Back in 2012, I was going on a Selena Pilgrimage where I visited the singer's grave, memorial, and museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. I wanted a plus size crop top because it was August and I was going to Texas — so I was prepared to be the hottest I had ever been in my life.
But no matter where I looked, I couldn't find a crop top that would fit my 3X body. I decided my only option was to take a page right from Selena herself and wear a bra as a top instead. Although my bra was a simple sports bra from Walmart and not a hand-sewn gemstone encrusted bustier like Selena was known for, there was still something empowering about deciding that if the fashion retailers weren't going to make something I wanted, that I had still had the power to wear and craft what I wanted on my own terms.
Over the years, this same original black sports bra has remained intact. And even though I am now a plus size designer who makes crop tops, I still rock the sports bra. I've worn it to major fashion events and in photoshoots for my brand. I was even featured on Margot Meanie's blog as a plus size babe rocking a crop top while wearing the black sports bra. No one has ever specifically called me out for wearing a sports bra as a top, but even if they did, I'm pretty sure I'll keep wearing this sports bra til it falls apart.
Here are just 11 ways (and reasons) to rock a sports bra as a shirt.
1. When You'll Do Anything For Selena
This was a throwback post but I originally first wore the bra as a top in the summer of 2012 when I was less active on Instagram. I found this American flag shirt in the depths of my vintage clothing collection and knew that it needed to be worn with a crop top that did not exist in my size. The first time I wore this, I distinctly remember a bus driver looking at me and saying, "Well, God bless America."
2. When You Watched The "Body Party" Music Video Too Many Times
During the summer of 2013, I was obsessed with Ciara's "Body Party" music video. And even though Ciara doesn't specifically wear a sports bra in the video, there's something about the minimalism of her looks that appealed to me and inspired the ensemble that I wore to Pitchfork Music Festival where I was a vendor. I paired it with a white beach cover-up and a leather pencil skirt because, well, I was already breaking rules.
3. When You're Chasing Dreams
Before I readied myself to quit my corporate day job in Chicago to move across the country to Atlanta to pursue designing full time, I attended this event that had the most perfect photo opportunity for what was happening in my life.
One of my favorite ways to wear the sports bra is underneath see-through items like jerseys. If you wear a regular bra, you'll be able to tell it actually is a bra (which is definitely a look I've gone for, too) but the sports bra is slightly more subtle.
4. When You're Sending A Message To The Haters
I've been making body chains since I first started my business in 2012 but I never had any orders for a plus size body chain until early 2014. And when I did, I decided to put the body chain on with my beloved sports bra and send a message to the haters by referencing the sports bra as a crop top, of course.
5. When Your #TransformationTuesday Is Actually About Self-Love
When the hashtag #TransformationTuesday started to gain popularity, I was annoyed at how many of the posts I saw were about weight loss, so I decided to pair a picture of myself at my thinnest and lowest self-esteem alongside a current photo of myself plus size, happy, and wearing the sports bra, to show people that my transformation was about learning to love myself on the inside.
6. When You're About To Change The Plus Size Fashion Game
I first designed this body chain when I got a custom order for it, but I had an inkling that if I made it available in my shop, people would want it. I didn't have any models, make-up artist, or photographer available, so I grabbed the sports bra and shot the body chain on myself using my tripod in my living room. This body chain helped solidify Ready to Stare as a player in the plus size fashion community.
7. When You Start Blogging
When I sat down to plan my outfits for my first series of photos for the blog component on my website, I think the sports bra was the first item I put aside. It only seemed right to include my go-to fashion item in these photos. And even though this outfit would land me on the now defunct Fat People Hate, I will always love this look.
8. When You're No-So-Subtly Re-Creating Beyoncé's Video Looks
I came up with the crazy idea to re-create looks from Beyoncé's visual album using only clothing I already owned, vintage clothing, and items from my own line for my blog. Since Beyoncé wears a sheer black dress in "Drunk in Love," I paired this sheer shirt with the sports bra underneath. For "Pretty Hurts," a fellow indie designer created for me a custom bejeweled bustier and my Selena dreams finally came true.
9. When You're Meeting Your Plus Size Idols
I decided to go to New York last September during Fashion Week and while I didn't have any tickets to NYFW shows, I did attend a few plus size events where I got to network with plus size bloggers such as Kelly Augustine, Chante from Everything Curvy and Chic, and Lalaa Misaki, whom I had only interacted with virtually until that time. When I had to pick an outfit for the biggest event of my trip, Plus Night Out, you can bet I grabbed the sports bra.
10. When You're Making Body Chains For EveryBODY
When I decided to shoot my Fall 2014 collection of body chains on four models of four different body types, I decided it would be striking visually if we were all wearing black basic undergarments. Since I didn't have a plain black bikini, I wore the black sports bra as a substitute for a swimsuit — which at this point should not be surprising.
11. When You're Leisurely Athletic
Just last week, I wrote about plus size athleisure looks. I decided to include the bra yet again, and unsurprisingly, it ended up being my personal favorite ensemble. As I mentioned in that story, I only use my gym membership to swim — so my beloved sports bra has really never been used to actually work out. Let's hope that means it will hold up for eternity.