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

April 13, 2011

Review Revue (and a sad adieu): The “Improved” Lane Bryant Push Up Bras

Filed under: Intimates,Lingerie,Review Revue — Miss Plumcake @ 9:54 am

I might have mentioned The Dairy Duchess before.

She is a woman of a certain age and a life-long Episcopalian. She is also, as her name would suggest, the former Dairy Duchess of a small Texas town. The story of her coronation is not mine to tell, but it’s hilarious and involves giving the future Tyler Rose Queen ringworm.

To appreciate this story you need to know two things:

  • The Episcopal Church, is color-coded according to the liturgical season. Lent is purple, Easter is white and so on and so forth. A few years ago our parish decided to change the liturgical hangings for the pre-Christmas season from the traditional violet to the more historically accurate sarum blue. There was a bit of an uproar.
  • The Dairy Duchess has, in addition to a remarkable vocal pitch and timbre, perhaps THE most magnificent example of an East Texas accent to have ever punctured my eardrums. It is an accent for the ages.

Scene: A rehearsal of the Bless Their Hearts Choir, sometime before Christmas. Apropos of exactly nothing, the Dairy Duchess announces in her inimitable exasperated warble:

“Y’aaaaall. I’m upset. I’ve stuck with you through the women. I’ve stuck with you through the gays. But now y’all have done gone and changed the color of Advent!!!”

That’s pretty much exactly how I feel about the revamping (as it were) of Lane Bryant’s Plunge bras.

The traditional Lane Bryant Plunge Bra –affectionately known as the “What Seems To Be The Problem, Officer?” bra– has been my go-to boulder holder for years, regardless of size.

I am a big girl but I don’t have a huge rack, they’re high and wide-set, so most other bras I’ve found made for big girls make me feel like I’m being strangled. The Plunge was just right.

(old plunge vs new plunge…will the magic still be there?)

Each time I put one on, it’s like a warm handshake from an old friend. An old friend who gets me out of speeding tickets, makes new lines to open up for me at the grocery store and scores me drinks a-plenty wherever I so please.

Yet, when I went to pick up a new batch last night, my trusty pal was nowhere to be found.

I was informed Lane Bryant had discontinued them, and were replacing my beloved sexy black lace plunge bras with the removable air pads with foam-molded cotton bras “More like the t-shirt bras” according to the sales gal.


I hate foam molded bras, because they assume all breasts are created equal when that is CLEARLY not the case. I don’t need/want padding where someone else might, and those little air pads let me maneuver the gals around in a pleasing arrangement instead of following some Stalinist rack regime.

A quick jump to the Lane Bryant site shows the traditional plunge bra as still available, and there is also something called the Luxury Lace Plunge which I haven’t seen in stores yet that look very much like my beloved WSTBTPO one, but until I try it on I cannot be sure.

A friend of mine who works at Lane Bryant has informed me they’ve also redone the balconette and several other bras, making them much harder to fit in her opinion so if you’ve got a favorite, you might want to stock up before they disappear.

While at the store, I tried on their new Cotton Boost Plunge.

The good:

  • It fits really well. It’s comfortable, but sets firm boundaries. I don’t feel like it’s trying to choke me, the straps are relatively thin (I like that; you might not) and wide-set on the shoulders but don’t fall down. It’s seamless under a thin nylon jersey, the band stays put with three hooks instead of four and comes down on the sides enough to not cause indelicate rolls of splodgy fat.

The bad:

  • It’s slightly foam padded, which I hate. It also doesn’t actually boost anything, which would be fine except the word boost is kind of in the name, so a girl is expecting at least a little oomph. I also found the sizing to be weird. I wear a 38DD (the extra D is for Damn!) in every single Lane Bryant Bra except this one, where I take a 38DDD. I tried on the DD, and it gave me quadraboob. Not a good look.


  • I’d call this the t-shirt bra for the woman who hates t-shirt bras. It’s not going to revolutionize your rack, but it’s a good compromise for a girl who wants the look of a t-shirt bra but hates the Ginormous Foam Cups of Death. I picked up two and I have a feeling they’ll both be seeing a lot of service under my various soccer jerseys this summer where shape and smoothness count more than cleavage. But I’ll still drive the speed limit.


