Nothing has ever happened faster than the onslaught of my breasts. It was as if I had fallen asleep a lanky 12-year-old who wore a bra when she remembered they existed and woke up a clueless, younger version of Jessica Rabbit.
Overnight, I went from shopping in the lingerie section of Target alongside girlfriends to driving an hour north to the Bali outlet store, where I was measured countless times because “That can’t be right!”
I dieted. I lost weight. I exercised. I wore two bras. I applied creams. These breasts of mine were here to stay. And so, rather than fight fate, I decided I’d deal with them the old fashioned way: with a great bra. A minimizing bra.
A minimizing bra is exactly what it implies: a bra created to minimize the appearance of large breasts. While it sounds counterintuitive, a minimizing bra is must in the shapewear arsenal of a big-breasted woman. When it fits just right, a minimizing bra can create the perfect silhouette, giving the voluptuous woman the ability to wear whatever she pleases (with reasonably sized straps, that is).
But few garments have as bad of a rap and chances are if your cups runeth over, you have an opinion on this contraption. For some, the sheer mention of the word “minimizer” conjures visions of pancaked breasts sandwiched deep into armpits and the inability to breathe.
Thankfully, since breasts are getting bigger, so must the market.
A new crop of minimizing bras have proved their worth; giving instant reduction and lift, making clothes fit better and breasts look… nicer. Think of this breed of minimizing bras as Spanx for your breasts; your girls will still be there, just packaged better.
Someone once told me there were two things you should shell out money for: good bras and good shoes. As a girl who’s gifted up top (and also has big feet… what was I fed as a child, Miracle-Gro?), I know that buying a new bra often means making an investment… and that the chances I will walk into a store and walk out with something flattering AND comfortable are slim to none. So, when both Oprah and “The View” hailed Wacoal’s Slimline Seamless Minimizer Bra (#85154) as a must-have, I had to investigate.
At $65 (available online and in a number of stores including Macy’s), this isn’t a bra; it’s a machine.
While it looks a lot like everything else in your underwear draw, its unlined and unpadded cups defy gravity, giving breasts incredible lift (without smushing!), and reduces bust profile by an inch (in boob speak, that’s an entire cup size).
Those less embarrassed by riches in the breast department might ask why you’d ever want to minimize your chest, but slip this number on under an American Apparel Summer Shirt (because of its extra deep V-neck) or clingy sweater and you’re transformed from drowning in cleavage to office-appropriate. Three-part bras give you a nice, perky shape, and make tees, tanks and button-downs fit almost normally. Besides, Chantelle bras are really, really pretty.
Wacoal has a firm grip on the minimizing market. True to its name, this model delivers all the benefits of the previously mentioned minimizer without any of the frills. Designed to minimize size, not shape, you’ll maintain your curves without sacrificing comfort. Cups scoop breasts upward, keeping things perky rather than pancakey.
The major drawback? The cups are 100% polyester, which can make for some major boob sweat (don’t act like you haven’t been a victim of boob sweat) come summer. But the fact that the rest of the bra is made generously with Spandex (21%) is great for guiding your girls through weight loss or gain. Lay flat to dry (which you should do with all of your bras) and you’ll be able to rely on it for a few years.
Some people remember where they were when they had their first kiss. I’ll never forget where I was when I learned Spanx created a minimizing bra. Made of 91% nylon and 9% Spandex, it is the sworn enemy of back fat and bra lines. The Bra-lleujah is nowhere near as restricting as its you-look-great-as-a-human-sausage-link tights. Its smooth, breathable, “all-hosiery” back wears like a second skin and because the clasp is in the front, you don’t have to worry about endless rows of clasps poking out of tight tops and dresses like an awkward reality show microphone pack.
Aside from reducing your bust by an inch, the cushy straps (although they’re rather wide) are designed for hours on end of wear. More importantly, they offer returns for a full refund within 30 days of delivery, so if you don't like it, back it goes.
Contemplating a breast reduction? Feeling uncomfortable with your body? Maybe you just haven’t found the right bra yet. I keep an arsenal of minimizers at the ready… they’ve given me an extra boost of confidence, making me more comfortable with the weight I carry up top. The minimizers I swear by might be a little more expensive than your Victoria's Secret eyepatches, but I can’t put a price on what it’s done for my self-esteem.