Like most women, I have a drawer stuffed full of bras. When I open mine I seethe with resentment.
Why? Because of the endless hours being prodded and poked by bra fitters in specialist lingerie shop changing rooms, and the ridiculous amount of money that its contents represent.
If you’re nodding in agreement, it’s safe to assume that, like me, you have large breasts. Which means you’ve had to pay premium prices for bras that aren’t even particularly attractive compared to the pretty, feminine designs our more modestly-endowed sisters pick up for a song.
For years I’ve had to pay up to £70 for utilitarian contraptions that look like baby hammocks. Thankfully, though, supermarkets are starting to cater for larger bosoms.
Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda are waking up to the fact cup sizes are on an upward trajectory — the average size is now a 36DD. Women like me are no longer penalised for the hand nature dealt us.
TAKE THE PLUNGE Lace plunge bra, £6, matching briefs, £3, Tu (32A-42G). Worn by Abby, 32D, left, and Hannah, 36E. Abby: The lack of support, thin straps and uncomfortable underwire were problematic for me. It’s pretty but I wouldn’t want to wear it all day. Hannah: It looked great on the hanger but sadly it was flimsy. The straps were too thin and so was the band. The lack of support means the shape isn’t flattering. The design and colour would work for date night lingerie, but not for running about town. 2/5
Indeed, as you can see from our fab photoshoot — modelled by Abby, a 32D, and 36E Hannah — they’re providing welcome glamour for much larger busts.
That means cheap, cheerful and genuinely attractive creations we can pick up on our way to the veg aisle just like everyone else. Bra shopping has finally been democratised — and hurrah for that.
Until my late teens I was flat chested, which had me longing for a bigger bust until the day I woke up, overnight, with a D-cup. How I hated these cumbersome, awkward things no bra seemed able to comfortably contain.
I recall my mother handing me my first cotton M&S bra when I was 12 and being thrilled, despite it having just enough room to fit a couple of paracetemol.
But when I actually had something to put in a bra, I realised I’d been cruelly jinxed — ruled out of being able to buy the gorgeous, dainty lingerie my girlfriends could pick up. I tried to ignore reality and would buy lovely little bras that would hurt my back and crush my breasts, flesh spilling out in every direction. More money wasted.
Over the years, usually after each baby, they only got bigger. Ten years ago, when I was a gargantuan I-cup — I didn’t even know that was a thing until I became one — my boobs were making me so miserable that I had breast reduction surgery. ‘Can I please have a Kate Moss?’ I begged my surgeon.
But he told me the flat-chested look wouldn’t work with my broad-shouldered frame. I’d end up looking masculine. He was able to give me a C-cup, which meant I could finally buy bras off the shelf.
NO UNDERWIRE! Softie bra, £10, matching briefs, £5, F&F (32A to 40G) Abby: I loved this — super-soft, comfy fabric with great coverage. It doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a bra. The thick band means I don’t mind the lack of underwire. I’d feel very comfortable in this and it gives me a great shape. Hannah: Very comfortable material but with no underwire or support, the moment I bend over I spill out. The straps are so elasticated they don’t hold or pull anything up. I’d lounge around in this, but nothing else. 3/5
Then along came the menopause and my boobs got bigger again. I’m now a 34DD, and back to the old restrictions.
More than anything, I do resent the cost. A lot of technology and design goes into larger bras, but surely, once you’ve got the technique right, it’s simply repeating what you’ve already done?
I’m not asking for something hand-stitched by a virgin in Cuba . . . just an ordinary bra, in a nice colour, perhaps with a bit of lace. Knowing I can get that when I go grocery shopping means I can finally enjoy a bit of frivolity because I’m no longer forced to pay ludicrous prices.
Bra shopping can finally be fun for all of us — whatever our cup size.
Lace bra, £7, matching briefs, £3, George (32A to 42FF)
Abby (pictured left) who wears a 32D describes the lace bra available at George as wonderfully comfortable however the straps dig in and the band is itchy
Abby: The cup itself is wonderfully comfortable and provides good coverage across the breast, which suits me. But the straps could be wider as they dig in a bit and the back band is itchy. I liked the lace, though.
Hannah: This is a decent everyday bra in a pretty colour. With three hooks and a wide band at the back, it’s got the support I need and the underwire is correctly positioned following the contours of my chest. I agree with Abby, the straps are a bit thin and the band is scratchy. 4/5
Lightweight super-soft cups, £10, matching briefs, £5, F&F (32A to 42FF)
Hannah (pictured right) who wears 36E says F&F’s t-shirt bra is very practical, pretty and the band is supportive with its three hooks
Abby: This is a great bra. Comfortable enough to wear all day with pretty lace trim on the back and a practical nude colour you could wear under white or sheer tops. The three hooks on the back band provided ample support. The lace trim on the band is a lovely detail.
Hannah: I’d have preferred thicker straps, but they’re still quite solid and not overly elasticated. The cup gives good coverage across the breast, the underwire is comfortable and the band is supportive with three hooks. This is a good T-shirt bra, very practical while still being quite pretty with the lace back strap. 4/5
Lace floral bra, £9, matching high-leg knicker, £4.50, George (32A to 42FF)
Abby (pictured left) praised George’s floral bra for its design and comfort, she says the design looks more expensive than it is
Abby: Comfortable, with a solid underwire that doesn’t chafe or dig in. The attention to detail, with the design carrying all the way up the straps, makes it look way more expensive than it is. I love the colour and floral print!
Hannah: The back band kept rising up even when I adjusted the straps and the lace didn’t lie flat across my bust, so I was worried about potential spillage. But it’s comfortable and pretty — nice to have something that looks this delicate in my lingerie collection. 3/5
FULL CUP LACE
Moulded plunge lace bra, £10, matching briefs, £5, F&F (32A to 40G)
Hannah (pictured right) says F&F’s full cup lace bra is the most comfortable thanks to its thick band and offers good support
Abby: One of the best in terms of the support and comfort provided by the straps and band, and I like the all-over lace. It’s pretty and practical — I could comfortably spend the whole day in this.
Hannah: This was the most comfortable of the lot thanks to the thick band, with three hooks. It was really supportive, despite thin straps. It gives good coverage thanks to the full cup but is still really pretty. 5/5
Compiled by: DINAH VAN TULLEKEN, Style Editor