Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's All Academic

A while ago, Miss Cavendish emailed requesting a recommendation for a really good unpadded sweater bra, one that contains the evidence (as it were) while highlighting her actual - un"enhanced" - shape. I had no idea what a challenge this is for a woman of small-moderate breast size (34B, for example) until I started looking. I mean, the world is your oyster if you want something with lace and seams - but yikes on the "real", smooth look.

Different women aim to achieve different shapes under the sweater but I'm with Miss C in desiring a seamless, lifted silhouette - one that contains the "pop out nipple" effect which many of us experience in the chilly winter. Thing is, just about every such bra for the smaller breast seems to contain some padding "enhancement" a) to give extra shape and b) to hide nipple protrusion. Giving extra shape is often a euphemism for adding the perception of a cup size to one's frame. Personally, I don't want my boobs to look any bigger than they are. I can totally understand why Miss C doesn't either.

Y'all know I have large breasts. Padding is not something I entertain under any circumstances. And bras, as they size larger, reduce padding or kill it altogether. I recognize that padding achieves a couple of easy effects for the small bust, but if you don't want to make your breasts look a size larger and you do want to stay seamless, your options seem slim.

What's a chic professor to do?

I'm going to suggest a couple of possibilities (below) that may do the trick- based on my reviews of product specs or knowledge of the brands. Needless to say, I'm not an expert on this and as I've been work-fixated lately, I haven't had a chance to check out the shops and feel the goods.

Bra Queen
provides some excellent reviews of many bras (though I didn't find an answer to this particular conundrum there on quick inspection). But I'd also like to appeal to you - bra wearers of the world.

Do you have a bra that provides support without a lot of padding - one that keeps the shape without augmentation? We'd really like to know.

In the meanwhile, here are my suggested try-ons.

Chantelle Ultra Invisible T Shirt Bra

This brand makes good quality bras and this one seems fitted - perhaps almost teflon-coated. It's referred to as very lightly padded - looks more molded to me. Note: It doesn't fit the model well, but that doesn't mean it won't fit you.

Fantasie Smoothing Underwired Balconette Bra

Disclaimer: Fantasie is an excellent brand but it specializes in larger sizes. This one appears to be available in 34B (smallest size) but may be hard to find unless you order it. Also note: Couldn't find a decent photo of the beige version - which I own and which is awesome - so that's why I've posted the brown. The cups emphasize one's actual shape and hold everything beautifully in place. I have heard this bra either suits the shape of your breasts or it doesn't - because the cups are so strong (not molded, mind you, they are completely flexible) there's no give.


  1. this post couldn't have come at a better time! i am in dire need of a new bra. (how is that they keep getting bigger as I age. i thought they were supposed to shrink!?)

  2. i hate bra shopping more than anything else. i've also been looking for a *wireless* bra that still offers enough support and show-through i asking for too much?

  3. Even though I don't need a small size I am looking for a smooth bra as well since Simone Perele discontinued my favorite model (which came in small sizes too) and I need a new one.

  4. That Fantasie bra is my all time favourite (pic in nude on but there it's for large cup sizes.

    You could try I know she does t-shirt bras (but maybe too moulded).

  5. I too fight the padding fight. I'm a 34B (on a good day) and everything out there except Calvin Klein has padding. I really don't need or want it. What's wrong with being an almost-B?

    These are nice.

  6. Thanks for all your good research and dedication, K-Line! Chantelle I have (two models; maybe there's more teflon in the newer version you cite) but not the other label. Will check it out . . .

  7. Hi -- I'm a 34B, and have sought just this thing -- and, laugh if you must, but I recommend the Gap's T-shirt bra. Not too much padding, nice shape, no seams. I'm happy.

  8. I could never do unpadded. I'm always cold!

  9. Jill: I hope you find what you're looking for...

    Sophie: Apparently, probably yes. They can send people to the moon but...

    Mardel: I'd love to know what you think of the Fantasie. I think it will suit you...

    Raven: Thanks for the tip...

    Imogen: Thanks so much! That fantasie bra really is the best thing ever though...

    E: I think being an almost b sounds just fabulous. It should be easy!

    Miss C: I hope you get something new and perfect...

    Wendy: You know what I mean! :-)

    Nicole: thanks for that recommendation. I remember you mentioning that they work well for you.

    E8: You just don't have enough boob fat to keep you warm :-)

  10. Oh, do I know this problem! I used to live in Jockey cotton underwire bras, but either they don't make them any more, or Southern Ontario department stores aren't stocking them any more.

    I can't find anything unpadded in less than a C cup. Because if you're a B or under, OF COURSE you want bigger boobs - right?

    Except I'm a 38B with a giant ribcage, and the LAST thing I need is more bulk in the boobal area.

    And because I'm a weird fit, I'd never buy a bra without trying it on. Which means I'm limited to the sad selection of Ontario department stores. Coming and going. They got me coming and going.

  11. CRose: You see - they need to make more alternatives for more "weird fits". Because we all fall into the category of unique. Hope you find one that works. Try Figleaves...

  12. My bra issue is that I measure out as a 36B, but in reality the cups on a 36 bra are too close together for me & many of them have really short straps. Ever try finding a size 38A bra - and, especially, one that has no padding? Do the retailers really think that no one over size 36 has an A cup? Maybe we've found a new niche market for someone!


  13. Ellen: Thanks for your comment. You make a really valid point about how back size does not predict cup size. As a person with the opposite shape (really narrow back, large breasts) I know they don't much care for us either! :-)