Review: Lulu Tout Juliette in 34H

Well, ladies, it’s been a while. I was just about to write a quick review of this on bratabase, when I realized ‘hey, this is a brand that not many ladies have tried, therefore, it probably technically counts among the ‘weird stuff’ I have that blog for.

So! Let’s talk about the Juliette in blush by Lulu Tout.

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I’ve been really wishy-washy about trying Lulu Tout for a long time. When I was more around a 30GG, I had a brief love affair with Just Peachy’s Sadie and Lace Balconette, tried both in 32G, and both were a wee bit too small in the cup. I bemoaned the fact that the range ended at G. Which, of course let me to Lulu Tout, but as a predominantly even bust shape (though lately I’m definitely more on the FoB side of even), that seam along the top of the cup seemed like a match made in hell.

Let’s fast forward to present, when I’m floating more around a 32HH, and fighting to find a few decent, unpadded neutrals for summer, which is right around the corner, without spending a fortune for them, or waiting two months for them to arrive. (If time was no issue, you know I would just order myself some unpadded comexims and save myself this headache).

I had some success with the Freya Lauren balcony bra in white, but ended up trying and returning at least half a dozen others (including an old model fantasie simplex that looked like a bullet bra), so when I decided to grudgingly take my chances with the Curvy Kate Florence (which I’d tried and found too shallow in 32HH) in 32J, I decided to order it from figleaves and tack this on to my order.  They were doing a free shipping promo at the time, so I figured I didn’t stand to lose much if (see: when) returns were in order.

I returned the florence, but the juliette I decided to keep. It’s a really interesting construction that, while not a miracle bra by any stretch, actually seems to work fairly well for me.

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You can definitely see my center heavy boobs crowding the center gore here (and please, please ignore the disaster area behind me – I have a lot going on at the moment, and was sneaking these photos in quickly before an abbreviated dinner.🙂 ), but, if you’ve read my blog before, you know it’s not uncommon for me to have to narrow this part of the bra.  It will be a slightly more delicate procedure with the keyhole design, but nothing that’s going to be all that hard for me to work around.  So, I knew out of box I had a minor alteration to do, but decided to take pictures of it ‘as is’, for sake of reviewing it.

You can see you’ve got a very sheer mesh layer, topped with a lace overlay. The lace is only attached in one or two spots, and so far there is no rolling or bunching of any kind.  The mesh under layer is a 3 part balcony cup ( so if you are worried about rolling, it would be very, very easy to sew this lace down along the center seam of the bra.  Whether or not I do will depend on how it ages, but so far it seems to be working just fine as is.)

You can also see the lace goes all the way up to the top of the shoulder, which means this may be a problem for shorter or high-set ladies: the straps are not fully adjustable, but that’s not really an issue for me.

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From the side, you can get a very good idea of just how stretchy the fabric is. There is plenty of room for my lower fullness. Yet, the top of the cup, while not fully covering my breasts on top, does not cut in. (And did not start cutting in, even after a full day’s wear (which is 12 hours for me, between the time I put it on yesterday and the time I got home from work).

You can also see that the wing of the bra is very tall. A tall wing doesn’t bother me, but again – will be a problem for shorter or high set ladies.

It has a two hook fastening in back. I would prefer 3, personally, but this has never been a deal-breaker for me.  This is not what I consider an ‘active day’ bra. It’s probably not a bra I’d pick for a day I expect to spend bent over a filing cabinet (to be fair, I would also not trust my comexims with this task.), but it’s a perfectly fine average day bra. And while my weird camera angles and the shape of my breasts (which had not fully settled into the cups when I took these pictures) may make this appear pointy, I assure you, that is not the bra’s fault; my boobs are just shaped that way, and under clothes the profile is actually rounded and quite shapely.

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It’s probably not a bra that would suit someone who prefers mega support (like the ultra support of say, some of Panache’s styles, which I hate), but for an evedyn fan like me, it’s a comfortable everyday option with a mid-height gore that is low enough to wear with lower cut v-necks and wrap style tops, while high enough that I don’t seem to be at any immediate risk of falling out.

The upper lace section of the bra is quite loose, so while suitable for Even or possibly even FoT breasts, I imagine someone who is dominantly FoB might experience some gaping.

As far as sizing, I’ve already established I sister sized in this one, so it is a little loose for me (but since I have to narrow the gore anyway, this will be corrected once I do that alteration), but it’s certainly not a full band size loose. I would say my 32HH Freya Hopscotch is probably looser. This stretches comfortably to just a bit shy of 34 inches. You can probably stretch it further than that, but I think the cups would warp, so I would say assume that Juliette runs at half sizes (the 34 closer to a 33, the 32 probably closer to a 31).  Since I’m a 31 inch underbust with very little squish a preference for a little breathing room, I think I would probably be able to fasten the 32, but likely not comfortably.

Would I buy Lulu Tout again? I don’t know. In blush, yes, but I wholly admit in any other color I’d probably be a little less certain about it. Until I see how the bra wears over time, and what kind of life expectancy it has, the jury is still out.

But! It’s blush, it fits, it’s comfortable, and I can wear it under whites and those thin, pale colored tops that are so popular once the weather gets warm, so it’s going to serve the purpose I purchased it for very well.

Fit Issue: The Funnel-Shaped Rib Cage

When I sat down and to think about how to attack this post, there were a lot of fit-related words and phrases: egg-shaped, projected sternum, barrel-shaped, tapered ribs, flared ribs…the list can go on, really. I’m not going to use any of these words to describe the fit issue I’ll be covering today, and I’m not going to use any of these words not because they aren’t legitimate fit problems in and of themselves, but because, for me, it would be trying to show you a picture of a tree by only taking close up pictures of the branches and trying to piece them together.

Let me take a minute to break that down further and explain what I mean:

An egg-shaped chest as we discuss it only describes the shape of the front of the breastbone.

A projected sternum discusses only a sternum that sits farther forward than average in the center of the chest.

A barrel-shaped chest describes a general sense of roundness, but not much about the way things are angled.

Tapered ribs, or the v-shaped torso, is concerned mostly with the horizontal width of the torso, and describes an angle of the ribs from the armpit to the lower rib cage, but is a very 2-dimensional descriptor.

Flared Ribs describes the way a rib may stick out, but not where, and doesn’t take the entire shape of the rib cage into account.

And that’s the problem – none of these descriptors take my entire rib cage into account. So, rather than breaking this post down into several pictures of branches and trying to use those to form a tree, I’m going to zoom the lens out a little, and take a picture of the whole damn tree. In the interest of that, I am calling this bone structure issue the funnel-shaped chest. I don’t know if anyone has used that term before, but if they haven’t, I’m officially coining it as a legitimate thing.

I have a rib cage that is round, deep, and tapered. It means my sternum projects, that my back is large, round, and broad for my frame size, that my ribs are tapered not just from side to side, but also from front to back. It implies a rib shape that is either egg-shaped, barrel-shaped, or both. It may be more common on those of us with broader shoulders, but I don’t have enough data to confirm that with any degree of certainty.

