I should probably explain how I got so deep into bra size denial.
I grew up wearing wire-free bras – my mother wore them, so I wore them. I had small breasts (I wore a B cup) and I didn’t need them, and didn’t see the point in being uncomfortable when it was unnecessary. This trend continued through my twenties.
At thirty, my increased cup size was an announcement to the world I was pregnant. I sprouted DD+ cups overnight. I wore different sizes and varieties of maternity and nursing bras while pregnant and postpartum (all wireless), and reluctantly retired them long past their time.
I was fitted at a department store around five years ago and I came home in a 42DDD. I vaguely remember the fitter telling me she didn’t “technically have a bra in a large enough cup size to fit me, but this may work if it feels okay”. I paid around $70 for that bra and I never wore it again. It poked my armpits and my ribs. I was horrified about wearing a DDD and actually needing a bigger cup. On the other hand, my husband was thrilled with my boobs’ new identity and was fine with my newly labeled “big ol’ boobies”.
After the wired 42DDD failure I found the JMS Ultimate Comfort Wire Free Bra, probably at my local WalMart. Still in bra size denial, I started wearing the JMS in a 42DD.
Four years ago I developed a really ugly rash under my upper arms and down to my bra cup line. I chose to continue wearing the JMS because it was a sensible choice during The Rash Years, despite my increased cup size.
A year ago my bra size denial started to fade, as I accepted even new 40DD’s (I probably went down a band size due to availability) in the JMS were not working. According to quick fit guides in dressing rooms I figured out the band was probably too large so I tried desperately to find a 38DD version of the JMS; however, they don’t make it in a 38DD.
After I accepted JMS and I were parting ways, the process of looking for a replacement forced me to take my measurements. Somewhere along the line I ended up on Thin and Curvy, and after her fitting instructions I figured out I was probably a 36-38F. The measurements required a cocktail while I pondered the many reasons why I hadn’t returned to my pre-pregnancy C cup (though in retrospect I was probably a D when I got pregnant), and as I contemplated my bra size denial.
After many hours of searching online lingerie stores, I had to accept that a supportive, shaping, smooth cup, wireless all cotton bra in a 38F simply didn’t exist – bra size denial paled in comparison to what I faced trying to find a well-fitted bra in “wired territory”. Thankfully, the rash that lead to my Celiac diagnosis had resolved, so one barrier to bigger and better bust support was removed. I really don’t think I could have transitioned to wired bras with an active rash.
At that point, we had relocated to Tucson so I went to the only independently owned lingerie store in town, Alice Rae, for a fitting. The ladies at Alice Rae definitely know their bras, and after a few measurements of their own confirmed a 36-38F was a good size with which to begin our fitting session. My bra size denial was officially over – the professionals had weighed in. I initially had a very difficult time accepting tighter bands, and also how the wires felt on my ribs, as well as the seamed cups. Some of the wires poked me in the underarms and I had lots of underarm boob. I didn’t leave Alice Rae with a new bra because I was very unsure about how I felt about the styles I’d tried. I can say the wonderful staff did not pressure me to buy a bra I was not comfortable with.
Next stop was Dillard’s, which had roughly four styles in my size range. I finally settled on a 38F Freya Molded Deco Plunge. It was the least of all the evils I’d tried because it had unseamed cups. It did lift me up and round me out but I was not impressed with the thickness of the cups, the underarm boob, the back fat, or the wires. Generally, I was unhappy but knew I was headed the right direction.
Next, I placed orders with three (yes, three) online bra stores in hope of finding an exercise bra, an unlined smooth wired bra, as well as a tankini for summer. I probably tried on eight different styles of bras and four bathing suits and decided to keep a 38F Dominique Minimizer 7000 and 38F Panache Anna Tankini and a 38F Freya Firm Control Wire Free Spacer Sports Bra with Racer Back.
Then I sat down and breathed for a while.
The bras weren’t great, but they were wearable. I was getting used to the underwires. I was very happy not to fall out of a bathing suit top while boogie boarding. I even ventured out to Alice Rae and purchased a 38FF Cleo Molly.
Then I started rapidly gaining weight, which lead to adopting a workout routine…which lead to my body changing…which lead me to the search for the one good bra. Well, two…because I need a sports bra.
And that, for lack of a better summary, is how I arrived at and departed The Isle of Bra Size Denial.