Bras: Torture That’s Perfectly Legal

By Karen

I was a 46DDD back in June 2012 when I started Weight Watchers®. I’ve since had to replace my bras twice with smaller sizes, and recently started round three.

FYI to 30-something A-C cuppers: In the 40Ds, there’s no such thing as “cheap” bras if you want to look like you’re wearing one. Or pretty bras. Or comfortable bras.

Let’s just say, I’ve lately invested a small fortune in bras.

Catherine’s has wire-free Serenada® bras that were GREAT — but I hit the wall after 42DD.

I thought 40DD was next, but the store didn’t have them, and the clerk told me they don’t exist. She lied; they’re online.

By the tape measure, I’m a 36C, but reality doesn’t support that.

I’ve tried on a range of sizes in Playtex, Olga, Warner’s, Vanity Fair, Bali, Maidenform, you name it. And I discovered there’s ZERO consistency in bra sizing.

And what’s with padded, molded cups everywhere? Am I the only woman who isn’t perfectly round and perky? I can stuff my entire fist into the top of those molded cups with room to spare.

I ended up at Soma, mistakenly thinking they specialized in hard-to-find bra sizes, but they only went to DDD, and their bras are bamboo. You’re not supposed to machine-wash or mash the molded cups for risk of “damaging” them.

All other options exhausted, I got Soma 38DDD, and was advised not to pack them flat, which means buying them their own suitcase.

But the real kicker is that these relatively pricey bras ($30 on sale) have underwire that pokes, straps that won’t stay up (a sure sign of bad fit), enough room in the upper cup for my pedometer although boob bulges out my armpits, they take up my whole bra drawer, and I F**KING HATE THE DAMN THINGS.

I once saw an episode of Oprah where women in the audience learned they were all wearing the wrong size bra, and many ended up happily in G and H cups.

I feel screwed and helpless. I should probably be in a 36G, but there’s no way I’m buying an untried cup size online. Measurement tables are useless. Bra-makers are evidently acting out some sick male fantasy with cup shapes and sizes.

And a lot of women are probably paying through the nose for uncomfortable, ill-fitting bras.

So now I’m hoping that if I stick with WW a while longer, I’ll starve the girls back down to a D cup and have a fighting chance of ever finding a bra that fits.

10 Responses to Bras: Torture That’s Perfectly Legal

  1. annie pelfrey says:

    feel your pain!

  2. leannenalani says:

    Ugh, that sucks. I gotta say, even with my itty bitty bra size, it’s the same with inconsistency. The only way I find a bra that is comfortable (or at least bearable) is by experimentation. My problem is that I pretty much need a push up bra in order to look like I even have “girls”, and even then the straps are constantly falling down over my shoulders no matter what I do. And comfort? Rarely achievable.

  3. adele says:

    Amen sisters. And those padded, molded cups drive me crazy. There are places in Chicago, where you can have bras fitted; the bras cost around $80, and I must say, I have a couple of friends, who’ve done this, and they look good, but $80 seems a little dear to me. I will say that Waacol makes a comfortable, well-fitting bra (still $50 and up), but you must try them on, and the underwires manage to work their way out (I so envy the small busted woman, who has never known the pain of being poked by a rogue underwire)sooner than I think should happen in such an expensive bra.

  4. catsworking says:

    leannealani, count your blessings. I was pretty flat until I hit my 20s, and then genetics kicked in and it’s been misery ever since. I long for the good old days when I could wear a long necklace and not have to worry about it getting hung around the cantaloupes.

    I was kind of worried you guys were going to tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about because your bras fit fine, so I’m pleased to learn my girls have company (although I did just learn the left one is markedly bigger than the right one — I’m talking a cup size — so the right one has to be swimming in its cup for the left one to fit.

    And I question the whole theory of underwire. When you’re as big as I am, having a wire under them does NOTHING but cut into them from the bottom. It doesn’t lift; it gets lost. And it’s inevitable the damn wires will cut through the fabric and end up poking you. If they were clothing for kids, they’d be illegal for the risk of serious laceration or poking an eye out. But when it comes to sticking sharp metal sticks into a woman’s breasts? No problem!

    Next they’ll be telling us we need a couple of lower ribs removed and whalebone corsets. Sheesh!

  5. adele says:

    I started wearing underwires to take the pressure off my shoulders.For me they still seem to give a better lift, but not without all the problems we’ve discussed.And I have the opposite problem of yours, Karen’ Ol’ Leftie is smaller than Ol’Rightie — which I find odd since I’m left-handed.

