Boobs a Lot, N00bs a Lot

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

(Get grateful. I could have called this post Boob Wazee. But I didn’t. Hah.)

First, for your listening pleasure, “Boobs a Lot” (the 1971 recording by the Holy Modal Rounders). Video is safe for work. The lyrics are about, well, boobs.

Speaking of boobs, I heard that Commodores song “Brick House” on the radio the other day and immediately flashed back to when I was 14 years old and this song first came out and I hated it soooo much. And I LOVED funk (still do). The music wasn’t the problem. It’s just that this was the late ’70s and the meme then was that a woman couldn’t have big breasts and a big brain — and if she ever did, like Dolly Parton, people would just forget all about the brain and stare at the OMG DID YOU SEE THOSE THINGS. (And Dolly, goddamnit, was a fucking BRILLIANT songwriter who right around that time wound up pretty much abandoning songwriting for decades, except for flashes like “9 to 5,” because she figured out she’d make a lot more money emphasizing her tits. GRRRRR. Not that I especially blame Dolly, in retrospect.) And did I mention that I’d just moved to a new town and a new school where all of a sudden I had the biggest set of OMG DID YOU SEE THOSE THINGS in the entire ninth grade? And that now, every time that blasted Commodores song about a “lady” who was “stacked” came on the air when I was out in public, I had to cross my arms — which were of course inadequate to the task? I’ll bet they never even thought about that when they wrote it, damn them. (I don’t hate the song nearly as much now, but if I want a fast Commodores number I’ll take “Machine Gun” any day.)

What’s gotten me feeling so boobie? Well, I happen to be the proud owner of a new Breast Retention Apparatus. A real one this time. With underwires that don’t poke me in the pits.

You see, my mom works for a National Department Store Chain which, miracle of miracles, happens to carry support for knobs bigger than double-D cups. As anyone who’s north of a double-D can tell you, most chain stores are sub-useless in this area. Yes, Brain Lyant, I’m looking at YOU. I like your soft cup bras (and the price) and have previously loathed every underwire bra I’ve ever put on so much I’ve uniboobed my way into your 42DD and 40DDD for years. But underwires for women creeping towards the middle of the alphabet you can’t bother to carry in your stores, even though you have them on your Web site? I don’t get it. You carry shirts way bigger than my size, but somehow nobody who wears those sizes is supposed to have a cup size bigger than a DDD that runs small, and even that cup size you have only in a few styles? (And then you wonder why you’re going broke?) So when I grumbled about this to my mom, she offered to get me a real titsling with her employee discount, and I went to the local branch of that store to try on a few and see what fit.

See, last May when I got to meet FJ and TR and Kate and Substantia and Lesley and Karen and we all went to Lee Lee’s Valise, the store’s owner, Lisa, fitted me for one of their bras, duly noting the “uniboob” effect of the one I had on. (Shut UP! It was 2 for $40!). She sized me at 38F (F? You mean there are larger sizes that don’t begin with D?), and had me try on one of the bras she carried, one that actually made me look like I had two mountains instead of one very tall speedbump. It was handmade. It was gorgeous. It was $125. It wasn’t happening. (Really, now, if almost all men wore bras, does anyone think they’d be that expensive? I doubt Bill Gates has ever paid $100 for a bathing suit.)

But still, the “uniboob” comment had haunted me ever since, and I’ve been thinking there might be a more attractive solution than cheapo ill-fitting bras from LB, especially after recently going bra shopping with a friend (who can feel free to identify herself here if she wants to) and re-reading bra posts at Shapely Prose and Bitch PhD. (Going braless just doesn’t work for me; I have extremely floppy boobs and without some kind of support they point directly south — or, one supposes, towards hell.) Granted that I work at home and thus it doesn’t really matter how my knockers look, only that carrying them around doesn’t feel like I’ve been moving pianos with one hand all day, I experimented with a Renaissance Faire-acquired bodice. It’s very sexy in a my-boobs-are-here-the-rest-of-me-is-parking-the-car kind of way. So, generally only worn at home or at Renfaire or maybe at parties where I don’t especially mind people fixating gape-jawed on my cleavage. (If they ever actually did that, that is. At my age, I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.)

