General Question

anniereborn's avatar

Ladies: Do you have bra-shopping advice?

Asked by anniereborn (9823points) May 17th, 2014

I am trying to find a good bra for myself. I am a 42DDD. I generally hate underwires, but I need support. I’m not looking for a fancy bra. I’d just like one that makes my boobs look decent under clothing.
Any suggestions of types, specific bras or places to find good ones would be much appreciated.

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20 Answers

Judi's avatar

I can only find bras that fit well at Nordstrom. I thought I was a DDD and turns out I actually needed an F after a proper fitting and I can’t find anyone else who sells larger cup sizes in a 34.

Judi's avatar

HA! I tried to send this question to @JLeslie and fluther told me that someone else already tried to send it to her. I think she used to sell bras for a high end retailer. She will probably be able to suggest specific brands.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Get measured professionally. After that there are quite a few sites that sell bras online. Be prepared that you may have to send some back if their sizing isn’t perfect.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I wear a 34A, so I clearly don’t have this problem. However, my friend who wears a 40F (yikes) buys all of her bras from Lane Bryant.

hearkat's avatar

You’re in the UK, yes? I’m in the US and 42DDD/F also (depending on brand). Lane Bryant’s Cacique bras are mostly what I wear. They’re not as good as they were when they had the same parent company as Victoria’s Secret. I’m also unsure whether they ship overseas. is a terrific resource for shopping bras in any size, because they carry many brands and sizes, and have extensive fit information and photos. Again, I don’t know if they ship to Europe.

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gailcalled's avatar

If you’re bigger than a 34 B, they all are uncomfortable. I wear front-closing soft leisure bras only (due to a small lumpectomy scar) and am constantly unhooking a few hooks or tugging at the bottom. They fit different when I sit and when I stand and when I walk.

If nothing else, this might persuade me to lose a few pounds, hard work at my age.

@hearkat‘s site has a very good filtering system, however.

anniereborn's avatar

I am actually in the USA. The bras I wear now are mostly from Lane Bryant. They are pretty comfy, but they don’t have any wires in them. They could be a bit more “supportive” also.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@anniereborn Well, Lane Bryant does sell bras with underwire, you know. Try one of those.

anniereborn's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I am hoping to not have to resort to under wire

livelaughlove21's avatar

@anniereborn I’m confused…

The ones without underwire aren’t supportive enough but you don’t want underwire. So…?

DigitalBlue's avatar

The majority of the support from your bra should come from the band, not the cups or the straps, so you do not necessarily need an underwired bra to obtain great support. I sent a link to your PM that may be helpful.

tedibear's avatar

I am 38H and have found a couple of options without wire on JCPenney’s website. I think the brand is Glamorise.

anniereborn's avatar

@livelaughlove21 The ones I have without underwire are not supportive enough. I’m hoping there are some out there that are. But if I HAVE to resort to underwire here and there, I will.

JLeslie's avatar

Sorry it took me a while to answer, I was travelling. I worked for Wacoal and their bras for larger busted women are great. Lane Bryant does not come close in quality. Their fabric stretches too easily and within a very short time the bra you bought will be ill fitting, which causes discomfort, even if you started in the right size when you bought it.

A bra loose around the back is what I most often saw when it came to people wearing the wrong size or having discomfort. When it is loose around the back the bra slips up and the wires dig into your breast, they should stay squarely against your chest. Women with large breasts also tend to go up in the back size to get a cup that fits, because the bra might only go to D, and they need double D, so they buy a 38D when they need a 36DD. That won’t work. It might work for one night in desperation, but it will be like buying shoes that hurt your feet. Of course, some women wear their bras too tight, and that too causes discomfort.

When you buy a bra the ideal is if it fits well one the middle or loosest hook. If you buy it fitting on the tightest hook then as the bra ages you will have to throw it out sooner, because as the fabric loses its elasticity you won’t be able to tighten it up by switching hooks.

Wacoal has “fit” events at places like Bloomingdale’s and Nordtroms. Nordstoms the sales people at the store usually are trained on how to fit people, but people who work for Wacoal are accustomed to getting in the dressing room with you (if you are comfortable with that) and helping you get into the bra. We can tell by how much tug we need to do to close the bra if it is fitting well. Measuring is not a perfect science, there is a small portion of the population that measures differently than what actually fits. I saw it rarely, but it happens. Also, if you have specialty bra stores around you they should be able to fit you well, but no guarantee. Look for a shop that has a decent selction for large cup sizes. Other department stores where the person working at the store usually has decent fit knowledge are Saks and Neiman Marcus. People who work in the industry often can size someone just by looking at them, but the measuring tape tells the real story, and like I said the tug when hooking the bra.

