identity politics

My Favorite Binder (More On Butch Bras)

A few weeks ago, Autostraddle wrote a long post on bras: What the F Should I Do With These Boobs?—particularly, bras for folks who don’t really want the standard lace-and-bows versions that are the most common at stores. They linked to one of my old posts, More On Butch Bras, where I talked about getting properly measured and how life-changing that was. I’d like to write more about that—and I still think everybody, EVERYBODY, should go get properly measured, because there actually is a difference between a 34D and a 36C, and if you say you wear either one, you are probably not wearing the most comfortable bra for you that you could.

That’s my size, by the way. Or rather, that’s the size I thought I was for a long time. Turns out I’m more of a 34DD, though right now, given the amount of biscuits I’ve consumed in the past year, I’m probably more like a 36DD. Knowing that helped—though that’s also assuming that you’re buying bras which have separate ribcage measurements and cup sizes, which sports bras generally don’t.

I resisted sports bras for a long time. I didn’t like the uni-boob look, something I finally identified as left over from my first girlfriend, who used to say that all the time (who has since transitioned and had top surgery, by the way, so I suppose found a solution for that). But when I started doing “drag nights” in college and wearing more button-downs, the advice from my friend was to wear a one-size-too-small sports bra as a binder, and that ace bandages were really not the way to go.

Still, it took a while before I went through my underwear drawer and got rid of ALL of my traditional back-clasp two-cupped bras in favor of more of a binder. I found this Adidas back-clasp sports bra that gave me enough of a bind, and quickly bought four of them, tossing everything else out.

These dozens of suggestions that Autostraddle posted are great, but for larger breasted folks like me, there was not a single bra on there that I would wear. Though perhaps that’s not so fair, really, because there’s only one that I really wear anyway: the Enell bra (you can get ’em on Amazon too).

There is an Introduction to the Enell bra on YouTube, but it’s so cheesy that I can’t bear to embed it here. I will however embed the fitting and measuring video so you can see how to wear it:

It has significantly changed the way I look in shirts, and I have yet to find anything better. I used to have a size 1 that I would use for extra-tight binding and a size 2 that I wore for everyday stuff, but I can’t fit into the size 1 anymore. Hitting 30 really has changed my body, my metabolism. I’m trying to be more careful about what I eat and hope I can fit back into the size 1 someday … but that’s kind of another post.

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.

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Binder (More On Butch Bras)”

  1. do you have other binders to compare this to? jamie has been using underworks (the cotton muscle-shirt style), which looks nice and has proven fairly comfortable…for about 9 months of the year, but it just gets too hot here to wear so much extra layering in the summer. so i was wondering about this, and i was just curious if you could compare it to other binding options you have tried, or if this was a case of finding what works and leaving well enough alone =)

    1. Sinclair says:

      The Enell is really for folks who are quite well-endowed, so if she’s regularly using the Underworks she might be small enough to use a different kind of binder, and not Enell. I’m not sure how small it goes down to, but I think even their smallest is rather large. I’d try a different kind of sports bra, depending on her sizing.

      I do have one of those Underworks a-shirt style binders (review of that to come, it’s new) and it serves a pretty different purpose than this Enell. Since it’s a full chest style, it flattens in a very different way.

      I haven’t tried a lot of binding options because they tend to be made for people who are less endowed than I am, so in some ways it’s new to me. Might be worth trying Enell if it fits her – it’s certainly not as warm as a full shirt. Just depends on her size. Maybe you can try one on locally, see how it fits? Or make sure to order one from a place where you can easily return it? I think it’s worth a try.

  2. Jonnie says:

    As a person on the butch/gender queer continuum who’s never made peace with having breasts but has large (size E or F) ones I’m pretty excited to find sites by other butches talking about their relationship to their breasts and binders/bras. Would be so awesome to feel like this part of my body was an asset to who I feel myself to be and not a humiliation or a detriment.

    I’ve been eyeing the Enell actually, but I have some problems with shoulder and neck strain.

    Do you have the regular version, or the lite? Also, what color do you buy? I guess that beige color is the one matching my skin closest, but I could never wear it as a sport top on its own on hot days, and also I just feel like it’s so femmy looking. The color I mean. Like, you know, traditional girly bra.

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