“Plus-Sized” Bras for Busty Gals

by Ashley on September 8, 2009

I’ve found most bra information targeting a specific problem focus on women with larger cups and smaller underbusts–that doesn’t help me.  I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a post targeted to the problem I face: a larger ribcage and average cup size.

bra
via We Heart It

Like 85% of women, I spent most of my bra wearing life in the wrong size bra– pushed in to a  size that didn’t fit by mass retailers like Victoria’s Secret or the same 7 brands every department store carries (“what, you aren’t a 36/C? Try it on anyway, it’ll fit“).

At my smallest weight & bust size, I wore a 38/B, and as of a last measurement, I now wear around a 44-48 B/C (this varies by maker. According to the Lane Bryant site, I’d be like a 46/DD, which is laughable, ladies, laughable).

I wanted to share some sites I was finding for bras, in the event that you have the same sizing issue that I have and what my thoughts were on the pieces I’ve ordered and tried on. In shopping for bras, there are a few things I look for:

  • Appearance:  I’m a young, foxy woman.  As such, I don’t want a bra that looks like a maternity bra. I want equal options for lace, beautiful colors, and great designs as a woman who wears a 36/C.
  • Shape: Even though my ribcage is larger, but breasts still are only a B/C cup.  As such, I don’t want (or really need) a bra whose cups go up to my collarbone.  It doesn’t provide me any additional support & keeps me from feeling sexy.  Additionally, I love a bra with a bit of padding or shape. Being between those cup sizes, I love to have a little shape to make my bust appear more shapely and larger in comparison to my apple belly.
  • Cost: With my weight fluctuation in Bloomington, I’ve had to buy new bras roughly every year. As a result, spending more than $50 on a bra that will not fit in a year doesn’t interest me.

Figleaves

Oola Rococo Bra: Pretty on, Lumpy under Shirts
Oola Rococo Bra: Pretty on, Lumpy under Shirts

While Figleaves now has a U.S. site, I found that a bit misleading because all merchandise still ships from the U.K.  Shipping from the U.K. is marginal ($4.95), but it took the bras nearly a month to get to me–which wasn’t hot when my underwires were popping right & left!  There’s the added hindrance that 5 bras cost me $208 (the average price being about $45)–which smacked me with another $45 in customs fees.

I thought Figleaves had a nice selection of bras, including French lingerie company Oola.  When I received the following bras, I was excited.  During the first fitting, they seemed like they all fit well and looked really nice.  But when I tried them on under clothes, I found that the seam cutting across the bust was REALLY bulky and noticeable underneath the shirts.

Out of the 5 bras I ordered, 4 went back. I kept one, which cost $11.  It really cost almost $60, since my customs fees weren’t returned.  Plus shipping back the bras was another $11 due to the short return time (30 days) and the fact they tell you to allow 10+ days in that time frame for travel time.

Catherine’s

Serenada bra: I bet I can fit my head in to each cup
Serenada bra: I bet I can fit my head in to each cup

Catherine’s had a moderate selection in my size, though I found it really heavy on the “maternity” styled bras. There were some nice simple pieces though, and I thought that those would be great under t-shirt styled shirts, or under white shirts (especially hard to find!).

Because Catherine’s is based in the US, I was a bit more relaxed about ordering from them–even better when I found out my package shipped from (and back to) Indianapolis! Score–cheaper return shipping.

Unfortunately, while the bras I ordered were at a GREAT sale price ($15), none of them fit.  The bands were super snug and the cups gaped and bulged. I would have needed some obscure size to get those suckers to fit.  However, there are a couple of other styles that may be worth checking in to, one by Goddess and another more pretty version by Serenada…

Hips & Curves

RAWR! For bobcats in the bedroom.
RAWR! For bobcats in the bedroom.

My shipment from Hips & Curves has thus far felt the most successful. Most of their styles are very classic or are fun & playful (right up my alley!). From the styles I chose, I was pleased that the padded push-up bras made my bust look really great, and there were no visible seams underneath my shirts (despite the bras being lacy!).