Now, the problem with bone structure issues is that there is no bra that’s going to make them go away. There is no bra that’s magic for a chest shaped like a funnel. And, since we’re all snowflakes (heard this one before, ladies?), what the biggest problem for me is with my bone structure isn’t going to be the same for you. I’m hoping, though, that by discussing my bone structure issues in some depth, how they affect bra fit, how they change what I love and hate in a bra, and how I work around them as best I can, it might give someone else some insight into their bone structure who’s having fit problems that no one seems to be able to explain, or just a general understanding of how sometimes, when bra after bra doesn’t fit, it’s not the wrong size, and it’s not your boobs. Stop blaming your boobs. The culprit might be your bones.

Fit Problems Associated with the Funnel-shaped Chest

Center/Side Heaviness

I promised in my last post that I would come back to this, so even though it’s probably the least obvious of potential issues, permit me to start with it.

I talked about weight distribution of breast tissue in my last post. For this post, let’s assume an even weight distribution. I’ve already established that I have a center heavy distribution, but let’s play make believe for a minute here and make an assumption of even distribution to simplify.

If my breast tissue was evenly distributed across the entire breast, on my rib cage, they would still act center heavy. In fact, I would have to have side-heavy breasts for them not to. At first read, that sounds illogical. After all, your boobs either have the most weight in the center, or they don’t, right? Right – I’m not arguing technical specifications. What we’re talking about here is functional bra fit.

And, functionally, on a funnel shaped rib cage, or a rib cage that is rounded in a less common way, the angle of the bones will ’tilt’ the breasts.

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(Somehow my attempt at drawing this rib shape ended up looking like a baseball. You can see though – I hope, how, depending on the position of the breasts on this rib cage shape, the breasts might lean to one side or the other, following the shape of the bones.)

In my case, the ribs are angled in and down. My breasts, if high set, would likely lean outward, but where they sit on my chest (average, neither high nor low set), exactly where my sternum protrudes and my ribs start to angle in and down, causes my breasts to tilt inward toward one another. So, I would say this either creates an imitation of center fullness, or possibly (not being a scientist), might actually even promote the development of center heavy breasts over time. After all, your bones grow, but their basic structure doesn’t change much. If you were a broad shouldered kid, odds are good you’ll be a broad shouldered adult. If you’re ribs are funnel shaped as an adult, odds are good that they were also funnel shaped when you were a kid. So, hypothetically, it MIGHT actually be possible that as your breasts develop, if your ribs are forcing them to lean toward one another, they might potentially actually grow with a center heavy distribution because your ribs are encouraging an uneven weight distribution.

Now, I don’t know if that’s true. Someone very adept at adolescent growth and development would have to break down that hypothesis for validity. I am in no way qualified. But, I can imagine it making a kind of sense.

In any case, whether it’s true or not, ribs that tilt in and down on an angle will encourage breasts to lean toward one another and require a bra with extra depth in the middle. Most bras will push the boobs up and out, into the armpits, but the boobs will drift back to their natural position over time and you’ll find yourself readjusting. Scoop and swoop may effectively push your boobs almost entirely out of the cups, requiring you to then push the tissue back outward so they will be fully encased.

And, the opposite would also be true – that if your ribs are angled upward where your breasts sit, it might encourage them to naturally drift toward your armpits and act as if they are heavier on the sides, regardless of actual distribution of breast tissue.

Band Size and Tension

This is one that actually became most apparent when I started wearing sports bras, so I’m going to use sports bras to describe the phenomenon, though it does actually happen with all bras (which I will get back to very shortly.)

Because I just can’t get behind a sports bra with underwires (which I will also explain shortly), for a long while my sports bra of choice is the Shock Absorber 4490.

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The Shock Absorber has two sets of hooks and eyes. Two at the underbust, and two a bit higher up. Ideally, for this bra, I would want a 30 band at the bottom set of hooks, and a 34 at the top set. That’s not possible, so my only option is to go with a 32 band and size up in the cup so I can fasten the upper set. Of course, that does kind of harm the level of support a bit, but I’m not much of an athlete, and don’t do a lot of super high-impact exercise, so I make it work. I don’t really have a choice, since I’ve yet to come across a sports bra that actually is larger at the top set of hooks and smaller at the bottom. I’ve also tried using an extender on the top set of hooks. It helps enough to make 30s wearable, but only for about 30 minutes before I want to claw my way out of them with desperate abandon.

This can also happen to V-shaped ladies, absolutely, but since my ribs are tapered from front to back as well, the overall depth of my chest makes the upper part of my chest MUCH bigger than the underbust.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk about overbust measurement. That’s not relevant in terms of bra fit, but is a good illustration point of the issue.

My overbust measures a hair over 38 inches. My underbust measures 30.5. When I was a bit thinner, my underbust measured 29.5 inches. My overbust measurement at that time was the same hair over 38 inches. That means halfway between those two measurements, I probably measure in the ballpark of 34 inches. (can not confirm: boobs in the way.🙂 )

Now, lets go back to regular bras. They only have one band. That band varies in width. Sometimes it’s two hooks, sometimes three, my Parfait Charlotte is 4 hooks. That might not seem hugely relevant, until you know that on a funnel-shaped chest the underbust grows larger as you work your way up toward the shoulders. What this means on a regular bra is that my underbust measures at least an inch smaller at the bottom set of hooks than it does at the top set of hooks.

The typical answer for this is to adjust the band tension. Wear the bra on the looser hooks on the top, and on the tighter hooks on the bottom (or alter the bra to create the same effect). Here’s the trouble: about a quarter inch or so below the underbust I measure another half inch smaller, which means altering band tension doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to preventing the bra from drifting down to the smallest area on my torso.

My underbust is angled rather than vertical: a funnel rather than a cylinder. Gravity exists. Since gravity exists, the band will make it’s home in the smallest area. It is, therefore, impossible for meto get any bra to sit exactly in the inframammary fold. I have to settle for slightly lower. There is literally no other alternative.

I have tried literally every band solution to this. At one point I would size down to as snug a band as I could breathe in. I worked on the assumption that accepting where the band WILL fit, versus where the band SHOULD fit, is how I should measure. This would be the popular advice, because we like a firm band in proper fitting circles. It’s also the wrong advice for this rib shape (well, to be fair, it might be perfectly reasonable advice if you have some squish on the ribs, but I’m all bone).

Why is it wrong to go for a very snug fit if your ribs are funnel shaped? Because it encourages chafing and sliding. Since your bra is not sitting where it ought to, the snugger band paired with the larger upper underbust actually forces the band down even farther than it will naturally sit in a band that isn’t quite as snug. When you do the opposite then, and size up one, sizing the bra for the largest part of your underbust, the bra will still drift down, but not as much, because it’s holding comfortably at the upper hooks. Even if the lower band is looser, as long as your boobs are supported and your band isn’t riding up, there’s no reason you have to have a bra exactly at your measurements. I’ve found through experimentation that I wear 32s most of the time, and sometimes wear 34s. In spite of my under 31 inch underbust measurement, the top of the band measures at least 31 inches, likely more(depending on the width of the band), and that is the number I need to work with. Ideally, I like a stretched band about 33 inches, give or take a half inch. They’re comfortable, breathable, and they give me the best support, which means I am predominantly buying 32s and, also am buying 34s.

