Let’s talk about boobs, baby

October, 19 2010: I remember it like it was yesterday. Six years ago, I decided to accept my station in the “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” and give up the padded bra charade. It was the day I purchased my first bralette and knew my lingerie game would never be the same.


Photo from Hanky Panky

Let’s take a moment and talk about boobs. My whole life I have been self-conscious of my chest size. I was a late bloomer—and I swear to you when I say—all of my friends growing up were well-endowed. All of them. I know more people who have had reduction surgeries than augmentations. At slumber parties, I would complain about my flatness, and they would lament the challenges their gifts presented. *sigh* I wished for such problems.

So I bought all the padded bras. The more padding the better. When Victoria’s Secret came out with the Bombshell Bra, promising to add two cup sizes, I thought my prayers had been answered. But the problem wasn’t’ just that wearing padded bras isn’t particularly comfortable or required more drawer space—wearing them feels like I was living a lie—to myself and others.

And then came that glorious October day.  I was in New Orleans for work and it was the last day of a fairly stressful 10 day trip. I had some free time and was walking Magazine Street, alone and feeling sorry for myself. I popped into a super funky boutique and saw the cutest bra/panty duo in leopard print. It was from Betsy Johnson Intimates and came with boy shorts…and a bralette. It was a little pricey, but something about that set spoke to me. And after days on the road—I felt like I deserved a treat—so it was mine. I brought it back to my hotel room and decided to wear it to dinner that night. Taking off the pounds of foam and replacing it with two triangles of cotton—not even any underwire or lining—felt like I was removing years of the shame I had of my body. Perhaps it was exhaustion from the trip or maybe the mystical magic of NOLA, but I felt amazing. I haven’t bought a padded, push up bra since.

In full disclosure—I do still have some slightly padded or thickly lined bras that I’ll wear—especially under sweaters or t-shirts that I feel just need a little something extra. But for the most part, my underwear drawer is filled with bralettes in a variety of colors, fits and fabrics. I generally steer away from ones that feel too much like wearing sports bras. I purchased the popular Calvin Klein set, but I don’t wear it that often.  I feel like it gives a uni-boob effect and it’s a little too heavy.


This set is cute, just not quite right for me.

Mostly I gravitate toward triangle shaped cups—but I have a number of favorites in a range of styles. Since I tend to keep items in my collection until they are hanging by threads, many of my top options aren’t available anymore. In those cases, I have found some comparable alternatives to I’m excited to share with you.

Hanky Panky

My favorite bralettes are definitely by the brand Hanky Panky.

These lace numbers are available in a variety of colors, sizes and designs that they switch up seasonally. Right now, they have a Rocky Horror Picture Show series.  My favorite was from the LAMB collaboration, but I have quite a few from their signature collection. The triangle bralette is my general go-to, but if you like a little more support, the Valerie has more lining. They can be pricey, so check out their sale section for more affordable options. I haven’t tried this mesh one, but I’m seriously considering it.


American Apparel

Speaking of mesh bralettes, when American Apparel was on State Street, I found one of my favorite sets: a pink mesh number. And while you can’t walk down and try it on, it’s still available to order online. The Nylon Spandex Micro-Mesh Triangle Cross-Back Bra (that’s a mouthful!) is extremely comfortable, affordable and very sturdy. It’s available in a range of colors, but I would recommend sizing up. I’m generally a medium, but I got this one in a large.


Target is another excellent option for affordable pieces. I recently grabbed this mesh/cotton one, which has become a new favorite, and this long line lace crop number. They both wear comfortably and have held up fine under numerous washing. (and no–I never use a lingerie bag–even though I know I should.)


At $12.99, this is an incredibly affordable lace bralette option.

The fancy ones

If you are in the market for something a little fancier—and aren’t afraid to throw down some cash—Cosabella has beautiful stuff. I’m especially fond of their front closure bralette which is a unicorn in the bralette world.


