Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Good Foundation is Essential

Yesterday, I promised to give you the lowdown on hot bras for us larger-cupped ladies, except that's an awful phrase, so let me try again: Big-busted beauties? Must...stop...alliterating...

Anyway, finding a bra when you're bigger than a C-cup can be a difficult task, and when I say "difficult task," I mean it can make you want to throw a molotov cocktail into those damn Victoria's Secret drawers and relocate to an African tribe where you can just flop freely.

Since sixth grade, I've endured heartache and backache in search of a supportive bra that was also, you know, cute. Yes, I know, I demand a lot. During that long journey through underwire and lace, here's what I've found:

Best All-Around Bra That You Might Need to Sell Your Car to Afford But It Would Be Worth It

Chantelle Graphie T-Shirt Bra

The last time I went to Nordstrom for a bra fitting, I told my Personal Breast Specialist or whatever the hell they're called that I was on a bit of a budget and if she could only bring me the cheapo shit from the clearance rack, that would be great. She came back with an armload of brassieres, one of which was a $75 Chantelle t-shirt bra.

Now, before I continue, I have to give you some backstory. As long as I can remember, my mom has stressed to my brothers and I the importance of a good brassiere. She would often line us up (yes I'm being serious) and have us repeat the phrase "
A good foundation is essential," until we could say it back to her, verbatim. At random intervals she would test my brothers especially, summoning them from backyard football games to ask, "No matter how poor you are or how many bills you have to pay, what is the one thing you will always buy for your wife?"

"A good bra!" my brothers would declare, and then, with a nod of my mom's head, they were allowed to continue playing.

So, no one can say that I don't appreciate the importance of a good bra, it's just that, wow, $75? Really? I tend to be more of a $30 girl (see below). I told the Nordstrom lady to get it out of my sight immediately, but instead she did some kind of ninja move (little known fact: the Nordstrom lingerie department trains in Japan with Shredder and the Foot Clan) and had me clasped into it before I could say "Holy shit! I'll take it!"

I ended up buying it, and I've worn it nearly every day since.
Chantelle makes different styles of bras that cost even more (some go for $100 and up), which are also amazing, but I'm waiting to buy those until I secure a lucrative book deal (title of my memoir: A Good Foundation Is Essential).

Best Affordable Bra Brand That Looks Expensive

(available at Nordstrom, Bare Necessities, etc.)

Ah, Felina. This brand has been a favorite of mine for years. Their styles are just as cute as the mega-expensive brands but usually cost around 30 bucks. They're not as durable as a brand like Chantelle, but you can buy, like, fifty of them for the same price. Love love love.

Best Supportive Bra that Your Grandmother Would Never Wear (No Offense, Grandma)

Anything by Freya
(available at Fig Leaves, Nordstrom, etc.)

Freya is another fairly new find for me. I love them with a burning passion because they achieve the rare and amazing trifecta of being sexy, comfortable, and actually holding your boobs up.
They have the youngest, funkiest styles I've found for larger cup sizes--colorful and perfect for letting a strap peek out.

They're a bit on the spendy side too, but I found one the other day for 15 bucks at Nordstrom Rack (not to brag...OK, yeah, I'm totally bragging. Jealous?). Even at full price, they're worth it. And many of their bras are available in up to a J-cup, which is totally awesome.

Best Sports Bra That Eliminates The Worry That Your Boobs Might Actually Fly Off During a Vigorous Run*

Adidas Active Underwire Bra, $40,

I've tried many a sports bra in my day, and none have come close to the effectiveness and comfort of this fairly basic, fairly affordable standby. In fact, there was a time when I misplaced mine for a few weeks, and I gained like ten pounds. That's how important this bra is to my life. And, apparently, how much my metabolism hates me.

*Not that I would ever run, but you get the idea.

Many of you already did this yesterday, but feel free to nominate your own favorites in the comments (overly long and superlative-filled titles preferred)!


Kaume'alani said...

