Saturday, January 21, 2012

Buying Bras (and sports bras and swimsuits) while Losing Weight

Losing weight in and of itself is tricky enough.  It can be an emotional roller coaster at the best of times.  But  just ti add to the fun, it can also take a rather large toll on your pocketbook when it comes to buying clothes and bras that fit.  Many women get so excited with dropping a clothing side that they forget about the basis of the wardrobe... their bras!  Especially if a woman has a large bust and bras are tricky (and expensive!) to find in her size she might put off the process even longer.  Going from being a nursing mom that weighed 240lbs to a non-nursing mom who currently weights 168lbs, I've gone through A LOT of bras (and clothing!) sizes on a pretty strict budget.  I've learned a lot along the way and am posting it here in case this helps anyone else. :)

My Official Comments about buying bras along the way...

- If you buy anything new at all during your weight loss journey BUY WELL-FITTING BRAS  (if you don't know how to be properly fitted please check out my Fitting Page!!!!).  I'm not kidding. Put aside those skinny jeans that you've been drooling over until you hit goal and buy a well fitting bra.  You just need one and, yeah, it might get you through only a month or two but TRUST ME you're going to look way better in your baggy shirts with a well-fitting bra then in well-fitting shirts with a too big bra!

Plus, when it comes to clothes there are a lot of simple alterations you can do at home to make them last longer AND definitely check out used clothing stores too, I've found some great finds!  But that's a post for another day. If you still don't believe me see below...

 Me in a well-fitting bra, too baggy shirt (see how baggy it is..)

Even though this shirt is too big I was able to make a simple alteration to bring in the waist (post still to come...) with just a needle and thread.

- Shop sales.  Brastop is great for this (especially when they occasionally have free international shipping!).  Also check out ebay UK (normally cheaper than USA) and many of the vendors there sell internationally.

- Look for places with FAST shipping.  I love, love, LOVE Ewa Michalak bras but I've learned that unless the bra is premade it can take up to a month from ordering to when I get my beloved package in the mail.  That month can sometimes mean a band/cup size that has gone down.  So, if you're going with an Ewa Michalak bra get one that's ready for automatic shipping!!!

- Get boring practical bras.  I love red lacy bras with the best of them but you NEED a basic everyday bra first before getting something sexy.  I know, I know, that Freya bra has your eye and it's just so PRETTY.  Well, use it as motivation for once you hit your goal, but don't spend $$ on it now.  Instead pick up nude T-shirt bra that can be worn underneath everything or if it's hot in the summer pick up a multi-way bra.  Think practical for the time being.

- Order a lot of bras at once in multiple sizes.  I know,  I know, it's expensive!!! But in reality you need to try on a variety of shapes/sizes especially when you're losing weight.  Then return the too big ones.  If you're close to your goal you may decide to hold on to some of the too small ones for the future but keep the tags on because you can always resell them on ebay if not.

- Buy sister sizes.  It's always better to buy something too small in the band that you can use an extender with for a short period of time than something too big.  So if you have the cups right, why not buy down a band size?

- Just suck it up and wear the same bra everyday.  Yeah, it gets boring, yeah, it stretches out faster but in reality at this point I'm going through about a bra/month or two.  After that I need a smaller size anyways so it doesn't make sense to buy a ton at one time.  When I wash my bra I just wear my sports bra for that day while it dries.

- If you've lost A LOT of weight, you might find more luck with padded/moulded cup bras, especially if you're dealing with a lot of loose skin. It'll give you better shape and uplift.  

- Buy bras with more hooks.  If you can find bras with more rows of hooks, all the better! They'll last you longer as long as you make sure to buy the bra fitting on the loosest hook (should do that anyways!!!).

- Know your measurements and measure often.  Measurements can change overnight so keep a measuring tape at home and check your bras often to see if they still fit.  Don't be afraid to adjust what hooks you're using if need be.

- Check out bratabase.  See what bras fit in your size and put in the measurements for bras that you've tried (even if they don't work!) to help others like you. 

- Consider your breast shape.  Have you had kids?  How much have you lost?  If you haven't had kids yet and haven't lost much you might have fuller breasts so something like Panache/Curvy Kate might work better for you.  If you do have narrow, longer breasts (many times a results for pregnancy, weight fluctuations, nursing etc) then check out Freya, Fantasie, and Ewa Michalak. As for other brands, I just don't have experience with them so go on bratabase to check.