I still needed something for non-boob-emphasizing Real Life Going Out Doing Errands and Junk. So I went to the aforementioned National Department Store Chain and found some bras by Wacoal, one of the brands recommended by BPHD for us beyond-all-D’s casaba carriers. I tried on a bunch of 38s and 40s, in F and G cups, since I knew I’d gained a few pounds of Remeron weight since I was last fitted. (There’s also something called an FF cup, I guess that’s also a G? Kind of like DDD is really F, except when it isn’t? Some of this letter-sizing crap just makes me wanna lie down with an icepack.) G was as high as they went in that brand. These bras cost about half as much at retail as the Lee Lee’s bra, but were still very well made. This one in a 38G seemed to fit me best. It actually seemed to have that vaunted quality of the middle plate lying in between my cleavage, or at least pretty damn close. (And I knew they didn’t have an H cup for me to try, and even if they did it probably would have been too big.) So that’s the one I asked for. And for the most part, I’m pretty happy with it. Thanks, Mom!

But I have two questions. One, why is this thing called a “minimizer,” when it actually makes my rack look even bigger than the LB cheapo bras do? And two, are you supposed to give yourself carpal tunnel syndrome from putting it on past the first set of hooks? I don’t remember it being that tight when I tried it on in the store. But I know it’s supposed to be snug, much snugger than I’ve been used to while wearing 40 and 42 bands that were too big for me. I guess the point is that it’ll stretch? And also (bonus question), is there anyone who’s a G or bigger who actually does have a bra where the middle plate lies completely flat between the breasts at all times? Mine sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t. But I’ve been attributing that to the…ah…bag of sand quality possessed by my particular boobage. (When I saw that movie I couldn’t help wondering whether someone who had once felt me up had a hand in the writing.) Am I missing something?

(Also, bonus bonus question: does anyone besides me think the Muppets doing “Brick House” in Muppets from Space was just…so incredibly WRONG? Ten years later, I still can’t scrub the image of Kermit singing about titties out of my brain.)

32 Responses to “Boobs a Lot, N00bs a Lot”

  1. lilacsigil Says:

    I’m a DDD and I’ve never had a bra with the middle plate lying flat! If you’re giving yourself carpal tunnel, do up the bra first and then pull it on over your head (I have arthritis in my hands and can’t do up a bra behind my back). Some people say to do the band up at the front then turn it around, but I can’t do that because my boobs are in the way!

    If you think your bra is not “minimising” you, get someone else to look at you. From looking in the mirror, I thought my excellent Goddess bra was giving me huuuuuuuge tracts of land but in fact all it was doing was making them sit comfortably a bit closer to my face than before. The old bra kind of squished everything down and to the sides and gave me large and weirdly-shaped armpit boobs.

  2. Boobsihazthem Says:

    Have you tried bravissimo.com ? I’d worn 38/40 F-GG cups for years and then tried them and now wear a 36/38 H-HH (in UK sizes). Panache and Freya are the brands I prefer. And yes, the gore lies flat most of the time.

    And don’t buy minimizer bras, they’re pointless and a myth. Get one that fits and be proud of your bust.

  3. The Bald Soprano Says:

    Bravissimo, much to my dismay and annoyance, only goes up to a 40 band, according to their website.

  4. wellroundedtype2 Says:

    Hi, well, yes, that friend who went shopping with you was me, and let me report back on the bra…
    It looks very nice on.
    It lifts and separates.
    There’s a jacket-y thing I bought in a Junior-plus size that looks terrible unless I wear this particular bra with it.
    It’s not comfortable, not in the least.

    I’m sort of getting used to it.

