Monday, April 16, 2012

Sorry to break this to you, but people know you're wearing a bra

This t-shirt was a Dorothy Perkins hit
Living in Canada there are lots of occasions where I feel conspicuously English; every time I say lift and not elevator, bin and not garbage, cooker and not stove. In the world of bras the time I feel most English is when my clients say they don't like "bra seams you can see under clothes." Bra seams being visible under clothing was never something I was aware of when I lived in the UK. No one passed comment on it, to me at least. Here in North American it's evident that visible seams are a big concern as though women feel it would be an embarrassment if other people knew they were wearing a bra?

Are You Hiding More than Just Seams?
Almost every lingerie rep I've spoken to in Canada and the US has told me that North American women like seamless, neutral colour bras. There has to be something deeper at the root of this 'seam-phobia'. I think it has something to do with the sheer lack of bra size choice North American women have experienced that has bred a continent-wide disillusionment with bras. Canada and the US have a disproportionate lack of readily available bra sizes in comparison to the UK and Europe. Add to this the giant influence of the t-shirt bra from huge manufacturers like Victoria's Secret and women have been trained away from the benefits of other shapes of bra.

It's no wonder that generations of women forced into bra sizes that were available rather than ones that fit have learned to hate bras. There is a distinct lack of Big Bra Celebration in North American compared to the UK and I think the knock-on effect is this desire to blend into the background and hide your breasts, hence the epidemic of seamless bras.

I love that the seams are part of the design on this bra from Freya (Lyla 2011)
Are Seams Really That Big a Deal?
I always think of these two things when someone says they don't want their bra to be visible:
  1. Everyone knows you're wearing a bra, especially when you're busty
  2. No one who matters is looking directly at your bra seams and judging you
People are definitely going to notice that you look better in the right bra but people aren't looking directly at your boobs or even more specifically, your bra seams. What makes no sense to me is choosing to wear an ill-fitting seamless bra that causes sagging and spillage rather than wear a seamed bra for fear of it being embarrassing. For women with heavy breasts you need seamed bras because the seams are what give you shape and support. The seams 'direct' the breast tissue up and away from your waist to give you definition and lift. Don't get me wrong, seamless bras are great, but they're not for everyone and they're not the only option.

My Outfits and Seamed Bras
I mostly wear seamed bras because my boobs are side heavy so they need some forward propulsion and I never feel that my outfits look compromised by my seamed bras. Here are some fabrics, styles and designs that I think are completely compatible with seamed bras:
  1. Patterned Clothing - patterns distract from any seam underneath
  2. Dark Fabrics - black, navy, charcoal and brown sweaters (or jumpers in my world) hide seams perfectly
  3. Ruched Tops - Lots of busty friendly clothing has ruching at the neckline which detracts from underlying bra seams
I'm wearing a seam-free bra in only one of these outfits - can you tell which one?
I own seam-free bras which I wear with some stretch jersey fabrics, but that's about it. I find that seamless bras tend to spread out my bust more than a seamed bra. I prefer a narrower look from my bras so I mostly wear seamed bras.

Feeling happy and confident in your bra depends a lot on bra style and it has to feel right for you. Being trapped in one style of bra because of some mental barriers about your body image is quite a different thing. Are you someone who used to be seam-phobic but got past it? I'd love to hear your story xx

29 comments:

  1. I've been living in Canada for 2 years now and I have no idea about the seam-phobia! I learn new things every day...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know you are here in the great white north too! Yey! I don't know if the association of anything visible is tied in with the idea of bras and promiscuity/morals but there is definitely a bigger resistance to seams thank in Europe. Thanks for commenting xx

      Delete
  2. I do find this an interesting post. I live in the US and, although it was last year when I first started learning about accurate bra-sizing and such, it was only recently (very recently!) that I've jumped into this new world, feet-first. I bought a T-shirt bra online from VS and it REEKED from the moment I opened the packaging. I washed it three times and it still smelled of chemicals and so I returned it. It was a nice bra, nude and seamless (haha), and my hubby liked it because he said it seemed to be my 'real size' for once. I actually thought it might not be, so I ordered a bra with an even smaller band and a larger cup size from another company, and I'm presently waiting for it to arrive in the mail--drum roll! We'll see what happens. But in the meanwhile I've been devouring all of the (mostly British) sites that cater to larger cup sizes and smaller bands, and it's just amazing how gorgeous these seamed and lacy bras are! I like wearing fitted tops so wonder how they'd look with ruffly bras beneath them, but maybe I'll end up taking the plunge, myself, and decide I really don't care if people notice seams or not. :)

    And by the way, I like looking at the Butterfly Collection you have at your site, I found a link to it a few days ago. Some of your bras are really very lovely and maybe I'll be able to buy one of them when I have a couple more pennies to rub together. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your lovely words about our site, it's worth signing up for our newsletter so that you're in the know when we have a sale!

