Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

May 16, 2010

A Visual Aid of Wonder

Filed under: Lingerie — Twistie @ 11:09 am

You know, when I think of the Wall Street Journal, I don’t usually make the mental leap straight to fashion advice or lingerie. I’m betting it’s not the first thing that leaps into your mind, either.

Nevertheless, check out this fabulous visual guide to how a good bra should fit and function. The model used is a 32D Prima Donna bra that I may actually covet. Have I checked to see if it comes in my size? Of course not. I’m too used to disappointment when the pretty bras just don’t come in a 40 band or bigger.

Speaking of which, I really, really, really hate the fact that nearly every bra that comes in my band size and isn’t from the Cacique line which usually features straps that are far too prone to fall off my extremely narrow shoulders, comes only in white, beige, or black. There are some exceptions, of course. I’ve got a couple of Bali bras that I found in blue, and I’ve seen some very pretty browns. Sometimes pink is available, which is great for those who do pink. Playtex has a plus line that comes in lots of pretty colors and even a few prints.

But if a bra comes in ‘normal’ sizes and ‘plus’ sizes, chances are the pretty runs out at a 36 or 38 band. Find a bra that comes in leopard print and bright red and emerald green and royal blue, and I can pretty much guarantee that those colors will disappear as soon as you cross the dreaded 38 line, if not before.

Hey bra manufacturers? Guess what? A 40 band or larger does not stop us from having sexy times with people who might enjoy seeing pretties. A 40 or larger band does not stop us from finding pretty bras fun even when nobody else will ever see them, just because. Make a bra that supports a rack of doom and allows the wearer to feel just a tidge frivolous, and I’m betting it will sell… especially if you can manage to sell it for less than a hundred smackers a pop.

Just a thought.


  1. You know about Figleaves, right? It’s the one place I’ve found pretty bras in larger sizes and had an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

    Comment by zuzu — May 16, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  2. I feel your pain. However, it can’t hurt to look – Prima Donna actually does make bras that go up through at least a 42 D (and smaller band sizes go up through a G). There are other brands (several European, actually) that make absolutely stunning bras in big girl sizes as well as “regular” sizes. Empreinte is one of my most coveted. They get to be very very pricey, but they’re also very well made.

    I found lots of great quality, great fitting, pricey bras at Intimacy in Atlanta. They’ve got other stores around the country, and if you can get to one, they do an excellent bra fitting.

    Comment by Melissa — May 16, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  3. I second the Figleaves comment. Also Freya and Fantansie make some beautiful bras in larger sizes.

    Comment by Callie — May 16, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  4. Could I just put in my two cents worth about bras? I work in a lingerie shop, so I see a lot of bras and women wearing them. The link showed a pretty good picture and description, but the only way to guarantee a good fit is . . .

    To get fitted! By someone who knows what they’re doing! If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember the women of a certain age who prowled their lingerie departments and took you by force into the dressing room to fit you! So embarrassing for a teenager, but so important. So look to the local lingerie boutique in your area first, if you’re lucky enough to have one. And remember that the price of these bras is going to be higher because you’re not shoveling through all the crap at Walmart yourself; we bring them into you while you wait in the dressing room. I know I’m describing a situation that isn’t available to everyone, but if it is, I’d strongly recommend investigating it.

    Another thing I’ve learned is that women with “racks of doom,” as Twistie put it, who happen to wear a size 30 or 32 band are having just as hard a time as we are, wearing band sizes 40 or higher. I agree with Twistie: I wish there were more choices for us. I’ve compromised and found that a black and a beige bra will do the work of most of my wardrobe needs. I wear the Le Mystere Dream Tisha bra and at $85 bucks a crack, it’s a little hard to swallow, but my, does it fit well and offer terrific support.

    Okay, last thing: if you’re laying down that kind of dough, do yourself a favor and hand those babies in Forever New, or a similar type of lingerie wash. Believe me, they’ll last so much longer. Don’t wear your bra two days in a row: give the elastic a break and wear in every other day, and after two or three wearings, hand wash and flat dry it.

    Sorry, I’m just a little involved in it all, aren’t I?