A too-snug band that drifts down can also cause digging straps. It’s easy to assume you have a longer upper torso (and I did assume that for a bit. I thought because my back was deep and broad, and my shoulders sat relatively far back from my sternum, I needed longer straps. Not so.). Because a firmer band encourages my bra to drift down more than a slightly looser band, it also causes the straps to feel short, because the band is artificially elongating my torso by being forced down. This causes the straps to dig. Take the same bra in a sister size up, and 9 times out of 10 the straps feel just fine.

There are already blogs out there that have covered altering band tension. Widecurves covers it (here:http://widecurves.com/its-your-bra-band-tension/). The alteration would be the opposite in this case, where you actually WANT an uneven band tension, with the lower hooks firmer and the top looser, so it would be the same thing, but in reverse. Since the basic concept is already covered, I won’t go into it in further detail. I find I don’t really fuss much about band tension other than to say – it’s a real thing that may be useful to play with if you have this shape.

I’m sort of inadvertently adjusting the band tension to suit my needs every time I narrow a bra gore (which I talked about in a previous post) I narrow my gores more significantly at the bottom of the gore than the top. Since I’m pinching more fabric at the bottom of the gore than the top, I don’t need to do a special alteration for band tension. The gore alteration does double duty in both narrowing the gore for my center heavy boobs, and in adjusting the band tension for my funnel shaped torso. (In retrospect, maybe I should buy a 34 band shock absorber and try a band tension alteration to increase the tension at the bottom set of hooks. Food for thought, I suppose.)

Tall” Root and Downward Drifting Band.

This should almost be a part of the previous section, since I already half covered it. Above, I talked about how wearing a snugger band can cause the band to drift down more than necessary, but that even in a great fit, the band may still drift. This depends entirely on your unique rib structure, but is true for me.

Because my ribs at the underbust are still on the ‘angled’ plane of the funnel, the bra slides down. Not a lot, but enough. Another side effect of this is that it makes the breast root appear taller than it is. I have an average root for the most part, one that has a very thin layer of tissue creeping slightly higher than average, but not by much. So I would say average, but leaning towards a tall root. But, because the bra sits a tiny bit lower than it should, and because my breastbone sits so far forward, it makes my breasts appear tall. It means I always need an open upper cup as if I was Full on Top (and in fact, I thought I was full on top for a long time, in part because of this). Most full cup bras cut into the top of my breasts. Full on Bottom styles, even if they’re quite tall, are unsuitable because they cut into the top of my breasts, even though I do need the lower depth. So, a funnel-shaped chest, can, and often does, push a bra down making an average breast root appear tall, and a short root may appear closer to average.

Underwire Pain.

The next problem you can run into with a funnel-shaped rib cage is underwire pain. I have a habit of joking that Panache is my nemesis. That is directly related to the wires they use in most of their bras. Panache often uses a very firm, flat underwire. This gives great support, but is extremely unforgiving to rib shape issues. Actually, I’m in the minority that really loves the soft wires Freya uses. And, while it might not sound like it makes sense immediately, they give me better support.

That’s right, the flimsy wires Freya uses, that so many ladies complain about, give me better support than firmer wires.

Confused? Don’t be. It actually makes perfect sense. Let’s do a comparison (it’ll be a verbal comparison. I don’t own any Panache, so can’t offer a visual comparison.)

So, here we go, I have this funnel shaped chest and I pick up a Panache bra. Actually, let’s pick a bra almost everyone knows, Cleo by Panache – Marcie. I wanted to love Marcie. It should be a great shape for my boobs. It has Panache’s firm, flat wires, so is completely unwearable. I can say this with certainty as I’ve tried it in multiple sizes.

The gore stabs my sternum, the wires stab and chafe against my underbust, the straps dig painfully into my shoulders. Changing sizes doesn’t help. After 30 minutes of wear, the bra is so painful I feel like I’m going to take it off and find that I’m bleeding.

But, why would something so simple as a firm underwire cause that? The answer is actually really simple: a firm underwire does not bend enough to anchor to a tapered and dramatically curved rib cage. A more standard rib cage doesn’t have this issue, the wire only needs mild flexibility to sit flush against the ribs, but when the sternum sticks out, when the front of the ribs dips in, when the back is curved… all of these things put together mean that wires have to be quite flexible to mold around the rounded, heavily angled shape of the rib cage.

Now, let’s take a Freya. Any unlined style will work for me, really. The wires are soft. In fact, they’re so soft they can be very easily bent and moulded when necessary – like clay. A lot of ladies find that really unsupportive, but imagine that difference on funnel-shaped ribs for a moment. Imagine you have an orange (or whatever. Anything round.), try wrapping a metal ruler around it. It’s somewhat flexible, but too thick for the top and bottom of the ruler to quite fit, and you can’t wrap it around the entire orange at once, just a small curve at a time. Now try wrapping a cloth measuring tape around that same orange. Now you can wrap the tape all the way around and it fits snugly. Now, that’s a dramatic analogy, granted, but it produces a solid visual of the difference. Freya supports me better because it curves around my entire rib cage, because the wires are thin enough that they don’t stab into my inwardly angled rib cage. Panache, while it’s possible to bend the wires with a bit of Herculean strength, will never bend as much or as accurately, as Freya.

Evedyn wires are soft enough that they offer my projected sternum some reprieve, where Panache expects my sternum to not be so far forward, and has wires firm enough that it thinks it can force my breastbone into submission. (It has yet to win this fight.🙂 )

Wires will completely break a bra that would otherwise be close to perfect for me. The answer would be to remove the stiff wires and transplant wires that are softer, but I have yet to feel that industrious (I suspect the time is coming. lol.)

Visual guide to Funnel-Shaped ribs

Now, I can’t show you this rib structure well while wearing a bra, because the bra conceals the worst parts of the issue (the band makes my bones just look like pudge. Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of pudge, but the part of my ribs you need to see most is the part that would usually be covered by the band, so bear with my hand bra as best you can. I have no other way of properly showing bone structure that would normally be hidden by the bra band). I’ve done my best, but the pics aren’t brilliant. I’ve removed background to increase contrast so you can get a better look at what’s going on.

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Hopefully that gives you ladies some insight into how bone structure can affect bra fit. The answer for bone structure issues are never easy. They’re never straight-forward, and they’re not one size fits all. But, if you’ve gotten a lot of advice that SHOULD work, if your bra fit issues have stumped the experts, if you’re feeling like you must have freakish boobs for bra fit to be THIS HARD…stop. Step back a minute. Stop taking pictures of branches and get a good look at the shape of the entire trunk, then decide if the source of the “problem” is your boobs at all, or if your bone structure might need to be factored into the equation.

