Does your bra dig into your skin? Struggle to support your chest? Leave rolls bulging out of your armpits? There’s a better bra for you out there! Readers shared their biggest bra gripes — and we found genius solutions for these bra problems and more. Keep reading to find your new favorite bra!
P.S. Check out our roundup of the best bras for older women!
Problem: “My bra creates armpit rolls that make my underarms appear bulky, especially in sleeveless tops.”
Solution: Nix pit pudge with mesh side panels.
It’s frustrating when pesky bulges of skin near the underarms ruin the appearance of a pretty sleeveless top. The likely culprit? Wearing a bra with a thin band that’s probably too tight. “It squeezes breast tissue so it spills over the sides of a bra,” says Jené Luciani, bra expert and author of The Bra Book (Buy from Amazon, $8). Her two-part remedy: First, go up one band size. Then pick a bra with side panels that are at least three inches in height (to contain more breast tissue) and made of layered mesh (for varying degrees of both light and firm compression along the sides) to smooth out any protruding skin, eradicating lumps.
One to try: Wacoal Ultimate Side Smoother Underwire Bra (Buy from Nordstrom, $68)
Problem: “My breasts tend to fall in opposite directions, and I have yet to find a bra that brings them together!”
Solution: Rein in east-west breasts with a stretchy balconette.
Wide-set breasts tend to fall outward, leaving a wide gap where cleavage usually forms and adding torso-thickening width where they land. All it takes to pull breasts in and together? A balconette-style bra with some stretch, says Luciani. Stretchy fabrics made from a blend of nylon and spandex act like a sling to draw in breast tissue from the sides and push the bust in toward the center. And a balconette’s sturdy two-inch-thick panel of fabric beneath the cups has a shelf-like effect that props up the bosom to restore youthful cleavage. Plus, centering breasts visually trims inches from the midsection.
One to try: Bravado Pose Underwire Bra (Buy from Bravado Designs, $49 )
Problem: “The band of my bra digs into my skin and creates the appearance of back fat— even en after losing nearly 30 pounds!”
Solution: Erase back fat with a tank bra.
Surprisingly, the band of the bra does 80 percent of the work to support breasts, as the bra relies on band tension in the back to lift the bosom up in front, says bra expert Elisabeth Dale, founder of TheBreastLife.com. The downside? “No matter what size you are, if the band rides up, or digs into skin, back rolls are inevitable.” What can help: a tank-style bra. It’s strategically designed with a bra made of molded cups to shape and support breasts in front, and sturdy shaping fabric that spans from shoulders to right above the waist in back, to distribute tension over a larger surface area and leave a roll-free surface in its wake. The result: 360 degrees of gorgeous!
One to try: Shapeez Shortee Back Smoothing Bra (Buy from Shapeez, $79)
Problem: “My bust spills out over my cups, creating the illusion that I have four boobs!”
Solution: End quad boob with triangular cups.
Let’s face it. Most of us don’t have perfectly round breasts that fit easily into perfectly round cups. So when we try to “stuff ” them into the rounded design, breast tissue gets pushed up and over for that quad-boob effect, says Luciani. The genius solution: triangular-shaped cups! “The more angular design mimics the natural shape of breasts so they comfortably rest in the cups, while the fuller-coverage helps contain the entire breast from every angle.” This leaves no room for them to flow over the tops.
One to try: ThirdLove Foliage Plunge Bra (Buy from ThirdLove, $75)
Problem: “It’s hard to find a padded bra that volumizes my smaller chest without creating an artificially plumper look.”
Solution: Boost a deflated chest with graduated padding.
Aging, baby-nursing, and weight fluctuations all conspire to sap volume from breasts, causing our once-plump bosoms to look more flat than fabulous. And while push-up bras seem like the perfect solution, some can be a bit too padded. The fix: bra cups with graduated padding. “Look for ones with built-in padding that’s thicker along the bottom of cups and gets gradually thinner toward the top,” says Luciani. “This pushes breast tissue upward and inward to create more realistic-looking fullness.”
One to try: Vanity Fair Ego Boost Add-A-Size Push Up Bra (Buy from Kohl’s, $38)
Problem: “Most bras aren’t strong enough to support my heavy chest, so my boobs droop, making my middle look ok thick and causing pain in my chest, shoulders and back.”
Solution: Support a large, saggy bust with molded cups.
Thanks to menopause, our once-firm breast tissue is replaced by heavier fat that weighs down our boobs for a saggy look. And for those of us with an already-full chest, it can be quite painful to boot. “Bras with full, molded cups are best for heavier breasts because their construction provides greater coverage and holds up the maximum weight,” says bra expert Elisabeth Dale. Also, lax breasts easily conform to the cups’ preformed shape, giving them a rounder, perkier appearance that counteracts droopiness. Even better? Once the bust is lifted up an inch or two, the waist comes out of hiding, slimming the entire upper body in an instant!
One to try: Chantelle Rive Gauche Full Coverage Smooth Bra (Buy from Amazon, $75)
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.