identity politics

More on Butch Bras

Thanks, all, for the feedback and comments on that last post. Butch breasts and binding and female masculinity are all so deep in this topic, and as one reader mentioned, too, this is also an issue relating to females with large breasts in general. Sure, the gender stuff adds a slightly different dimension, but many women go through this and are challenged by having the right, comfortable bra.

A few more tips, and also some recommendation, since I’ve had a few emails about where to get these butch bras.

First: get the right size of bra. Sports bras obviously are a little less precise in their sizing, but even if you don’t intend to wear any regular bras anymore, figure out your size. It’s amazing how hard it is for us to figure that out. There really is a difference between a 34D and a 36C, and they are not the same size. This seems to be a particularly difficult one for many of the butches I know, because bra shopping is just about The Scariest Thing Possible, and going in there and asking a professional to help figure out what size you really are is pretty much like walking into hell. But, let me just say, it has made a really big difference in my bra-buying since I actually got measured properly, figured out why the sizes are different, and what size I really am.

Now, some product recommendations:

  • Title Nine store has a variety of great sports bras divided by size and by “barbell,” telling you the no-bounce factor. The Frog Bra is particular famous for binding.
  • I personally run into a slight problem with many of the sports bras or compression vests because I have some shoulder issues and if the straps are too much of a racer-back shape, it can cause further problems with my shoulder injuries. So for that reason, the best one I have found is a Champion Powersleek sports bra (I found mine at Macy’s – their site doesn’t seem to list it any more, but I think this is quite similar). Also, because it has a clasp, instead of being pulled over my head, I can actually buy a size that is slightly smaller and tighter, which I love.

Bras & binders are primarily held in place with material like elastic, and the stretch on those does give out pretty easily. I’m finding that I need a new one every few months (although, I suppose if I had more of them, I wouldn’t wear them out so quickly!).

Suggestions? Recommendations? What products do you all use? Any particularly good online resources for figuring out your bra size, or that explains why the sizes are different?

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

6 thoughts on “More on Butch Bras”

  1. linaria says:

    Anyone who feels stupid buying bras should know that the people who make them (unless it's a custom bra by someone who makes lingerie professionally) are stupid also.

    There is no Commission On Bra Sizes in the lingerie industry , so they can call it pretty much any size they want to.There's a lot of variation between manufacturers, even within the same "size," so what fits in one brand won't necessarily fit in another. Confusing.

    But it's made even more complicated by the way that bras are made—generally, as you go up band sizes, the cups increase as well. So a C cup in a 32 band is not going to be the same size as a C in a 40. So a 36C can actually be the same size as a 34D, depending on the manufacturer–but it won't fit the same. This makes for problems for petite people with large busts, or large people with petite busts.

    Which is why it is so so so so SO important to see a professional fitter at least once (and more often if you gain or lose a lot of weight, or otherwise change shape through pregnancy or whatnot).

    What you said about elastic in binders goes for regular bras too. It's the band of a bra that supports you, not the straps. If the elastic in the band is worn out, the straps are going to dig into your shoulders which not only hurts, it doesn't really do much. Same for if the band is too big–if it rides up in the back and isn't snug, it isn't supporting you. Some nicer lingerie stores do alteration as well, and it's worthwhile to ask if they'll take it in for you. Or, if you're like me and can sew (or know somebody else who is very good at it) it's a worthwhile kind of project.


  2. Becky says:

    I'm a 36DD, and at 5 foot 3, that sometimes seems even bigger. For daily (non active) wear, I usually go with just a Hanes or Champion sportsbra. It does nothing if I move faster than a speed walk, however. For closer to binding, smaller shirts, or exercise, I love my Enells. . They're front closure, come in different sizes (I wear a one for daily wear and occasional movement and low-impact sports, like softball, and a zero for running), and super comfortable. I have a bad shoulder and I find that the full back coverage helps my posture.

    I've really enjoyed seeing everyone else's suggestions. I agree with Sinclair, that the uniboob becomes the usual, and anything different just seems weird, after a while.

  3. maggie says:

    and don’t they last longer if you rotate instead of wearing the same one all the time?

    I have a hard time finding femme bras with cups that are small enough, so I used to be guilty of wearing the same one every day. Now I rotate and hang them from the knob of my dresser drawer so they air out in between.

  4. Will says:

    God I hate bra shopping. For the mostpart, I don't even wear them… I find that going barechested and slouching makes me feel more masculine than having extra gear (the same thing goes for packing). The only time I strap on down and pack is when I'm wearing a suit or a dress shirt that won't fit properly. I can't afford a proper binder so I find that a sports bra, with a tenser bandage on top and at least one tank top over that to smooth things out is serviceable.

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