I think that basically wraps up what I immediately wanted to say about bone structure. I didn’t need a third post, yay! I don’t have any immediate plans for posts going forward, unless you ladies make some suggestions. Someone mentioned maybe writing up a post on projection. This has been discussed by others, but I can definitely do a ‘simplified/for dummies’ type of run down on the subject if you’d like me to. I feel like it’s been talked about enough that it would be a bit redundant, but you tell me. Or, I don’t know, if you have something you’re not sure about, suggest it as a topic. It might not be something I have experience enough to write about, but if I do feel adept enough at the subject to talk about it, I’ll definitely consider it. Unless you ask questions, we won’t know if I have answers, so propose some topics to me. Throw some things at me that you just don’t understand. Let’s see if anything sticks.

Fit Issues: Center Heaviness is a Dominant Shape Trait

I’ve been thinking for a while now about doing a post on chest shape issues. I know I’ve promised a few people to discuss that subject in a bit more depth. I mentioned in my first post that having a non-standard rib structure puts me in a sort of unique position in terms of bra fit, which is what caused me to create Brastic Measures – to talk about things that really aren’t discussed, because when I started on my bra journey, the information I most needed to figure out what was going wrong with bra fit was not the common stuff everyone talks about – it was what I lovingly call “the weird stuff”, and I can’t be the only one who struggles with these considerations.

And, as I thought about tackling that post, the task became more and more daunting. It threatened to overwhelm me with how epically long a post about bone structure concerns would need to be, and I started thinking ‘how can I cut this down? This is a blog, for crying out loud, not a novel! Nobody is going to read this epically long mess of info! It will explode their brain!’ But cut it down too much, and it’s just as vague and inaccessible as the articles I’d read that left my head spinning.

As I broke apart the different pieces in my head, it became apparent that it would have to be more than one post, and I would have to write them in the proper order. I’m still not sure if this is going to end up broken into 2 or 3 parts, but let’s start with something we’re all familiar with: boobs.

For today, I am not going to talk very much at all about rib shape or bone structure, except to say that uneven horizontal weight distribution like center heaviness, or side heaviness, can be (but is not always) directly related to bone structure. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry, I’m going to get back to it in a future post.

I know I’ve promised various people I would do a write up on certain bone structure issues, and I will, because it’s important, but first thing’s first. I am going to stick pretty strictly to breast shape in this post, and will revisit the issue of bone structure later. It’s important first to understand how weight distribution can alter the fit of your bra, so, center heaviness it is!

Center Heaviness (or Center Fullness) is nothing new. It’s been mentioned and discussed, but I think often in a way that doesn’t quite connect. A lot of ladies read articles on the subject and still don’t know it applies to them. I know that because I was one of those ladies. We talk about center heavy breasts, but in a sort of generalized ‘this is one possible shape’ kind of way. I don’t remember ever reading anything really in depth about it that was also accessible and easy to understand. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, just that if it does, I’ve never found it.  We talk so much about full on bottom breasts, or full on top breasts, but what we don’t talk about much is horizontal weight distribution – breasts that are heavier in the center, or on the sides. We don’t really discuss it as being important, not in so many words.

So, today, in so many words:

When it comes to determining breast shape, center heaviness is a dominant trait.

Now, stop. Give yourself a moment to really let that sink in, and if you still don’t get it, don’t worry; I’m about to explain.

There are different aspects to breast shape. As I see it, these are:

1. Technical: this is quantifiable information that can be proven by scientific observation.

2. Functional: this is what you actually need out of a bra when you put your various shape issues together.

And, those two things might not be the same.

Here’s an example:

Imagine a woman who has most of her fullness on the bottom of her breasts. She would technically be categorized as full on bottom. However, her breasts are also vertically tall, with tissue going way up to her collarbone. The typical recommendations for Full on Botttom (FoB) breasts would be a lot of bras with a closed upper cup, but since she has tall breast tissue, those bras cut in, so she would be technically FoB, but might actually be functionally FoT(Full on Top), and need a more open upper cup in spite of her lower fullness. This is why bra fit is an art, not a science.

So, is Center Heaviness Technical or Functional? The short answer is “both”, and that’s the very thing that makes it a dominant trait. A dominant shape trait will make all other shape concerns less important by comparison. It’s something you must have in a bra, rather than something you can get by without, but would prefer to have. A dominant trait can make or break the fit of a bra, where as other shape traits might not, provided the bra meets the requirements of dominant traits.

For example, I have very narrow breasts. It’s not immediately obvious because I also have a lot of loose skin under my arms, but my actual breast root is barely 5 inches across. (For reference: current size averages around a 32GG, a size in which finding wires that narrow is virtually impossible.) And yet, some of my best fitting bras are over 6 inches wide. That should be a problem, but it’s not, because those bras meet the qualifications for more dominant fit traits that are more important for me to get a good fit than my narrow root is. Since my narrowness is not a dominant trait in comparison to other shape issues I have, many of my bras are bras you would recommend against for ladies with with a narrow breast root, but they work for me because they suit shape issues that have higher priority. Would I like very narrow wires? Absolutely. Do I need them? Not necessarily.

Signs of Center Heaviness

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Okay, we get it. This weight distribution thing is a big deal. So how do I know if it applies to me?’ I’m getting there!

Let’s make a list of questions. You might not answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions, and a yes answer does not automatically imply center heaviness, as there are a whole host of other problems that can cause each of these issues. But, if you answer ‘yes’ to a significant number of them, it might be a good indicator.

1. Do your bras always push your breasts apart and out towards your armpits?

2. Do your breasts tend to drift back toward the middle of your chest as the day wears on? Do you find that your bra fits really well in the morning, but you’ve got to readjust to avoid the dreaded quadboob during the day regardless of what size cup you wear, even in bra cups that are blatantly too large?

3. Even being absolutely, 100%, beyond the shadow any doubt, in the right size, do bra wires tend to pop in the middle of the bra, between your breasts?

4. Do you get quadboob, but only near the center gore of the bra?

5. Do your breasts appear to be close set, but when you do the finger test (1-2 fingers between the breasts is average), you find that they actually aren’t particularly close set at all. Even so, the center portion of the bra always feels much too wide? (Not to imply that you can’t be close set AND center heavy, but rather that the two things are not directly related, and one being true does not necessarily mean that the other is.)

6. Does it seem like there’s never enough depth in the middle of the bra to contain your breast tissue?

7. Do side support panels on bras seem to have no purpose, covering a portion of your torso where you have little to no breast tissue?

8. Do you have a problem with your breasts pushing your bra down even when you’re sure the problem is not a lack of depth in the bottom of the cup? Is it very hard to get a bra to stay put underneath your breasts? Do you have a consistent issue with bras sitting a little too low and/or straps feeling a little too tight, even though you don’t have a particularly long torso? (Of course, center heaviness can also happen in ladies who do have long torsos, obviously.)

I think that’s enough questions to give you an idea of just how many fit problems can potentially be caused by center heavy breasts, but why does center heaviness cause these specific issues? The short answer is because the cups are not the right shape for your breasts, and often are in the wrong position. Just like a woman with a full on bottom shape may have problems with moulded cup bras because she needs more depth at the bottom of the cup than this type of bra typically provides, a woman with center heavy breasts has trouble with bras that don’t have enough depth in the middle portion of the bra.

