Tomima Talks: 3 Must-Own Bra Styles You Need… and Why.
Bait-and-switch. A marketing technique used to pull you in only to disappoint. It’s so prevalent on the Internet, it’s turned most of us into cynics and skeptics. You click hoping to learn something and instead find yourself on a page with rows of products without any real explanation or discussion related to the subject line – a bait and switch.
Here is my list of 3 must-have bra styles I think every woman should be sure they own. And, I’m going to tell you why.
1. T-Shirt Bra
What is a t-shirt bra? It’s any bra where the cups are seamless and lined with a thin layer of modesty padding. The true name for this bra style is a contour cup bra. But early marketing touted its invisibility under a white t-shirt. It thus became known as the t-shirt bra.
The popularity of the t-shirt bra style has led to a larger size range now being offered. Currently, HerRoom offers t-shirt bras up to a 54G(D4) and cup size D11 in a 38-band size.
A t-shirt bra is your answer if you’re wanting invisibility under formfitting tops. Women with uneven sized breasts find this bra style gives them a balanced-looking bustline (FYI, fit to your larger breast size). Breast shapes with deflation will see uplift, forward projection, and a round breast shape when wearing a t-shirt bra. Depending on the foam thickness used (we are the only ones who measure this and put it in our Fitter’s Comments), this bra style can subtly give you a fuller-looking bustline. However, the #1 reason women wear a t-shirt bra is its ability to mask a woman’s “headlights.”
Not all t-shirt bras use the same type of foam in their cups. There are three different types, and you need to understand their differences.
Traditional Foam – The first t-shirt bras were made with polyurethane foam sandwiched between the outside and inner lining fabric. This is the same foam used to make your makeup sponges. It’s the firmest of all the 3 foams and gives the best breast support. It can also be made thick or thin. This foam is the one most used in push-up bras, where the foam can be made thicker in the bottom of a bra’s cups and then taper towards their top. Bra cups with this foam should be stored to protect their shape. If crushed, they can become creased. Should creases occur, here’s a video I made on how to get rid of them: Removing creases from t-shirt bras.
Here are just a few examples of our best-selling traditional foam t-shirt bras:
The traditional foam bras on our site are not defined as such, and therefore cannot be searched. The next two types of foam I will tell you about, memory and spacer, are always defined. So, if you’re looking for a traditional foam bra, you’ll know you’ve found it if it’s not defined as memory or spacer in the description.
Memory Foam – Yup! This is the foam in your memory mattresses and pillows. It absorbs your body’s temperature to perfectly shape to each of your breasts for the ultimate custom bra fit. It basically becomes your second skin that smooths and lifts your existing breast shape. When you take this t-shirt bra off, it bounces back to its original shape. So, you can crush this t-shirt bra without consequence.
Below is a small sample of our best-selling memory foam t-shirt bras. And here is our full offering of memory foam options.
Spacer Foam – Though classified as a foam, spacer foam’s structure is really more like corrugated cardboard – a top and bottom layer loosely sewn together creating air between the two layers. This foam is very lightweight, comfortable to wear, and best of all, breathable. Of all three foams, spacer foam will be your lightest and most malleable, while also being the least firm.
Again, I have selected samples from our top-rated spacer foam bras. But we also offer many more spacer foam styles.
Personally, I’m a big fan and wearer of t-shirt bras and own all three foam types. This is how I decide which foam type to put on. I wear traditional foam for every day to give me a great shape. I travel with memory foam because it can be crushed during packing. And, when outside on a hot day, I wear spacer foam to stay dry. For more information on these 3 foam types, watch my video.
Every woman needs some type of strapless bra in their lingerie arsenal. Personally, when faced with a challenging neckline, I don’t play around with convertible bra straps. Maybe I’m a touch lazy, but I know my strapless bras are comfortable, stay up, and give a great fit. So, I reach first for one of them.
There’s a nonsensical rumor out there that I want to immediately debunk. No, you do not need to change your bra size when purchasing a strapless bra. Guess what? If you’re wearing a different size in your strapless bra, that size is probably your correct bra size. A correctly fitting strapless bra is the ultimate test that confirms your correct bra size. And think about it: Why would a bra manufacturer ever make a bra in your size that doesn’t fit properly? They wouldn’t. So, there, you have it!
Strapless bra technology has come a long way in recent years. They are more comfortable. Come in larger sizes (up to 50G(D4) and cups up to D10 on a 40 band). And come with a variety of features to help keep them up like silicone gripper tape, special underwires, unique boning placement, and firmer, yet lighter fabrics.
There are three strapless bra types: traditional, longline, and adhesive.
Traditional Strapless Bra – Here’s the basic truth about strapless bras: wide bands, tall underwires, and good cup coverage are the features to look for if you want a comfortable stay-put fit with minimal bulges. Thin or skimpy anything on a strapless bra compromises its fit and your look. Here are the best-selling, highest-rated strapless bras on the market today:
Longline Strapless Bra – I’m a big fan of the longline strapless bra. Its firm torso fit guarantees no slipping, gives you a smooth look under formfitting clothes, and lets you have less cup coverage to accommodate lower strapless necklines. And, they are the perfect low-back dress solution while still giving you adequate breast support. Full-busted women will also find them more comfortable and supportive as well. I would rather wear this than a piece of shapewear. There’s no rolling, it stays put, and should I be so lucky at the end of the evening to have someone see me wearing only it, I feel attractive should the dress come off…
Similar to a one-piece swimsuit, a longline strapless bra requires that you find the right fit for your cups and your torso. Manufacturers of these garments must assume several things. For starters, they must assume a woman’s height range. Most conclude you are roughly between 5’4” and 5’8” tall, that you have an average torso length, and, that you are somewhat evenly proportioned. This is a lot of assuming. Since many of us are apple or pear-shaped, tall or short-waisted, playing around with sizing to get the best fit is a possibility.
