Bra Problem #12: “I have a list: 1. Bat wings, 2. Four boobs, 3. Pancake boobs, 4. Underwire trying to stab through my heart, 5. Boobs trying to strangle me.”
Peeves 1 through 3 are all sort of variations on a shape theme, so let me dig into that a bit. If you haven’t already checked out Bra Problem #10, I offer some advice for taming bloodthirsty underwire there. As for the boobs strangling you, I’m picking up on some strong Carrie Fisher imagery. 😜 Anyway, the ideas of bra sizing and bra fit are frequently thrown around as synonyms. They are not; size is a component of fit, but there are other factors to consider. A bra might be properly sized, which is to say that the band circumference and total cup volume are appropriate, but the fit could still be a total disaster. How is that possible? Usually, what’s happening is that the bra shape and your unique body shape are not well-matched. The cups may be wide while you have a more narrow breast base, or they could be more spacious on top where you are bottom-heavy, etc., etc. There are countless ways that bra and body shape can prove incompatible. It’s one of the trickier aspects of bra fitting and one of many reasons why you should always try a bra on before buying it, if possible. The net result of combining these two three-dimensional objects can be tough to predict until you’re actually wearing the bra and find that something just doesn’t look right.
Your “bat wings” sound like what happens when there’s extra space in a bra cup under the arms where they connect to the band; the empty area can cause the cup to stand out or fold over. Referencing “extra space” might have you believe that this is an obvious case of cups-too-large, but that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes the side of the cups are folding at the same time that breast tissue is overflowing the center. The total area is fine, it’s just in the wrong place for that individual’s body. Foam-molded T-shirt bra cups are most prone to this behavior, along with many other shape issues, because they have such a specific pre-formed shape built into them already. Changing sizes might shift the balance but not ultimately improve the outcome. The answer is another, different style that better complements that person’s physique.
“Four boobs” likewise may just mean cups-too-small, but it could also be that the neckline (or top edge of the bra cups) lays a bit tight or angles too sharply back towards the wearer’s chest, even if the cups are otherwise proportional. I frequently wish that there was some way for the top edge of cups to be adjustable, like bra straps. “Pancake boobs” sounds like a bra that is either relying on compression for support, like some sports bras, or is overly shallow, or may be trying to create a minimizing effect. Again, on the shape front, two pairs of breasts can occupy the same amount of space, but one may carry that volume across a wider base and closer to the chest, while the other is narrower and extends farther out from the body. The latter is a “projected” figure, and a bra designed for the former would have a potentially uncomfortable and unflattering smooshing effect. Minimizer bras actually do this intentionally, spreading breast tissue out sideways instead of pushing it forward. In that case, it’s a matter of personal taste. If you are not a fan of the flattening, you have a ton of other options. The styles pictured above are two highly projected bra styles: Ewa Michalak’s “S” frame Pralinowy bra on the left and Sculptresse’s Chi Chi on the right. Both bras position breast tissue front-and-center and regular elicit remarks of “Where did all of this boob come from?!?” 😅
Note: “Bra Problems” was originally a series of Facebooks posts written in response to follower queries during the Covid shutdown of spring 2020. Our inboxes are still open, though! If you have a Bra Problem you’d like us to troubleshoot here, email your issue to email@example.com.