This can cause the center gore’s wire to pop because the bulk of your breast tissue’s weight is putting pressure directly on the top of that wire. (see below diagram)

Center heavy breasts have a weight distribution that tilts in toward the center gore, putting an uncommon amount of pressure on the wire here, which is why, even in the right size, if this part of the bra is too shallow, you may end up with a popped wire between your breasts. Bravissimo’s Alana, for example, is infamous for this.

This weight distribution is the reason your breasts are being pushed apart – because you don’t have enough cup in the center of your chest where you have the most breast tissue. It might be the reason your bra is not staying in place in your inframmamary fold, but sliding downward (your breasts are pushing the bra down to try to make extra room for the center tissue), and the bra being pushed down is what causes straps which would otherwise be the right length to feel too short. And, it’s the reason you quadboob in the center of the bra in any bra size. Your breasts just naturally lean toward each other, because the weight of your breast tissue has been placed predominantly at that part of your chest.

I know what you’re thinking now, okay, sounds like a really sucky problem. Yep, it’s a pain. So, which bras have good depth in the middle? Well, I’m sorry to say, it’s a short list. Kris Line is easily the top contender for center depth. Kris Line bras are deepest in the center and on the bottom of the cup, with typically narrow wires and gores (the semi-soft are narrower than the unlined, which veer a bit more towards average in width), so if you need depth at the bottom of the cup and are also center heavy – this is a brand that should absolutely be on you ‘to try’ list. If you are lucky enough to be in the size range, you can also get Valea bras on ebay, which are almost exactly like Kris Line, but cheaper. I believe they go up to about a EU I cup, so I’m really just barely sized out, but I did have the opportunity to try the Valea Brilliant when I was a cup smaller, which I actually preferred over Kris Line’s Brilliant.

What else? Well, some of Fantasie’s unlined balconettes and full cups have proven very decent for center heavy breasts – but I’ve only tried a small number of Fantasie bras, so couldn’t say whether or not this is true across the board, or if I’ve just gotten lucky. I remember not getting on at all with Lois, but I seem to do decently well in the styles that have the lace upper cup like Nicola and Sharon. Panache Jasmine (and it’s sister cuts) might be suitable for some, but I can’t say that with certainty as I found the gore so hellishly oppressive (for reasons to do with other fit issues I have) that I can’t remember how the depth was in the center. The upper cup being stretch lace does give it potential to be forgiving, though. The Samanta A122 cut was very passable in the center. I haven’t attempted the other Samanta models yet to know if that is a virtue of the cut or the brand.

The Polish brands in general are more forgiving on this, but not an end all solution. I do still alter the gores on my Comexims to compensate a bit, even though I mostly have fallen in love with the brand. I have only tried Kris Line, Comexim, Ewa Michalak, Samanta, Gorsenia, and Valea (Bulgarian, actually, but so like Kris Line that I’m including it here), so if there is a dream bra that can top Kris Line for center depth, I haven’t found it yet.

And, I’m sorry to say, that’s about it. But, fear not! All hope is not lost! There’s a quick and easy alteration that can take those bras that almost fit perfectly except for the center being a bit too shallow and massively improve the fit for you. You don’t need a sewing machine. You don’t need to cut anything. It’s completely reversible, and all you need is ten minutes and the barest of bare minimum sewing skills.

Altering your Bra to Compensate for Center Depth – How it changes the shape of the bra, and why it works

So, I’m going to dash any preconceptions that this is a miracle fix from the start, alright? This alteration will open up the top of your bra a bit more, so is going to make the cups seem slightly bigger. It will shorten the band of your bra, so you may need an extender, or to sister size up a band depending on how deep an alteration is necessary. It will not make every single bra in your collection wearable – though it will be an improvement. For example: this alteration makes Freya and Bravissimo more or less work for me, but I still can’t wear Curvy Kate. It will make the wings of the bra sit marginally lower under your arms, and the gore come up just as marginally higher between your breasts.

The problem with center heavy breasts is that we need depth in the middle of the bra, not evenly spaced from wire to wire. The average center heavy woman just doesn’t have a heck of a lot of boob going on near the arms. That doesn’t mean you might not have excess skin, or a fat pad, or anything else going on there that might make you prefer a taller wing, but odds are high that if you’re center heavy, that’s not breast tissue, and so doesn’t strictly need the same level of consideration in bra fit (there are always exceptions, so don’t take this as gospel). In other words, fit issues related to skin, fat, a prominent tail of spence, etc – are mostly aesthetic in the majority of cases, and while we might make certain choices because we don’t like how that looks, it’s not actually related directly to whether or not our bra fits and is giving us proper support.

I happen to have a lot of loose skin under my arms – the side effect of having lost a lot of weight – and while aesthetically I’d like that to be contained by my bra, practically it’s unlikely to stay there no matter how much I try to scoop it in since it’s just skin, which is much more mobile than breast tissue is. It moves when my arms move, so while I can stuff it into my bra, it’s just not going to stay there. You may, or may not, be in a similar situation, but sufficed to say, it’s important to know the difference between what is and is not breast tissue, and decide how much you want to drive yourself crazy over the latter.

If you are like me and that’s all skin and not tissue under the arms, there’s a degree to which it’s an advantage: since it’s not breast tissue it doesn’t need the same level of consideration, and while it is entirely possible to have horizontally wide breasts that happen to have more tissue in the center, it is also less common, so I’m working on the assumption that if you’re still reading this, and still think it applies to you, odds are high that the actual width of your breast is average to narrow, with wires more likely to be too wide for your breasts than not. If that is not the case, this alteration may do you more harm than good, as it is going to pull the wires from under your arms a little further forward on your torso.

Okay, so, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what is the alteration? Simple: narrow the center gore.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Wait, stop. That’s for close-set breasts!’ Yes, it is also used (differently) for close- set breasts, and here’s the difference:

For close-set breasts you are concerned about the top of the gore being too wide, so bring the top of the wires closer together. For center heavy breasts, it is the position of the cups that needs to be adjusted, and therefore it is the bottom of the gore that needs to be narrower. Because the bottom of that triangular fabric sits so wide, it puts the majority of the cup past the point where your breasts naturally want to sit, so narrowing the gore – all the way to the bottom, by adding a seam between the cups – brings the cups closer to where your center heavy bust wants to naturally sit, and effectively gives you a bit more depth where you need it.

I’m going to use Parfait’s Charlotte for before and after pictures. The Parfait Charlotte is not the best bra to show this alteration. In fact, it’s actually the worst, since it has the satin strip between the cups which I had to decide on the best way to work around. However, Charlotte is also an infamous bra for being shallow, especially in the middle, with a very wide gore, which makes it kind of a great bra to illustrate just how much this small alteration can alter fit.

Before Alteration:

 

As you can see – there’s a bit of quadboob. The bra is just not wearable like this and would have to be sold on or returned.

