At times bras can be anything but comfortable. Whether it’s the digging bra straps or the incessant riding of your bra band, or the constant poking of your underwire – the experience can be dreadful. When it comes to plus-size women, they too have their own unique set of problems. To know how to take the frustration out of your plus-size bra, keep on reading.
To eliminate any discomfort in your plus-size bra, it is essential to learn how to pick the right bra; observe proper hygiene and delicate care techniques, and utilize some of the popular life-saving bra hacks.
Bras have been invaluable additions to the female wardrobe for numerous decades now. They are designed to give women the kind of lift and support needed, minimize movement, and hold their breasts firmly in place as they go about their day-to-day lives. Additionally, bras have evolved to help women achieve a more rounded and fuller bust appearance which has gradually been accepted as the most attractive bust silhouette. Other than these conventional uses, bras have been pivotal in aiding the challenges of lactating mothers and breast cancer victims.
However small or large these pieces of undergarments are, they really do make a difference in every woman’s fashion style and outlook. They serve a greater purpose than simply ‘shelving your breasts’ until you take them off. They help determine what to wear and how to wear it, every single day. Imagine a society with no bras! There would be fewer fashion choices for women to wear and very uniform and standardized apparel that have no trendy edge, design, or cuts. Women world over would be denied the sheer fun to adorn themselves in chic, stylish, colorful, and sensual bras.
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Types of Bras and Basic Bra Cuts
Just like any other apparel, bras are custom-made for either the utility or sensual purposes. Utility bras are the most common form of bras and make up the majority of every woman’s bra choice. They are simple; nothing too dramatic and are perfect to wear to official events, work, school, and normal day errands. They typically have more coverage, more support, and have darker hues and nudes for color. Other forms of specialized utility bras include:
- Sports bras – these are worn to the gym or any outdoor activity or workout session. They are specifically designed with greater stretch to them and ample support to minimize movement around your bust area. They are also full coverage in nature with very sturdy and thick bra straps.
- Nursing bras– as the name suggests, these bras are designed for breastfeeding mothers. They are designed to be extra soft so as not to irritate the skin. For several mothers, their breasts become extra sensitive during the lactating phase, the softness of the bra helps minimize any friction between the bra and skin surface during wear. They are primarily made up of cotton to help in the quick absorption of any ‘leeks’ whereas some are designed with pockets that allow you to zip up or down to allow for faster and easier breastfeeding of your little one.
- Built–in bras – also known as camisoles they are built into tops allowing you to layer up and tie or tuck away your formal blouses or sweaters as you please. Alongside the top, the bra gives maximum coverage in a sleek way.
When it comes to sensual bras these are designed with a more seductive and appealing feel. Fabrics such as silk, lace, polyester, and small accessories such as beads and crystals are used. The cuts and designs are less reserved and more playful, unique, and non-standard. There is minimal coverage in comparison to utility bras, thinner straps and bands, and a broad range of striking colors to choose from. Due to their design, these bras are typically worn for shorter durations of time, for instance, date night, a night in with your significant other, or simply worn for personal pleasure.
At this juncture, it is important to state that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to utility and sensual bras. With the evolution of the fashion world and more specifically the lingerie industry, basic work bras have been re-invented to be more stylish, fabulous, and even more colorful than before. You can now spot some trendy cuts and use of more glamorous fabrics in both these categories of bras. There are even some brands that have designed bras that are suitable for both ‘work and play’, by borrowing the best features of each type and developing high quality and functional bras.
The most basic bra cuts for both utility and sensual wear are t-shirt, demi cups, strapless bras, push-up bras, padded bras, halter bras, stick-on bras, balconette bras, racerback bras, convertible bras, underwire bras, and the list goes on and on.
Common Plus Size Bra Problems
Plus size bras are no exception when it comes to conventional everyday bra problems. Some of the most common problems that you can experience while wearing your plus size bra include:
- Cup overflow – this is when your breasts significantly bulge out of your bra cup at the top. This is common if you are wearing a bra that is not your right cup size.
- Side overflow – this is similar to a cup overflow only this time the bulge is at the sides of your bra cups. Likewise, this is common if you are wearing a smaller cup than you should be.
- Gapping cups – here the upper ends of your bra cups stick out. This is due to the hollow/ gap left at that upper end of the bra cup because the cup is too big.
- Indentation – this may probably be the greatest evil of them all. Your bra straps digging into your shoulders and in some cases reddening and even scaring. This is typically caused by adjusting your bra straps too tight.
