How To Tame Big Tatas: Part 2by Jennifer Blake
Growing up, I knew there were some girls who begged their moms to take them to the department store for their first bra. They would beg and plead, only to be gifted with a training bra, if they were lucky.
I was not one of those girls.
Training bra? Psshht, 12-year-old Jenny didn’t even know what that was and skipped right over training camp to play in the majors. (That’s me, but you can call me JVB now. Please.) My first bra was a white polyester full-coverage monstrosity that pilled after the first washing and I was convinced everyone at school could see every nubbin outlined under my shirt. It was too much for my young brain to handle, and I did not want this so-called gift. Growing up in the thick of ’90s grunge meant I could hide my breasts under layers of thermal and flannel shirts, but being tasked with running the mile in gym class had me asking for a pass to head to the nurses office with a headache.
Happily, my mental and emotional development has since caught up with my body, and I no longer feel the need to cover up — and in fact, I can’t: I am now a personal trainer who sprints, jumps, and lifts, and I need a bra that can hang, so to speak.
I wrote about my first run of sports bra trials and the feedback I received from it was fantastic. (Thank you for that, by the way!) But it turns out I made a grave misstep; one for which I kicked myself after. I haven’t met many women that beat my 34E’s, but unfortunately, that was the largest size for almost all the bras I reviewed the first go-round. The Ta-Ta Club has spoken and I knew I could do better. And bigger.
So I’m back at it, this time with a slew of new bras in sizes that range from a B cup all the way to K. One of them actually fits a bust size up to 60 inches and rib size up to 53 inches. I’m here for you and your ladies, ladies, because like I said in the original boobs post, friends just can’t let friends wear bad bras.
It’s worth a quick mention that my fave bra from the first trial was a surprising winner: The Knockout Front Close Sports Bra from Victoria’s Secret. It lifts and separates and when I undo the zipper and front clasp after a workout it does this:
Hahahahahahahaha…did I sell you on it?
But really. Let’s get down to booby bizness. (I’ll wait. Exploding cats are mesmerizing.)
Buying this bra highlighted my No. 1 rule when it comes to bra shopping: Go to the pros to get fitted. Rule No 2: There is no other place to get fitted than a Nordstrom department store. Even though I always leave with a full shopping bag and only a hazy memory of happily handing over my credit card, when it comes to customer service, Nordstom is doing it right.
On this visit I was paired with an associate named Marie who was so sweet I wanted to crawl into her lap and let her pet my head while I told her all about my long day at work. In a jiff she had me whipping off my shirt so she could recheck my bra size (anything you say, Marie!), and when she saw the bra I was already wearing, a pretty lacy number from Chantelle that I have in three different colors because it’s sexy, comfortable, and fits like a dream, she said, “You know, they make a sports bra now.” Ding ding ding ding!
A moment later, Marie was back with the Chantelle High Impact Multi-Way Sports Bra. Once I tried it on, I was sold, but here are some pertinent deets you need to know:
- The band sizes range from 30-42 inches and cup sizes from B-G.
- It’s an underwire sports bra with straps that can be worn over the shoulder or hooked in the back, racerback style. This is a must for me. Racerback or go home, because better to show off them traps, you know?
- The fabric is soft, breathable microfiber and it feels close to wearing a regular bra, not body armor.
- Despite that, the support panels below the cups helps to anchor the bra to the body, leaving you feeling snug and secure.
- It’s cute! It comes in black, white, and orange, and I chose black. The baby blue stitching on the straps is a nice little style detail if you like that sort of thing.
What I like to do in this bra: Strength training and metabolic circuit training. (Lift Weights Faster, anyone?) The support is adequate for low- to highish-impact activities (all the way up to jump squats and box jumps), and it’s comfortable enough to wear all day but, despite the bra’s name, if you choose to run in it, don’t blame me if you stop traffic. (Know what I’m sayin’?)
Here’s what I like about the Freya website: they OWN boobs. They take that 12-year-old girl in the pilled bra and the teenager covered up in flannel and say to her, “Breasts are wonderful! And look at all the ways we can take care of them for you!” For example, click on the “Ask The Bra Doctor” tab on their website to submit any bra-related question and the Bra Doctor will be right with you. (Or in a day or so, more likely.) Underneath the submission form is a list of recently asked questions of said Bra Doctor, where you’re likely to find the answer to anything you can think of.