      The smelly new bra is a first for me, I've never heard that before! I hope everything gets sorted out for you. The best way you can tell if you're on the right track for size is to measure around your ribcage - if your bra band is within 3 inches of your ribcage measurement then you're on the right track.

      As you start to gain bra confidence and discover bras that actually fit you then I hope you try different styles. Just like wearing the same outfit every day would get boring it's important to have different bras depending on the way you feel and what you're wearing. xx

      Delete
  3. I live in Canada, and yes, I am partial to seamless bras. My experience with seamed bras is that they have made my boobs really pointy (torpedo boobs!), which was sexy 50 years ago, but not so much anymore!
    But your boobs look nice and round in these pictures! Is my problem the the result of wearing the wrong size, or would this vary brand to brand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The style of seamed bra varies more than seamless bras so it's important to know which styles to look for.

      I wear seamed bras with a side panel that runs from the strap and comes round towards the nipple (like this bra http://www.butterflycollection.ca/lucy-bra-black/ and the pink one in the blog above) A bra with a seam that runs horizontally straight across the cup will give you a more pointed look.

      Hope that helps Lindsay :) xx

      Delete
  4. I love seamed bras, but I do not like the seams showing. I have had very high-end seamed bras in which the seams were absolutely flat, did not show, so it CAN be done. I also have one Cleo bra in which the seams are very flat, but it has many other design problems.

    I have very large breasts and the seams do draw more attention to my boobs than I prefer. However, I hate wearing camisoles, because they bunch up around my waist, and it is hard to find mini-camis for people with large breasts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have the same problem with camisoles Priscilla. It's on my list of things to solve next year - a cami for substantial boobs. You're right that good quality seamed bras will have flat seams that really don't show at all. Thanks for your great comments xx

      Delete
    2. Brittany from Thin and Curvy found a place that sells half camis. The link is here: http://www.shopsecondbase.com/demi/

      Delete
    3. Oh man, I LOVE this website Gab - thank you so much for posting!! xx

      Delete
  5. I prefer seamed bras too, I just tend to avoid the bulk of foam and padding as much as possible--I don't care so much if it makes my boobs look bigger, but it just seems odd to me to wear padding in a bra when I wouldn't wear padding in any other item of clothing.

    I think a lot of people who wear molded bras prefer them because they prevent nipple show-through, and that does make sense to me. But I agree that seams are hardly noticeable and don't matter.

    But in terms of the bra itself showing, I don't really care about seams and I don't even own a skin-tone-colored bra.... I wear a camisole under most of my tops anyway. I figure if a leopard print bra is going to show under a thin top, then a beige bra will also show... it will just show as being beige.

    I also don't care about showing bra straps. Love me, love my bra straps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nipple show-through is a great point. I really like comfy cups for disguising nipples on high alert! I adore the line "Love me, love my bra straps" If you're wearing a good bra then who cares if it's seen - my bras are just as pretty as my shoes and I show them off! xx

      Delete
  6. I live in the US and I agree with pointy boob as well. I have had bras that had three seams as well but I didn't like the direction my breasts were pointing in them. The nipple goes in the direction the seam ends,with one or more sections. Some bra seams point downward, because of the shape of the cup.

    There are seamless t shirt bras that have a light lining (not padding or foam) that are so light its like an unlined bra , and no nipple show. They just look like round boobs.
    I have two lightly lined bras from Victorias Secret in the Nakeds Line
    , they are so light in the cup, and comfortable.

    I am interested in Easy Fit undergarments, they remind me of the Wacoal bra Halo Lace Full Figured Bra, seamless lace with a mesh "lining" inside the cup.


    Vicki

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comments Vicki, I will have to do a post on what constitutes a point shape and get people's opinions. I wish there were more seamless, non-padded bras over an F cup. You're right the Easy Fit is like Wacoal's Halo Lace but again it only goes up to an F cup. They're a much lighter (and often prettier) option than a padded, molded cup.

