Crossing the H-cup barrier – the elusive non-full-coverage bra

I recently re-shared this older post, and it got me thinking about our culture’s paradoxical opinions about large breasts. Large breasts are supposedly extremely sexy and desirable… but once you have large breasts, your only lingerie options are full-coverage minimizers. We should all aspire to large breasts, but once we have them, they must be restrained and hidden! *sarcasm*

When I started wearing bras that fit me, I really missed the cleavage and ultra-low-coverage that my tiny-bras afforded me. I didn’t miss the back pain, band around my neck, or ridiculous quad-boob… but I missed having bras basically look like I thought they should. All of my new better-fitting bras flattened me, pulled my breasts apart, and covered wayyyy too much. And if I thought F-GG cups were bad, H+ cup bras are nearly impossible… these honking things would show even a moderately cut neckline. For a long time, I thought that if wanted to wear a low plunge shirt or dress, I would need to suck it up and wear a bra 2-3 cup sizes too small. Confession: I still do have a 30G Parfait Casey that suits this purpose. The 32G Casey (still too small in the cup) comes up too high.

Sure, there are some large-cup plunges, balconettes, and half-cups out there… but once you get past a FF cup or so, the nominally “low-cut” styles suddenly fit more like full-coverage styles. And past a G or GG cup, even the nominally low-coverage styles drop off. H-cup land is a somewhat desolate place, and it only gets worse with each cup up. How often do you see bras larger than a KK-cup? (Heck, how often do you even see things offered in a KK?!) Other H+ bloggers have noticed this distressing drop-off in available styles: The Curves Have It wrote a post about this… and Les Gros Bonnets is a blog devoted to H+ bras.

But back to my point about about the dearth of low-coverage bras in large cup sizes… I think manufacturers may also be responding to the myth that large breasts need more coverage to stay “contained”. Many fitters and fitting websites suggest full-coverage bras to “keep large breasts from spilling over” when that problem is pretty much immediately solved by a well fitting bra. (Yes, some people’s breast shapes do require a full-coverage bra to avoid overspill… but that’s due to breast shape, not simply having big breasts.) The solution to quad-boob isn’t to just slap on more fabric and hope for the best. A similar issue happens with cup scaling, and may well explain why even nominally “low-cut” bras are full-coverage in the larger sizes… a cup that is low-cut in a 34F won’t be in a 34J because, in many brands, the cup only seems to expand in two dimensions. But the cup needs to be deeper, not just higher and wider. Ugh.

Whew. Now that I’m done with my rant, here are a few low-cut bras that exist in H+ cups and which actually fit like low-cut bras. This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list, but I thought I’d share a few that I’ve tried and liked or that I’ve heard good things about:

Comexim (all of their plunges and half-cups!)

Size range (in UK cups): 28-50 A-JJ, but the largest cup volume available is a 28JJ/30J/32HH/34H/etc (standard); so far, 26 bands and cup volumes up to 28KK/30K/32JJ/34J/etc can be custom ordered (their decision to have cup volume rather than cup letter be the cutoff makes SO much sense!)

Comexim is first on my list- their plunge style is already low coverage (and the new half-cup bras seem to be pretty low-coverage, too!), PLUS you can have them customized with lowered cups and/or lowered gores. Alternatively, if you need your cup or gore to come up a bit higher, you can ask for that, too. My customized (lowered cup, lowered gore) Comexim Iris just covers my nipples!

*Sizing note: the bands have been coming up tighter, so a 60 band is more like a 26 than a 28, a 26 more like a 24,  and so on. There are exceptions, of course, and it will probably depend on how stretchy the fabric is… but they have been trying to make their bands more snug. Also, since the cups are very narrow and deep, some people with narrower and deeper breasts may find that they can wear a smaller cup size in Comexim than in UK brands.

Parfait Charlotte (plunge)

Size range: 28-40 D-K

While there are a few Parfait bras in this “extended” size range, the Parfait is the only one I’d consider low-coverage. It comes up higher on me than it does on the model (surprise surprise), but it doesn’t totally drown me in fabric, so it makes it onto the list. My fingers are still crossed that they will expand the size range of the extremely popular Casey!! I’d also be thrilled if they’d consider making their cups narrower and deeper…

Anyway, back to the Charlotte. I’ve tried this and liked it a lot. The band is super comfy. The cups are a little bulky, but it’s a great low-coverage sexy style, which is pretty rare past a G cup. I grew out of my 30H Charlotte… I’m hovering in the 30H/HH range and am hoping to replace it with a 30HH or 30J asap.