I think you have been hiding in my closet. Just kidding. Those are all my favorite brands. I am soo jealous that you found a bra at Nordstrom Rack. They only go up to DD. I have seen like 2 bras in DDD, but never any 34F's. :(

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS AWESOME LINK! As a 34-36DD, I find it exceedingly difficult to find sexy bras. This made my day. Do you mind if I link to you on my blog?

daddylikeyblog said...

In fact, I have been hiding in your closet for the past few months--damnit! Now I'm gonna have to find a new home! The bra I got at the rack is an F, so keep an eye out! I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen each other at the Rack yet, actually. We both seem to spend a large portion of our lives there...

I'm only doing my duty--we well-endowed gals have gotta stick together! And absolutely you can link to me. Thanks for reading!

Tess said...

Yay for big boobies!! I have one fancy pants 100 buck bra in a neutral "flesh" color/underwire/padded/push those babies up to my neck from Nordy's, and I'm going to wear it everyday until they pull it off my hot clammy body (I'm guessing I'll die in the overcoming southern heat one of these days).

I find it totally ridiculous that we are peddled these bras worn by giant breasted woman in VS and Fredrick's of Hollywood ads. Can you go in there and find anything larger than a d? No! Totally shameful. I'm always told by the sales girl at either of those stores that a 38c is the same as a 34dd which is a totally and completely false! No wonder our nation suffers from a lack of a good foundation. I think the people who are busy protesting about nudity in vs lingerie ads should protest their lack of proper sizes, I see that as a totally awesome cause that would help our culture in ways we can't even imagine.

Anonymous said...

I loooove Felina! these posts are reminding me how much I need to go underwear shopping. (and as a 32D, that is sadly all I have to contribute to this conversation.)

Jello on Springs said...

Great post, I myself am very small chested (try non existent boobs) but my mother is well endowed in that region and is often complaining abouyt the underwire digging into her skin, if they don't have underwire it's that they don't give her enough support, and if it's neither of those it's that she can't find bras in colors other than black, white or nude. Now I know what to buy her as a gift!

Lily said...

As a 32E/F (holla!) I can confirm the awesomeness of Chantelle brand bras. They cost a million thousand dollars but they are grrrr-eat! I also really like Aubade bras, which are somehow even more expensive, but they're very pretty and low-cut, great to wear with sexy dresses and such.

Anonymous said...

I did the same thing with the Chantelle bra at nordstroms...damn them and their sly ways. BUT then I found some on ebay that were new and snapped them up for $30 a pop. Just a tip...

JessieB said...

Ok, I have to de-lurk on a bra post. The Chanelle bra was good for me (a 34E) until the band stretched out in about 2 months. I found that with only 2 rows of hooks in the back, it turned out to be a no. I absolutely love the Elle Macpherson line, and there are some pleasing Wacoal bras that I like. The Wacoal are a little cheaper as well. Both of those do 3 hooks and have a stay in the side, which I find essential now that I've tried it!
Also - totally seconded on the Ebay thing, plus Figleaves sometimes has really good clearance.

Mandy said...

Well, I posted in yesterday's post...but I have to second the recommendations for, and then Freya and Panache bras. Some of the Panache ones are a bit grandma-esque, but they have some great, super supportive basics that aren't half bad looking.

Bouncing Evil Ginner said...

WHilst I am myself not well-endowed (though I did get measuredc yesterday. I'm not in the "70% of women who wear the wrong size", although if they did half cups, I'd be A and a half. As it is, stick with the B), I do have a friend who is both small of back and large of breast. Will direct her towards this link...

Kelly said...

holy crap - i just came across your blog recently and thank god for the bladder control i possess every time i read a new post.

i have the very same bra issues and loved this post so, so much. thanks for all the new brands to check out. damn victoria's secret DOES NOT fit everyone perfectly!!!

E. said...

ah i used to work at victoria's secret in the dark ages. it's a pretty terrible store, and yeah, they don't like people who aren't in the 34-36 B-C range. sorry 'bout that.

but... how big is a J-cup? the picture forming in my head is a little bit weird.

