opusculus: Black hole (Default)
[personal profile] opusculus
One of the most frustrating things about being my size in bras is at my size, it's the engineering of the bra that makes a huge difference. Like, even if it fits me, if it's poorly designed enough it's actually worse than nothing. The most supportive bra I have ever had? That I could probably run in in a way that not even the Enell bras let me? I still have ridges in my shoulder from it, and I haven't regularly worn those bras for years. I mean, no one else could tell that they're there any more, because the indent's no longer visually obvious, but I can still feel it. And that's because the cups were brilliantly designed, in a way that I've never found any other bra capable of doing, but the back and straps were shit. The back was your standard bra back, and the straps were threaded through in such a way that they started coming out on their own if I started doing anything high impact in them, so that suddenly I'd be wandering around with my straps loose.

But the cups were brilliant. They were three layers - the top one was your normal bra shape, underneath that was a semi-rigid plastic mesh that was probably 3 inches wide, that basically served as an underwire except vastly more comfortable and flexible and durable, and the third layer was a stiffish piece of fabric that probably served doube duty as keeping your skin separated from the plastic mesh and adding a little more support. And around it was two straps that were attached to each end of the plastic mesh and to the top of the cup, that added support and separation in a way I've never gotten in any other bra. Having a layer of fabric between my breasts was awesome in the summer and I really wish someone else would do cups like that, and maybe even expand the amount of fabric in between to separately cup each breast.

And then you get something like Enell! I can't fully judge Enell, to be honest, since I haven't gotten around to ordering one of their custom ones and it isn't really fair to entirely judge them on something that doesn't fit, but. Their cups are shit. I mean, they're basically your average sport bra in shape, with the whole uniboob silhouette and an added curve right in the middle that just looks vastly out of place underneath any clothes, so they suck fashion wise. But not having any kind of separation does make a slight difference comfort wise, too, since it keeps things less sweaty in there.

But the interesting thing I realized after trying Enell was that pain-wise, it's not the cups that matter. It's the backs. The cups matter fashion wise and make a slight difference in the comfort level, but 95% of the comfort level is the back. It makes sense, when you think about it, since any article that talks about fitting bras properly will mention that you really need the proper size band, since otherwise the weight's on your shoulders and that's most the reason why bras can hurt.

And I'm fairly sure that Enell's the first bra-maker that really got that and took it too the logical conclusion. Enell's backs are pretty much full coverage, from midway through your back all the way up to your neck, and between that and the fact that it's tight around the upper body and compresses your boobs down, it really just works very very well to reduce pain.

But then, even for the bras that go all the way up to my size, there's a lot of them that don't seem to get engineering at all. Let's take Cacique's! I don't own any since their largest size is slightly too small for me, but when I looked, their engineering was shit. Their back's too narrow, their cups are too low cut, and their shoulder straps are too narrow. It probably works fine for smaller cups, but for an H-cup? (Largest cup size they carry, and the one I tried on.) It was terrible, and the fact that they're supportive also means that I bet they're damn uncomfortable.

My current bra is from Decent Exposures. Which is kind of funny, in light of this post, because the support those bras offer is basically shit! But that's why it's the most comfortable bra I own, even including the Enell. It doesn't try very hard to keep my breasts anti-gravity, it just tries to offer enough support to keep them from going down to my waist and swinging around while I walk. And the fact that it's the only bra in my size to ever offer athletic racerback style bra really helps, oddly! I think that plus size bras are overlooking something big by not offering that, since somehow, having some of the weight distributed to between my shoulderblades rather than it all being in the band or on my shoulders really helps. Which goes back to the Enell thing about a good back really reducing pain. I mean, with the elastic bottom it could never really be the most supportive on the bottom, but the racer back compensates for that really well. It's not what I'd wear to something formal, probably, since they certainly don't give me the best silhouette underneath. But for every day bras, they're easily the best I've ever tried, precisely because they don't try to offer infinite amounts of support. And the loop offers a suprising amount of separation.

(Yes, I am a dork about bras. Don't even get me started on historical means of breast support. Seriously. I'd love to be able to try out every single historical type of bra-equivalent in existence to see how well they work, and totally would if I a) knew how to sew or b) won the lotto.)

But man, I would love it so much if someone combined either Enell's back or a really good racerback with the cups on that old bra of mine, with maybe a few tweaks (I suspect that the amount of support that those cups offer would be hard to cope with with anything less than Enell's full back, which makes shirt shopping a pain sometimes, but I'd be interested in experimenting around with cloth extending downwards a few inches to try to distribute the weight over a little more territory). Seriously. I bet that would be the best bra ever.
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opusculus: Black hole (Default)

January 2012

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