    Comment by Mrs. Hendricks — May 16, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  5. Back in the ’80s, I used to buy these wonderful bras with a little bit of lacing between the cups instead of a solid panel. They were sexy and came in lots of pretty colors and lots of racktastic sizes. Unfortunately, the name was “My Favorite Fantasy.” Try Googling THAT.

    Comment by Jane — May 16, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  6. Love it, Twistie, you’re so right.
    I’m only a 36C, so I can’t complain too hard… but I’m also cheap. And I want to look sexy. And again and again, when I go to places like Nordstrom Rack, Filene’s Basement, etc., the cute and cheap bras have only one hook in the back or are just way too flimsy to be practical on anyone over a 32B.

    My latest complaint is about the proliferation of the padded bra. My cup size isn’t entirely modest, but I don’t need extra help! More cute bras with unlined cups, please.

    Comment by Nemtynakht — May 16, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  7. Twistie, I HAVE that bra (and love it), and I’m a 42G, so chances are they’ve got your size!

    Comment by Wendy — May 16, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

  8. @Jane, LOL, seriously.

    I was going to recommend Triumph as having nice-ish not too expensive bras up to a G cup, but I’m not sure how high their band sizes go. I have a peacock-coloured and a beige one in a 38E that I really like. I have sloping shoulders so things tend to slide down and this version (“Amourette 300”) sits well on me.

    I adore Chantelle, they are so, so gorgeous, and I think they give great support and shaping, but they’re pricy and IMO the underwires tend to dig more than Triumph.

    BTW, I’m in Europe, so I don’t know how readily available these brands are in the US.

    Comment by Rebekka — May 16, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  9. Chantelle has pretty, lacy bras well into the 40s band size.

    Comment by Mary — May 16, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

  10. Preach on Twistie! I am a 40HH or 40J and my husband has pretty much resigned himself to the fact that he will be seeing black or beige (I don’t do white bras) for the rest of his natural life. I am not pleased by this and would be willing to pay a pretty penny for a pretty bra.

    Comment by ngb411 — May 16, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  11. (No idea how to hyperlink, but you can cut and paste.) This will take you to all of the plus size bras by prima donna.

    I was professionally fitted for a bra last year (46G) and it’s not a good fit. The 46 is too big, and the G only fits one boob. The right one is a little shy. (Or utterly intimidated by this contraption of a bra.) I bought Glamourise bras and holy boulders, bat man, if the Brooklyn Bridge ever goes down just hope I’m around with one of these babies and I’ll save the day.

    My biggest problem is that the bit that is supposed to lie flat against the breastbone NEVER does. I’m gonna stitch up some damn tube socks and elasticated bands before it’s all over.

    Comment by Melissa — May 16, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  12. Nemtynakht – one day I was shopping with a friend and wondered aloud why she kept going for the padded bras (she’s about a 38DD). Turns out her nipples really like to make themselves known, so she usually wears padded bras to avoid her coworkers getting the wrong idea.

    Certainly there should be a variety of both, but it gives some insight into why I’m finding padded bras in 44 or 46G….!

    Comment by living400lbs — May 16, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

  13. I had to laugh at the “dreaded 38 line”, because that’s how I felt once the perimenopause fairy had decided to be generous again and I passed the “dreaded DD line”. The colors stop, the choices stop, and the number of stores I can shop in dropped by about 90%. Sure, there’s always online, but I get tired of returning stuff.

    The other amazing thing about DDD bras is that many of the manufacturers who make them don’t offer them in band sizes below a 38. Which I am. Grrrr. And people wonder why so many women wear the wrong bra size? Because we can’t conveniently find bras in the right size!!!!

    I am fortunate that the Dillards closest to me is very large and has chosen to stock quite a number of larger bras both in cup and band size from places like Lunaire and Chantelle. I shop there preferentially to encourage them, and have told the folks who work there as much. Especially since they’re not obnoxious about measuring you and they’re wizards at finding what you’re looking for if they have it and don’t lie if they don’t.

    Comment by TropicalChrome — May 16, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

  14. fayreform has a pretty good range, with a bunch of different styles and patterns.

    Comment by kathi — May 16, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

  15. i could name a half dozen brands with lovely bras in larger sizes and that’s just the ones i can afford. it’s strange to me that plus blogs issue these complaints rather than informing readers of useful information, like where one can find simone perele on sale et cetera.