Anonymous said...

Just a reminder, from what I have learned at fittings at places like Intimacy and from several talk shows that did the bra talk: You should not be wearing the same bra everyday! The bra needs a day to breathe and by wearing it everyday you run the risk of stretching it out before it's time and it not supporting you as well as it should.

/end of PSA

Vancouverista said...

Okay, so as if I wasn't already bitter enough lately about the lack of good shopping in Canada, you have to go and brag about all these great bras for big boobs! Finding a good bra is my constant struggle and I tend to wear them out like crazy once I find a good one. Just to give you an idea of how much they fuck with Canadian shoppers...we don't even HAVE victoria's secret here. Yeah, that's right.

Anonymous said...

Daddy Likley, you are the funniest blogger on the planet, but this was straight up brilliant and useful.

I will try those pricey bras at your suggestion. At the risk of shooting myself in the, er...foot, I have seen Felina bras a few times at Marshalls & TJs, might be worth a look for bargains.

I never like Olga bras over the years, they felt like torture when I tried them on, but I recently got a stack of Olga Christinas, and love them all. They're a little tough the first few days, but after that, nice and comfy. They hold the puppies up and keep them nice and smooth under thin T-shirts. I had no trouble finding a bunch in my size at Macy's, including a few on the 7.99 clearance rack.

The thing is, when VS very first opened, that was my source for a lovely Christian Dior 42D, back in the 80s. Nicest bra I had for years.

Sometimes I feel like becoming a one woman make-over on the street, and just handing ladies a card that reads, "you need a better bra, you'd look so much more beautiful" (but I don't want to get slapped or arrested).

People keep telling me I look 10-15 years younger than my 45, and I think keeping the girls up high is a big part of it. I watched a senior ladies choir, and they were all hanging so low, I wanted to take them all shopping.

Anonymous said...

i feel like i have to point out that you can, in fact, get bras up to an f at frederick's of hollywood... they're just made for boobs with their own gravitational field, and tend to make the rest of us look like we have giant rear ends growing out of our chests. attractive.
i'm going to second, or third, or whatever, the praises of freya and but the absolute best (sexiest, prettiest, most supportive, basically life-changing) bras i have found for my 36h self are from the belgian line prima donna. at about $120 a pop, you basically have to sell your kidneys to get one, but it's SO WORTH IT. they stay true to size much longer than the more affordable brands, as well. you can find them online if you look hard enough, but it's worth a visit to your local upscale lingerie shop to walk out with a perfectly fitted, gorgeous bra. i should point out that i am a grad student, and therefore by definition poverty-stricken; i thought the idea of spending your grocery money on an item of clothing was absolutely ridiculous, until i found these bras.

CyFlorist said...

Winona- I adore you, and totally feel that we could be friends. Mostly because your advice on what looks good on curvy girls is so spot-on...

You rule, honey!

Laura V said...

My everyday go-anywhere-do-anything bra is the Freya Millie. I like some of the Fantasie bras, too -- but I no longer fit properly in them, more's the pity.

Like I said in the other post, I am a 32HH. (Sometimes an H, but mostly HH.) I also play rugby, so I need a SERIOUS BRA for sports.

Here's what I wear: The Shock Absorber Level 4 D+. The band runs very tight & the cup a touch large, so in that bra I wear a 34G. A good thing, too...because it doesn't go up to H/HH!

But it works beautifully for one of the highest-impact sports out there. Two nipples up!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I'm a 34B so I can't relate, but I have a large-chested friend who always complains about how she has to fork over the equivalent of a mortgage every time she goes bra shopping. I'm definitely sending her the link to this post.

alana said...

thankyou thankyou THANKYOU! oh and if any of you americans would like to take advantage of a weak(er) new zealand/australian dollar go to it's practically saved my life!! it's so hard to find suitable bras out there, and one of the worst things is it makes me feel a bit isolated from a lot of my friends... nice to know there are others out there who actually have boobs :)

Sara Darling said...