You can measure yourself at home. Just take a tape meaure around your back, stand up straight, and see what the measure is with the tape foat aganst your chest, but not squeezing. Use your finger to mark the spot on the tape and then you can take it off your chest and read it easily. Then add 4. Wacoal and other better bras measure an additional 4 usually. With Wacoal if you actually measure 38 around your back, you wear a 42, many of the less expensive brands add 5 inches to the measure. The most important measure is the back fitting correctly, the cup is easy to judge just by looking at the bra once it is on. You want the breast well contained in the cup, but don’t want the fabrics of the cup loose or puckering. However, we do recommend you fit the larger breast well. I know I sound like a walking commercial for Wacoal, I have been told Chantelle is also a very good bra, I am not sure what size they go up to, we considered them a direct competitor. Lane Bryant, Victoria Secret, Warner’s all were considered inferior. The biggest thing was that they did not last long, and that the money spent on the better bra gave you more years of perfect fit and comfort. I hate my Victoria Secret bras, they all slip around, many fit too big for their size. Lane Bruant quality might be better now, I am not working in the industry now and I am a 36C so I am not familiar with their bras anymore. It’s possible your biggest problem is the size you wear and not the actual brand.

Cup size labelling varies by brand in larger cup sizes. Some brands go D, DD, DDD. Some go D, DD, E. Some do other sequences. so, again, I emphasize that the back fitting is the key, and then you just go up or down in cup until the bra fits. If you tend to wear minimizers the cup can be off a size when we measure it.

Look for full coverage, and remember the ugliest bras make the prettiest t-shirts and lightweight sweaters. Smooth, seemless bras, made from quality fabric should give you more comfort and your casual clothes will look better. I wasn’t a big minimized fan, but many women liked them. It changes the shape of the breast, it doesn’t really squeeze the breast in like a girdle squeezes us in. Bras with seems might give you more support in less expensive brands, but you can’t wear them under everything. Lace and seems can be great under structured suits. Lace also might give you better support, because it is stiffer, but when it is cheap it can dig into you, and also you usually won’t get a nice smooth look under a t-shirt fabric.

When you go bra shopping wear a shirt that is similar to what you commonly wear so you can see how the bra looks with your clothing.

Under white clothing skin tone bras will dissappear, a white bra will show up. Skin tone is your skin tone, whatever it is. Many bra lines have two shades of beige and a brown also.

Aster's avatar

Since I was always told, “if you find a bra (or shoes) that are comfortable buy all they have because they’ll discontinue them.’ So I found one I like and I bought all of them. My only other advice is don’t put them in the dryer so they’ll last forever.

hearkat's avatar

I’ve worn underwire bras for close to 30 years and rarely find them uncomfortable. I even buy underwire tankini tops for the support.

@anniereborn – Have you checked out the site? You can filter your search by size, color, wires or no wires, etc. They have photos of the bras under different styles of shirts, and useful user reviews and bra-fitter tips below the details – look for the tabs where all the details are listed. Here’s an example of a Wacoal (@JLeslie‘s former employer) wireless bra: The site seems to carry nearly all brands, except those that are store exclusives, like Lane Bryant’s. I buy my sports bras from there and have tried other brands on occasion.

Not all Lane Bryant bras are super stretchy, and I’ve had ones that have lasted quite well without losing their shape. Again, I’ve worn their bras for decades in sizes ranging from 38DD to 44DDD as my weight has fluctuated over the years. Honestly, the Lane Bryant bras seem to have the most natural cup shape for me. I don’t like my boobs pushed up so they’re choking me, or mushed together, and some bras pull them too far apart – it’s weird.

I prefer to order them and try them on in the comfort of my home and return the ones I don’t like. I shop for most of my clothes shopping this way because I hate shopping, and now that I have foot problems from my Rheumatic Auto-Immune Disease, I can’t physically manage the task of shopping anymore. The benefit of shops with storefronts is that you can return at the store and not deal with the shipping hassles, but then you’re usually limited in selection.

I forgot to mention that has a bra fitting system where they send you a $20.00 fit kit that includes a lingerie laundry bag. It has pre-molded cups so you can try the cups to see which size fits you best without gapping or overflow, and a color-coded measuring tape for the band size. When you order the bra, they deduct the $20 from the bra purchase. at 42DDD I was in the largest that they offer, but as usual, I didn’t like the shape. They refunded all my money without any hassle.

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat Very interesting what Jockey does. I didn’t know about it. I have ordered from, I think you gave me the link a long time ago. I order my Wacial sports bras through them, but I know my size. I once ordered a different sports bra from them and it never fit well, I really don’t like to order clothing on line in general, unless I know exactly what I am getting. Just my personal preference.

anniereborn's avatar

I’m going to look into the Jockey option for sure and maybe try Lane Bryant again. I am terrible with returning things through the mail.

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