    Comment by ? — May 16, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

  16. I buy 99% of my bras from Woman Within and Roaman’s. I wear a 54C, so you can imagine how difficult it is to find them. When I first started shopping with them, their majority of bras were what I like to call “granny bras”. Now they have just as many pretty, lacy offerings as everyone else.

    Comment by Krystal — May 17, 2010 @ 1:32 am

  17. “The model used is a 32D Prima Donna bra that I may actually covet. Have I checked to see if it comes in my size? Of course not. I’m too used to disappointment when the pretty bras just don’t come in a 40 band or bigger”.
    Well, I think you should give it a try! PrimaDonna bras (of which I am a huge fan) are available in plenty of different size combinations (through band size 46 and in B through H cup).

    Comment by mariebruxelles — May 17, 2010 @ 5:53 am

  18. I highly recommend Adored brand bras from Marks & Spencers in the UK. I am in Kansas, so I put “adored bra” into an ebay search engine and go from there. They are gorgeous, and fit better than anything I have ever worn before (and I have worked for two different lingerie stores here in the US!). Their range for larger band and cup sizes is phenominal- and they LAST. They are as sexy as department store bras- in color, all lace, the works! I get that “oh thank heavens for a bra that really fits” feeling every time I wear one.

    Comment by Yosa — May 17, 2010 @ 9:47 am

  19. The thing that drives me crazy is that Lane Bryant only sells Cacique bras up to DDD in the stores. Sure, you can order the bigger sizes online, but as bra shopping is more art than science, that doesn’t work for me. And seriously, Lane Bryant? I’m used to being too racktastic to buy bras at Victoria’s Secret, but as LB is all about teh fatz, you’d think they’d actually stock some bigger sizes.

    Comment by Mango — May 17, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  20. I like the Cacique line, but I have the same narrow shoulders problem as Twistie. I’ve resorted to using those little elastic strips to keep them up, but it’s neither attractive nor comfortable. I wish Cacique would make bras with a straight back band, instead of curving up toward the strap attachment points. If the band were straight, it would be easy to move the straps to the perfect location.

    Comment by Margo A — May 17, 2010 @ 11:48 am

  21. Bra shopping is frustrating. Every time I hear of a new bra line (especially Victoria’s Secret bra lines), I just assume it doesn’t fit me.

    Bra manufacturers and retailers should consider they money to be made by expanding size ranges.

    Until manufacturers get more clues, support (pun intended) the bra brands that fit you well and make you feel fantastic.

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — May 17, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  22. Twistie – I second the comment made about getting professionally fitted. I don’t know about where you live, but here in San Diego we have two bra-only stores (Intimacy and The Enchantress) and I got fitted in both. I bought four bras in four different sizes (I’m an H/HH, and had been wearing a DDD in a band size one or two sizes too big for me). Since each bra fits differently, it’s really really helpful to have someone fit you who knows what they’re doing. and (I think!) are two places I’ve ordered from since the fitting (got the bras I’d already tried on). It’s a huge difference to have bras that fit correctly – I’ve taken several friends to get fitted and every one was wearing the wrong size. Every one walked out feeling a zillion times better in the right size. It’s worth spending a couple hundred bucks on two or three bras that fit perfectly and, taken proper care of, will last 5 years!

    Comment by Elisa — May 17, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

  23. Jeez, “?” commenter, why don’t you go ahead and NAME those half-dozen affordable bras for the plus-sized lady instead of moaning about this blog not meeting your very specific need?

    More on topic: The Town Shop in Manhattan is an absolute must-visit for me whenever I’m in NYC, because the bra ladies, they can give you a quick glance, figure out your size, disappear for a few minutes, and come back with a half-dozen bras that fit perfectly. Love. There will be a wait to see a bra lady, and it will be worth it, I promise. has good sales and is where I replace my Wacoal bras when I can’t get to New York and need something new.

    Cacique bras do not work for me. I just don’t think they make a quality bra.

    Comment by Jezebella — May 17, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  24. Hmm. I’m wearing a Cacique bra in a royal blue/black zebra stripe pattern… I guess I just got lucky. It’s too big for me since I lost some weight but it’s too comfortable and pretty to NOT wear.

