What Do You Look for In a Bra?

Friends, family, esteemed colleagues: I think I’m going there.

I’m ready to assume my position as a woman.

A woman bound by her foundation garments.

I have spent the last ten years of my life assuming that bras, like hand cuffs, are the amulet of imprisonment. If a convicted criminal is put in hand-cuffs to signal his imminent arrival in a place of solitary confinement, then a bra has historically been, for me, the emblem of circumscribed femininity.

I understand that for women better endowed than I am, bras might actually function as a converse vehicle that annotates freedom — freedom from being chained to the harsh reality that is a flapping annie flapping too far astray — but for a woman with mosquito bites as inconsequential as mine, the necessity to cloak a chest isn’t quite as urgent. And when that urgency gets lost on the wearer, the bra just seems like, you know, a hand cuff.

But recently I’ve found myself fairly intrigued by the notion of one additional layer of thoughtfully styled fabric — paltry as it may be. It’s a whole new world of opportunity — one ripe with the imaginings of underwire or not, padding or definitely not, silk or cotton, straps made adjustable or static. And after spending enough time in the dressing room at one particular shop on Elizabeth Street, I’ve concluded that what I, personally, look for in a bra is, frankly, futility.

I’ve settled on a couplet of black lace triangular cupped bras that are supported by a black satin band that wraps around my rib cage, which matches the adjustable, skinny black straps that support the area from just above my breasts to around my shoulders. They basically do nothing, save for add a new dimension to my white v-neck blouses and if I’m being really honest with you, I really like that about them. They’re sexy in that special, Man Repeller-approved way that, say, Birkenstocks are and allow me to continue looking like a little boy, even if, paradoxically as it is, I feel like a woman.

I am new to this though. And something tells me my fresh triangles are but a mere gateway drug in the ring of breast abutment so, tell me, what do you look for in a bra?

  • Jessica Rose

    Well I’m a 32G…so basically anything that holds and makes me look firmer!!


  • Sophie

    Right there with Jessica, I’m a 30F but thanks to some VERY good bra companies, I don’t tend to look too large. If I were smaller-breasted I would adore wearing the dainty triangles they sell in Urban Outfitters… Embrace the triangles babes 🙂

    Sophie x


    • Sara K

      What brands do you @Sophie and @Jessica Rose like? I’m also a 32G and am trying to find comfortable, pretty options…*sigh*

      • kaleeater

        I’m a 30F, and I looove Simone Perele.

      • Sophie

        Marks and Spencer’s (British high st) do superb, affordable and dainty looking bras for the bigger breasted. Freya are good for cute/ girly patterns with proper support. Wonderbra are fab for strapless/ weird shaped bras that will still hold you up!


  • how boring am I that my dream bra is nude colored without any decadent lace or bedazzlement? has absolutely no sex appeal but works seamlessly well as a go to bra for tops of any material/color. am I missing out on the bigger bra picture though? will lavish lace and sexier silhouettes do anything for me in regards to attitude/confidence/make me want to belt out a Shania Twain song?

  • iPheral

    Thanks ladies, but we guys look for other things.

    • aphra

      good thing it has nothing to do with you then!

      • iPheral

        Sorry aphra, didn’t know you don’t have a sense of humor.

  • Few things make me happier than new underwear…. I leap out of bed at the thought. It’s the simple things… the simple lace, underwire, industrial strength, 34DD, sexy things that remind me to try and find a man to show them to.


  • If my annies were small, I’d go for sexy, extravagant and elegant. Expensive.

    I’d empty a largish drawer, call it special, line it with silk and fill it with many, many different bras, to be worn at many, many occasions. It wouldn’t really matter how man repellish they’d be: in most cases, the only person knowing I wear them would be me.

    But since my slapping (;-) annies ain’t tiny, all I dream about is my favourite organic cotton black bra that offers much comfortable support. Luckily, in our world of plenty, such bras exist, so I have no reason to complain.
    And for really special moments … I may or may not own a redresse-seins or two … 🙂

  • Comfort and shape are key! I want nice, round, bigger breasts!


  • Johanna

    Comfort is essential, pretty is a plus!

  • Rachelzoeg

    Lace lace lace everywhere, but also super comfortable. It’s impossible to feel confident if you have wires digging into your skin.

  • Tessa Carson

    I, unlike you, haven’t gotten to the point of wanting to wear a bra, but when I get there I’ll let you know. If I absolutely must wear something bra-like I usually gravitate toward something that looks how I imagine training bras would look if Cosabella or La Perla designed them.

  • Adrianna Grężak

    I think my mission in life is to educate women about proper bra fit. I still cringe when I think back to my friend (26 years old at the time) purchasing random bras without trying them on or even looking at the size.

    I wear 30G, so I look for support. Given how expensive they are, I just purchase nude bras to get the most use out of them. Honestly, I wear a sports bra whenever I can. More comfortable, great support, and the bra does some minimizing when I want a more androgynous feel to my outfit

  • Aubrey Green

    I think beautiful and functional bras are best, but harder to find, especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune. I’m a 32/34-B/C – which is nearly impossible to find the right fit, a B is either too small, or a C is too big. It’s really annoying.

    • MichelleC

      same here!! personally i’d change to a C when its almost that time of the month and revert back to B during the rest of the month. Stretchy lace bras without underwire would be my suggestion as it’s got that extra room for you 🙂 lonely hearts do great ones as well as elle macpherson

      • Aubrey Green

        Thanks, I will try those two brands :).