*Sizing note: while this bra does run 1-2 sizes small in the cup, it’s available up to a K-cup, so it should be good for up to a J/JJ cup. Plus, the band seems to fit on the tighter side of average, so if you’re a JJ/K, you could potentially size up in the band to get a larger cup.

Bravissimo Satine (plunge)

Size range: 28-38 DD-J

Not a lot to say, since I haven’t tried this bra myself, but a lot of people swear by it. It’s satiny and comes in a range of colours (and some patterns, too). Seems like a pretty good choice for a plunge!

Curvy Kate Ritzy (half-cup)

Size range: 28-38 D-J

Haven’t tried it myself, but I have tried the Tease Me, after which it appears to be modeled. The Tease Me was pretty low cut on me, but the cups were too wide/shallow for my shape. There are also a handful of plunges, but I haven’t tried them and haven’t really heard much about the fit.

*Sizing note: the Tease Mes were known to run loose in the band and quite small in the cup… while the cups may still run small, the Ritzy looks like it may be a size small in the band, so you may be able to size up if you’re sized out of the cups.

 

Reviews to come…

Remember how I had bemoaned missing out on the gorgeous Comexim Juliette? Well, guess what…

IMAG2608

Found it! Neither the bra nor the briefs are exactly the right size, but I think I should be able to fix both issues with my sewing skills. A review will be coming as soon as possible (maybe followed by an alteration post), but I’m currently trying to move out of my current housing and find a new apartment (in a different city), so my posting may not be extremely regular.

Also in my to-review pile:

The lovely (and also discontinued/sold out) the lovely DD Atelier Mimosa Dressprinted_mimosa_dress-04

The extremely sharp Urkye Klasyk Shirt in blackurkyeklasyk

A handful of summery Urkye Tuba topstuba

Frustrations with online shopping

I currently have about 1.5 bras that fit (mostly). For a total of 3.5, I have 2 more that don’t fit but are somewhat wearable. But, for the most part, I have a pile of bras that really, really don’t fit. Admittedly, I do keep a handful of sizes around, because my size does fluctuate. And of course, I’ve grown out of some of them… but I also have a bunch bras that I have never worn and never intend to wear sitting around and gathering dust. Why? Because I have to buy online.

When I buy online, I take a huge risk. Even if it’s a style I’ve tried before, a different colour dye or batch of elastic could cause it to fit quite differently. And what if the brand suddenly decided to change the construction or materials? And for styles and brands I’ve never tried before, it’s almost a complete shot in the dark. Often, if I hear tell that a bra runs large and order the smaller size, it ends up being too small… and vice versa. Bratabase is helpful, but only to an extent. I just can’t know how something will fit until I actually try it on.

But I can’t try things on… and so I justify each online (often non-returnable) purchase with something along the lines of “oh, if it doesn’t work, I can just resell it”. But it’s never that simple. In the past 3 years, I’ve swapped or resold about 15 of my ill-fitting bras… which is maybe half of the bras I’ve purchased that didn’t work out. I tend to buy my bras rather cheaply (average ~$30), but 30 “cheap” bras really adds up. Oh, and when bras are that far below retail price, they aren’t usually returnable. So I have a nice pile of unworn (but beautiful) bras. They aren’t fun to lug around each time I move, but I do so in hopes that I’ll eventually sell them or swap them for something that will fit me.

Often, I think I’d love it if brick-and-mortar shops would carry things in my size (if somewhere in MA starts stocking Comexim, I will be ecstatic). But, realistically, I can’t bring myself to pay full in-store prices, and things are much cheaper online. And that certainly doesn’t encourage store owners to stock things in my size. As much as I’d love to support my local businesses and encourage retailers to stock more sizes, I simply can’t afford to do so. And if you wear a one of the ten or so sizes commonly carried in stores, you can totally get away with trying things on and then bargain-hunting online, so it’s a little (okay a lot) frustrating that wearing a less common size means that you have to either shell out a lot of money for a bra or pray that your online order works out.

The moral of the story: If you can afford to buy DD+ bras in store, please do! If you can’t… well, join me in feeling frustrated and somewhat guilty.