- Buy seamed bras.  I'll explain in the un-official section below...

My UN-Official Comments about buying (er.. altering) bras along the way...

- Check out how to alter bras.  Basically, seamed cups are going to be the easiest for that.  Also, extenders can be you friend when it comes to getting a bra to last longer.  It's not always pretty but they can help.

- Soft cup bras are easier to alter.  I'd love to only use soft-cup bras for sleep but in reality my Frankenbra was a soft cup and it lasted me so long because soft cups have much more give when it comes to cup size.  It's not pretty but a decent soft cup bra can last  you a lot longer through multiple alterations if need be.  I'M NOT SUGGESTING THIS FOR LONG TERM USE, though.  Just if you really have absolutely no money and need a bra to last you for awhile during weight loss.  

Sports bras

The other major challenge I ran into when trying to lose weight, was how in the world would I find a sports bra that was supportive enough?  I've heard of a number of large breasted women who refuse to exercise at all at higher weights because of the pain they endured.  However, I'm WAY too impatient of a person for that.  My solution?  I did the double bra approach.  I would put on a Shock Absorber sports bra with an underwire moulded cup bra from Lane Bryant (typically one in a cup size too small so it was tighter).  It worked but it's not something I'd recommend unless you're really desperate.

There are a lot of good underwire sports bras on the market now-a-days that's it's definitely worth the effort to find one that works for you. I eventually discovered the Freya Active and haven't looked back since.  I'd definitely suggest buying a GOOD sports bra if you can.  Actually, maybe even before buying a good everyday bra... You're going to save yourself a lot of pain in the process!!!

DON'T EVEN BOTHER BUYING SPORTS BRAS THAT AREN'T IN DON'T COME IN BACK+CUP SIZES, THEY SUCK.  They have zero support and are not going to be comfortable for your breasts.   If a sports bra is sized in S, M, L etc go running and screaming for the hills!!!

Also, definitely check out Invest in Your Chest's review of sports bras for large breasted women!!!!!! 

Like I said above, though, soft cup sports bras can also last a bit longer when it comes to wear.  They're easier to squeeze into when the cups are slightly too small and even when the cups get too big bringing in the band can help.  Again, not the best approach but it'll help when you're in a pinch. 


- Buy two pieces. It's significantly easier to alter a two-piece than a one-piece.  Also if you shrink out of one you don't have to replace the entire thing.  A bottom that is too big in the waist, well, all you have to do is put a dart in back and cut off the excess.  As for tops you can follow my rules for alterations.

- Don't buy halter tops for exercise.  I know, I know, they have more give and will last longer because you can adjust the cup sizes a bit so they're fine if you're not swimming for exercise BUT they can be a huge pain if you are exercising.  They can come untied if you're doing too much vigorous exercise (ask me how i know!) and they can pull at your neck too if they're tied tightly.  They might look cute but save them for lounging around the pool, not for exercise.

- Always buy according to your bra size.  I don't care how cute the suit is, you need the support.  Plus it makes a world of difference when it comes to looks, just see here if you don't believe me.

- Like with bras, check for sales and be creative.  I posted here about buying two bikini bottoms from old navy and having them sewed together to get a high-waisted bottom that matched my top.

- Don't buy plunges, don't buy strapless, don't buy string.  Again, if you're losing weight and on a budget you want functional.  Functional CAN be pretty if you look around enough but unsupportive is not going to be pretty and you're at a big risk for a wardrobe malfunction while exercising.

- Don't forget buoyancy!  You don't want too big cups (or even slightly big cups!) when you're in the water because a combination of the material stretching while in the water and buoyant breasts is NOT a good combinations.  So if in doubt go down a cup size.

- Buy hooks if possible.  Most swimsuits/bikini tops come with a plastic latch sort of thing.  I'm not the biggest fan and you can run into problems because it's not adjustable.  However, if on a rare occasion you find a top with hooks, buy it!  I know Ewa Michalak Bond Girl comes with hooks and my dream is that they add more swim suits to their collection (preferably half cup ones!!!!) this summer. :)

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