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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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