    Also, to me, while my boobs look better in it, the rest of me seems to appear squishier with the boobs up higher and away. There’s less “drape.” Now, I know that most fatshion types will tell me that the whole “drape” thing isn’t really doing me much good to begin with. But I’m limiting the use of this bra to special occasions and outfits that require a younger set of breasts.

    I almost always put on my bras upside down and backwards and then turn them around to put them on.

  5. vesta44 Says:

    I’m a 52H/54G, depending on the style of bra, and the middle plate never lays flat against my chest unless I have the bra cinched so tight that it cuts me in half. I haven’t had to worry about the uniboob caused by the bra, but by the shirts I wear (cotton t-shirt fabric does not drape, I don’t care what they say). The only bra I can find that fits (and doesn’t cost your first-born child and an arm and a leg) is an industrial one by Goddess (used to come in a leopard print, now only comes in beige, can’t even find white or black anymore). At least it costs less than $50. I ordered a bra from Woman Within and sent it right back. Made with cheap-ass stretchy lace in the top half of the cup, and thin spandex in the back where it hooks. The cups were shaped weirdly, too (I think all the manufacturer did was take a smaller bra and enlarge it, not something that generally works when making any clothing item for a fat woman). I would have been better off going braless than wearing that POS. I reviewed it on their website and told them that if they were going to carry bras for larger breasts, then they had better be sure those bras supported larger breasts. To top it all off, the prepaid UPS shipping label they sent was deducted from my refund. I’ll not be ordering anything from them again if I’m not sure how it fits and it may have to be returned.

  6. ShannonCC Says:

    I’m currently wearing a 44H though I think I need to remeasure (not sure which way but it’s not feeling right lately). I wear a Goddess bra which I’m happy with. But I can’t remember the last time a bra had the middle plate lie against my chest. Maybe back when I was a D cup in High School?

    As for hooking, I do it in front. You just heft up the boobs on your forearms while doing the clips, works for me, LOL! I can’t do them behind my back. I really don’t know how people do that but I’m apparently not that coordinated.

  7. Lori Says:

    Bras are like the bane of my existence. I’ve always had large breasts–I was like a 34DDD at 15–but I went up three cup sizes when I started nursing and my breasts never shrunk. Even when I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight, I’m still three cup sizes up. I wear around a 38J but large cup sizes vary so much that it’s hard to say what I’ll need in any brand.

    Good bras are so massively important if you have large breasts. I totally believe something I read a while back, that many of the problems associated with having large breasts are due to bras that don’t fit–people are put into bras with bands that are way too big because they’re trying to get into cups that are too small. I once picked up a couple of 44DDD bras on sale, because in the store they sort of fit, and found that after about an hour on, my back was killing me and I was getting no support.

    But, God forbid a store carries a bra with a cup size larger than a DDD. I haven’t–not even going to specialty lingerie stores–been able to try on a bra in a store since I was like 20. So I just have to do the best I can with mail-order, which is absurd because when you’re shelling out $50+ dollars for a bra, it would be really nice to not have it be a crapshoot. I would love love love for there to be a store where I could actually go and find bras in my size and try them on to get a sense of what fits best.

  8. Lori Says:

    Oh, and I actually have worn a bra that laid flat in the middle. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was a British brand. And, honestly, I thought it looked terrible. I felt like my boobs were way further out to the side than looked good. What’s the good of having so much boob if you aren’t going to have some cleavage going on? ;)

  9. spoonfork Says:

    For what my 2 cents are worth, I prefer that the plate not lie flat. That’s where I stick my highlighter when I’m studying at home and my markers when I’m labeling stuff at work (’cause they don’t fit behind my ears, that’s why).

    I know I need a fitting—not one of those ‘measuring tape looped over my sweater and tired bra I’m wearing into the store deals, but the real thing. I might be willing to do the three hours drive up to Chicago to get one . . . I’d love to have a bra that stayed put all day instead of doing the quadraboob creep every hour.

