When I was wearing the wrong bra size (for a good 10 years between puberty and last year…oops), I did not normally wear the typical American “T-shirt” plunge bra, which is supposed to give you a smooth and round appearance under even the thinnest of t-shirts. There were two main reasons: 1) I felt like my boobs were already big enough, and a molded bra just made me look even less proportionate than I thought I already looked, and 2) I usually couldn’t find a molded bra with big enough cups – especially since it didn’t take much experimentation to realize early enough that any bra above a 32 band was too big for me (and would ride up horribly). And let me tell ya, the 32D and 32DD moulded plunges I would buy (TJ Maxx – $5-$10 a pop!) and try to stuff myself into were not the most attractive look.
So, every now and then I wore a Maidenform or Natori, or even rarer, a Victoria’s Secret molded plunge, but for the most part I tried to squeeze into unlined bras that still didn’t fit, but would hopefully make my boobs look smaller.
Soon after I discovered that 32DDD wasn’t the smallest band/largest cup size combination, I decided to try out T-shirt bras again. This may be too much information, but this moment also coincided with 1) my no longer being so concerned about minimizing my breasts, 2) my being obsessed with the look of a black 32D Josie by Natori molded plunge bra that I possessed but couldn’t wear – and wanting to recreate it in my size, and 3) a (very rude) university student of mine writing on her course evaluation that she could see the seams of my (unlined) bra through my shirt (yeah. There’s a feminist point to make here, as well as a lot to say about the difficulty of being a young female professor, and being judged more for your appearance than your work – but that’s for another time!).
When I tried on my first T-shirt bras that fit, the cups appeared huge before I put them on. But after clasping, twisting, and scooping, I was amazed. Cups that contained all my breast tissue! I hadn’t even known that was a thing!
In what follows, I will show you a few T-shirt bras that I have tried, and compare and contrast along the way. There will be a Part 2 post, and quite possibly a Part 3.
First up, Parfait’s Casey in European Nude, size 30FF. Casey has 3 hooks in the back, which makes the bra nicely supportive (Freya’s Deco only has 2). This compensates for the length of the band: the 30 band in this size and colorway runs large. I had to start on the second hook. In terms of wire length and shape, Casey has wires that are not too much wider than the Deco’s – medium, I’d say – and can probably work for shapes that are shallow to medium projection.
When I put this bra on, I instantly loved it. I was obsessed with the darker, shiny nude color. I simply couldn’t send it back, even though I could find the lighter nude color that Parfait was offering for a much cheaper price. Does the darker beige here work as a nude? Not on my very pale skin, unfortunately. But it’s certainly not as bad as a black bra under light colored shirts:
The bra gives great cleavage, although that may also be because the 30FF is actually slightly small in the cup on me. My boobs may tumble out a little at the center throughout the day, but it isn’t too visible with a shirt on. Not a deal breaker!
In the above photo, you can actually see the lace along the sides of the bra show through the shirt ever so slightly. I love this lace, however, and think both the side lace, and the dark European nude color, make this a pretty sexy and interesting version of the boring ol’ nude bra.
The European Nude Casey is a bit different from the lighter nude Casey (and possibly other color ways of the Casey). When I tried both, I found that the European Nude Casey had slightly thinner/more flexible molding (which I prefer – others may find they like a stiffer molding for extra shaping). The same when compared to Freya’s Deco. Also, the European Nude Casey’s straps are shiny yet more splicey compared with the regular nude Casey’s straps. The latter’s straps are surprisingly soft. Both bras, and almost every padded bra in the correct size I have ever tried, however, have straps and tops of cups that are jabbing into my armpit area (not really pain, just annoying). This is bothersome enough for me that I wouldn’t want to lounge around (slouch on the couch, for example) in one of these bras all day.
Next is Panache’s Porcelain Plunge, in size 28GG (30G also worked fine). It appears that GG+ features some soft padding on the fronts of the straps, but not so much to keep the straps from being fully adjustable, luckily.
When I first tried on this bra, I knew I needed it (Interestingly, I have heard some in the online bra-fitting community say that this bra is a difficult fit. Not sure why!) Compared to Casey and Deco, for one, the molding is very thin and flexible – a whole lot less bulky. The bra offers great cleavage (if you have a fuller shape), but still gives a minimizing, more subtle look.
You can see, below, the side silhouette is quite a bit more “low profile” than the Casey. This is great for more professional clothing, the trendy flowy style of clothing, or for when you are wearing skimpier tanks tops and don’t necessarily want a ton of bulk.
The band unfortunately has only 2 rows of hooks instead of 3, and does cause some back fat (see photo above). But my fatty back gets that pretty easily! The straps and tops of the cups do jab a little into my armpit area, but it is not as bad or bothersome as other (especially padded) bras. The most significant problem, however, is that the wires come up pretty high under the armpit. After wearing the bra all day one day, I found that one of the wires was poking me uncomfortably. I wonder if bending the wire in a different direction might mitigate this issue.
Here is the Porcelain Plunge under a white shirt. Unfortunately you can see the top of the cup quite a bit. I haven’t really found a bra that doesn’t do this a little.
It is not as bad looking with a lower v neck and a slightly thicker white shirt:
I believe Panache may still be selling the Porcelain Plunge (and you can find it all over eBay and many retail sites), but they also have a newer version called Panache Porcelain Élan Plunge. Supposedly the fit is improved, and it features a j-hook for Racer-back conversion! I definitely want to try the Élan in black, since I love the very thin and flexible moulding these bras boast.
Today’s final bra specimen is Cleo’s Neve. Neve was the past two seasons’ replacement for the older style Jude, and this SS2015 replaces Neve with Koko Mode. So lots of dynamism in Cleo’s quest to produce the perfect molded plunge bra! I was pretty happy with the Neve, here in 30G:
Excuse the spots on the mirror, please! The Neve contains my breasts nicely without them falling out, and still gives very excellent, uplifted cleavage. You can see a very uplifted look from the side view photo above. The molding has a thickness that is right between the thickness of Casey and Porcelain Plunge.
I think even fullness works best in this bra, and one should note that the wires are a bit wider than Deco and Casey. The cups are fairly true to size, but the band is definitely tight. The 30 was perfect for me, but the 28 (which is normally good for me in Cleo) was extremely tight – probably good for those who require 26 bands (if the one I tried was not an anomaly). The straps on Neve are pretty thin up to a G cup (they get wider at GG+), which is a good and a bad thing. The thinness is good for a sexier look under summer tops, but there are some significant red marks at the end of the day (and sometimes some pain). I would have preferred straps a little wider. The other issues with this bra, which make it not comfortable enough to be a lounge bra for me, include the height of the wires (when I slouch, they poke), and, of course, the perennial problem: tops of cups invading my armpits!
In sum, I liked all three of the above bras, for different purposes, enough to keep them. None of them, however, was perfect. Stay tuned for Part 2, to see if I can find that perfect T-shirt bra!