Women with tummies need to go up in their band size to get a better fit. For example, you wear a 38D bra. However, you have a full tummy which means you’ll need to consider a 40C or even a 42B size to have enough room in the waist while maintaining your same cup volume. Short-waisted women will need to select longlines with a shorter length. Vice versa, long-waisted women should look for ones with a longer torso design.
Should you not find an exact fit, remember that these garments can be altered. The added expense is worth it to get a perfect fitting and comfortable undergarment that you won’t hesitate to wear again. Here are our best-selling and highest-rated longline strapless bras:
Adhesive Strapless Bra – Should you have a dress where none of our strapless or low-back longlines will work, your remaining option is to consider an adhesive bra, or simply go braless.
There are a couple of variations to adhesive bras. And, if you are larger than a 38 band with a voluptuous cup size, there are no winning options for you in this category. Also, of note is that any adhesive lingerie accessory is not a joy to remove. And all require that your skin be clean and without any type of oil at the contact points.
These side-panel adhesive bras can give you some support. Otherwise, these are mostly modesty options should you not wish to go braless. A dress or top with an empire waist can help to keep these options in place. The second strapless above claims to fit up to a 36H(D5) and a 38G(D4). Curiously we have a 5-star review of this item from a 40I(D6) who bought our largest size and claims it held her up for 8 hours of dancing!
Adhesive bras with adhesive flaps are my personal favorite. They provide modesty and the adhesive flap does a good job of giving you breast lift. I’ve also worn this upside down when I’m concerned they could show under my neckline. I have found that having the flap under your breast also provides some breast uplift.
This style is the original adhesive bra. It gives you modesty coverage and has a front closure that can help pull your breasts together to create cleavage, but they do not provide any breast support. It takes a little practice to put this bra on in the correct place. For example, depending on how much cleavage you want, you need to place these more on the outer side of your breasts. But, after a few tries, you can get the hang of it.
I have worn this adhesive style by reversing the cups (putting the right on my left side and vice versa) and adhering them to myself while pulling upwards with the unattached closures pointed towards my shoulders. I get uplift and coverage for low necklines where my plunge bras would otherwise show. Oh, and I do not suggest you purchase a bra like this with a shiny surface – they can pick up the flash of a camera through your top thus providing a “show & tell” for anyone photographing you.
A plunge bra is any bra with a low center front. They are on my “must-own” list because almost any woman can wear one, they offer great breast support, give a nice breast shape, and have a deep “V” center that celebrates your fabulous cleavage. The plunge bras with cup seams are particularly designed to provide breast containment so you don’t “spill out” in the center (as long as you are in your correct bra size).
HerRoom provides a “measured” image on every bra we sell. It shows you both the height and width of all center panels. Traditional bras have a center panel that comes up to the apex line. If it’s lower, it’s considered a plunge bra.
A plunge bra will have lower underwires in front, an angled cup shape, and typically wider-set shoulder straps. These features help ensure a plunge bra is not visible when wearing a low-cut v-neck or when leaving a lower button on your button-up shirt undone.
FYI, most front closure bras also plunge. To get the center clasp to rest on your sternum requires that the clasp be set low. And, because a front-closure clasp requires a bit of horizontal room, their cups are usually set a little wider – but not all. So, if you happen to have wide-set breasts and are looking for a plunge bra, consider one with a center front clasp. Here are some of our best-reviewed:
A plunge-style bra is also great for both women with touching/close-set breasts and women who are short-waisted. The shorter underwires in front will rest nicely between breasts and also work well on a woman who finds a traditional center panel too high for her shorter torso. Here are some of our best-selling plunge bras:
A plunge bra can be worn every day and/or on special occasions. I’m frequently spotted wearing button-down blouses. Underneath is always a plunge bra so I never have to worry if a part of my bra might show.
Have you ever wanted to take on the task of sewing your own lingerie? If you know how to sew and have a DIY mindset, there are two sites that can assist with patterns, fabrics, and findings. The first is Bra-Makers Supply. Beverly Johnson is the woman behind this 20+ year-old site filled with top-quality supplies, books, and even classes to assist you in making your very own lingerie. She’s super smart and actually mentored me early on as I was learning the ins and outs of bra fitting. I still remember her telling me, “I’ve seen it all” when it comes to custom bra needs.
The second site is Orange Lingerie. Based in Boston, it was founded by Norma Loehr in 2009. This site is for the sewing enthusiast wishing to make luxury bespoke bras that “honor a woman’s actual shape.” The site’s resources are top-notch, and the patterns offered have amazing, detailed descriptions/explanations along with being instantly downloadable upon purchase. They also offer two-day, bra-making workshops hosted all over the USA. They must be popular; their next one is posted as “sold out.”
Yikes! or Yeahs!
Below is the latest edition of my YIKES! or YEAHS! Test. I’ve mixed in some examples of properly fitting bras along with the ill-fitting YIKES bras I have seen recently. Make your choices and then click the button below to see if you qualify as a bra fit expert. In my answers, I’ll detail where the YIKES! bras went wrong.
Tomima Founder & CEO HerRoom.com