    I’d also like straps that stay on my *#$^$ shoulders. Mine keep falling down all damned day.

  10. litgirl Says:

    Ah, the Great Bra Search. I got so frustrated with mine that I actually bought a manual to make my own. (And then did nothing more than page through the book when it arrived.)

    The only bra I’ve found that has that on-the-breastbone fit is an Elomi. (I wear a 42G in that brand. Because god forbid sizing be consistent across brands.) I need to order a few more, because unlike my Chantelles, the underwire in the Elomi does not seam to have a tendency to roll inward and chew my belly.

  11. shilohmm Says:

    I’m, I dunno, an H cup now, I think. Haven’t had a bra that lay flat in the middle in years, alas, although I’ve had some that provided tolerable support. My problem with uniboob is that. when I’m driving, my shoulder belt won’t stay put. :p

  12. meowser Says:

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Bravissimo looks like a great site, and I’ve seen other sites that have a good selection, but I guess I just have this basic reluctance to spend $300 on six bras, at least five of which will be returned at $30 postage, unless I have absolutely no other choice in the matter (and I do understand that some women really don’t).

    And boobzihazthem, I didn’t buy this bra because it was a minimizer, more like “in spite of” that, because it actually seemed to fit.

  13. Buffpuff Says:

    Another vote for Bravissimo here and Freya/Fantasie bras. (They’re made by the same company but I guess Freya is the slightly more youthful/adventurous/colourful line). I also sometimes luck out with Charnos or Triumph and my most comfortable bra ever came from T K Maxx and is made by a Scandinavian company called Change. I’m a UK 38FF, (which isn’t a G), as a rule – though I do have some 38Fs, 40Es and 40Fs in my undies drawer too. If they fit properly I buy ‘em.

    Throughout my early to mid-30s I too went around with a uniboob – some cheap crap from Marks & Spencers that cost a tenner and looked like it – size 44DD, which was the largest they made at the time. I tell ya, two puppies fighting in a sack was putting it mildly.

    Since I got fitted properly I’ve had many, many bras that lie flat against my breastbone in the prescribed manner – in fact if they don’t I won’t buy them. Those that don’t lie flat always end up shifting around and doing horrible things on me after a couple of hours. But it took a long time to find the styles and brands that worked on me – and I agree with Lori that some of them do push you out to the side. I find balconette bras do that a lot.

    Shannon, I just found this website:-

    http://www.nowthatslingerie.com

    Not only do they stock Change of Scandinavia – some of the designs go up to a 44H.

  14. JeanC Says:

    As someone who swore off underwires years ago (I hated it when the wire escaped and attempted to kill me on several bras), have the blasted things gotten any better? I really do need some decent support

  15. randomquorum Says:

    You mean the middle of the bra is really supposed to lie flat against your chest?! I thought that was a myth! Cos seriously, my 32/34-F/Gs NEVER do that.

    Also, they never do that thing where your boobs don’t touch in the middle, like you see on all the actresses… LOL

    There’s only ONE shop here that stocks (a very few) bras which fit me, and they’re ~$90 each. Yeowch. I’m scared to buy bras online since I wouldn’t get to try them on beforehand, and I just know they wouldn’t fit.

  16. Dee Says:

    First time I’ve visited your site – am loving it – and I’m already compelled to leave a comment. After spending my entire adult life in cheaper bras that don’t fit, I saw the light and now must preach the bra gospel. Yes, it sucks that bigger cup size bras are so pricey, but for a critical undergarment that will last you years, it’s so worth it. I swear, wearing good bras changed my life.

    I usually buy from herroom.com. They carry several brands that do larger sizes, even some pretty ones, and have a super-useful sizing guide to the bigger-than-D cup sizes of many brands, which are not uniform at all (i.e., G cup in one brand might be the same as an H cup in another – cause it’s not confusing enough as it is).