    I am so coveting that bra! I love gorgeous things like that. Too bad my boyfriend isn’t a boob guy, though. :/

    Comment by Katsu — May 17, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  25. ngb411, I know what you mean. I’m a 36J, sometimes 36JJ and every bra I own is from the UK. (I live in the US.) If it wasn’t for Bravissimo I’d still be spilling out of 40DD’s! Anyhow, here’s a great bra in your size, and in some pretty colors besides beige and black:

    And it’s under $35 right now, with the exchange rate. You can email them with size questions if you’ve got any. I’ve found them to quickly get back to me and they’ve always been very helpful.

    I don’t know what it is here in the States. The Brits get it, why can’t we???

    Comment by AquaMarine — May 17, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

  26. Ditto AquaMarine, almost makes me think it would be a great venture to open one over here…..hmm…I should look into that.

    Comment by Jessica — May 17, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  27. I wear Prima Donnas exclusively and I’m a 44 G. They are beautiful, well made, comfortable and they get the job done like nothing else I’ve found. (I cannot wear Cacique, they are totally ineffectual for me.)

    Yeah, Prima Donnas are spendy but the middle part stays firmly against my breast bone and the straps don’t slip. And they make me so damn happy! I just can’t overpraise Prima Donna bras.

    Plumcake might frown at this, but I don’t even OWN a white, black or nude bra. The rest of my wardrobe simply doesn’t require them. Instead I have a Prima Donna in nearly every color, including slate blue, emerald green, peacock, peach, coral, ruby red, scarlet, plum, baby pink, fuchsia and chocolate. Oh I forgot: I do have a black one, it has silver lace and silver pinstripes. :)

    Comment by Suz — May 17, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  28. I have the opposite problem from most of these commenters, I have a very small rack on a big body. On a great day I fit a B cup. Try to find that in a 40 or 42 band size that’s not an uncomfortable Walmart special. When I was skinny, I quit wearing bras because when I raised my arms the bra would rap itself around my neck and strangle me. Now that I am of a more generous size, there are no bras that truly fit a small chested fat lady.

    Comment by Jennie — May 17, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

  29. @Jennie

    Try looking here:

    They have AA up to 42 and A up to 54.

    @everyone else: the same site also has up to a 56K (L goes up to 50). They do mongo-sized nursing bras, too.

    Caveat: I have never bought anything from them.

    Comment by Rebekka — May 18, 2010 @ 8:25 am

  30. I’m a 38DD…I like Vanity Fair bras. They’re very comfortable, and fit me well. Mostly I buy beige or black. But I’ve long coveted the same bra in this gorgeous taupe-y muted animal print. But it doesn’t come in my size. Such a disappointment.

    Comment by Leigh Ann — May 18, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  31. In Austin TX lovely +size bras can be found at Petticoat Fair

    I’m talking 38GG with embroidery AND support pretty. I just found out about it last year and I’m very happy (as is my husband)

    Comment by Thea — May 18, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  32. Forgot to add that Petticoat Fair also has expert fitters.

    And in Dallas, The Maddox Shop has great fitters. I haven’t shopped there in a few years so can’t speak to the pretty quotent of their bra selection but they rocked the hell out of my wedding ‘underpinnings’

    Comment by Thea — May 18, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  33. Margo, Lane Bryant does stock their extended sizes in some stores, but you have to do some footwork to find out if any of your stores have them. Their fancy new store locator doesn’t differentiate between their Cacique stores and their regular LB stores.

    For example, I live in Houston. There is exactly one LB that stocks the F, G, and H cups inside of Beltway 8.

    Let me say that again. I’m in Houston, 4th largest city in the country, and we have one LB within 10 miles of Downtown that has a Cacique store.

    Comment by ChloeMireille — May 19, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  34. I have no sympathy for anyone when it comes to bras.

    I’m a 38K. If they have my cup size (rare) they don’t have the strap below 40.
    Colors! Hahahaha!
    In a brick and mortar store? Cacique? Hahahaha!
    Less than $60 and not of post-War aesthetic?
    Good luck!

    No, jojo has no sympathy for you.

    Comment by jojo.k — May 19, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  35. Jojo:

    Can’t help on the brick & mortar issue, unless you’re in the UK, but:

    Comment by Laura — May 20, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

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