The pricing was more than fair, from an $11 leopard print bra (meowww baby!) to two $25 lace push-up bras.  The quality didn’t seem bad for those prices, and I really feel like a foxy gal in them.  They also have loads of other cute & fun styles in the size range I mentioned above…which means maybe for once I can own more than 2-3 bras…

Since brands vary, sizing again can be inconsistent.  I think the leopard print bra I ordered I’ll have to go down a band size in.  The two push-up bras were different cup sizes (to see which fits better), though I’ll probably try to see if they can get the hot pink in my size ;)

The return policy doesn’t seem bad, though I always find having to request RMA’s an annoying process.  At least I can do it online!  They have an exchange policy, which is basically “ship them back, call us & re-order, and we’ll credit the shipping on the new order.”  Not my IDEAL exchange policy though…
The quest to find great bras will continue, though it’s been a blessing to find more and more stateside alternatives to Figleaves…

ashesignature

{ 18 comments }

Jaime September 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

While my sizing problems are a bit different (small band, large cup), I know the feeling of a bra being virtually impossible to find. Glad you got some that worked for you, darling!
.-= Jaime´s last blog ..Sample Sale Alert: Heartloom Denim on Gomatta Girls =-.

Meg September 8, 2009 at 11:53 am

Wow, it must be super annoying to have so much trouble finding bras that fit! I’m glad you are finding some brands that work for you!
.-= Meg´s last blog ..Best Dressed of August =-.

Jennifer Nicole September 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Like Jaime, I’ve got the small band/large cup issue, but my sister has something closer to your issue, and it’s just as hard finding a bra for her as it is for me. I’ll direct her to this post!
.-= Jennifer Nicole´s last blog ..I Got Tatted! =-.

Sheena September 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Thank you so much for that Figleaves information. Honestly, on my browser at home, I have my shopping cart full of bras and now I need to rethink the situation for the customs fees and the time it takes them to get here.

I’m a somewhat large bust and ribcage (38DDD/E), so finding a bra at a nice price point and that fits is always difficult as well. I’ll definitely check out the Hips and Curves site as well.
.-= Sheena´s last blog ..Fall 09 Wardrobe Update =-.

jennine September 8, 2009 at 8:01 pm

oh my… i’ve worked in a lingerie shop, and i think the not finding the right bra is a pretty universal problem. i always wish i was a b cup because then you don’t have to worry so much about the engineering of the bra.

i’ve ordered off of figleaves a couple of times, once from the us and once from germany, and the first time the bra went back and the second, i kept the bra but it doesn’t fit perfectly. my suggestion would be to go by brand… and to be fitted in an upscale lingerie boutique (not victoria’s secret, they don’t know what they are doing).

but really, nothing beats going down to the shop and just trying them on… bras are just too finicky that way.
.-= jennine´s last blog ..It’s Time To Dress UP =-.

Lilly September 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Thanks for the article! My plus size corset shoppe gets calls all the time from girls looking for special bras, and I highly suggest the goddess bra, even though we only carry corsets and lingerie, if you do a google search you can find a list of places that carry it!!

~Lilly
http://www.baci-farfalle.com

Ciara September 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

Great article, love! I have the same problem so I know how much it sucks – either you find a pretty bra that doesn’t fit or a heinous one you’d hate to wear. I’ll definitely be checking out some of these options now.

xoxo
.-= Ciara´s last blog ..Mixtape: September 2009 Folky Mix =-.

Queen Bee September 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Your story is exactly why I hate online shopping! I love looking but never buy. Good luck with your quest. I hope you find the perfect bra! :)
.-= Queen Bee´s last blog ..Masquerade Ball =-.

Pretty Robotic September 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm

thanks for the tips! i have this problem as well! it’s really hard to find something that’s cute, comfy, and actually fits! i might have to try hips and curves! great post!
.-= Pretty Robotic´s last blog ..Noir & Nude Now Wearing =-.

Lauren September 9, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I have an average sized bra – 34c, which is good but does mean I never get any deals in the sales! Shopes tend to underestimate the importance of fitting underwear – I just purged my whole draw and it was so refreshing!
.-= Lauren´s last blog ..Paint by Numbers =-.