    Fantasie and Panache are my faves (although Fantasie seems to have stopped making my size – boo!). The best bra I’ve ever owned is the Panache Tango, and I also like their SuperBra Tango II. I’m a 36J, and those do sit flat in the middle and give a nice supportive shape.

    Oh, and that site has pretty reasonable shipping fees, sometimes free shipping, and will send you an exchange for a different size at least once without charging you shipping again. Wish I could just go to the local store, but this is not such a terrible alternative.

  17. Becky Says:

    FF is British sizing. American sizing (generally) goes: A, B, C, D, DD/E, DDD/F, DDDD/G, H, I, J, K. British sizing goes: A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K KK. I wear a 36GG or 36H in the British sizing, and I do in fact have some bras that lie flat in the middle. Some of them stick out a little, which I don’t consider a big deal as long as it still provides some separation between the boobs.

    For any Americans who are interested in trying the bras at bravissimo but don’t want to pay the shipping, you can buy most of the same bras at figleaves.com, which has free return and exchange shipping. But, if you’re happy with the bra you have I see no reason to buy more expensive ones. And yes, it will stretch, but it is supposed to be very tight.

    Buffpuff, it’s funny that you say balconette bras push your boobs apart, because I find exactly the opposite, I only wear balconette bras because full cup bras push my boobs too far apart.

  18. Buffpuff Says:

    Jean C, I never found underwired bras comfortable until I got fitted properly – and even then it took me a while to adjust to how it felt to wear one. Now I don’t feel them at all.

    One thing I’d recommend is trying on many many styles in a bricks and mortar store, (if you can find one that doesn’t stop at DDD), and make a note of the ones that work on you. Then scour ebay. It’s amazing what you can find on there.

  19. Rebekah Says:

    For any of you living near (or willing to travel to) Ontario, Canada, I love the site of this made-to-measure bra-maker who teaches bra-making bootcamps and of course also sells bras made to measure. I hope to attend someday but for now I read the blog and plan to use some of the tips and patterns she’s posted to make one of my own. http://bra-makers.blogspot.com/

  20. JeanC Says:

    I guess next time I am somewhere that sells bras I’ll give underwires another chance. Unfortunately I don’t live anyplace that has anyone who does the fittings, so it will be interesting to see what I can find on my own. I really do miss department stores with the little old lady in the unmentionables department.

  21. ShannonCC Says:

    Internet seems to be my only option. Yeah, paying to try something on sucks. When I was still in the DD and DDD range I could just go to the store and try things on. Not any more.

    Anyone here also have the lopsided issue? Again, when I was in the D range it wasn’t so noticable. Now my right one is at least one cup size larger than the left. I just can’t afford to have someone hand make me a bra which is probably the only way I’ll ever get one that 100% fits.

    I really need to dig out a measuring tape and find out why the girls ain’t fitting well in the holder lately. It might be just because I wore this thing to shreds and it’s dying, LOL!

  22. Amy Eades Says:

    I love your blog. It’s funny: I always really enjoyed Brick House. To me it felt like a celebration of big sexy women until I noticed the “36-24-36″ lyric. That’s not so much of a brick house, in my opinion: more like average. But I still like the lines “she’s mighty, mighty/lettin’ it all hang out” and “she’s the one/built like an Amazon”. Plus the song has a wicked groove.

    I so totally relate to everyone’s search for a decent bra. I’m not nearly as chesty as most of you who’ve written, but I still struggle to find something with decent support that doesn’t cause me pain and/or break the bank. I second the remark about how if men had to wear something everyday, it wouldn’t be like this. Just like if the drug companies weren’t spending billions developing Viagra, we might be getting somewhere with breast cancer. Sigh.