After the Alteration: 

 

You can see here the quadboob is gone and the fit, while not perfect, is very reasonable, since the cups are drawn closer together, providing more cup where the majority of my breast tissue happens to be. Actually, after these pictures were taken, I did find I needed to narrow the gore slightly more. 

Knowing about Charlotte’s sizing – how small and shallow it runs, I bought this bra in a 34H instead of my typical 32GG – and that ended up being exactly the right choice for me. The band size up compensates for the somewhat extreme narrowing of the gore.

Here’s a different bra without a black satin strip between the cups to work around, so you can get a look at the actual alteration I’m performing, that will make it a little more obvious what I’ve done than you can see with Charlotte.

You can see I’m effectively just pinching a seam down between the cups. Some bras, like this Comexim, don’t need to be narrowed very much, while others, like the Parfait above, need to be narrowed significantly.

It doesn’t give you an endless amount of depth, but by moving the cups of the bra closer to where your breasts are, the entire structure becomes more stable and natural for a center heavy shape. For close set breasts, narrowing the gore is about making the gore narrower. (Kind of sounds a little ‘no duh’, I know.) But, for center heavy breasts, narrowing the gore is about moving the cups of the bra into a more neutral position so that your breasts can sit close together – which is what they naturally want to do.

I’m going to forego a detailed description of how to do this alteration, as it has been covered dozens of times by dozens of other bloggers, so I think it would be a bit repetitive, and that the above picture seems sort of self-explanatory. But, I do this alteration so much that if you ladies want me to write up a detailed tutorial on it, I can.

As we know, not all bras are the same shape, and so the gore alteration will not be the same on every bra. Some bras (like the Comexim pictured above), I only need to narrow very little – a half an inch or so. Other bras (like Cleo Neve) I essentially remove the entire gore. Those are my needs based on my center heaviness and depth, and yours may be quite different. A gore alteration like this is completely removable, though, so you can essentially undo it and redo it as many times as you need to to get it right. Personally, I start with the minimum of what I think I might need. I’ve found it’s better time management to make a gore I’ve altered a deeper alteration, than it is to start too deep, have to remove the stitches, and start again. Both work, but starting small saves a step when you’re not sure how narrow you need to go on a particular bra, since you don’t have to then remove the stitches if you guess wrong.

Since narrowing the gore shortens the band, depending on how much the gore needs to be narrowed, sister sizing up may be the only option. I have narrowed gores to the point I couldn’t wear them in the past, because the gore was so wide, and the alteration so deep, that even with an extender the band became too short even though the cups then fit. When purchasing bras with the intention of narrowing them – pay attention to this. If the gore is very wide, odds are high that you might be better sister sizing up to give yourself the wiggle room you need for the alteration. And, for other bras, the band will only be made minimally firmer and it won’t matter, so there is definitely some trial and error involved here. Taller gores usually require less alteration, if only because the gore holds your boobs apart and prevents them from falling toward the center as much, but every bra is different.

Summing it All Up

So! On the understanding that center heaviness is dominant and needs to be considered before other shape issues, and that not many bras are made for this shape, there’s a degree to which we have to accept either a) having a very limited number of choices, b) not being able to get a proper fit in any bra, or c) pulling out a needle and thread to make it work when it doesn’t. I personally find C to be the most practical solution, since bras with good center depth are few and far between.

I haven’t discussed side-heaviness here, which is the opposite issue, because it’s not a shape problem I have. Most ladies with side heavy breasts do require side support, but beyond that it’s simply not a subject I’m an expert on. I would, however, welcome a guest post from someone who is.

So, I hope this was lucid and made the issues associated with this shape easy to understand. I’ve been sitting on this post for a long while, trying to make it as clear and easy to understand as possible. I was also trying to make it shorter, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without leaving some points a bit vague.

My next big post will build on this one, as I start to discuss some bone structure issues that also affect bra fit. Hopefully, my brain won’t explode before I can finish it!

Review: Ruby Pink Cathy in 32GG

Well Ladies, it’s time for another episode of ‘She tries weird stuff off ebay because it’s cheap’.

We’ve probably all seen the Ruby Pink Cathy bra.  We’ve probably all hovered over the ‘buy’ button, and decided against it, because there’s just no way a bra that only costs $18.99 can be any good. I know I have. Several times.  I also knew I purchased this bra once before, when I was a larger lady, and have no memory at all of how well or poorly it fit me at that time.  At least that means I don’t have any bad memories of it, right?

I’ve gone up a cup recently, so the majority of my bra stock is a bit too small, and while I have an order in for a few new comexims, it’s going to be a while before they get here, so it’s become important to me to fill out my stock with a few bras that I can get inexpensively, within the US, to tide me over.

Cathy was returnable, so I decided I didn’t stand to lose much if it didn’t work out.  So, let’s take a look, shall we? I have only had this on a few minutes, so this will be a pretty basic overview of general construction and shape.

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From the front, you can see what looks like a relatively projected cup that’s relatively open up top. Those are both very good things for my even bust – which needs both depth at the wire and some room to breathe up top.

What you can also possibly see is my most significant fit problem – I’m bulging over the top of the center seam a bit.  This is an issue I have chronically with unlined Cleo bras, and I think owes hugely to my very soft tissue.  It is not as extreme in this bra as it is in Cleo, so might not be a deal breaker (I have to try it on with a few different tops and see how bad it is under clothing).  I would say if  this doesn’t happen to you in unlined Cleos, you can rest assured it probably won’t happen with this bra, either.  But ladies with soft tissue who are prone to this problem, be aware that this bra is not immune to it.

The straps are fully adjustable. And, hey, combined with the pretty blue, I don’t even mind the purple, which is my least favorite color on the planet.  It’s kind of cute in this color combination though – feminine in a way that’s kind of flirty and playful, while not being in your face about it, and I’m a sucker for dragonflies, so the design of the lace upper section has me sold.

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From the 3/4 view, you can get a pretty good view of the shape. Natural, and on me, slightly pointed.  The first thing I thought when I put this on was ‘cheap freya with a more open upper cup.’  The lace gapes slightly on top when I move, but lays flush for the most part.

At this angle you can get a pretty good look at the overall construction.  There’s nothing particularly exciting going on here; it’s a generic 3 part semi-sheer (mostly sheer) balcony bra, with the lower portion of the cup being a bit more opaque than the detailed lace above.

Obviously, for nineteen bucks, we’re not talking high quality materials here, but it’s sturdy enough to support, and the shape is – again – very like the shape unlined Freyas take on my bust, but less flattened out on top, so if you do well in Unlined Freya bras but need a little more room in the top of the cup, this is probably a very decent budget selection if you can find it in your size.

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Now, let’s talk wires. You can see it’s wide. VERY wide for me.  If you squint, you can see where the mark from the bra I just took off is  through the mesh. If you can see that, that is where my Comexim Vivien ends, so this bra is significantly wider than my actual breast tissue. However, not uncomfortable.