  1. Damn. Just…..damn. I feel your pain. More than most anything but my glasses, I depend on my bra to give me support, authority, and the ability to go Wheeeee! past the speedtrap on 2222 without fear of ticket.

    And I’m tired of ’rounded’ and ‘natural’ looking bras. I have a short waist and significant boobage. I want a bullet bra like Joan wears on Mad Men.

    The old bullets give me lift and a defined waistline….

    But I digress….

    Comment by Thea — April 13, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  2. Ugh I had this same revelation last weekend. My boobs are different sizes — using one of those little air pockets gives the one girl the boost she needs to meet the other’s high standards. :(

    Comment by Brooke — April 13, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  3. @Thea: Have you tried Secrets in Lace? I’ve always toyed with the idea of going for a bullet bra just for kicks, but I’ve hesitated because I turn everything that touches my body “retro” anyway, and have worried that a bullet bra would look costumey. Thoughts?

    @Brooke: I’m just so disappointed. I mean sure the pads were a teensy bit uncomfortable if one got loose and it was hot outside, but that could’ve been addressed by covering the pads with fabric, or creating a more secure enclosure. You should still be able to get them online for a while yet, but stock up.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — April 13, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  4. Can anybody explain to me what the theory is behind that damnable foam? Suddenly, it’s everywhere, and I want bra manufacturers to understand that foam+southern California = sweltering. I am VERY well-endowed, and I really, really, really do not need a quarter inch of foam in a 46 G bra. They are big enough, thanks.

    I swear this foam thing is just like when Lane Bryant got it stuck in some stupid buyer’s head that all women needed stretch fabric! For every pant in the store!!! So I went through most of the 1990s look like an ice cream cone because every pair of pants I could find clung. Oh how body conscious, their ads exclaimed! Whee! The fabric clings so much, it shows cellulite! How flattering! Mercifully, somebody regained sanity and started to bring in different fabrics.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — April 13, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  5. Those of us with assertive nipples actually require a bit of foam padding if we don’t want the world to see ’em. However, it is possible to acquire, separately, nipple shields that go into any bra for coverage purposes. My recent discovery of these foam inserts has totally cut down on wrong-bra-for-this-shirt wardrobe crises.

    Comment by Jezebella — April 13, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  6. I despise solid bras – because no matter what, a tiny bit of movement and suddenly I have FOUR breasts. The two I have measure 34GG or H (European) and that’s enough breasts for me, thank you very much.

    Comment by Margaret — April 13, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  7. I work at LB, so I have a certain amount of exposure to these bras in all their variety.

    Things noted:

    The lace plunge (old fit) bras are still available in stores, so don’t despair; you’ll be able to get them. Also, if you like the old fit, just ask someone if they’ve got ’em in the back. Some stores have lots of backstock, and we’ve been specifically told that we’re to continue selling the old styles to whoever asks until we run out.

    The new cotton and satin plunges have COMPLETELY different fits (unlike the old smooth and cotton plunges). So don’t try on one and assume you’ve tried the other!

    For myself, I like the new satin plunge way more than I liked the old fit. After an hour or so of wear, the place where the cups meet would always start digging into my sternum on the old fits, and my boobs fell out whenever I moved. By contrast, the new fits have padded wires (which = double-plus win as far as I’m concerned) and comfy straps, which I can cross for the absolute best fit. On the other hand, I do not like the new cotton plunge fit at ALL.

    So there’s testimony from someone in the trenches.

    Comment by Fellmama — April 13, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  8. I’m a little confused. You said you don’t have a big rack, but from someone is a B-cup your 38-DD seems like you’re pretty stacked, while fairly small around. LOL And while I am part of the itty bitty titty committee, I also have bionic nipples that seem to show, even through lined bras. Such a conundrum.

    Comment by Heather — April 13, 2011 @ 11:59 am

  9. @Heather: Oh I’m stacked alright –Jane Russell at her prime and I wear the same bra– I’m just not HUGELY stacked the way a lot of big girls are. Plus the gals are set unusually high and wide on my torso –I can lay three fingers flat on my sternum– and a sort of cartoon-y shape. I’m certainly not complaining, but it does make bra-fitting a bit more of a challenge. I’m also blessed/cursed with extremely dense breasts. Blessed because even at a DD I still don’t pass the pencil test (I can’t hold a pencil under my breast when I’m standing up unfettered) and cursed because it makes finding a bra that’s supportive that much more difficult. I don’t need to be hoisted up, I just need to be locked down.