Going to third the eBay recommendation. I discovered Chantelle bras about a year ago and have found that there's usually a decent selection available on eBay for $20-$30 each or so.

Their t-shirt bras are great but I have to especially recommend their more granny-eque styles (full coverage, seamed cups) which, while sometimes too textured for thin t-shirts, look absolutely fantastic under everything else and are so comfy you could forget you're wearing them if not for the delightful lack of underboob mugginess that comes with going bra-less.

Anonymous said...

THis is fantastic. It's nice to know there are more like me out there. Thanks.

Robo said...

I *heart* your blog even though I've only read two posts =] Another brand that I can recommend as a 34G is Fantasie. Also pricey, but worth it when the girls are up and out. Thanks for the sports bra tip. I use one of the Nike ones, but am not so fond of the uniboobage.

Funnily enough, when the chick at the VS register tried to get me to sign up for their Angels Club or whatever by enticing me with offers of free panties and bras even though I was buying hair stuff, I promptly said, "You don't carry my size." She was a bit taken aback when I told her I'm a 34G. Shouldn't VS have a much broader range of bra sizes if that's their whole shtick? Kind of dumb that they only go up to 38DD. There's a whole new world past the DDs.

Anyway, I'm definitely going to read your posts more regularly =D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post! I plan to add some of these new brands to my site after seeing some of the response here.

Lily said...

Winona, you were so right about the Chantelle Graphie bra! I just got one and it's changing my life over here!

Anonymous said...

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Beth said...

I surely want to appear irresistible to my husband!

...oh wait. Anyway, I was sent here by your most recent tuesday top 5, but the point is you are very funny.

I usually wear a 32 AA (holla!), so most days I go bra-less, but on really chilly days I pull something from H&M. I know, I know, their bras are too small for everybody else (& they can tend to make you look awkwardly lumpy, actually), but I really don't think ANYBODY makes correct bras these days.

RacheLeRoy said...

Freya bras come very large. I have a friend with huge boobs and a tiny waist. She can find a 32-J from Freya!
Freya Active is a fantastic sports bra. I reviewed it here:
Chantelle Graphie Padded T-Shirt Bra on SALE HALF PRICE for $39.99 here:

Anonymous said...

Soooo late to this party, but not being the slyph of my word verification, the Lunaire lines (including Whimsy) have been a recent, happymaking find for me; they are in the 25-40$ range, occasionally go on sale, and they make bras in DD that are not only pretty, but supportive! It's like some kind of undergarment miracle. Barenecessities has this line at decent prices, too.

I love Chantelle and Marie-Jo, but good grief, who has that kind of money unless it's one bra every five years?


Courtney said...

LOVE this! As a woman with 32DDD (no, I didn't add too many "d"s), it's so nice to know where I can actually find them!

Courtney said...

I just went to Nordstrom's yesterday, and have found that their DKNY bras also come in bigger cup sizes, AND have little cute details as well. I have one that has eyelet bands, and the other has little bits of lace on the bands. It's the little things. ;)

Lynn Sibley said...

I realize this post is old now... but I felt the need to comment!
Oh man, I would love to be able to wear a nice underwire bra. I spent an hour searching with the help of a sweet woman at a specialty shop, found a beautiful Freya bra that seemed to fit amazingly, dropped over 100$ and left happy.
Then two hours later my ribs started to hurt.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped being able to wear underwire. Not even kidding, if I wear underwire for a full day, I will have tender ribs (as in, pull on any top that I can not wear a bra with ow ow ow) for days. As many as three days. It feels bruised, I have trouble breathing.

I can't wear it. And they don't make bras in 32 G that don't have underwire and aren't sports bras. So now, I'm stuck wearing 34 DD cheapo bras from Zellers... but at least I'm not in pain! They might not be a perfect fit or give the support, but they don't hurt.

Um, anyway, my point of this long rambling is... does anyone know where to get a non-underwire everyday bra that you could wear a medium-low cut shirt with? You would be my hero forever.

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