1. Get Professionally Fitted
It's time to get yourself to a serious lingerie boutique. I've had very good experiences with Nordstrom, but any specialized shop with a wide selection of sizes and knowledgeable staff is a good bet. Knowing your correct size should make all the difference between a disappointing shopping experience and a great one.
Bra sizing is more than a question of appearance; wearing the wrong size bra can contribute to back, neck, and shoulder pain, especially for larger sizes. The vast majority of the support in a bra should come from the band, allowing your entire abdomen to support the weight of your chest, instead of relying on straps that pull and tug on weaker shoulder muscles.
2. Know What You Want Before You Shop
It's easy to walk into a store with a vague idea of what you might be looking for, only to become overwhelmed by the sheer variety of styles, colors, and sizes that are immediately thrust upon you. Shopping for DD+ bras is a serious undertaking. Before I start, I like to know not only my current size and the style of bra I'm looking for, but also the outfit(s) that I intend to wear this piece with, and the max budget I have to spend (good bras can get pricey).
Walking into a lingerie boutique armed with all this information keeps me from becoming distracted or unexpectedly splurging; it also limits the number of designs I have to try on, because getting in and out of structured undergarments can be exhausting. For example, if I know I'm looking for a multi-way or strapless for a formal event, there's really no point in bothering with full coverage or sporty styles. Setting clear expectations for a shopping session can help minimize frustration and confusion later on, giving you a better overall experience.
3. Get To Know Different Styles
The language of lingerie can sometimes be more confusing than helpful. Balconette, plunge, multi-way, demi-cup, T-shirt bra: What do all these terms even mean? And more importantly, how will these styles make you look and feel? Although at first this language can seem arbitrary and jumbled, these different bra styles are made to offer you unique benefits depending on what look you're hoping to achieve.
T-shirt bras are a great option for everyday support and comfort. These are usually designed to disappear under casual clothing, and are generally pretty simple in construction. Full coverage bras are great options if you like a lot of support and zero spillage. Balconette and demi-cup styles tend to do the opposite; they offer less coverage and push boobs up for maximum cleavage and sexy goodness; great for parties and your fave LBD, not as helpful for low-key or office environments. Finally, multi-way refers to a bra's straps, not the cups. These bras should allow you to rearrange your straps in a number of ways (i.e. crossed in the back, T-backed, strapless, etc.) so that you can get maximum outfit potential from a single item.
4. Try On New Bras Under Clothes
When you're trying on bras, don't forget to check out how different styles look under clothing. A bra that looks hella sexy on its own might create odd lines under the blouse you had planned on wearing it with, and there's nothing more frustrating than getting home with some new lingerie only to find out it's a no-go the next day when you're getting dressed for work.
5. Try A Longline
If you want some extra support without looking frumpy, longline bras are your best friend. By extending the supportive structure of the band further down your ribcage, these bras provide more stability and lift, and are often quite cute. Whether you opt for a lacy retro style or a contemporary, geometric design, longlines are a fun way to mix up your lingerie routine without sacrificing functionality.
Longlines are also wonderful when you're looking for a strapless option that won't creep down the whole time you're wearing it. The extra grip you get with this style should help keep everything up where it belongs.
6. Consider Rocking A Bralette
For the longest time, I was afraid to try bralettes and other unstructured bra options. Large breasts are not necessarily very self-supporting, and I was insecure about the way I would look without the support of traditional underwire styles. I longed for the easygoing comfort of pretty, insubstantial designs, but stuck religiously to structured, full-coverage options because that was what I was taught was "appropriate."
As I've learned to tolerate, appreciate, and love my body over time, however, I've begun to loosen up some of the fashion "rules" I was unconsciously following. I realized that I didn't need to punish or deny myself clothing that I enjoyed to make my body more acceptable to other people. If you need a pep talk on this subject, watch singer/songwriter Meghan Tonjes' life-giving rant, and remember that life is too short to be uncomfortable.
7. Invest In A Serious Sports Bra
If you include high impact activities like running or dancing in your workouts, a good sports bra is absolutely essential. Personally, I love sports bras with underwires because they make me feel more secure, but I've also heard great things about bras from Enell, which are wireless and rely on heavy compression. Whatever style you prefer, a great sports bra will hold your bust in place during your favorite activities, avoiding excessive bouncing and discomfort.
8. Check Out Lingerie Bloggers
When it comes to figuring out what brands are worth a closer look, or getting a better idea of how a certain style might look like on different types of bodies, lingerie bloggers should be a go-to. Offering everything from industry updates to product reviews to style and fit advice, these undergarment experts are a great source of information and inspiration. If you're not sure who to follow, blogs like The Full Figured Chest, Fuller Figure, Fuller Bust, and The Lingerie Addict are great places to start.
9. Find The Brands That Work For YOUR Body
First, the bad news: There's no one perfect, holy grail bra or designer I can suggest that will work for every body type, outfit, skin tone, cup size, and personal style. The good news? There are more lingerie brands now than ever, and it's more than likely that one (or more) will make the ideal undergarment for your specific needs. You might have to go through a little trial and error to find the lines that are tailored to your body type and style, but once you do, finding bras you know will fit well and look good should become a much easier task.
Some of my favorite DD+ brands include Curvy Couture and Natori Plus Support. Addition Elle does some really pretty styles in extended sizes, although my experience is that the bands in their designs run a little large. Other brands to consider include Wacoal, Elomi, Curvy Kate, and Panache, to name a few. If you want to compare several brands at once, retailers like Brayola, Bare Necessities, and HerRoom carry extensive selections.
While large busts present their own unique array of challenges, shopping for DD+ bras doesn't have to be frustrating. Try these tips to help you find lingerie you love, without the hassle.
Images: Courtesy Brands