and get cold easily. I’m normally a complete iceblock, but Underworks: /never cold/*. Also, they make really small sizes, which is helpful for people like me who have disarmingly small ribcages.
    *(Unless it’s SUPER cold and then wearing a binder with erect nipples is just the most painful thing in the entire world. Those are the days I just wear a baggy waistcoat over my shirt.)

    Good bra fitters are way too hard to find. I was measured as a 32C right up until I was 18 or 19, when I was informed I’m actually a 28E. No wonder my bras never fit right. I swear that all chain stores everywhere are contractually obliged to tell their customers they are a 32C.
    Of course, trying to actually find bras in a funny size like 28E is impossible if you just want a run-of-the-mill type and not some frilly shit or whatever (even the specialist store where I was measured only had /one single bra/ in my size and it was this ridiculous lacy padded balconette which I never wear).

    I can’t wait until I can just get them reduced to an AAA and not have to bother with them ever again, jeez. :I

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