Why wouldn’t a bra this wide not be uncomfortable for someone with an extremely narrow root, you may ask? It comes right back to my above comparisons to Freya – the wires are soft and malleable, VERY akin to Freya’s wires. We’re also looking at a very stretchy, Freya-like band. I keep coming back to that comparison, because, as someone who used to be a die hard Freya fan (though they’re really not great for me), the comparison is just obvious.  This is basically a wider-wired unlined Freya. I would suggest going for your Freya size if you try it. However, if you’re particularly FoB, you may be able to size down a cup, due to the more open upper cup.

Overall, it’s surprisingly decent for the price. I’ll be keeping it in spite of  the center seam bulge – which is not bad enough to show under most of my tops. I’ll be narrowing the gore and likely adjusting the upper cup marginally, but when do I ever NOT tweak a bra somehow, really?🙂 The comfort and support seem to be perfectly acceptable, so once I get a good rotation of higher quality bras in my new size, I imagine this will stay in rotation, or at least replace one of my beat up lounging bras. It will get use one way or another, so I consider it money well spent.

Ladies with very sensitive skin might potentially find the fabric a bit scratchy.  It doesn’t bother me, but I can see how it might be a problem for those of you who have a high level of sensitivity to fabrics against your bust. It will likely soften after a few washes, but I really can’t guarantee that, having not worn it long enough, or washed it, to be able to confirm.

My breasts aren’t sensitive to fabrics, but my hands are, so when I picked it up, I did have a concern that the fabric might be unacceptable, but once it’s on, it feels fine to me.

Overall, I would say this is a very acceptable bra for someone who really doesn’t have the funds required for the usual brands.  I’m fairly certain it’s discontinued, but can still be found in a few sizes, and if one of them happens to be yours, you stand to be the proud owner of a surprisingly decent bra that costs under $20, and that’s nothing to scoff at.

Review: Simply Me Basque in Gold 34FF

34FF Simply Me Basque
IMAG0513 IMAG0512I’ve been on the hunt for a strapless option.  It’s not that I specifically need one, but that since I’m finally in the size range – if only barely – I’ve wanted one just because I can.  Given the uncommon shape of my rib cage, a longline or full length garment would be the best for support, and given my love handles, a basque seemed the least risky. 

I’m a 31 inch underbust, so you’re probably wondering why in the heck I would choose a 34?  Well, because my underbust is 31 inches, but at the navel I’m 33, and the area just above it is about 35.  Did I expect a 34 to work? Well, I thought the lower measurements might compensate a little for the upper, and it’s only a sister size off from my usual 32G. And, the 32G was sold out. For $20 it was priced low enough to attempt.  There aren’t too many sizes left in this, but ebay has them, and dawn til dusk lingerie, so if you happen to be one of the sizes remaining, the price is right.

Well, the size is not ideal. I first fastened it on the loosest hooks, and could tell it wasn’t pulling in tight enough as I was hooking it up, so I moved onto the tightest.


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Uuurrhhh…not good. Not good at all.  But, all hope is not lost – this comes with regular straps, and also clear straps.  The fact that it comes with clear straps makes me think that – even though it’s categorized as a strapless, it’s probably not expected to do well as one. If it was, what would be the purpose of selling it with clear straps, am I right?

IMAG0523Now, that’s much better. I put the straps with the adjusters on the front just for sake of not having to take the whole thing off again to adjust it.  These clear straps are LONG. I normally adjust straps very little due to my sort of barrel-shaped chest and upper back, but these I had to adjust half way.  I would say these are even longer than the straps on my Comexim. But, the beauty of removable straps is if they’re too long, you can always buy a set you like better and use those instead.

And, since I do secretly ogle those cute retro halter dresses (even if I have nowhere to wear one!) let’s test the halter strap:

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Halter style isn’t too shabby either.

So, I’ll hold onto this one for now. It’s a complete fail as a strapless, but the clear straps and the halter strap still open up a lot of wardrobe options I didn’t have before, and it’s a good enough fit for those special occasion items.  Once I get a sewing machine, I can probably tighten up the back and improve the fit further, but it’s comfortable and gives enough uplift with the straps attached to be of some use.

It doesn’t do much in terms of control along the tummy. I don’t know if that’s the very stretchy fabric, or just the fact that it’s a size too big, but I would estimate likely a combination of the two.

I have another basque on the way in 32G that I’m hoping will be amazing, and if that one ends up being amazing, I will likely sell this one, but for the time being, I now have the option wear those cute halter style dresses I’ve been ogling from afar, which has to count for something.🙂

UPDATE: Something I forgot to mention when I initially posted this – this basque does come with detachable suspenders, but – as you can see – it only barely reaches my navel, so I can’t see the average person wearing it with them.  I’m 5’4 and relatively balanced top to bottom – neither my legs or torso are particularly long or short relative to one another, so I imagine to get this to hit solidly at the hip, a person would have to be 5’2 or under, in which case the suspenders might be a cute addition, but certainly would be aesthetically awkward on someone tall or with a longer torso.  I am sure someone with a bit less tummy than me would get more length, but I think you would have to be either quite slender, or quite petite, to get this to fall at or near the hip, as it is on the model in the ebay listing.

Review: Berlei Move X Sport Crop Top

Ok ladies, I asked a question a while ago if I should post reviews of my bra purchases here, and the answer was yes. I haven’t done so yet, and that’s terribly lazy of me, but this one is worth reviewing properly, I think, for two reasons:

1) There is not a heck of a lot of info on Berlei in the bra community

2) A lot of the information circulating on these sports bras is misleading.

These bras come up on Zulily sales pretty often, and seem to be generally discounted on their own website, so are a good deal if they happen to be what you’re looking for.

Let’s get the big question out of the way first: is this bra going to go head-to-head with big contenders like the much-loved Panache Sport, or with Freya Active, Shock Absorber, Enell. No. Absolutely not.

And, here’s where the misconception comes in: IT’S NOT DESIGNED TO.  That’s right, ladies. This bra is not intended to be a super sports bra.  I think that’s why a lot of the people who talk about it have such unkind things to say about it.  If you’re comparing it to one of these heavy duty sports bras that will virtually eliminate bounce, then you’ll be disappointed.  You’re putting the move-X into a league that it was never intended to compete in.

The Berlei Move X crop top is rated and recommended for sports like yoga and dance. And, that is what it will be good for – no more, no less.  It will not eliminate bounce.  You are not going to be able to do jumping jacks or burpees in this bra without jiggle.  And, that’s okay.  The Move-X is designed to do a job; that job is to squash your boobs down so they won’t be in your way, or burying your face when you’re in downward facing dog (test: passed), to keep them from flopping about when you’re lifting, to potentially survive that zumba class you’ve been meaning to take (I don’t do zumba, someone else will have to run that test, but as long as you’re not doing cartwheels or flying sidekicks, I see no reason it won’t be perfectly sufficient).  It was not designed for triathlons, or acrobatics.  So, to expect it to perform based on the most intense physical activity is not putting it on a fair playing field.

Here’s Berlei’s Description from their website (berlei.com)

A laminated, moulded, super soft brushed fabric offers strong support and extra comfort whilst exercising. Engineered to act like your own personal trainer and straighten posture!