  23. nati Says:

    wow…i haven’t had this problem…I’m a size 20 but my tits have always been manageable…

    but my buddy Laura has always complained of lopsided large tit issues…she’s Caramela in the Glamazons…she’ll be modeling for an article in Glamour magazine about lopsided tits this spring…look for it! I’m sure i’ll post a blog on it and link to this page…

    love
    nati

  24. DaisyDeadhead Says:

    If I’m not mistaken, BOOBS A LOT was written by Tuli Kupferberg and first recorded by his band, The Fugs.

    Trivia fans will note that Tony Soprano’s shrink, Dr Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) also has her own shrink, named, yes, Dr Kupferberg. (played by Peter Bogdanovich)

    It’s all terribly Freudian! :P

  25. Suzanne Says:

    I wear a 90G, which I think is a UK 42G. About five years ago, I was wised up to the effects of good support… before then, I had been doing the terrible uniband thing as well, hunching over a lot and wearing drapey clothes.

    To quote BuffPuff: “Since I got fitted properly I’ve had many bras that lie flat against my breastbone in the prescribed manner – in fact if they don’t, I won’t buy them.”

    Yes, they cost a fortune – I favour PrimaDonna and Freya (when I can get it). Am hoping to get to London to go shopping though, selection here in Germany is really meagre and I prefer to know that what I’m buying online *will* fit me.

    Hmm… am also a bit puzzled at the difficulty evidenced by many in putting bras on. I put the straps on my shoulders, bend over, “shake” myself into the cups, reach around back and fasten the clasp, and then “arrange” myself up front so things are sitting and fitting as they should.

  26. meowser Says:

    Daisy, you’re right about the Fugs doing the first version of “Boobs a Lot” back in 1965. That was when Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber, who encompassed the core of the Holy Modal Rounders, were briefly in the Fugs. My best info, though, has Weber as sole composer of the tune.

    I’ve tried WRT2′s method of putting on a bra — upside down and backwards — and it seems to work pretty well. Except when I’ve just gotten out of the shower. Oof.

  27. DebraSY Says:

    I would like to stand up in defense of the Commodore’s Brick House. She is, and I quote, “built like an amazon,” so it is clear she has a uniboob issue too.

  28. buffpuff Says:

    Suzanne, I put my bras on that way too. My mum does the thing where you put it on backwards, do it up in the front then pull it round, the slide your arms through the straps – which I find a right old rigmarole to say nothing of quite painful!

  29. meowser Says:

    I would like to stand up in defense of the Commodore’s Brick House. She is, and I quote, “built like an amazon,” so it is clear she has a uniboob issue too.

    BWAH!

  30. CassandraSays Says:

    Seconding the recommendation for Bravissimo – and right now the British economy is such a mess the exchange rate is in your favor too!. Also http://www.figleaves.com, especially when they have a sale on.

    For any bigger boobed women I always recommend the brands Freya, Fantasie and Panache. I could get into specific styles if you want but it kind of depends on your individual shape what will fit you best. Figleaves is cool in that people post reviews, so you can look for reviews from women with a similar shape and guess which styles might fit you best.

    Also once you know exactly what style and size works for you in a specific brand there’s always eBay!

  31. Enomis Says:

    I’m a 34J, and generally buy from Bravissimo or ebay (there’s a shop called Belle Lingerie that stocks a lot of the same stuff but for less, and with cheaper shipping).

    Here’s my general experience. Your bra should be tight. You shouldn’t be able to slip 2 fingers under the band. This may seem uncomfortable, but once you get used to it, it’s so much better for your back. When I wear a good bra, if I slip the straps off my shoulders, the cups still stay up and the bra keeps its shape with only minor sagging. That’s because the weight of my boobs is being supported by the band, not the straps. When your weight is supported by the straps, you will get shoulder and back pain.

    I find that Freya bras are the most comfortable for me, and give me the best support. I am narrower and have hangy boobs and squishier backfat. My good friend is 34/36H and she prefers the fit of Panache bras, as she is broader and firmer with higher, rounder, less saggy boobs.

    I hope this is helpful.


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