The Best Sports Bras

Here’s another guest post from Sadie M. I can’t wait to try her top pick.

Few things have made me as self-conscious as exercising with a large chest. First, there’s the availability of sports bras. If you’re over a D-cup, save yourself the torture and skip the sporting goods and department stores. There’s nothing like a “We don’t have anything for you…” with a judgmental once over (in which you are sure they notice your every imagined imperfection) to keep you from ever using that gym membership. Second is the bounce factor. For years, I was a card-carrying member of the double (or triple) layered sports bra. That technique might keep everything in, but it never quite passes the bounce test — if there’s a joke about black eyes, boobs, and exercising, I’ve heard it.

But over the last couple of years, I’ve discovered fantastic options for sports bras that seem to do the impossible: keep you strapped in, comfortable, and (gasp) able to wear cute workout gear. If you’ve been fitted, you can order most of these online at herroom.com or figleaves.com. These recommendations are all based on a 32G cup. Happy running!

Let’s start with this infamous Enell model, Oprah’s beloved sports bra. I find it to be way too much bra. Unless you’re wearing plain T-shirts to work out in, you can’t wear this without it showing. That means no V-necks, no spaghetti straps, no scoop necks, and especially nothing made specifically for working out. And don’t get me started on those bazillion hook-and-eyes. Who wants to feel like their wearing a corset while they’re pounding the pavement? Ladies, call me a heretic, but Oprah missed the boat on this one.

Instead, try one of these: My Top Pick:
The Bendon Extreme Out Technical Support Sports Bra. First, this bra gives hard-core support for high-impact sports like running while eliminating almost all bounce. It’s a compression bra, which makes activities like spinal twists in yoga, where other bras leave too much breast in the way, much easier. One of my favorite parts is that you can wear the straps parallel or crisscrossed; the crisscrossed style gives even better support and makes it possible to wear racerback style workout tops, and that makes me feel like a normal woman – a huge plus in my book! It’s an underwire style, but I haven’t had any issues with wire comfort until I’ve worn through them about a year after purchase (wearing 2-3x/ week).

Also Recommended:
Goddess’s Soft Cup Sports Bra is a good underwire-free option. It’s a good option for high-impact sports, with even more support than the Bendon for running. Three cons: a higher neckline means most V-necks won’t work with this bra, but some scoop necks do, and, because there’s no option to crisscross the straps, racerback workout tops are a no-go with this one. I also find the fabric doesn’t tend to wick away the sweat the way the other bras do.

Le Mystere’s new Energie Sport Bra is the softest, most comfortable sports bra I’ve tried. This is good for yoga or the elliptical, but I don’t think there’s enough support for running. Depending on your cup size, this may work for cycling classes, especially if you wear the straps crisscrossed. The cup is padded, like most of Le Mystere’s regular bras, which also helps enhance support.

The Jury’s Out:
Freya’s Soft Cup Sports Bra comes highly recommended by staff at both Linda’s bra shop and BraTenders, two of the best stores for fitting in New York. I didn’t feel enough support from the cup when doing my fitting room jog-in-place test, but if you’re between a DD and G, the support may work for you.

Introducing Sadie M

You ladies are in for a treat for the next 2 days. While Mr. Campbell & I are skiing in Utah, Sadie M has agreed to guest post for this blog. Enjoy! (Nothing after the jump.)

There’s a Fit for Us

(Note: As promised, here is the first guest post from Sadie M.)

I met Darlene when I answered her ad for a fit model for her blouse prototype. “Someone’s finally going to help us women who have a tough time finding this supposed ‘basic’ wardrobe staple?” I thought. “Sign me up!” Darlene and I got to talking and quickly found ourselves swapping intel on our favorite fitters, bras, swimsuits, and stores, and she’s asked me to share some of my years of research here.

If you’re new to the world of there-is-a-size-beyond-DD…and-it-fits! club, welcome! There really are sports bras, lingerie, swimsuits, and bras made especially for us, and I’ll be guest blogging my favorite finds in these categories over the next few weeks. If you still haven’t been to a fitter, well, all I can say is this: wearing the right bra is like getting a whole body makeover. It changes the way you view your body; your clothes fit better, you look five or ten pounds lighter, and you just start to feel more … normal, less freak of nature.

