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Ask FGG: "Help Me Find a Strapless Bra!"
Posted by Angela in Ask FGG,Plus-Size Fashion
Sometimes, a traditional bra silhouette simply won't do (Satin and Velvet by ktpupp)

It's simple math, really. Warm temperatures + sleeveless tops and dresses + wedding season + an ongoing need for chest support = this timely question, which FGG editorial spotted in the wild on FatChic:
OK, we all can tell right away that this top needs a proper bra. While I’m certainly using my own resources to find one, if you know of a great strapless bra for a 46/48C, by all means let me know. I’d really like to own one that doesn’t require copious use of Hollywood tape.

Because every woman's body carries a different combination of chest circumference, cup size and breast characteristics (shape, separation, and, er. . . deference to gravity), it would be impossible for FGG to identify The One Perfect Strapless Bra, Amen, and call it a day. What we have done to tackle this issue, however, is round up a variety of retailers that offer strapless bras with larger band sizes or larger cup sizes -- as well as offer some reminders about how to choose a bra that fits.

Strapless bra fitting basics


For starters, the ideal game plan is to shop for your strapless or convertible bra in person, rather than ordering online. If possible, select a store that offers professional bra fittings. It's important to not only try on the bra to ensure it fits without being visible under the dress or top you plan to wear, but also to make sure it stays invisible and provides complete support as you twist, turn, bend, reach, dance, and go through other event-appropriate motions. The band should fit snugly so it doesn't slide or slip down while you wear it; any gaps between the material and your body mean you should be re-sized. Additionally, for women with large busts, molded cups and an underwire are going to provide the best possible support.

If you have the time and financial resources available to order several bra styles and sizes in search of The One, then your selection opens up considerably. Many online retailers offer sizes, styles and colors that might be more difficult to track down at in-person retailers. Additionally, sites like Big Girls' Bras, BraExperience.com, and Linda The Bra Lady aggregate dozens of fat-girl-friendly brands into a searchable (by size, brand, style, color, etc.) hub for easy comparison and ordering.

Locating a strapless/convertible bra in your size


While strapless bras are definitely daunting to the more endowed among us, bra shopping can be just as challenging for women whose stature combines a larger chest circumference (42, 44, 46. . .) with a modest B- or C-cup size. For these ladies, finding bras that fit is often tricky for the same reason some dresses or low-cut tops are unwearable -- designs for full-figured women frequently assume that plus-size = large breasts. And while that's more than true for some of us, I have several friends who exemplify the pear or apple shapes and who don't need their 46" band size to come with a double-D cup.

The good news for plus-size girls of chests large and small is that options do exist, if you know where to find them. In addition to the sites listed above, possible online hunting grounds include Hips & Curves (which offers a four-way convertible style that extends to sizes 50B and 48DDD) and Bare Necessities® (this Goddess bra comes in sizes up to 46H or 48B-DDD). The usual plus-size fashion suspects carry some promising options as well, although in a less extensive size range: Torrid's strapless options stop at sizes 44D-DDD, neither Lane Bryant's regular strapless nor its plunge style bras extend beyond 44DD, and Avenue offers just one convertible bra, in sizes topping out at 44B-D or 46DD. (Avenue's sister store, Jessica London, does offer a Glamorise style available in sizes that include 46C and 46F.)

In 34 years, I've owned one convertible bra (via Lane Bryant), which I wore with clear straps multiple times and as a strapless garment only once -- under a spaghetti-strapped bridesmaid's dress. To be honest, it was the completely wrong size for me at the time of the wedding, but I wore it extra tight on my ribcage because I was terrified my girls might come tumbling onto my dinner plate. Fortunately, everything remained contained for the duration of the festivities (even during a particularly spirited play-acting of "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights"). But if I had it to do over again, I'd love to try out this model from Elila, which claims to "hold even the heaviest busts while shaping beautifully." Sounds like my DDD-cup of tea.

That's your cue, readers: Share the secret of your magical strapless bra, including why it's the best fit for your shape. Or tell us about the shenanigans that ensued the time you bought the bra that didn't fit.