Sleepwear Camisoles

Sleeping with big boobs can be difficult. If you have big boobs, you know what I am talking about: they get in the way sometimes. They take up a lot of space. I am sure some of you ladies have had a bed partner roll over onto your boob, right? Because there’s no way it can be just me.

They actually *move* around, which is hard for those without breasts to understand. Here is the best way I could come up with to explain it: imagine that your arms had no bones in them, no way for you to physically control their movement. They would just hang there, right? And when you laid down to go to sleep, they would be all over the place: you’d have to situate them just so, to be comfortable, but if you moved a tiny bit the wrong way, one might fall out of position. Having large breasts is like that.

It is the movement that bothers me the most in terms of physical discomfort. A few years ago I started really analyzing my sleep and I found that any kind of movements in the bed would disturb me even if they didn’t wake me up. And this explained why I always slept more comfortably in tight shirts: they restrained my breasts and let me sleep more comfortably.  But as my breasts have gotten larger, and larger, tight tshirts just weren’t enough anymore. Without a bra, my boobs were all over the place. So, I started looking into sleep bras.

Here are my requirements for a sleep bra: It must fit.  It must be comfortable, and have no underwire (I don’t like sleeping in underwire.) It must keep my boobs close to my body and hold them relatively still when I am sleeping. It must be easy to get on and off (because I’m not wearing any sleepwear that is going to interfere with my sex life, and I don’t want to wrestle with a difficult bra when I am tired.)  And, it must be inexpensive, because I am not paying a lot for sleepwear. I do not actually care what shape it gives my boobs: it is not a bra I am wearing out in the world, it is a bra I am wearing to sleep in. (It seems that at least a few bloggers are concerned about the shape that a sleep bra gives their boobs, and while they are of course free to have whatever standards they like, I think this is silly.)

I knew I didn’t want to wear underwire when I was sleeping, so that narrowed the field. I looked at soft-cup bras in my size range. I almost said I looked at a lot of them, but there really aren’t a lot to look at! It felt like a lot though. I was very attracted to the Royce line of wire-less bras, but many reviewers said they are tight and hard to get off and on. I liked the idea of Bravissimo’s sleep tanks with built-in bras, but they cost more than I can afford to dedicate to sleepwear (and are very rare to find on eBay.) I also considered Panache’s maternity support bras, but again, cost was an issue as well as fit.

So, I started thinking about camisoles with shelf bras. These aren’t a great option for ladies with large breasts: they just generally don’t have enough room in them, and the bras certainly aren’t suitable for regular use. But, I thought I might be able to find something that could work for busty sleepwear. I first tried on the camis at Old Navy, and found them to be of very poor quality: the fabric is very thin, the straps too stretchy. I looked in the athletic department at Target, where there are tanks with built-in bras, but they were all pretty small-cupped. In the end, I got lucky at Nordstrom Rack.

Nordstrom Rack, in case you aren’t aware, is the discount arm of Nordstrom. They carry a lot of the same things Nordstrom does, and some things Nordstrom doesn’t. The Rack is actually a great place to shop for bras; I got my Fantasie Lynsey there for less than $30. They also have great deals on SHOES . . .  Ahem, where was I? Yes, camisoles. Nordstrom Rack carries a line of lingerie called “St. Eve.” Back in the 90s I used to see St. Eve at places like Marshall’s, but they have seriously revamped their line since then, and the quality is much improved.  They now make very robust shelf-bra camis: the straps are strong and not too stretchy, and the fabric is thick. I have heard really good things about St. Eve underpants, too.


Obviously, this is not me.

It turns out that the St. Eve camisoles are great for sleepwear. I like them in medium; I found that while I fit into a small, the smalls are shorter than mediums, and I like the tops to be long so they don’t ride up. A large was too roomy in the bust, and therefore not as supportive as I like.  And these camis are surprisingly supportive! They hold my boobs close to my chest and keep them pretty still. They do give a little bit of lift, but mostly they give support, and as we learned from Astrid in this post, support and lift are not the same thing. In a day to day bra, I want support and lift, but in a sleep bra, I want support overall.  These camis are actually supportive enough for lounging around the house.  (My only complaint is that the straps do cut into my shoulders if I am wearing them while upright, and as I have tender shoulders, this is not fun.  It isn’t always painful, but when it is, it really hurts. ) Yes, they do give a kind of mono-boob appearance, but if I’m just making breakfast or getting ready for bed, I don’t mind.

Also great for my pocketbook: St. Eve camis are $6-$7 at Nordstrom Rack. So I could afford to buy a bunch of them in a rainbow of colors, and I did.  I’ve been wearing them every night for more than a year now, and I’m still pleased. So, I definitely recommend these as sleepwear for someone on a budget.

I would still love to try Bravissimo’s sleep tanks: they are so well-reviewed and look so comfy! But until I can afford those, these St. Eve camis are a good solution.

I want THREE hooks! (at least.)