MY FIRST FITTING

Nine years ago, I walked into The Wizard of Bras in Monrovia, California, wearing a navy blue satin 36 DD bra with cups that were gaping past my rib cage, straps tightened to the tippy top to give me what I thought was lift, and a terrible case of double boob I attempted to camouflage with a loose fitting top. It was my junior year at a small university near Pasadena, CA, and my upstairs neighbor in my apartment complex, with whom I’d swapped bra-shopping nightmares, had recently dropped by to tell me how this store had, in her words, changed her life.

“I’m a 36F !” she told me. She knew it sounded huge, she said, but the bra fit perfectly. “You have to go.”

Having recently been shamed at Victoria’s Secret (“We don’t make anything in your size”) and given a 40DD by a perplexed saleswoman at a department store, I headed to the Wizard of Bras with some reservations. Those were immediately laid to rest as soon as I began my fitting. Though I wasn’t impressed by the shop’s grungy exterior or worn interior, my fitter immediately made me start to appreciate my body. “Small ribcage, large cup size – best problem to have!” she said. She measured me, put me in a the right size (32FF), and found me a pretty, age appropriate style by Freya that, along with a matching pair of underwear, totaled around $60. Best of all, she gave me some great fitting tips that have helped me judge bras on my own when, for example, I order styles online that I can’t find in stores.

FITTING TIPS FROM THE WIZARD

First, she told me not to let anyone put me in a larger band to get a bigger cup size ever again. The band gives the bra most of its support, not the straps, she explained; the band needs to fit snug against your rib cage, lying straight across the back, never in an upside down U. Second, the cups should separate the breast tissue – no uniboob! And last, she told me not to worry about the cup size. I thought it sounded freakishly large, but she said it was one of their most popular sizes. And she was right. A few months after I was fitted, I was shopping in a department store in England, where, finding one bra I liked but not in a 32FF, the saleswoman informed me it was on backorder because of the demand. FFs and Gs were the first to go, she said. If so many women wear sizes bigger than a DD, what the heck took the American market so long to catch on?!

The great news is that since then, stores have gradually started to expand their sizes. Though New York has a handful of specialty stores that carry up to a size O (yes, O!), you can also now find big-busted faves like Freya, Fantasie, and Le Mystere at Saks and Nordstrom’s. And once you know your size, you can hop online to the wonderful world of herroom.com, figleaves.com, and lindasonline.com. We’ve still got a ways to go (I’ll share my experiences with bridal gowns and corsets as well as trying to find any sort of pretty sweet nothings), but for now, happy fitting – and shopping!

Back to School: My Classmates

Saturday was our fourth Vietnamese language class. The teacher gave us a pop quiz, and I only missed 6 out of 31. My gloating was short-lived when I discovered that the most show-off-y woman in our class only missed 3. Her best quiz score clinched it–I decided to make her my nemesis.

Now that our class has met four times, people are starting to open up, so while our teacher was busy writing on the board, I overheard Nemesis mention that she left Vietnam when she was 9, just like me. I joined the conversation and learned that because her mother was Chinese, they had been forced at gunpoint to go to China. Once in China, they were considered Vietnamese and therefore sent to be “pioneers” on a farm. Nemesis’s mother refused to live that life, so they escaped by boat. They spent 30 days on a very small boat before making it to Hong Kong. Nemesis was middle school age by the time they arrived in the U.S.

After learning this about Nemesis, how could I dislike her anymore? She’s made it through a lot to get to where she is and deserves her high quiz scores. But that’s not going to stop me from trying to get a higher score than hers on the next quiz.

I’ve also joined a Business Plan Boot Camp. At our first class last night, we each introduced ourselves and our business idea. One man plans to create women’s tee shirts with words for women’s body parts on them. Hmmm. What body parts could he mean? After I shared my idea, the instructor said that Body Part Man and I should talk. Body Part Man annoyed me even before I learned his business idea (who raises his hand to ask the instructor if we should turn off our cell phones?), so it may be a while before I can get over my superiority complex to talk to him. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry to talk to me either. I’ll keep you posted! (Nothing after the jump.)