Editor’s note: One of the first posts I ever wrote for this site was called “How to Get Bigger Boobs,” where I reviewed several sports bras that enhance one’s (OK, my) “barely B cup” status. I got quite a few comments from women thanking me for the recommendations, and also some comments from those bestowed with large breasts, asking for recommendations for them.
Not being an expert in this arena, I called in my big-torpedoed buddy and fellow coach at The Movement Minneapolis, Jennifer Blake, to review an array of options to suit a thoroughly bodacious bod. I’ll let her take it from here….
I have a few rules I live by in life.
1) Always use your turn signal — before you turn, not while you’re turning.
2) Never order hamburgers in a Chinese restaurant.
3) The higher the hair, the closer to God (because I am a child of the ’80s and I will live and die by the scent of Aqua Net).
4) There are two things worth dropping a pretty penny on: jeans and bras. Get the right fit in these two items and you will have a new lease on life. But since denim deserves an article of its own (yes, there are jeans out there for your quadzillas!) today we’re here to talk about the latter: taming big tatas.
Because life is too damn short to waste time wearing an ill-fitting bra.
My Boobstory (Like History, But For Boobs)
The booby fairy payed me a visit at the ripe old age of…10 years old. Yes, that’s right. There I was, standing next to my mom, drowning in utter mortification as she held up bra after beige-colored bra. “How about this one? No? What about this? Jennifer Dawn, get a grip, please. And get out from under that nightgown rack.”
You guys, it was awful. I mean, I was a kid, but…I had boobs. And everybody noticed. But hey, I’m not here to unleash my emotional baggage even though there was no “pre” in my pubescent years, and I had no idea why the boys in my fifth-grade class were always betting me that I couldn’t touch my elbows behind my back. That’s old news and you’re not my therapist. But, I did learn something from a very early age: Girls with big boobs were tasked with wearing the worlds ugliest bras.
When I was a kid, I got away with wearing cottony sports bras. But as I grew and developed, the cruel reality presented itself: I had three colors to choose from, beige, black, and white. The straps were wide and thickly padded. Fastening up the four-plus hooks in the back felt like putting on body armor — but on the plus side, my mom never had to worry about some boy unsnapping my bra with a flick of his fingers. Nope, no one was getting past this gate.
Luckily, the lingerie world has caught on to the fact that women with big boobs like to feel pretty in their undergarments, too. My drawers are happily filled with laces and patterns of all different colors and styles. But, when it comes to sports bras, those cotton/spandex racerback shelf bras just won’t hack it anymore. And I refuse to wear two. If you are still wearing two sports bras I’m going to need you to stop that, stop it now. Right now. One, it’s not working; your boobs are still bouncing around in one giant mass and you’re not fooling anybody. Two, there is a better world out there.
I’ve traveled down the yellow brick road of sports bra testing and have been to The Land Where Effective, Non-Uniboob Sports Bras Live. Lemme take you there, because like I always say: Friends don’t let friends wear bad bras.
So, just how big are they, JVB? (FYI, this is the only time where you can talk about my bra size and not have things get weird.)
After years of cramming myself into bras that were to small for me — I claimed to be a 36D for years because anything bigger than that scared the crap out of me — I finally put my big girl pants on and went to the Nordstrom lingerie department to get measured. This is key: Take your friends and make it a party (plus, Nordstom is really cool and will go the ends of the earth to make their guests happy), because repeat after me: FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS WEAR BAD BRAS. If you don’t get the right number, you’ll never find the right bra and then you’re right back at square one: stuck in two spandex sports bras from the sale rack at Target. No.
So what’s my size? Oh, that’s right. I’m a 34E. Or 34DDD, depending on the manufacturer. For those not in the know, let me bring you in: the 34 is the diameter of my ribcage. The E/DDD is my cup size. This is why I was able to cram myself into the 36D’s — the band size gave me some wiggle room…some wiggle room to fall right out of the bottom, that is.
And that is not OK, not anymore, because I am no longer 10 years old. I’m 37, and I am a powerlifter. I do hill sprints for cardio and handstands for fun. I can’t get away with the wrong size anymore and since I’m all grown up, I don’t want to. I want to feel comfortable, supported, and sexy in and under my clothes. Even at the gym.