Being a woman of a particular shape, I have a very hard time finding bras that fit. My needs are specific and bras that fit my shape are relatively rare, even in the big bust brands. So sometimes, I buy bras and wear them even if they aren’t perfect; sometimes, I have to settle for “close enough.”

That’s the way I feel about Cleo and Masquerade bras. Both of these brands are from Panache, Cleo being the “younger” (read: cheaper) brand and Masquerade being the high-end brand. Unlike Panache Superbra, Masquerade and Cleo sometimes offer bras with narrow wires and relatively open tops, two things I need in a bra. Unfortunately, for some reason I can’t understand, both brands choose to make bras that fasten with only two hooks in the back. And that’s all they make. No three-hook bands to be found.

I honestly can’t understand why they have made this choice. Large busts need wider bands to stabilize them. In a two-hook band, I find that my bra is more likely to slip down a little in front during the day, and I also find it much less comfortable. A narrow band concentrates force in a narrow area, which can be painful; a wider band distributes force over a wider area, making it more comfortable and less “cutting”. So WHY would a big bust brand insist on such narrow bands? I could see having narrow bands in smaller cup sizes, but in a larger one, it’s poor design.

I can even understand, a little bit, why they would make only narr0w bands in Cleo: Cleo has much lower quality in general than other Panache brands. But Masquerade? This is supposed to be a high-end lingerie line and they can’t spring for a wider band?

Some of my Fantasie bras also have only two hooks: the Savannah and the Simone. I honestly don’t understand why Fantasie chose to put only two hooks on these bras, but bras like Sylvie and Lynsey have three (which makes them much more comfortable and supportive.)  With Fantasie, the decision seems to be very arbitrary. I would much, much rather that the Savannah and Simone (both of which are gorgeous bras) had wider bands with three hooks.

My Effuniak (Ewa Michalak) unpadded half-cup has only two hooks in the back, in addition to having the narrowest band I’ve ever seen two hooks on. (Seriously, it is super-narrow. I’ve seen wider bra straps.) It cuts in terribly as a result and is not very supportive.

Back when I was wearing the wrong size and used to buy bras at Cacique, one thing I loved was that their bras had very wide bands. It made them very comfortable and supportive, even without underwires.  If an inexpensive  mass-market brand who sells bras for $20 can afford to put wider bands on their bras, the higher-end brands should do it too.

I still buy bras with only two hooks because, well, I don’t have a lot of choices! Every bra is a trade-off, I guess.

Do you prefer wide or narrow bands? What trade-offs do you make in bra-shopping?

Freya Active Underwire

I am pleased to report that after 2 months off of HBC, my boobs shrank a little bit. It is a good start. However, the rest of me is holding pretty steady: it comes off and comes back on. I have some symptoms of low cortisol, so I am treating that, but also I have been pretty sedentary since school let out for summer. The place I am living right now is super-hot, so I’ve been hiding inside. In the interest of keeping fit and possibly getting back to the (much more comfortable) size I was in January, I started seriously shopping for a sports bra.

Though I am pretty active during the school semester, I haven’t done a proper workout in quite awhile, for lack of a good sports bra. I bought a Shock Absorber D-Max last year and it was not a good fit for me. It was a little too small in the cups (so now, it would be way too small) but more importantly, the position of the straps was very bad for me. The straps were set kind of close to the neck, and so they dug into my shoulder muscles painfully. I think a good sports bra should be comfortable to wear for hours, but this one was agonizing after only a few hours. I was finally ready for something better.

I eventually narrowed my choices down to the Panache Sports Bra, the Freya Active, and the Elomi Energise. I ended up ruling out Panache, largely because I was getting a lot of contradictory information about sizing and fit, and I didn’t want to take the chance on it. So it was between Elomi and Freya.

Freya is not a brand that usually fit me very well. Their bras are just not cut for my shape: they often position the breasts too far out to the sides, or have a weird crinkle in the top of the cup. The sports bra does seem to push things outward, but it might not be bad enough to interfere with a workout.

On the other hand, I have never been much of an Elomi person either, but that is mainly because most of their bras are full-cup and have center-pull straps. These are two things I don’t like in an every day bra. The Energise sports bra, though, looks very comfortable and supportive in photos.  It also seems to bring the boobs very front and center.

I was strongly leaning toward the Elomi, but in the end I went with the Freya because it was cheaper. I ordered it in black because some  people say that the black and white models are more comfortable and flexible in fit, and because people say the bands are super-tight, I ordered a 36G.

I am now awaiting the arrival of my new sports bra, and am anxious to get to the weights and other workouts. Once I have tried the Freya I will give a review. I do hope to try the Energise someday as well, because it looks like a good bra. I the meantime, I intend to put the Freya Active to work.

Quick Fix for Pokey Underwires

I came up with this fix for a bra that has pokey underwires. I have a bra that I like, but which has very thin underwire casing, and as a result, the wires poke me under the arm sometimes. The bra is fairly new and I want to keep wearing it, so I brainstormed a little and ended up with this.

The fix is very simple.It assumes you know some basics of hand sewing/mending, like how to tie off your thread, make stitches, etc. Continue reading