    My friends, who’ve gone for the fancy fittings all ended up wearing a much smaller band size and a much larger cup size. They’ve all been pretty pleased with the results — however, they all say that getting used to the smaller band size was its own form of torture for the first few weeks.

  6. catsworking says:

    Adele, it’s the same with me. I’m right-handed, but the left side is bigger.

    I don’t notice any difference in shoulder drag between wired bras or not. What I loved about the Serenada bra was the back being wide enough that you don’t have back bulges everywhere. Some of the ridiculous bras I tried had 40-something bands and only 2 hooks on a very narrow back, giving no support whatsoever.

    And with the molded cups, I got so desperate I tried pushup bras just to fill them, which just looked silly. The last thing I need is cleavage spilling out everywhere (although Nigella Lawson manages to pull off that look quite well).

    And so many of the bras had thick lace and puckery seams all over the cup so all your tops look lumpy and disgusting. WTF? That’s just common sense.

    I guess women are suffering in silence with boobs blubbing over the top, bottom, and sides and retailers are oblivious.

    And if you’re big and think bras are bad, just trying buying a bathing suit. No matter what the size, the so-called “bra” in most (even on the ones that claim support) is like a training bra.

  7. TXLil says:

    Girl, I feel your pain. I am currently in a 42DDD (just bought new bras). I live in a fairly good-sized city & still have had a heck of a time finding bras in my size range, especially as I have lost some weight and the band size shrank but the cup size did not necessarily shrink accordingly. I have been chesty since I was 15 (runs in the family), and yes, one is slightly bigger than the other (true for most women I think). And I am also constantly frustrated by the lack of consistency in bra sizes, even within the same brand, size varying with the style. WTF??? Believe it or not, the place I have had the best success with bras is Lane Bryant. They have sizes that go all the way up to H, will order for you if they don’t have a size in-store, and you don’t have to pay shipping to have it sent to you. I don’t know if this is true for all the stores, but the ladies at the store I patronize actually know how to size you!!!! Yes, there are too many of those stupid molded cup padded bras (does anyone look good in those???), but they also have regular back smoother underwire bras, which have been my personal best option. There are 4 hooks, no lace, good support and some variety in colors. The straps don’t slip and I don’t spill out if the cups. They are a little expensive, but they do run sales. I’m sure there are better bras out there, but sadly I cannot afford to spend $80 on a bra, so these have been my best solution. No I do not work for Lane Bryant, I’m just happy to have found decent bras that fit me. It has been a constant thorn in my side and it shouldn’t have to be dammit. I agree that this is some kind of fashion industry conspiracy…..

  8. catsworking says:

    TXLil, welcome! And thank you for all the good advice. Lane Bryant is one store I never even considered, but I think we have one right next to my usual Kohl’s, so I am definitely going to check it out.

    Someone has also suggested Victoria’s Secret as a possibility for bras in freakish cup sizes, since they cater to morons who think a boob job will make them “more of a woman.” (Joke’s on them in their later years when they’re hauling sacks of silicone down around their knees).

    Lil, you and I are cut from the same cloth. I’ve gone from a 46 to 38 (or 36, depending on whom you believe) band size, but the cup size hasn’t changed much.

    I just washed the stupid bamboo bra (did it in the washer on delicate cycle with a few other bras, rather than gently massaging suds into it with the pads of my pinkies, in mink-infused soap, as the instructions would have you do (OK, I exaggerate with the mink-infused soap). Took the damn thing all day to dry because of the padding. And for all I know, the underwires are already rusting out.

  9. Hi! I recommend you try The Butterfly Collection– they do fittings via Skype: Wearing a well fitting bra is so important to your comfort and well-being, I really suggest you try to be properly fitted. I’ve also heard that Nordstrom does some decent fittings.

    I have to say, a good bra is expensive (often $50-$60). They are difficult to draft and manufacture, so if you want something that works well, that’s pretty necessary. Of course, it’s up to you, but in this case you REALLY get what you pay for.

    If you feel like you need more help with this, there are a ton of full-bust bloggers that specialize on this issue– feel free to email me at and I can direct you to some experts.

  10. catsworking says:

    Welcome, lingerielesbian! I will definitely look into your suggestions. We have a Nordstrom’s, and I think I will start there. This bra situation has got me ready to do something drastic.

    I’ve been paying nearly $50 for bras that don’t fit great, so this isn’t such a stretch. Thanks!

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