Far from all bras give good support. The bigger the cup size and the heavier the bust, the more difficult it is to find the optimal bra. But there are tricks you can use. We go through what you need to think about when you buy a bra for a big, heavy bust.
‘A bra should feel comfortable whatever the size’
A big bust weighs a lot! A really big bust can weigh as much as 4 kg and therefore needs a good, firm bra that can help to lift and support it to relieve the back and neck. This makes demands on the bra, but many factors determine how much support a bra can offer. It’s not that unusual that women with a heavy bust to look at the shoulder straps first, whether they are wide or not. Then they look if the model is available in their cup size and if it is, they buy the bra. But it is not the shoulder straps you should look at first when choosing a new bra. They do play a part but less so than many women think.
‘A big bust needs a firm bra’
A bra that is specially made for a heavy bust has many properties that help lift the bust. The absolute most important thing is how the bra fits around the back, the material the bra is made of and the combination of several properties. Let’s start with the back.
THE BACK IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR SUPPORT
The back provides most of the bra’s support for you bust. It’s therefore good to invest in a model with a wide and firm back and wide sides. The hook and eye fastening on the back should have at least three hooks vertically.
‘A wide and firm back provides support for the whole bust’
The bra should fit tightly around the body for optimum support, though never so tightly that it is uncomfortable or leaves marks. The wider the back the greater the area over which the support is distributed and the less the bra will cut in. If you prefer a bra with lace, make sure the lace is not too thin or delicate. If it is very thin, it is good if the bra is lined for extra stability.
NOT ALL CUPS ARE THE SAME
The most suitable cup for a heavy bust is a full cup as it catches the whole bust and there is less feeling that the breasts are going to fall out when you lean forward. So, choose a full cup for a safe and comfortable feel all day. The material is even more important. A cup made of a firm material prevents the weight of the bust from stretching the material after wearing it for some time. A firm material doesn’t have to be completely firm, but it shouldn’t be stretchy in both directions. Feel and pull the material a little to see for yourself. Completely firm materials are not always that comfortable. On a cup that is made from several sections, the stretchiness is sometimes positioned in different directions on the different parts of the cup, for example the under cup may have vertical stretch and the side of the cup horizontal stretch (or be placed sideways). Varying the direction of stretch this way compared with just putting it in one direction provides extra stability and scope for size flexibility. If not all the material in the cup is stretchy downwards but also horizontally, the weight of the bust is distributed better. This varies between different cuts of cups and models.
‘Look at the material of the cup when choosing your bra’
A bra with a full cup of firm material gives the bust extra support.
There are cups with a firm under cup and an upper cup made of stretch lace. The elastic part will adapt to the bust, which is good if, for example, you have unsymmetrical breasts or you are between two cup sizes.
Another suggestion is to choose a cup with padding. There are fully padded cups and cups where only the under part is padded. Contrary to what many think, the padding on the cups is not to provide extra volume to the bust but rather to create a firmer form and more stable support. If you are looking to increase the volume, choose a push-up bra with pads in the under part instead or a maximiser that can have padding of about 1-2 cm and sometimes even thicker.
‘The padding in a cup is often only a few millimetres thick and therefore doesn’t increase volume’
The most common material used in a classic padded cup is a thin layer of foam less than 3 mm thick. That is the type that Miss Mary, amongst others, uses. It is sufficient to provide support and take the weight but does not increase the volume. It feels light and comfortable and is the same type as that used for the wide, padded comfort shoulder straps.
If you prefer an unpadded cup in elastic material, choose a model that is lined. That can be a good option if, for example, you want a bra in lace. Just as with the padding, there are models where the whole or just the under cup is lined.
CHOOSE A CUP WITH LIFT SUPPORT OR SIDE SUPPORT
Some cups have separate lift support in the under cup that helps lift the bust. It is a padded panel or strip along the under cup that prevents the bust from stretching the cup downwards. There is a difference between lift and support. Support means that the bra is held tight against the body and there is thereby less ‘bounce’ when you move. Lift means that the bust is lifted up to give a nice silhouette and the bust doesn’t rest against your tummy making you warm and uncomfortable.
‘Cups with extra lift support help to raise a heavy bust’
If you have a wide bust or your breasts are very separated and you want to gather them together by lifting them towards the middle, a bra with side support is a good option. Side supports are positioned on the outside of the cups to reinforce the support and prevent the bust from ‘spilling out’ towards the sides and the armpits. This helps during, for example, daily activities and arm movements and also gives a more slender impression as the bust becomes less wide. There are unpadded and padded side supports. The padded side support does not increase the volume but has a stronger effect than the unpadded version.
‘Side support centres the bust towards the middle’
The diagram on the right shows the effect of side support on the bust. If you have a big bust or the breasts are spread out, side support will help to centre the bust, prevent it expanding to the sides and getting in the way of arm movements.
THE UNDERWIRE LIFTS AND DISTRIBUTES THE WEIGHT
An underwired bra is also recommended as the underwire offers very good support and helps to lift the bust. The underwire spreads the weight and distributes it to the sides of the bra. The higher up the side and between the bust that the underwire goes the bigger the area over which it spreads the support. The underwire also separates the bust as the underwire helps to keep the bra flat against the chest. If you have the right size and model, the underwire is never uncomfortable.
‘The underwire spreads and redistributes the weight of the bust’
Don’t forget the shoulder straps
Even if it is primarily the band around the back that keeps the bra in place, the shoulder straps are also important, even though the main function of the shoulder straps is to keep the cups against the body. Imagine a pair of shoes with laces. The laces make the shoes fit better but if the shoes are the wrong size they don’t matter. The shoulder straps are responsible for about 20% of the bra’s support. If you have a big bust, it is a good idea to choose wide shoulder straps to relieve your shoulders. Many of our bra models are available with padded shoulder straps that increase comfort and are gentle on the shoulders. Most of our comfort shoulder straps are not completely firm, a small part of the shoulder strap at the back is usually stretchy to allow for movement.
‘The shoulder straps are responsible for max 20% of the bra’s support’
On the left: wide, padded comfort shoulder straps relieve the shoulders. The picture shows the Amsterdam underwired bra
On the right: the Confident underwired bra has shoulder straps that can be connected at the back to help redistribute the weight.
Some bra models also have shoulder straps that can be taken out of the fastenings and connected across the back. There are also shoulder straps with a small hook or clasp that allows them to be connected at the back. See picture above. Being able to vary the shoulder straps like this will relieve the shoulders as the weight is redistributed.
Naturally, you don’t have to find a bra with all these properties for it to provide support, but the more the better. It’s also not only big and heavy busts that need support, small busts that are not firm also need extra support. It is not determined by the size or volume. Take care of your bust whatever its shape.