“Maia Sports Bra” by Moving Comfort: $54
The first bra I tried was the Moving Comfort Maia sports bra. When you head to the Moving Comfort website, you’ll see they are alllll about getting you into the right sports bra. You can get right down to business and shop by cup size, so no wading through a bunch of products that will end up being a no-go. The site offers two sports bras for my size and since I prefer underwire that narrowed it down to one, the Maia. If you do not like underwire, you might prefer the Jubralee (doesn’t that sound festive?) style instead. I didn’t test the Jubralee though, so I can’t comment except to say it’s the only other sports bra on that website in my size.
What I Loved: Oooooh, this bra was super comfy. Yes, the straps are thick but I let that go in the name of support. This bra relies on encapsulation and compression of the breasts so it lifts and separates! Seriously, though, the underwires prevents the dreaded uniboob and the nylon/spandex overlay provides nice coverage, preventing any spillage at the top. It’s sleek and I felt supported, not smushed. A tip for you, pulled from the Moving Comfort website: A full bust fills out this bra’s cup construction best. Ideal for women who are especially full breasted at the top and sides.
Yes, full breasted. This is me. But how did it stand up to a workout?
Well, many sessions of deadlifting, swinging, squatting, and sprinting I have to say: great! No leakage, shifting, chafing, or spillage. This would be the winner, hands down, but for one, eensy, teensy, totally vain problem.
What I Loved a Little Less: It’s not a racerback. I know, dumb! But you guys, all of my gym tanks are a racerback-style. Better to show of them traps, you know? And I grew up with my mom telling me that letting your bra straps show is tacky and cheap. Yes, I know that shouldn’t matter and she might be a bit stuck back in the ’50s (sorry, Mama). Yes, I know that no one cares one hoot if my bra straps show, especially in the gym. I totally get that this is my own first-world hang-up. I’m working on it, I really am.
But back to you: if you wear over-the-shoulder tanks or t-shirts — or if you’re a better person than me and just don’t give a lick — you’re going to love this bra. It comes in several different colors and is available for those of chests large and small.
“Trade-Up Sports Bra“ by Title Nine: $79
Once I fully recognized my issue with non-racerback sports bras, I set out to find a racerback that would do me well — pretty tricky since it’s common practice to make fuller-chested sports bras with the traditional over-the-shoulder straps. But those of us faced with adversity persevere, right? Right. And my search led me to the Title Nine store in Edina, Minnesota. I reached out via email and set up a meeting with Jennifer Fritz, their regional manager. She told me she had just the thing, but that she wanted to meet with me personally to guarantee the right fit.
I love getting personal attention. Really, who doesn’t?
When I arrived, she had already pulled several bras for me to try — this was easy because I had already given her my size info. Off to the dressing room I went, to strip down and wrangle myself into piles of moisture-wicking tata tamers. Picture garments flying up above the dressing room walls and Jennifer dashing back and forth to the racks and back! Oh, the madness!
Actually, that never happened. Jennifer knows her stuff too well for that, plus her calm demeanor gave no hint of the inclination to dash. And because of her due diligence, the winner was waiting in the dressing room for me before I even walked in the door.
The Trade Up Sports Bra is 89 percent polyester and 11 percent spandex. All that poly might be scary, from a sweat standpoint, but the layer of mesh that runs down through the cleavage area takes care of the worry.
What I Loved: This bra has very little stretch to it but because I had the right size, I didn’t feel like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. This is a compression bra with no encapsulation, so, no underwires. Somehow the magical design avoids the uni-boob in the absence of them. And it also performed the best out of all the bras I tried when it came to more dynamic movements like sprinting and jumping. Plus — racerback for the win!
What I Loved a Little Less: Finding the right bra is a very individual process; my body is not shaped like your body. Hence, you may not have been blessed with ginormous traps like me! The only thing I loved less about this bra is that it would cut into my traps just a little bit, especially after a heavy workout. If you haven’t been gifted with linebacker traps like me, however, this probably won’t be an issue for you. But it’s worth it to jump around a bit when you take the bra for a test drive, just to check.