    • Thamsa

      Have you ever been fitted for a bra? I know it’s possible to fit into multiple sizes depending on the brand and style of bra even if your breasts are swollen. But it’s always a good idea to have a proper fit. I’ve never purchased a bra from a boutique full price lol, but I pay attention to their sales so I know when to get a good deal 😉 Good luck finding the best bras for you!

      • Aubrey Green

        I haven’t been fitted actually, which I know is HIGHLY recommended -Thanks for the tip. What company would you suggest for a fitting? VS? Nordstrom?…

        • Thamsa

          Either of those could be good, but I’d suggest going somewhere where they have the widest range of sizes (for instance, I wear 30C, and it’s not a common band size, most places have 32 as the smallest) good luck!

  • Nat G

    Lace, silk and anything fancy and feminine!

    • Nat G

      Try gorgeous bodysuit pieces as well!

  • ashton

    no padding!!!!!!!!!

  • As a 34-36DD, if it fits, they sits.

    I’d love a bra that’s pretty, and while bra companies are getting better at offering more options in the “pretty” department…it’s just not something I get to enjoy. I need something that works – pretty doesn’t keep my back and neck from hurting. That, and most “pretty” bras for larger-breasted women just don’t fit me well.

  • Tara Howisey

    I agree – bring on smaller bras. Enough with the squeezing and upward pushing. Little bites just need a bit of nipple protection.

  • isa

    I’m a B and hate bras, but if I need something that hides my nipples/boob outline I like the American Apparel stretch lace (strategically falls over nip): http://store.americanapparel.net/stretch-floral-lace-bra_rsals319 – the nude colour is invisible under white. For extra perk but not push up, I like the oysho underwire with lace and soft cup http://www.oysho.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductPage?storeId=64009606&langId=-1&catalogId=60109601&categoryId=911005&productId=3535665&typeCategory=911010

  • As a fellow member of T.I.B.T.C… THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS.

  • maria

    At a D cup, now (due to pregnancy) verging on an E, the most important things for me are comfort, support and coverage (i.e. no erect nipples seen). And a wire that is wide enough not to cut painfully into my armpit. Marie Jo bras usually fit me like a glove.

    I love my bras lacy and colorful, and try to take that into account when buying. As well as sex appeal for my husband. But most of the time he is more interested in what the bras contain, so the bra itself does not get much attention before it is on the floor…

  • ava

    I am BIG 38 D and crave a bra like oxygen. After experimenting for a long time (I have been this size for the past 5 years – post menopausal bloat) I have found that a minimiser bra is best suited. Underwired ones push up my boobs and jut them out. At 38 D I need no pushing and jutting. A benign clingy minimiser is my savior.

  • Lia Celeste

    I am fairly small chested and have recently stopped wearing any bra with wire or padding and it is the best. I have the worlds floppiest bra collection and I couldn’t be happier.

  • Gabi

    The only thing I need from a bra is to somewhat cover my nipples when I wear sheer shirts until topless equality is legal in CA, AZ, NM and any other state that I may spend my time in.

  • hellpellet

    I’m a 36G. Yeah. So, I look for the size first. Then I find an underwire and some minimal padding. I’m good.

  • Being blessed with 32DD, I don’t get to wear all the delicate lace little bras. Agh ;( Zuma

  • Adds to feeling sexy – Agent Provocateur is my personal favorite.

  • Ruth

    Support and comfort. Especially support. Going without a bra is like feeling, well, helpless. For instance, if I do a round-house kick without a bra on, my boobs round-house in the same direction, therefore, support is imperative! Comfort is second. Pretty and frilly go on my backside. There ya go, t.m.i…

  • Trilby16

    I LOVE bralettes. I wish they worked for me!

  • Raissomat

    well..I like bralettes without wiring, but I really rarely wear any bra. I used to wear one to work. I felt I had to. And to my acupuncture appointments. You know, god forbid my nipples distract my acupuncturist..

  • LilyP

    I hate them, hate wearing them, hate underwires, I even went for a pro fitting at a fancy-pants lingere store and everything, still can’t wear all the nice ones I bought (CK and Wacoal), and so I always end up wriggling out of them at some point during the day, because I feel like they are too restricting…

  • Ollie B

    Removal. I haaaaaaate them!

  • mizj

    Shoe & bra shopping are enough to bring me to tears or homicide, depending how bad my week has been.
    I am 30E/32DD, but with a healthy does of Rheumatoid arthritis giving me major rib inflammation, a bra with an underwire is a torture device & one without usually doesn’t come in my size or is so flimsy I may as we wear nothing. Also not an option for me working with teenagers.
    Bonds briefly made a great pull on bra that was comfy, supportive & cheap, but dropped it after 2-3 seasons, then I resorted to maternity & sports bra that really didn’t fit the bill. Then I discovered a VS wire free that is pretty, colourful, comfortable, & not going to completely great the bank. I took the risk with one online & LOVE it, I think I’m going to buy 4 more before they decided they were’t such a brilliant idea.

  • TheRanta

    Small boobs, here. I used to wear wire cup flesh-colored t-shirt bras all the time. Then, about four years ago, I realized how much I hated wires that dug into my ribcage and the underside of my boobs, and how much I liked the look and feel of bralettes. (There was also this study and how it was discovered that it wasn’t totally a controlled study, but it came from France and was about lacy undergarments and boobs, so how wrong could it be?)

    Anyway, I love how the straps of a brightly colored bralette can peek out from the neckline of a shirt, sweater, or tank and add a bit of fun, or how a lacy one can add a pretty layer of texure under a sheer-ish or light-colored top.

    If it isn’t functional, pretty, and fun, I don’t buy it.