Why a t-shirt bra isn’t always the best thing to wear under a t-shirt!
Without wanting to scare away any good weather we might be having, it’s time to put away the thicker sweaters and bring out the t-shirts. Oh trusty friend of many colors in softest cotton or jersey, how we love thee.
And with the t-shirts come… the t-shirt bra! You don’t want your underwear to be the focus underneath your clothes and a t-shirt or smooth bra can be the invisible piece of engineering required. However, if you’re a lady with a fuller bust the thing that you’ll be reaching for in your lingerie drawer might not actually be the most flattering.
All too often we have ladies in the fitting room requesting a moulded or smooth t-shirt bra and in the same breath tell us their goal is to minimize the appearance of their bust. What’s wrong with that, we hear you say?
Well, let’s call it a bit of a design flaw. The structure required to help lift and shape the bust (and lessen the fullness of the bosom making you look smaller) goes against the smoothness required for a form fitting t-shirt bra. With a t-shirt or top that requires invisibility from the undergarment beneath, you need a smooth shape. But the smooth shape from a t-shirt bra usually flattens the bust, pushing the breasts to the sides, making you look wider and bigger. Confusing, right?
It can be… Basically, what can make your bust look smaller is to make it look like it sits comfortably on your frame. If you have a fuller bust this usually means your bust is bigger than the frame, for example, if you’re a 36 frame and have a GG bust it would take up more volume on your chest than if you were a DD (approximately three to four inches more space). The best way to counteract that difference is to narrow it or rather, centre it to the front.
Ever wondered why plunge styles can sometimes make you look slimmer? It’s because the bra is directing your bust to the centre and narrowing it from the sides. No more breast under the arms!
Obviously, we’re not saying wear a plunge bra for everyday – there’s not enough support for a fuller sized bust to have a comfortable day of wear in it to be honest even if you’re in the right size, just like your feet would ache after a day walking about in stilettos.
But a bra with a three-part construction including a panel along the side to hold that side boob and structured seams through the middle with double layered fabric to help guide and hold the breast into position is specifically designed to lift, narrow and make your bust look smaller.
In the most basic terms: if you want your bust to look smaller (narrower) you’ll need shaping and lift which equals seams and construction. If you want a smooth line under clothes you will end up with a bust that is flattened at the front but wider, ultimately making your bust appear larger.
Not all t-shirt bras are the same…
Some smooth/t-shirt bras are made by placing the single layer of fabric onto a heated mould to give the cup a smooth, preformed shape. This can create quite a rigid cup without any give and why sometimes it can be beneficial to size up in the cup in this style as the cups tend to fit smaller.
Then there’s also the foam moulded shape (not to be confused with padded bras which have a booster or pad inside the cup for extra cleavage, often found in smaller cup sizes) which undergoes a similar preformed heat press but using a single layer of soft foam fabric.
And finally, we have the spacer bra which is actually two layers of a special 3D knitted fabric with a spacer yarn woven between. If you’ve ever had one of these in your hands, you’ll know the difference immediately between this and a regular foam; it’s almost squishy and very light and airy. This is a great fabric if you live in hotter climes or suffer from higher body temperatures (hello hot flushes!) as it allows for airflow too.
We’d suggest avoiding the single layer of fabric types of smooth bra if you have a large cup discrepancy (we all have one breast slightly larger than the other, but some may have this differ by two or more cups) as the larger cup is always the one we must make sure is fitting best due to the wires! The smaller cup can wrinkle and look baggy, potentially showing through clothes. The foam or spacer styles are better in this case as they hold their shape and the difference can be hidden.
If your bust is very full always ensure you go for a style that gives full coverage of the cup – no low plunge or balcony styles that will cut across the bust and give the dreaded jiggle!
Now, we’re not trying to discourage you from the beloved t-shirt bra. They are fantastic pieces of kit, but (using that shoe analogy again!) just as you wouldn’t expect a pair of high heeled pumps to be the right shoe for every foot or occasion, they might not be the right bra for you.
However, your Bra~vo intimates fitter is expertly trained to recognise which type of t-shirt bra will be better for your bust shape and size. Some of our favourites in store are:
Elomi Smooth Bra – a full coverage clever bra with a sheer limited stretch panel on the top to help give a custom fit, made from Aerocool fabric that is light and airy.
Fantasie Impression Moulded Seamless Bra – another full coverage style but this has a supportive inner sling within the cup to help centre the breasts to the front, combatting the widening effect of regular t-shirt bras. Plus the J-hook attachment allows for multiple looks.
Goddess Yvette – When is a t-shirt bra not a t-shirt bra? When it’s a three-part moulded cup! This is one of Bra~vo’s best sellers that has a strong side panel to bring breasts towards the centre and forward together with lace to give control to the top of the cup.
Freya Starlight – a great balcony shape based on Freya’s bestseller Idol bra, perfect for those who have lost fullness at the top of their bust.
Fantasie Aura – another popular style for those with a small frame and full bust offering a pretty rounded shape and J-hook for conversion to racerback.
Sculptresse Elegance* – a spacer foam moulded style that is light and airy to wear whilst providing the firm support we love from Sculptresse.
Wacoal Basic Beauty Spacer* – a great wardrobe basic with an inner sling and centred straps for C to F cups.
*not currently online
Whatever your skin tone, you need something that will disappear under lighter colors and not transfer from any darker tops so best to go for whatever you would wear as your Nude. For lighter tones try peachy pinks and powders, medium tones try bronzes and coffee, darker tones try mocha and chocolate.
T-Shirt bras aren’t for me, I’m married to my seams – what do I do?
Fantastic, we’re glad we converted you to the seam life. The structure, support and comfort you get from them is unparalleled. You can always change your mind on your next fitting with us and your Bra~vo intimates fitter is more than happy to bring in a couple of styles for you to try on, especially if it’s for a special occasion or to fit a particular outfit.
However, we find that the following tips and tricks can help if you’re happy with the cut n sew style of bra with seams.
- Wear a camisole or vest over your bra to add an extra layer of fabric to minimise the look of any lace, pattern or seams.
- When going for a fitting make sure to bring your clingiest or flimsiest top as well as a slightly thicker t-shirt to see for yourself how the seams look.
- Be sure to position the nipple in the cup right along the seam - even if it’s chilly, it won’t be as noticeable.
- Go for a style that has a less raised lace or embroidery on it - stretch lace can often work well under form fitting tops. Alternatively, there are plenty of styles that are flat, glossy fabric all over.
- If there’s a lot of pattern or raised lace, keep it to the bottom of the cup where it won’t show under clothing.
- Seams soften with wear and washing – always remember to hand wash.
- Make sure you choose a good nude for your skin tone so it’s not competing.
- Just go with it – if you look fabulous with a narrow and lifted bosom, who cares if a little seam is showing? Your bra is an expensive but necessary piece of foundation wear. Call it visible tailoring and wear your seams with pride!
If you would like to try on a t-shirt or cut ’n’ sew bra with the fitting experts at Bra~vo intimates and have your very own Bra~vo Experience call us to book an appointment on 248-582-7286 or book online here.
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