Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Visual Effects of Poor Band Construction

In a past post, I revealed how bra manufacturers have literally scarred me for life. But there’s also the mental scarring that comes from seeing an unflattering photo of yourself online. Here’s one that cropped up recently:

See the way the elastic at the bottom of my bra band is cutting into my flesh and leaving a deep impression that is visible even through a shirt AND a cardigan. This isn’t happening because the bra is the wrong size, or because of whatever “back fat” I may have—I know because I have a few bras that don’t leave a thin mark like this. Plus, it is only the strip of elastic at the bottom that is cutting in, not the whole band--I'm not bothered by the teeny-tiny bulges at the top.

I personally find I can mostly avoid this look if I stick to bras that have three hooks rather than two. But some of my best-fitting bras (Cleo’s Brooke and Lucy bras) only have two hooks.

I also find that the cutting in gets much worse when the band is too big, because it rides up and sort of sits just above where the back fat is:

But I think it would prove possible to greatly reduce this cutting in by improving the construction of the band—rather than using a weak mesh for the band and tightening that up with a thin strip of much tougher elastic at the bottom, why not make the whole band out of the tougher material? This would reduce the appearance of a thin line cutting in, in the same way that a flat lace band like this:

…cuts into anyone’s hips less than a string on a bikini or thong, regardless of size.

Making underwear lie smooth under clothes doesn’t have much to do with women’s bodies or size; it has everything to do with fabric and construction. Although I recognize that a bra band has to do a lot of work and is probably always going to cut in a little, I still think a wider section of elastic could reduce a lot of the visual effects of that. If the problem was removed, I suspect fewer women would be scared off from wearing their right size by the threat of visible bra lines. 


  1. Yes!!!! I agree 100% I have bras that have wide bands and thin bands and have noticed the same effect (also even to a lesser extent with the straps). Personally, I'm a big fat of wide straps and bands, bring on 3 (or 4 hooks for that matter).

    Oh, and as someone whose back fat is diminishing, I have to say I've had this problem with bras regardless of size. If anything, though, the bras hurt MORE now that I've lost weight because there just isn't as much padding.

  2. June, I agree--I would love bras with 4 hooks! I know a lot of people search high and low for bras with 2 hooks though, so I guess there's no pleasing everyone.
    I feel that there is no reason a bra needs to cut in like that no matter much back fat a person has. They've now figured out underpants that don't show VPL, why can't bras be next?

  3. I actually went and checked my Freya Active that has 4 hooks and guess what? It really doesn't show up underneath my clothes! And that's a sports bra...

    I'm curious, why the preference for 2 hooks?

  4. I think some women prefer 2 hooks because it is more like the "normal" mainstream bras they wore before being properly fitted. Personally I was always wearing the 34DD Victoria's Secret bras with three hooks even before getting fitted, so it was never a big deal for me. But I think it's the equivalent of how, for instance, I prefer thinner straps over thicker ones (to a point) even though the thicker ones are usually more comfortable. I've still got some hangups.

  5. Are you sure size 28 band is actually tight enough for you? I've been quite bewildered reading about your bra problems - you say the underwiring is poking you in the armpit and in these photos you can clearly see how much the band is riding up. In some photos it seemed like you tighten the straps REALLY tightly, they weren't even sitting on your skin.

    These all indicate that the band is too loose. If this is the case I can see how it would be problematic since size 28 is basically the tightest band you can get. You could always go up in cup size and shorten the 28 band but then the underwiring would probably still be too wide...

    Oh how I wish the bra brands would make smaller bands than just 28! Unless you count Big Bra Bar and they only offer a few cupsizes in 26 band.

    If you haven't already visited the blog Thin and Curvy then I sincerely recommend it. Her problems with bras are somewhat similar to yours.

    1. Thanks for your comment. A 28 is the right size for me; I measure 28'' around, and when I take in my bands in the center gore and they become smaller as a result, I need to use an extender. I don't have problems with underwires poking me in the armpit, actually, as my armpits are pretty tall. I know a lot of other people do have problems with that, though. I also don't mind wide underwires--I prefer them--as long as the underwire isn't wide enough to go beyond my arms in the back, and even then I still will wear a bra with underwires that wide because they give me a shape I prefer.