- Bra straps that slide off – on the other end, there are bra straps that don’t seem to sit on your shoulders but just need to slide off with every mild movement you make. This fashion menace is because of extremely loose bra straps that are not adjusted accordingly.
- Poking underwire – this may be because of wear and tear that causes the underwire to poke through the fabric especially around the center of your chest. It may also be caused by wearing a larger bra whose fit is wider than your actual bust and cup measurements. The result is a poking sensation near your armpits. This is mostly the case among petite plus size women.
- Riding Bra band – this is whereby the band seemingly sits on your breast as opposed to under your breast at the front of the band riding up your back when worn. This is common where the bra size is too small.
- Sagging breasts/ bras– this is also another fashion headache caused by general wear and tear of the bra. As the bra is washed often, the strength of the fabric and the support accorded by it, gradually fade away, resulting in a more sagging sunken look.
Ways to Solve these Plus Size Bra Problems
Having appreciated the common problems faced by plus size bras here are a few tried and proven ways to take the frustration out of your plus size bra.
1. Prevention is Better than Cure – buy the right bra size!
Nearly all of the common problems of plus size bras listed above are caused by buying the wrong kind of bra. This means that a majority of these bra-fashion mistakes can be completely avoided if you learned how to pick your bra size correctly. There are a few considerations that come into play when you go around shopping for a bra, one of the fundamental ones is measurements.
Knowing your exact cup size, and band size (which make up your bra size) is of the essence. Bear in mind that a bra size 34B from Victoria Secret may fit you perfectly but a similar bra size 34B from another label may be too tight or constricting. Why? Bra sizes and measurements change from brand to brand. Just as dress sizes in the fashion industry are not universal, the same goes with bras and other undergarments. It is therefore important to measure your bust size and band size before you shop for any bras and intimates. This way you will be best placed to pick the right size for you despite the number and alphabet attached to the seam.
Additionally, don’t be in a rush when shopping for your bra. Take time and try each item on and see whether it is comfortable or not. Examine the cups, do they offer fuller coverage? Is there any bulging or gapping? What of the bra straps? Are they too tight or just right? And the band? Does it dig into your rib cage, or is it too loose or comfortable? As a standard rule, to know whether your straps or band are well-fitting, you should be able to run two of your fingers along the length of both straps and your bra band with minimum ease. If it’s too tight for your fingers to run through, pick a size larger or adjust the bra to a looser fit.
Avoid the inclination to buy a smaller bra with the hope that after a few washes, your bra will stretch out and fit perfectly. The problem with this reasoning is that despite the number of washes and the eventual stretching of the fabric the cup sizes do not enlarge. Not to mention that there is only a given limit to the stretch that a few washes can afford you. You may still end up with very tight clasping bands and straps and cup overflow.
2. Cleaning Techniques
To avoid overstretching your bras which may lead to your straps constantly rolling off your shoulders, diminished bra support, and loosely fitting bands, it’s important to take great care while cleaning and storing your bras. This not only adds to the longevity of your bra life span but also helps retain the bra’s form, shape, support, and color for years!
Always hand wash your bras- do not wash your bras alongside the rest of your dirty laundry. While handwashing, minimize any unnecessary folding of the fabric. Use minimal pressure while scrubbing and wringing out your bras. Also, remember to use lukewarm or cold water to clean.
3. Adjust Your Bra Straps and Band when they Begin to Loosen
Always wear your band at the loosest fit until you notice the band loosen after a couple of wears and washes usually 10 or more. Avoid adjusting your bra straps back and forth, this will increase their wear and tear and you will quickly have loose straps in a few months. Only adjust your bra straps when you need to and once adjusted to a particular fit, let them stay that way until your next adjustment.
Also, avoid adjusting your bra straps to create a more push-up effect, instead adopt other hacks such as padding just below your breasts, using some old pair of socks for a fuller and lifted look.
4. Wear the Appropriate Bra for the Appropriate Occasion
It would be improper to walk into a gym with your everyday bra for a short half-an-hour workout or more. Remember it’s not just your bra that needs proper care and attention but more importantly your breasts. Wearing the appropriate bra designed for that occasion will help promote breast health, minimize any bruising, discomfort, inflation, and all other unnecessary ills occasioned by bras. This also helps you minimize your chances of developing breast cancer.
Many common frustrations come with wearing a plus-size bra, particularly because there is a lot of bust volume involved. However, there is nothing too challenging that you cannot be able to fix on your own. With these tips and advice, you will be well on your way to ridding yourself of any discomfort, irritation, embarrassment, reddening, or scarring that comes with these common bra frustrations. Cheers to more enjoyable and fulfilling bra experiences and bra longevity!