It's been awhile since I was active on this site; reason? I've been seriously questioning my gender identity! Wheeeee!
It has become clear to me that my search for the perfect A Bra That Fits was a bit of a misdirect. My dissatisfaction with my chest isn't only, or even primarily, about the difficulty of finding bras. (Although that is legit difficult, which made the bra search a giant red herring.) Even after finding a perfect fit in 70G - Ewa Michalak » Bm Kleks (861) , I wasn't happy. Embarrassingly, the closest representation of my experience probably comes from an episode of Degrassi: The Next Class from last summer. Lola takes Yael to find a bra, and even when they find one, Yael isn't satisfied - until the salesperson (at what must be a VERY progressive underwear shop) points out the binders.
For the last 6 months, I have been binding. Let me tell you, finding a binder that fits is also a huge pain in the chest when you have a small ribcage and large bust.
There are many binders that only work for people with smaller chests; I didn't even bother with those. Many binder-needing folks swear by G2CB, with a few holdouts preferring Underworks (which was basically the only game in town for a long while.) Personally, I had the same experience with both. Size medium was too small and wouldn't even go on, and size large was too large in many dimensions (straps, ribcage), while still being too small in the front panel (the part that is supposed to go over the chest). The result is that my breast tissue got pushed out the sides into the armpit area, and to some extent over the collar, creating these giant bulges that were, if anything, MORE noticeable than just having breasts. It was completely unworkable.
I felt that I was stuck with an unbindable chest until someone mentioned that the Title 9 Frog Bra was back in stock. This is a sport bra with 32% spandex, more than twice what most heavy-duty sport bras have, and it's advertised as the ultimate option for people who do not want any bounce. It also happens to be a pretty darn good binder. For people with smaller chests, it binds completely. On me, it gets me down to a 35" chest measurement (from 40"), which is still quite a bit bigger than my 30" ribcage, but still: decent! It definitely looks OK under a button-down shirt. And the large is big enough that there is no weird bulging. The band is still too loose for me, but the bra is tight and firm enough that the breasts are held up where they need to be anyway. It is also very comfortable for all-day wear (which I cannot say about the other binders).
I could squeeze into the medium, but it created a little bulging and was not as comfortable, and did not really do any better of a job binding (I was still hovering around 35"). So I'm sticking with the large. I bought 4 and I am using them to bind 5+ days a week now that I am dressing male at work.
I still wear a traditional underwire bra 1-2 times a week to let my breasts rest. My anatomy hasn't changed, and underwire bras are still most supportive and comfortable - by which I mean, physically comfortable, not emotionally; it's becoming increasingly dysphoric to have my chest so pushed out and to wear frilly, froofy underthings. Despite the EM BM being technically a slightly better fit, I find I'm gravitating toward my 30GG - Cleo » Blake Balconnet Bra (9151) because of the relatively straightforward, gender-neutral design. The Blake uses brightly colored mesh instead of lace, and is nearly ribbon-free (just the center bow, which I simply snipped off.) I wish more bra companies would come out with bras that are neither matronly nor girly.
Filed under Boob and body issues