    @Fellmama: That’s pretty much exactly what I did. I had my sales gal go to the back and haul out every one in my size, and did the same thing in two more stores. I acknowledge I have tough-to-fit gals for reasons mentioned in my response to Heather, and they don’t need support as much as they need to be secured. The cotton plunge is doing a great job for me on that, but I could definitely see how they’d be a less-than-ideal fit for someone with a more traditionally-shaped rack.

    @Margaret: what do you mean by solid bras?

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — April 13, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  10. @Lisa: I think the theory behind the foam is to keep the headlights dimmed and to give a smoother shape under clothes, not to add size. I don’t mind a little foam for that. I’d just like to have an everyday option that’s well-constructed and not *gag* a leisure bra. Once upon a time I had a mesh bra that fit perfectly. No foam, no padding. Just a solid mesh. Were I to find the same again, I’d add nipple shields and wear them all through summer.

    @Jezebella: Do you have a particular brand of nipple shield you like? I only know of the adhesive ones, which I don’t love.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — April 13, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  11. Regarding “why do big girls want foam”: my 36GG breasts are teardrop-shaped and very heavy at the bottom, and the foam gives me some much-needed support (I need it in the actual *cups*, not just the band or the underwire). I like non-foam bras, but they are only *rarely* supportive enough for my rack. From your description of yours, though, Plumcake, I can see why they would annoy you.

    Comment by Rubygirl — April 13, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  12. Well I’m a 38G (UK sizing) with a full upper breast and a narrow ribcage (considering I’m 5′ 11″). So there are boobies everywhere and they are close together – I always have too much cleavage. I do not pass the pencil test.

    For me the brands that fit are Fantasie and Freya. The reasons:
    – the underwire is broad enough to not dig,
    – the 3 piece cup supports and most styles come w/o padding,
    – the center band on the balcony plunge style is far enough down the sternum to actually stay flat,
    – the tee shirt balcony bra is specially molded to be seamless without foam, and
    – the straps are wide apart in the front coming in at the back so they stay on my shoulders without showing most of the time.

    They are not cheap but they do put everything in place and support. I also do not look like Brünnhilde.

    I really wished I failed the pencil test but that would require less gravity on this planet.

    Comment by txbunny — April 13, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  13. I lost the box, so I don’t know the brand name, but you can get non-adhesive nipple shields at J.C. Penney. They are just beige foam inserts, less than 1/4″ thick, and are way more comfy than the adhesive ones. Those plastic sticky ones are gross. These do shift around after 8-10 hours if you’re active, so you kind of have to keep an eye on them.

    Comment by Jezebella — April 13, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  14. Okay, I went a-googling, and they’re Fashion Forms Comfy Cups. Ignore the cheesy packaging and silly name. They are the bomb.

    Comment by Jezebella — April 13, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  15. Totally agree with the Fantasie and Freya recommendation. Especially for the very heavy chested. Wacoal has some good stuff too, but they sometimes dig into the sternum. On a related note, dontcha just hate minimizers?

    Comment by hickchick — April 13, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

  16. @hickchick says:dontcha just hate minimizers?

    AMEN to that! They just flatten me out and make me look like a very thick person with no waist and a monoboob (as opposed to a thick person with curves and décolletage to die for).

    Comment by Thea — April 13, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  17. My problem is this- I have a decent rack (I’m a 14G over here in Australia, which I think is about a 36H or 36I over there in USA), but would still like to pull out an enhancing bra every once in a while. Any suggestions as to where I could find a push up/cleavagey bra??

    Comment by kathi — April 13, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  18. Re. Emphatic and assertive head lights:
    The product that freed me from being encased in foam is a 3 in diameter insert called just between us breast veilsveils2011. I was at an actual lingerie store, actually getting fitted when I learned about them. (Company name is. ODen enterprises in mn)

    Comment by brettac — April 13, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

  19. Hmmm, the bras in those pictures look a lot like the ones at Sara in New Zealand and Australia (the model on the right is also Sara’s regular model!). Maybe the old style of the plunge is what we have here in NZ? Here’s the link:

    I can totally recommend the balconette, but I don’t have much luck with the plunge….