      The band that you see riding up in the second photo is much too large (a loose 30) and that is why it is showing more, because it rides up, so that may explain why it looks like that. In the first photo, the 28 does look like it is riding up very slightly, but that is mostly the angle.

      Brittany's bra problems at Thin and Curvy did arise because she needed a 26 band, so the loose 28 slipped around and rubbed before she ordered 26 bands from Ewa Michalak.

      However, the thing I hate about poorly constructed bands is that they give a crappy appearance even when they are the right size. Fit cannot solve everything. I am much more comfortable in the right sized bra, but I still hate how pathetically the bands are constructed, so I look like I have rolls of fat where I do not. The manufacturers could solve this very easily by not being so lazy with the construction.

  6. Okay, I must have misunderstood you about the wires digging in, sorry!

    If you measure 28 then I guess 28 is the way to go! I didn't know that you were wearing a 30 in that lower photo. I just wanted to suggest a smaller band since those photos reminded me of the time when I wearing a band too large. I did it because my actual band size 28 felt way too tight - I didn't realise that my cups were too small! They caused a lot of pressure which I misunderstood for a band problem (the saleswoman catered to my beliefs).

    Once I realised that my cupsize was too small I measured myself and got 26,7 as a result (my weight hadn't changed ). I tried bras in 28 bands with bigger cups and found out that the band was now comfortable and snug (could perhaps even wear a size 26).

    You didn't mention going up in cup size when you took your bra in so I just wanted to point that out. And it might be just a incorrect visual since I'm only looking at photos, but sometimes it looks like that the fabric in between your cups isn't quite sitting on your skin. I figured that the combination of a smaller band and bigger cups might work for you.

    Anyway, to get to the real point of your blog post, I totally agree with you. I wish that bras would be sturdier. It annoys me especially when I order from Bravissimo, I'd love a 3-hook back and slightly wider straps however those start at cupsize gg and I'm usually ff/g.

    I've read the comments on bras at Bravissimo and it seems that many women actually prefer 2 hooks and narrower straps, they seem to think that a slightly sturdier bra is unattractive/unsexy! I find that a bit ridiculous because the bra looks only slightly different with 3 hooks/wider strap and the fabric and style stays the same.

  7. Oops, I made a typo when I talked about measuring myself. I should have written 27,6 not 26,7.

  8. I'm so frustrated, I am very slim, yet the bra straps are cutting into my sides making a grove appearance through tops and dresses.
    I got one of those bra supports that fits under your bra to push up all the tissue from under your arm to your chest, so lets see if that will make a difference.

  9. I have this problem all the time, and for me it only got worse once I was properly fitted because my new bands were so tight. I wonder if there are any possible alterations to add fabric or wide elastic to the mesh sections of the band so that it had the same amount of stretch as the elastic? That might help reduce the problem. Since you are far better versed in the intricacies of bra alterations, I figured you're the one to ask!

    I also wish that more DD+ bras came with three hooks in the back, even though growing up I always associated more hooks with weight gain--even though I've never measured more than 34" underbust, due to the +4 policy I wore 40Ds or 38DDs until a few months ago. As I went through the later stages of puberty, my bust kept expanding and the numbers crept ever higher. Instead of the pretty, delicate two-hook bras all my friends wore, I was crammed into three and four-hook beige monstrosities that did very little to support my 34Gs. Even though they cut into my back, I do remember that the three hook bands seemed sturdier than the two hook bands I wear now, possibly because the pressure was distributed over a wider area.

  10. I would also love to have 3 hook bands, but apparently a 28 E isn't "big enough" to need the support. I would love 26 bands too as I measure about 27" and. 28 is a bit too big. I HATE how much my Freya Deco cuts in, as it looks as though Im wearing a band far too small when I'm not. Stupid bra makers :/

  11. I love 3-hook bras -- they're 1000 times more comfortable for me! I think I'll end up in a longline someday!

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