Only Hearts, Clo Intimo and Eberjey have some unique items that are incredibly styled. I watch these items for when they go on sale through Shopbop.

The moral of the story: whether you’re an AA or a DD cup—it’s extremely freeing to embrace the body you have—and realize the grass is always greener in all things, including boob size. For everyone like me that wishes she had a little extra, there’s someone who wishes she had a little less. And while I still suffer from a pretty serious case of tit envy, finding undergarments that make me feel good have gone a long way in helping me on that seemingly lifelong journey toward self-acceptance.

Who knew dumping the pads would have such a big impact on me? Do you have bras that you love? Care to share your boob stories? Please share them in the comments section below.

My lingerie drawer is filled with items I purchased with my own money. All photos are courtesy of the brands’ websites.

12 thoughts on “Let’s talk about boobs, baby

  1. Long live the bralette! I gave up on underwires a few years ago (never wore padded bras – didn’t want to live a lie) and only regretted not having done it sooner. I actually don’t wear a bra at all most of the time – I just can’t be bothered to care about people who might be upset about my nipples. But when I do, my two lacy Target bralettes are what I grab (unless my top calls for something smoother and more “invisible”). I believe they were actually labeled as training bras when I got them.

    I too have always had some pretty serious tit envy, but I’ve also come to love my little ones more and more as time goes on. Things various partners have said have let me know that they are appreciated, which makes me appreciate them more. 🙂

    • I love going braless in the summer–it’s one of my favorite things about the summer months. Perhaps the next step in my boob journey is to try doing it more often!

  2. Oh man, these are my dream! As soon as we’re 100% done with kids (and I can swing the recovery time), I’m getting a reduction and buying all these cute bralettes!

  3. The best bra moment I have ever had was going to a shop in Madison that specializes in bra fitting. I had no idea what a difference it can make to wear a properly fitting bra. Contours Lingerie on Mineral Point road is small and intimate and the women there really know their stuff. The bra size I had been using forever was completely wrong. There should be no pressure on your shoulders! Who knew? Once they’ve figured out your exact size and the type of bra you are looking for, they disappear and come back with zillions of choices. The first time I tried on a properly fitting bra I cried. I had no idea what a difference it would make. The woman there said that’s why she does this. OFTEN women cry when they realize what a difference it makes to how they FEEL, let alone look. Just a great moment.

  4. I didn’t have a size compliant, it was my shape that was the issue. Since I was 17, my boobs have been a little saggy. I figured I could utilize padded bras until I got a boobjob. Then when I was 28, we (me, my SO, and our son) were going out to dinner with my SO’s family. Getting ready, I was complaining about having to wear a bra, which is typical of me. Thinking he was just being flirty or pervy, he suggested I go braless. But he kinda seemed disappointed when I gave the suggestion a prudish “no.” Flirting back, I agreed to it. So, trying to keep it classy, I wore a pretty camisole, a nice cardigan, and no bra. Besides the comfort and freedom, I felt incredibly feminine and empowered – super unexpected. Since then, I don’t go braless frequently, but I have ditched all of my padded bras for unlined ones and bralettes. It feels great to just accept my boobs as they are, and let them do their thing.

    • I love this story so much! And it shows how much of our insecurities are only in our own minds. We definitely need to be kinder to ourselves–and I’m glad to hear moving away from the padded bras was a step toward self-acceptance for you, too. <3

  5. Hello! I have an OLD bralette, so old that when I bought it, it was called a “day bra.” I needed to replace these so this blog post came at the perfect time. But everything I saw at Target or online looked like it wasn’t bold enough to handle my DD frame. As I’m a lucky girl, I was in DC for work and my hotel was right across the street from Bloomingdales. I tried on ALL THE BRALETTES!!! Everything Cosabella was so pretty, but even a size L didn’t come close to understanding the voluptuous gift that I was offering it. For me, Wachol was the best; I bought three! And, as long as I was at Bloomingdales I managed to find all sorts of other stuff too.

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