You Want to Bind, But You Need Some Help

feature image from gc2b

Q:”Hello! I’ve recently started exploring a more androgynous look for myself, and part of that for me is trying to make my boobs disappear as much as possible. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the size of my chest, but didn’t know how to put words to that, or that there were ways to feel more comfortable with it, until I started figuring out my sexuality and reading more about other queer people. Right now, I wear sports bras as often as possible, but am interested in getting a binder, just to see how it feels. Do you have any recommendations for a binder that isn’t too expensive, but will give me a chance to test the waters? Thanks in advance!”

A: Hello to you friend!! Getting a binder is an exciting experience in a person’s life, and there are so many out there that it can be confusing where you should start! Well, I have suggestions.

First, read up. We’ve published a few other articles on binding and how to begin that process right here on autostraddle dot com! Check out this piece Ali wrote about the gc2b (which is my personal favorite). Sonny Oram from Qwear wrote a super helpful 101 overview which offers tips for what to think about when shopping around.

It’s important to also be thinking about sizing while you’re researching. gc2b has binders that go up to a 5XL and Shapeshifters, another company I like, only does custom sizes, so it’ll be made to fit whatever measurements you put it. I mention this because I currently own like three binders that are too small because I refused to measure myself. Getting that personal made me feel dysphoric, so I avoided it, but if it won’t cause you too much internal stress, really try to do it. Or at least order a size bigger than you think you’ll need. There were a few days after I got my first binder when after wearing it for three or four hours my fingers went numb. Please dear reader and friend, do not make the same mistakes as me.

Shapeshifters gives you tons of tips for measuring yourself!

Once you’ve done your research, think about what you’re looking for in a binder. For a basic everyday wear sort of deal, I really love the gc2b nude collection. They have a brown that is really close to my skin that is great for wearing under anything crewneck. Depending on your chest size, think about if you want a full or half binder. I have a larger chest so I tend to go for the full binder because otherwise I get weird sweat spots in the middle of my shirt and kinda feel like my nipples are hanging out? But I’ve got both, because sometimes i want to bind and wear a crop top, so think about what you’re going to wear over it.

On the other hand, maybe you want something a little more decorative or custom. Shapeshifters is a company I found out about on Tumblr, and they’re great for customized binders. You can get racerback straps, make them thinner, add a zipper or velcro. Shapeshifters will even add length onto the bottom if you need it. They also work really closely with you to make sure you’re sized well, so I’ve never had a problem with straps digging into my shoulders, even though they’re thinner. They’ve also got the most amazing fabric options, like cats in space, glitter, and a color called “unicorn barf.” These are the binders I reach for when I don’t want to wear a shirt over them. They even will custom make a binder dress, which honestly is the epitome of my femme goals.

The binding dress from Shapeshifters!!

All of these binders are between $30 and $50 which is about the same a low- to mid-cost bra. Start with one binder and wear it a few days a week for a few hours at a time to get used to it (hang it up and spray it with a fabric spray between wears, wash it every two to three wears). If you’re on the smaller chest side, you might find that a sports bra works for you and offers you more opportunities to wear different clothing, but I know that for me, they’ve completely changed the way clothes fit me and I’m obsessed. I realized I didn’t like the way clothes fit me because of my chest, not because of the clothes, and now I’m able to dress in a way that feels more authentic and comfortable. Hopefully, it’ll do the same for you too!

Alaina is a 20-something working on a PhD in Performance as Public Practice. They are a mom to three cats, they listen to a lot of NPR and musicals, and they spend a lot of time on Pinterest lusting over studio apartments. They are actively trying to build A Brand on twitter @alainamonts. One day, they will be First Lady of the United States.

Al(aina) has written 209 articles for us.