    Comment by Loren — April 14, 2011 @ 3:01 am

  20. As a tiny-titted, barrel-chested dame with perma-headlights, it’s taken me a while to find a bra that works (Berlei Barely There, 12B). Post-kids, I’ve had to restrict myself to the foam-lined ones.

    But thanks to you wonderful women, I can now explore less smoothed options.

    /off to hunt for nipple shield insert thingies

    Comment by abdabs — April 14, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  21. Fantasie’s 32D (in any style, blessedly) is my One True Bra and if they ever go out of business I will walk the streets wailing and gnashing my teeth with ashes in my hair. I just wish I could find them in store more places here.

    Comment by SarahDances — April 14, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  22. My guess is that the foam cups are all about what marketers call “Hanger appeal”. A foam bra holds its shape on a hanger and promises a round, generous shape, while a conventional bra just hangs there. Foam catches the eye and promises results, so people are more likely to try them on in the first place.

    Comment by Margo A — April 14, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  23. @Margo A: I think you’re exactly right. Hanger appeal is everything. You should see the girls I style turn up their noses at something that looks bad on the hanger and then gasp in shock that it looks good on them.

    @Abdabs: Just try not to hurt anyone!

    @SarahDances: Good idea, the ashes in the hair might distract attention from the imperfectly-wrangled rack!

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — April 14, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  24. By solid I mean foam cups. They’re horribly uncomfortable, and not at all suitable for wrangling the girls ime. I strongly dislike them (because a lady never hates, or so the nuns told me in school).

    Comment by Margaret — April 14, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  25. Lane Bryant is just breaking my heart left and right now. First my store closed and now my favorite bra is going away and I can’t even try any of the new ones on. Time to finally break the bank and hit the specialty shops I suppose. Unless Torrid’s bras are miraculously no longer crap.

    Comment by AmazonPrincess — April 14, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  26. @Plumcake: This is why I tell the ladies, YOU MUST TRY ON THE BRA! No matter if you “know your size”! If you did not try on this very same bra YESTERDAY, you must try it on today!

    But they don’t listen. Then they come back and complain that their bras do not fit.

    This is why retail is not the career for me.

    Comment by Fellmama — April 14, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

  27. @Fellmama: Sing it. This is why I interview clients before I take them on AND charge them out the ear for my advice. Otherwise they won’t listen and I’ll end up killing someone. It slays me because these are the same women who complain they wear a 14 in one designer and a 22 in another but refuse to believe that bras aren’t as variable. Well okay, they usually aren’t QUITE as variable, but cut, fabric, construction…they all matter. OH and don’t get me started on the “a 40D is the same as a 38DD” BECAUSE IT’S NOT. The cup to band ratio may be the same, but that does not mean they will both fit! GRRRR!

    @AmazonPrincess: I don’t have any experience with Torrid bras. I do like their non-spanx hosiery though. It’s bulletproof. What about Avenue? I seem to recall having luck with their…tuxedo bra maybe? Though it was foamier than I like. Still, as my friend Mardie Millit–yes, THE real live NYC cabaret sensation– says, “twenty dollar dress and an eighty dollar bra, makes the girls go ‘hmmm’ and the boys go ‘ahhh.'”

    Oh yeah, I totally feel you on that. Did your nuns also tell you “a lady is never hot, she’s warm”? That was a favorite of my grandmother’s.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — April 15, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  28. @Miss Plumcake, alas Secrets in Lace has discontinued the Curvy Girl cone bra, but at least I found a new resource for fully fashioned heel stockings! Cool site.

    I’m currently wearing Eloni bras, which are pretty good, and pretty – this after a certain Texbunny disrupted a Christmas party several years ago to prove to me that pretty bras to exist in size FF, but in a ladylike way of COURSE

    Comment by Thea — April 15, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  29. Oh. Joy. I have to spend more time in Lane Bryant trying on bras to see if they fit well on my double detonators? I knew the older plunge bra worked well for my two low-cut formal dresses. I could just grab my size bra and get in line (the two LB stores near me have awful customer service so I shop there as little as possible).

    For what it’s worth, Prima Donna and Chantelle make nice bras. They are pricey but made well and there are pretty soft-cup styles.

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — April 16, 2011 @ 11:21 pm

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