Amy Rae September 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm

I know how you feel. I have a small ribcage for an average bust (I’m about a 32C) which is difficult to find–especially because I’m extremely picky about the type of bra I’ll wear regularly (for me it has to be underwire, plunge, convertible or strapless, not too much padding, and smooth under clothes). But by the sounds of it, your situation might still be worse. I hope the bras work out.
.-= Amy Rae´s last blog ..The Paranoid’s Pocket Guide to Mental Disorders You Can Just Feel Coming On =-.

Natanya September 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Great post, bra fit is terribly difficult. My first job out of school was as an assistant designer for a lingerie company and I still can’t fit myself into a bra properly. Seeing bra fittings for manufacturing in real life, made me realize what an uphill battle it is for the shopper.

My problem is the opposite of yours but I still can’t get a comfy yet supportive fit.
.-= Natanya´s last blog ..Domestic Début =-.

meg September 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Amen Sister! Thanks for the info. I have the same problem (40C), and I’ve found success with vanity fair (available almost everywhere from kohls to barenecessities) but they aren’t exactly sexy. Thanks!
.-= meg´s last blog ..Presents in the Mail =-.

brista September 16, 2009 at 9:15 pm

OMG, hey, boobie twin! And all this time I thought I was the only one. That leopard set is pretty, but I think I spy seams across the cups, which makes me nervous. I’m not a fan of the coneboob look, retro throwback though it may be.

I have the exact same issues and the exact same bra-wants as you. Something cute that fits, doesn’t cost a fortune, and DOES NOT resemble nursing bras in any way. Every online “how to measure for a bra” resource says that I am 44DD and girl, I’m telling you there is no WAY I’d fill out a DD. I just want something that lifts (sadly, despite being just a handful each, they hang low), is cute (or gasp! maybe even sexy!) and is smooth under clothing.

One of the big underwear brands (Hanes, maybe) came out with “in-between-cups-wide-band” bras and I was sooo hopeful that I would finally find my perfect bra. Then I found out they were sold at Wal-Mart in a cardboard box. But I stayed optimistic and bought one…OMG. So hideously ugly. The cups were gigantic full-coverage things. I could’ve worn one cup as a yamaka. And there was “soft” underwire which meant absolutely nothing in terms of lifting the girls. It was hideous. I returned it.

I love the Hips & Curves site so I’ll have to get something from there when I have some money. My staple Victoria Secret one is making me sad and the rest of my bras are just pathetic.

And is it strange that I like to buy matching sets? I know it’s silly, but I just feel prettier when my top and bottom match! Since most stores don’t have a lot cute matching sets to fit my body, I usually just buy everything in black.

Laura V September 17, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Are you sure about Figleaves? I’m in the US and have been ordering from them for years, and I’ve never paid customs fees, nor waited more than a week for my bras to arrive. You have to make sure you’re on the right version of the site, though.

Though it could be that, since you & I are shopping for different bras, the stuff I get is more likely to be at their US warehouse, I suppose. (I’m one of those small band size, enormous cup size people.)

Ashe Mischief September 18, 2009 at 7:01 am

Laura, I can assure you, I wouldn’t post false information on here. I could even find you the tweets I had, and others shared if I had to, where other girls reassured me it took them a month to receive their packages as well, and the ones I’m asking why the hell I have a packing slip from USPS saying I owe $45– I was particularly surprised by that, as I’ve ordered spendy things from the UK before and have never paid customs before… And I definitely used the US website!

Laura V September 18, 2009 at 10:06 am

How very strange! Because I’ve been ordering from Figleaves US since 2005, and that’s never once happened to me. International commerce, she is marvelous yet confusing.

Ashe Mischief September 18, 2009 at 10:12 am

It is really is strange! Like I said, I’ve ordered from the UK many times, and never been hit with customs charges before….even the postal man said that they were really inconsistent about charging for it… the long shipping delays I’ve faced before, but I really got worried since it did have such a tight timeline for returns!

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