 

  • Intelligent back with cross action laminated panel
  • Power mesh panels placed locally for support and breathability
  • Cushioned gel hook and eye for floor exercise without discomfort
  • Peach touch fabric, soft on skin
  • Recommended for activity sports such as dance or yoga.

Now, most of that is sales pitch. Here are the important things to take away from it:

1) ‘Super soft brushed fabric’ – does that sound like a high intensity sports bra to you? It doesn’t to me.

2) Panels for “breathability” – that means those panels are semi-sheer, ladies. Again – doesn’t sound like a proponent for intense, hard core support.

3) Recommended for activity sports such as dance and yoga. – which, as I stated above, is exactly what it’s best for.

Will it help with posture? Unlikely. Is it soft? Yes, it is.

Now, let’s break it down, with pictures!

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As you can see, that front panel is quite sheer.  I typically wear either a 30GG or 32G.  This is a 32G, and fits just fine.

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The fabric is extremely flexible, so while, at first, I was afraid it would be too small, once adjusted, I’m perfectly secure enough.  That’s loose skin you’re seeing in the pictures, by the way – it’s not breast tissue hanging out. After 100 lbs of weight loss, there are some weirdnesses in fit that there’s just not much I can do anything about. My skin hasn’t really bounced back.

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This is a racerback.  It is also an overhead style.  I’m not sure if you can see in this horrible photo but it DOES NOT  have adjustable straps.  When I pulled it out of the package, that was a serious worry for me. I normally have my bras adjusted as long as they can go, and several brands – like Just Peachy – tend to have straps that are really painful for a few wears because they’re too short for me in spite of the fact I’m only 5’4.  I know it looks tight against the shoulders – that’s primarily the way I’m contorting my body to take the picture. It’s not uncomfortable.

Rest assured – the stretchy fabric saves the day. This is perfectly comfortable on my shoulders.

When I purchased this bra, I was not looking for a high-intensity sports bra, nor was I expecting to get one for $25 USD.  I have three shock absorbers that do that job perfectly well for me.

What I was looking for was a bra that would be more comfortable for lounging around the house. I’ve been using my shock absorbers for that, and since my back is broad, I admit that there’s a point in the evening when the shock absorber is just too restrictive on the upper set of hooks and I want out of it. The berlei purchase was intended as a happy medium between sports bra and no bra in the evening. Victory on that front – this is the first bra I’ve ever put on that I thought ‘I could probably sleep in this’.  I don’t wear a sleep bra and don’t intend to start, but if I did, this seems like it would be comfortable enough to suit the purpose.  And, as I like garments that multitask, I was expecting it to be suitable for yoga, pilates, free weights, and general strength training. That’s also a victory, which makes this a bra that does exactly what it advertises.

So, if you’re looking for a high-intensity sports bra – stick to the big names that we all know about already.  However, if you’re looking for a good bra for low intensity sports at a price point that won’t break you, or a casual ‘lay around’ bra – this is a very real option, and I am completely satisfied with it.

Alteration: Removing the Elastic under the top Lace of a Bra.

Sometimes, a bra can look too small when it fits well, because  the strip of fabric/elastic under the top of the lace is too tight across the top of the breast.  European bras, in particular are nearly infamous for this.  If you have firm breast tissue, your breasts will fight against the elastic and shape the bra. Not all of us are that lucky.  Soft tissue molds to the shape of the bra, so the elastic pulls down over the top of the breast.  If the bra is not a full coverage style, it will not sit against the breastbone, but actually against the breast tissue, causing the breasts to bulge out of the top of the bra and give the appearance of a bra that is too small.

This seam is put in place to pull the top of the cup closer to the chest and prevent the bust from spilling out.  That’s probably just fine for someone who is predominantly full on bottom, but someone with a more even or full on top shape will run into this problem pretty consistently in European bras, so I’m going to talk about how to fix that.

Tools You’ll Need: 

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1 seam ripper  & 1 pair of scissors.

Seriously, that’s it.

Difficulty Level: Easy. Seriously, a well behaved toddler could do it.

The bra I will be performing this alteration on is the Samanta Hana (A122 cut) in 70I. Samanta is a Polish brand, and I will refrain from discussing the finer points of the style in detail, as the brand has already been broken down quite well by Miss Underpinnings, but I will say for the purpose of this post that I would refer to this as a mesh balconette.

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As you can see above, the bra looks too small on close up. I’m clearly bulging out the top of the cup. If you look closely at the top center, you can even see my bust trying to escape through the gaps in the lace. What may not be obvious in photographs is that there is actually plenty of room in this cup for me, but the top of the cup is being pulled down very tightly across the top of my breast, causing me to quadboob even though the bra actually fits.

This is the problem:

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This seam is slightly elastic, and so makes the top of the cup too closed off for me. It fits beautifully everywhere else.

Now, you’re going to work from the inside of the bra. Grab your seam ripper. We need to remove the stitches from inside of the elastic.

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You want to work from the elastic side to avoid potentially tearing any mesh or lace with your seam ripper.  You can stab a piece of elastic to your hearts content and it doesn’t really matter, but stab a bit of lace and you might poke a hole in your bra.

As you start to remove these stitches, you’ll see the elastic start to come away from the bra, like so:

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Keep going. You have to remove all of them. At which point, you’ll have something that looks like this:

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Now, up to this point, we’re doing fine. We haven’t cut anything. We are still at a place where this alteration can be reversed by sewing the elastic back down, but we won’t be for long.

This alteration always has the potential to open the cup too much for you (You can correct this by sewing a dart near the wire, but that’s another alteration.), so you definitely want to try the bra on again at this point to make sure the alteration is going to work for you before you move onto the next step, at which point the alteration can not be reversed.

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As you can see, this is probably going to work out well for me.  There’s a tiny bit of gaping, but that’s mostly due to the position I have to put my arm in to take the photo and the elastic still being connected on both ends.

You’re done with the seam ripper now. Grab the scissors. We need to cut the elastic out on both sides beside the wire.

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Cut as close to the wire as possible.

That’s it. The alteration is complete. There is no need to finish the elastic or add no fray. You’re welcome to if you’d like, but if you cut it as close to the wire as you can, the bra won’t give you any issues with fraying or loose threads, and you won’t really even notice that there was ever a seam there in the first place.

This is what you’ve removed  – you don’t need them, so unless you have some other use planned for them, just throw them out.

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And this is what your bra will look like when it’s done:

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The Final Fit Test:

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This bra now fits me pretty darn well.  It will gape slightly when I move my arms certain ways, but not enough to make me fall out, not enough to cause fit issues, and not enough to show under clothing. This alteration has made this bra the best fit of my current rotation.

If I hadn’t altered it, I would only be able to wear it under loose t-shirts and tunics, and so it would probably spend most of its time in the back of the lingerie drawer.

If this is a problem you find you run into consistently, this is an alteration you definitely want to consider. The entire alteration can be completed in less than 30 minutes, and there is absolutely no sewing required.