Every now and again, I'll open my email and find that someone wants me to review a product. I don't take very many people up on that -- largely because I don't like writing negative reviews and I also don't like trying new things. This is why I have worn Lane Bryant bras since the mid-90s and probably will forever.
But sometimes you just have to try the product on offer -- sometimes you don't even know you need a thing until someone invents it, right? That's the case with the three items I am going to recommend to you right now.
BreastNest -- The UnBra
It literally never occurred to me to want a supportive camisole -- largely because I have camis and all they do is sort of vaguely squish my boobs unpleasantly -- until I got an email about one designed specifically for large busts. The kicker was the product name; I can't be the only person who thinks "BreastNest" is really, really funny, right?
I visited the website and it talked about ligaments (do we have ligaments in our boobs?) and toxins in the lymph nodes but what I was really interested in was whether or not my boobs would even fit into the thing. We traded a few emails and I requested an XXL, based on my band size (a 44). Supposedly, the cups of the BreastNest conform to your boob, which is what allows it to fit cup sizes D through H. (And band sizes 27 through 49.)
Honestly, I was doubtful.
I grabbed it from my post office box on a Friday night when we were headed to a party. I opened it in the car because I am a child who cannot live with unopened packages. But, you know, party, so I mostly just made Ed feel how soft it was -- it's VERY soft, made of a really nice Modal fabric that reminds me of the Rachel Pally dresses I have.
So, I have to admit that I was just a bit tipsy when I tried it on once we got home. Even so, I stand by my initial impression: this thing is FREAKING GENIUS.
I haven't left the house without a bra basically ever as an adult. But lately I have been pulling on the BreastNest with a pair of leggings and I haven't looked back since. Like, I resent having to put on actual clothes because the BreastNest+leggings combo is so comfortable.
Yeah, yeah, style and fashion. Whatever. This thing isn't going to give you great cleavage or keep you locked in tight like a sports bra (more on that later), but it will gently support your heaving bosom and prevent the always kind of gross underboob sweat situation. There's enough support that I have been comfortable ditching my bras and wearing the BreastNest for evening dog walks -- which can sometimes involve more than a mile of tromping around our neighborhood. My back feels awesome. So do my poor underwire-abused armpits.
Honestly, it also satisfies the "support small businesses" thing that I'm trying to do. And it's manufactured in the USA. If you've ever canceled plans because you just can't deal with wearing a bra any longer, buy one of these things.
(Susan, the proprietor, emailed me while I was writing this -- if you use the code "Marianne" (no quotes) to order, you'll save $4!)
Enell Sports Bras
This came about because Joanna Schroeder was talking about sports bras on Twitter. I followed a link -- and was totally disappointed by the lack of sizes because, hey, fat folks need sports bras, too. She tweeted at the company -- and I thought that was the end of it! But she actually checked out a bunch of other sports bras and then suggested Enell send me a couple for wear testing.
Twitter (not to mention Joanna) is that kind of magic sometimes. Next thing I knew, I was emailing with Enell's customer support about sizing.
Y'all, BELIEVE THE ENELL SPORTS BRA HYPE.
While the BreastNest is the most comfortable thing ever for lounging or gentle walking, the Enell Lite is awesome for yoga (including my fave: hot yoga) and the Enell Sport is holding things firm while I engage in what Ed is calling Couch to 5K.
I don't know if you've ever double-bra-ed, but it's about as uncomfortable as you'd imagine wearing two underwire bras at the same time might be. I favor plunge style bras, and if I don't wear something else on top of that, my boobs jostle everywhere when I break into a jog or jump up and down or otherwise engage in vigorous movement.
There are special instructions for putting on an Enell sports bra -- you fasten the lowest couple of hooks, adjust your boobs, fasten a few more hooks, adjust your boobs again, and so on. It's a little bit of a process and it's kind of a weird sensation, like you're putting on some kind of armor. Or maybe just some kind of chastity device because, seriously, there's a lot of hooks to fasten. When I wear the Sport, I kind of feel like I have pecs instead of breasts and it's a really interesting and fantastic experience.
But once you're secured away, your breasts are not moving. You don't feel crushed or smushed or anything. I don't actually understand how that is possible. I also don't understand the science that goes into engineering these bras so that your back doesn't hurt and nor do your shoulders -- but I'm glad it exists.
The really impressive thing is that Enell does custom sizes. This is mind blowing! Especially since the fee for custom sizing is pretty minimal. I wound up with something called an undersweep -- essentially, my bras have the band from a smaller size and the cups from a larger size. This might seem like a minor detail of fit, but it makes a huge difference -- and it's the kind of attention to fit that makes Enell my new holy grail of sports bras.
Chub rub is an eternal issue, isn't it? I know people of all body types and sizes who struggle with it. I've tried Body Glide (I don't like feeling slimy), the Monistat trick (I REALLY don't like feeling slimy), and plain deodorant (I didn't feel slimy but it also didn't work for me). These days I wear tights, leggings, or my carefully tended collection of the old Avenue seamless bike short that didn't have any compression to it at all.
The seamless bike short isn't pretty and not all of my underpants type things need to be. But Bandelettes are sexy as all hell. My only hesitation in ordering was that I couldn't find any pictures of fat people actually wearing them.
But sometimes fatshion demands that you take a risk -- fortunately, at around $15 a pair, Bandelettes aren't a huge fiscal risk. And, seriously, are they ever worth it.
The first thing you need to do is measure the part of your thigh where you experience the dreaded chub rub. This put me in their E size -- I swear I read that they make a size F with a different pattern of lace but now I can't find that on their site. I would definitely contact them if you fall into a larger size range than I do.
So, how do these things wear? I actually feel bizarrely naked under my clothes when I wear them. I am just that used to having an extra layer between my ass and the rest of the world. It's kind of naughty! Like, in a good way.
I was taken aback by how sexy and fun they are to wear. My expectations were low, because I'm used to stuff like this being a complete and utter failure, like when you order tights online from a new supplier with awesome patterns and you're all hopeful and then they come and you bust a hole in the crotch as you put them on the very first time because they're just a little too small.
Come on, I know that's happened to someone else.
Because of my ass -- Ed's comment was "You do have a lot going on back there!" -- the tops of the Bandelettes roll down a little bit across the backs of my thighs. This does not impact the comfort or effectiveness. It's a unique sensation, unless you're used to wearing stay ups or thigh highs with garters. It's not bad though, there's nothing constricting about it.
The lace isn't smooth -- if you don't like the way tights feel as your thighs rub together, you might not like these either. That's my only caveat with them. And I can't tell you how long they're going to last, though they seem as solid as any other lacy tights type thing. Your mileage might vary on that.
But, hey, these things make me feel awesomely sassy -- and like I can wear my short skirts in the summertime without worry. Get ready for fat mini skirts is what I'm saying.
Marianne is talking about underpants on Twitter all the time: @TheRotund! Come tell her what she should try next!