And if you like science, Freya has that too! They’ve been working with a breast health specialist team at the University of Portsmouth, conducting the most extensive breast research project ever undertaken. Who knew such a thing existed! Anyway, here’s what you need to know about this bra:
- Band sizes run from 28-40 inches and cup sizes from B-H. (There is another bra on the site that I did not try that runs all the way up to a K cup.)
- The study at the University of Portsmouth found that independent movement was reduced by 93 percent, strain was reduced down to 1 percent, and pain was reduced by 97 percent when wearing this bra. (Independently moving breasts have a mind of their own. Can’t have that in a sports bra!)
- The underwire bra has fabric has breathable mesh panels and straps that can be converted to racerback. Another win for me!
- This bra feels much more like breast armor. It’s not super comfortable, but I know my tatas aren’t going anywhere. Like…anywhere.
What I like to do in this bra: This has become my go-to for my highest-impact activities, such as sprinting or interval jogging. This is the bra I was jumping around in on Instagram the other day, and it is sturdy. It’s not a bra I would be comfortable wearing for a long period of time, but for workouts where I have to do anything more dynamic than deadlifing, it’s perfect.
I love the products at panache.com. Their bras, sports and otherwise, are so well made, and their swimwear tops also come in bra sizes that are cute, comfortable, and full coverage, meaning no spillage over the tops and sides. This sports bra, also available in a non-wired version, was the winner of sports bra brand of the year at the UK Lingerie Awards 2012 & 2013. Here’s what you need to know:
- This bra is available in band sizes ranges from 28-40 inches and cup sizes from B-H.
- The shape is super smooth so it looks nice under tighter tanks and the wide padded straps and silicone wrapped wires are comfortable on your shoulders and won’t dig into your ribs.
- The straps can be converted into a racerback-style. Are you seeing a trend here?
- It’s available in many colors, including pink and purple, and looks great peeking out from underneath the looser tank styles that are trending right now.
What I like to do in this bra: Score another win for high-impact activities! You’ll be able to run like the wind in this bra in style without boob bounce discomfort. No independent movement here! Plus when I wore this bra racerback style it gave me so much lift I felt like I was in my 20’s again, pre-baby. Sexaaaayyy.
OK, the three bras above are what I equate to the sort of underwear you wear three weeks out of every month: they’re pretty, functional, and flattering. The Enell sports bra is the equivalent to the underwear you wear during period week. The week you forgo your pretty pairs for their super-comfy-gets-the-job done counterpart. That’s right: The Enell Sports Bra is equivalent to your granny panties.
But we need granny panties sometimes, right? (Well, many of us do.) The Enell Sports Bra is all about function, and boy does it function. Here’s what you need to know:
- This is the bra for fitting every size: Band sizes range from 27-53 inches and bust sizes from 32-60 inches. There is even a sizing video on the website and if you truly can’t find a size that works from you, they will make you your own custom bra. All you have to do is give ’em a jingle.
- The straps are thick so there is absolutely no digging into your shoulders and the coverage is more than ample, so much so that unless you don’t mind the front of your bra showing a good two inches above the neckline of your workout tank, you’ll have to wear it with a t-shirt.
- There are also no underwires yet the patented design eliminates bounce, making it great for high-impact activities.
- The design has what the website calls a “full back” so there are no straps at all. No straps means no back fat or as like to call them, “back bubbles.”
- The fabric is 90 percent lycra and 10 percent spandex so after a sweaty workout, things can get a little slippery in there.
What I like to do in this bra: Everything! It’s a great bra for any activity, because like I said, it gets the job done. You may not feel super ornately decorated while you’re getting that job done, but if that doesn’t matter to you, you’re going to love this bra.
And The Winner Is
In my first review of sports bras, I had a favorite and some not-quite-favorites. This go-around I cannot pick — they’re all wonderful! But what I really, really love are the lengths each brand goes to build a bra that will fit a wide range of sizes, be suitable for a broad range of activities, and encourage every women to embrace their unique shape.
Every one of these brands celebrates women in all their breast-ly glory, with the intention that no woman, no matter the size of her breasts, should be prevented from doing any sport or activity she wants to do. And that is something this former flannel queen cannot get enough of.
[In case you missed it, here’s Part 1, where JVB reviewed five bras that go up to size E in “How to Tame Big Tatas.”]