Personal Style

The Bra Brand Bible: This is What Real Inclusivity Looks Like

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Everyone’s proclaiming the era of democratic fashion these days, calling for clothing lines that cater to every size.

But when Racked took a closer look, reality fell way short of expectation. While the average American woman is a size 16 or 18, Racked found fashion lines max out at a size 20, and bra brands like True & Co. extend only so far as a 38DD, a “combination easy to find at…any department store lingerie section.”

“Companies are always asking women over a certain size to wait just a little longer, apologize just a little more about the scale of difficulty their very common bodies represent, and be just a little more grateful that anyone is getting around to them at all,” wrote Amanda Mull in the article, “Why Aren’t Fashion ‘Disruptors’ Serving Plus-Size Customers?”

At Bare Necessities, we’ve seen firsthand how wearing the right size—starting with that very key base layer otherwise known as your bra—makes all the difference in the world in how your clothes fit and how you feel. That’s why, unlike the bra brands popping up in your newsfeed or on TV, we really do serve every body. The range of bras we carry (band sizes 28 to 58 and cup sizes AA to O) is, simply stated, unrivaled.

Here are the top brands that, taken together, deliver real support and style in every size.

For petites: Chantelle, Natori, The Little Bra Company, OnGossamer
Size range: 28 to 36 bands, A to C cups
Why they’re the best: Small breasts still need bras, and these are the ones expressly made to fit. “They have all the attributes a woman could want, yet the technical design accommodates a smaller frame,” said Moira Nelson, a Director here at Bare Necessities. “They don’t look too young or cutesy.” What they are: pretty and supportive, without overwhelming bump padding, “as if she’s automatically trying to appear bigger than she is.” These brands masterfully achieve this feat by adjusting correctly, not just scaling down a bigger bra, Moira explained. That means cups that fit wider-set breasts (common to this figure), as well as thinner straps that aren’t too rigid and narrower elastics and trimmings.

For average busts: WacoalNatori, Chantelle, Simone Pérèle
Size range: 32 to 38 bands, B to DD/E cups
Why they’re the best: We swear by these standard-bearers, as do our customers. “This is where bras are built,” Moira said. In other words, most brands create garments based on this frame, and other bras are typically graded from these proportions. “The industry mainly uses 34B, 34C or 34D sample size fit models. The customer with average-sized breasts is blessed in that most bras will accommodate her regardless of the nuances of her shape,” said Moira. “She has lots of options because she doesn’t have major barriers to finding bras that support her, such as very dense, heavy breasts. And because she can choose just about any style she could want—front-close, racerbacks, sports bras, unlined lace, memory foam—she has the freedom to try different brands.”

For full busts: Freya, Panache, Fantasie, Prima Donna, Empreinte
Size range: 28 to 38, DD cups and above
Why they’re the best: “These are the brands that nail it when it comes to catering to this body type,” Moira said. “She has a bigger bust but not a bigger frame. When other brands try to accommodate this customer, they merely scale up from the sample size, which results in longer underwires and boning that pokes, wider elastics, straps and hook-and-eye closures as well as increased coverage. The entire bra ends up being way too big, even if it’s still a technical fit. Cup capacity is what needs to increase here; she doesn’t necessarily need more coverage in front or taller back wings that creep up into her underarm.” These brands get that. Per Moira, “This is a highly underserved customer, and they’ve made it their business to address her unique needs, going through painstaking trial and error, while traditional brands have conditioned us to think that bras don’t go beyond a DD. False!”

For plus sizes: Elomi, Goddess, Glamorise, Curvy Couture
Size range: 38 and up, cups above DD
Why they’re the best: For women who are plus size and larger-busted, look to these brands created for the truly full figure. “They take into consideration her needs: the weight and density of the breasts, shape variation, fullness and proportion, the way the breasts hang, her design needs and preferences,” said Moira. “Some are looking for minimizers, some want separation, others want side support, a lower center gore or an unlined cup, while someone else may prefer a smooth-cup T-shirt bra. And all of it is harder to find because she wants her bras to be as stylish as everyone else’s. Function is as important as fashion for this consumer, and you can’t sacrifice it to get the look you want, like, say, the bralette trend. That’s why these four brands are such gems.”

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Brooke Glassberg
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, calligraphy, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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