OK, so now I’m really figuring this out: racerback style, with a little stretch for comfort. Enter the next candidate.
“She-Fit Sports Bra” by She-Fit: $70
I really like the She-Fit website. The first image you see, right at the top, are a group of women of all different sizes and colors sporting the She-Fit bra. And it makes sense, because this is a bra that can be tailored to your own unique physique.
You guys. There is an instructional video on how to put yourself into this bra. And it’s not superfluous — I found it very helpful and I highly recommend watching it, whether you get the bra or not.
What I Loved: This is a serious bra. You are strapping on serious armor when you get yourself into this baby. It still managed to be very comfortable, however, and I really loved how I could custom-fit the bra to my shape (you’ll see what I mean when you watch the video). The fit was flattering, even though there were no underwires. The black and pink is super sassy and the bra performed really well in all my gym shenanigans. The bounce was there, but minimal. And no discomfort in my traps, either; the spandex count is a bit higher in this one. I also really liked the front zipper feature, but that might be because when I unzipped the bra post-workout I burst out of it like ground sausage bursting out of a cut casing and I thought it was really funny. I’m really mature.
What I Loved a Little Less: That zipper, though, it’s thick. You could clearly see it and the slider through my tank. But that’s such a little thing that if you’re not a tank addict like me, it probably won’t be an issue for you.
“Knockout by Victoria’s Secret Front-Close Sport Bra“: by Victoria’s Secret $59.50
Truth be told, I felt like I was doing really well in this search! I’d put three great new bras in my rotation and none of them looked like something my deceased — albeit sassy — grandmother would wear. I would have been happy to end there be it not for one fateful trip to the mall to pop into Victoria’s Secret, of all places.
I have nothing against Victoria’s Secret. Well, nothing except that I’ve never been able to find a bra that really and truly fits me in that store. Not ever. I gave up searching there years ago and narrowed it down to a place I went for underwear and cute, comfy pajama pants. But I still get the Victoria’s Secret catalogue (seriously, they are so tenacious with this, they’ll probably deliver it to my grave) and this bold statement caught my eye on the cover: “The World’s Number 1 Bra Brand Introduces The Best Sports Bra Ever.”
Such a claim! I had to investigate.
As it always is in that store — and I’m not complaining, good customer service practices are always on my radar — I wasn’t in there two minutes, digging through the shiny, white-lacquered drawers, when I was approached by an associate.
“What can I help you find today?”
“Hi! The best sports bra you’ve got. 34DDD, please.”
Seconds later, she was piling three different bras in my arms and propelling my towards the dressing rooms. There would have been a fourth but Bree, as she later introduced herself, took one back saying, “You won’t love this one, you’ll like the other three much better.” I trusted her. Besides, there was no way I was going to be able to find these bras on my own, not in that maze of drawers.
Off I went, skeptical yet hopeful. And ladies, drumroll, please: We have a winner!
Here’s a pic of me in my new favorite bra:
Hahahahahaha, just kidding. I’m not a supermodel. But I kind of feel like one in this bra.
What I Loved: I love that it has the underwire cups to separate my bust while still having the top front-zipper closure. It’s racerback, the straps are super easy to adjust even after you’ve put the bra on, and the zipper is small; you can’t see it though a shirt.
During a workout, I don’t pop out the top and the straps don’t dig in. The bounce is minimal, but here’s the deal: you’ll never find a bra for a big bust that completely eliminates the bounce. I’m just looking to not hit myself in the chin and this bra has me covered, so to speak.
Plus, it is damn sexy. And comes in 20 of the cutest colors. And, it was on the lower end of my bra price range. Happily, it doesn’t feel like it cost less.
What I Loved a Little Less: Nothing. I’m just trying not to order it in every color now. Victoria’s Secret…who knew?
Note: We’ve also heard good things about the Ta Ta Tamer from Lululemon and Athleta’s selection of sports bras for large-breasted women, but regrettably, none quite fit my bill, if you know what I mean.
Leave your own favorites — along with a brief explanation of why you like them — in the comments section below.
[If you loved this post, don’t miss the follow-up where JVB reviews four MORE bras that go up to size K in “How To Tame Big Tatas: Part 2“]