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Plus Size Women Have Unique Bra Needs

These days it’s all the rage to celebrate body positivity and parade “plus-size” women around in everything from evening gowns to swimsuits to show how inclusive television has become. This new trend is no accident. A recent study found that 67% of American women are over a size 14 and 65% of American women are considered “plus-size”. This is the new American woman, this is us, and brands that have ignored us have a lot of catching up to do. Looking around I am proud of the amazing women that I am keeping company with and I hope you do as well!


Despite the fact that the majority of ladies now fall into the “plus” category, not every brand that makes plus sizes is innovating the way they should.  Plus size bra needs are unique. Plus size fashion requires unique components. These brands, because of cost or ignorance, choose to simply scale a pattern instead of engineering it. The same pattern for a 32B bra cannot simply be “scaled up” for a 42F. The larger cups and bands have to be engineered and address the very different needs of a plus-size body. This is one reason why 77% of plus size women say that it is difficult to find well-fitting quality garments. 


No two bodies are alike even at the same dress size. Some are a bit more top-heavy, some more junk in the trunk, and some both because that cheeseburger tastes better than your exercise and yoga video feel at 7 AM every morning for the rest of my life so just let me sleep and leave me alone! Whew, anyways… If every body is different even at the same size it only makes sense that bodies will be different at different sizes and those differences require different solutions. Thinking that you can simply scale a size 4 to fit a 14, 20 or 26 just doesn’t work and new variations need to be accounted for.

Form and function ARE NOT mutually exclusive. You can have both in a proper fit and style made for your unique needs. Compare contouring in the bra at the top to the lack of any contour on the bottom one.


Niche brands have emerged to address these needs, solving a plethora of bra fit problems for exactly this segment of the population (remember more than half of us!). So whether you are plus-sized with a full bust, plus size with a petite bust, or plus size with core bust there are aesthetically pleasing, functional and comfortable pieces that perform the way your body needs it to without you feeling like a grandma from the 1800s ( Woooooo bloomers that start at the bra and cover to the ankle!)

So what are these needs? Plus bodies require curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements in order to function properly and comfortably.

Unique fabrics in conjunction with strategic elements that bring out the best performance for the materials are key to getting a bra for a plus-body to do its job.


  • Engineering for function, shape, lift, aesthetics, and comfort

I mentioned above scaling or making a pattern made for straight (core) sizes larger doesn’t work. It doesn’t translate. Structural reinforcements required to lift and shape won’t be there. Fabric choices will not yield the same results or perform the same way over time. Painful wear points are exacerbated by inappropriate components (think those stupid and painful plastic side bones under your arms in some styles). 


Powermesh is your friend! Don’t be afraid of structure and firmness. A bra for a plus-frame has stretch at the places on the body that need a little forgiveness & non-stretch where it doesn’t.


  • Contouring for the figure

Contoured bands that wrap around the body and are shaped around vital areas are important. Think wider wings on the band, contoured cups in an upside-down U shape over the tummy, and strap placement just to name a few. Not to mention cup shape and construction to account for not only breast size and placement, but how that blends into the sensitive areas around your armpit and ribs.



  • Frame Adjustments

The frame height, width, special underwire dimensions, and angles are all different. Plus-size bodies CAN wear underwire comfortably. When the dimensions of the bra frame are designed specifically for a plus body, it will fit comfortably. 



  • Unique fabrics and design elements

The strategic use of 4 way stretch, power mesh, and reinforcement elements are critical in addressing the dichotomy of support and comfort. The garment needs to hug curves firmly and shape around them to work together synergistically so as not to fight the body. Inner side slings or extra seamed panels in the cup are frequently used to lift and shape the breast tissue. Quality metal finishings versus plastic and reinforced connection points. Room for tummies and easy clasping methods are also considerations.



Yes, as a plus body you can wear lace. You can wear an underwire. You can have lift and comfort. You can have pretty and functional. As a matter of fact, getting fitted into an appropriate style and fit for your body will balance your silhouette and define your figure. You will find that you will mentally and physically feel better, and have more options in clothing.


Ready to get your needs addressed? We’re ready to help! Book a bra fitting your way today!

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