Bra Problem #13: “Good summer bras! I wear only tank tops from May to October. Most bras can be seen from the arm hole area and/or the neck area of my tanks! Another problem I have is when I wear racer back style bras – the straps always seem to show around the neck area of my shirts. Also, they are always so uncomfortable! They dig into my arm pit area and put tension on the back of my neck. But I love the lift it gives me!”
It’s July in Georgia as I’m writing this, which puts us smack dab in the middle of the annual “Great Sweatening.” 🥵 Hot weather can absolutely affect the practicality of some bra styles, depending on your activities and personal preferences. For the situation described above, consider trying a bra with an adjustable J-hook over a traditional racerback. As described in my post on preventing strap slippage, a J-hook is a built-in piece of hardware on certain styles that allows you to pull your straps into a racerback configuration. What’s nice about a J-hook is that it gives you options; you can wear your straps conventionally or clip them together. Additionally, the hook usually slides up and down and can be repositioned to fasten low between your shoulder blades, as high as the base of your neck, or anywhere in between. It might take a bit of experimenting, but you should be able to find an optimal position for both hiding your straps *and* avoiding neck strain. I suspect that a mid-back J-hook position might be a big improvement over what you’ve been experiencing.
Your mention of both the band showing through the arm holes of your tank tops and the digging in at the armpits make me think that you might have a relatively short torso, which is causing parts of the bra to come up higher on you than average… Whether or not that’s the case, the solution is going to be a band & underwire combo that rests lower under your arms. The height of this part of a bra may be influenced a bit by bra size, but primarily it is a style-specific trait. Again, a bit of trial and error may be necessary here because it’s difficult to predict exactly where the band is going to land on a particular body, given how much our torso dimensions vary. It’s one of the weird ways in which your bra fit can be affected by parts of your anatomy well beyond the breasts. Fortunately, band height and coverage is different on almost every style, and there’s almost certainly one out there that will do the job. In fact, more bra designs cut low than high because absolutely no one wants a bra rubbing or poking them in the armpit.
Lastly, I’ll throw in that your bra material can impact your comfort level when it inevitably gets hot and humid. An unlined fabric cup bra is going to be a lot less sweaty than a thick foam-molded T-shirt bra. Pictured on the left above is Parfait’s Shea unlined plunge bra, which uses a layered mesh cup construction. If you prefer a seamless profile, though, consider a “spacer” foam bra which is a much thinner, lighter, and more breathable alternative to traditional molded cups. The style shown above on the right is the Cari spacer bra from Panache, which includes a fully adjustable J-hook to boot.
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.