      I must find out if there's an engineering reason why this construction isn't made for bigger cups xx

      Delete
  7. You know what I have noticed that I have been favouring my seamfree bras a lot lately I don't know why maybe I am just getting paranoid about people seeing the seams though my tops.

    I have about 20 bras with seams so should really start wearing them again.

    I love the heading of this post too it's fabulous, hahaha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you figure out why you've been gravitating more towards your seamfree bras then I'd love to hear about it. Maybe wear your seamed bras again for a few days and see if you feel uncomfortable or on display some how (sorry using your boobs for social experiments!) xx

      Delete
  8. Most of my bras have seams. I have a molded cup seamless plunge bra from Cacique for low-cut dresses. My clothes conceal most nipple show so I don't worry too much.

    I worry more about finding bras that fit well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel that my clothes disguise any super obvious nipple show through. I'm glad you're looking for bras that fit well, so many women don't know what good fit is on their bodies so you're ahead of the game! xx

      Delete
  9. I always wore seamless bras when I wore the wrong size -- those molded cups disguised the bad fit, and they were just plain comfy. Part of why I wore them was I could never get a good fit that looked good under clothes in seamed bras, and partly because I just liked the molded cup bra I wore almost all the time a lot!

    Of course, a molded cup hides all manners of ill-fitting sins. The seamed bra just looks like it doesn't fit and if you don't know your true size, then you hate it because of that. But I always wanted a pretty bra....

    That said, I did have a lovely Chantelle bra that gave me a pointy look but now suspect might have been too big a band. I keep hanging onto that 36F for some random reason, probably because it as the first bra I ever bought that gave me amazing support. I tried on a seamed Kris Line bra the other day that looked pointy, but when I tightened the band to the tightest setting, the pointiness went away even if the cup size issue remained.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I recently (last year) bought a 3 part cup bra - with seams. And I agree with you about the shape and lift that it provides. However, I only wear this under clothes that the seams will not show through. These are heavier fabrics and yes, prints help. I do plan on adding more seamed bras to my wardrobe.

    HOWEVER - because I have a small back and large cup size (32FF), most of the clothes that fit me in the shoulders are either those with stretch (t-shirts, sweaters) or fit snugly across my bust. The seams run horizontally right across my breast and show through. I think this is a very sloppy look and in no way professional. (This is also how I feel about blouses that are too sheer and show your bra - perhaps nightclub is appropriate - but not work.)

    SO my "go to" bras are those molded cup t-shirt bras (no padding) that unfortunately do not lift the breasts as much and tend to push them more to the sides. I was told this was due to the minimizing effect that bra makers think women want. (Really? My breasts are large if they're forward and lifted or pushed to the sides...)

    And I have to add that it was a huge relief when I discovered the UK brands in the early 2000s via the internet. The selection for small backs/large cups has only grown since then - might I even say flourished!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm so glad you found full bust bras Momraths, and you're right that the market is growing which is great! Would you consider wearing a camisole that was designed for FF breasts under your shirt and over your seamed bra? It's something that I think is still missing from the full bust market and would provide an inbetween solution. xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. I adore seamed bras. In fact, I only own a couple "seamless" bras. I prefer seamed bras since they lift and shape differently than seamless ones do. My seamless bras tend to not give good enough support and make me look too....round. Call me crazy, but I prefer a pointier silhouette to a round one. Blech :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. You started this post with "seam show is okay" and then gave a picture of your seamed bras not showing. Are you advocating for women being comfortable with people knowing they're wearing a bra or for seamed bras that don't show?

    I don't mind seamed bras as long as the seams don't show. I think that bra lines are like panty lines; they're distracting and keep your clothes from covering you smoothly. They make it look like your bra doesn't fit properly - like it's too big to lay smoothly against your breasts. And some people consider it provocative and immodest, like an invitation to think about what's under your shirt. I don't want others thinking I want them to think that.

    Stacey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The two are not inextricably linked Stacey - I firmly believe that visible bra seams are not a bad thing and don't make you look untidy (that's just my opinion) and at the same time for those ladies missing out on the support and form of a seamed bra because they are anxious about visible lines I wanted to demonstrate that seamed bras are not always visible under clothing depending on what you wear. As with most things in life this is not a black and white subject and I wanted to highlight the grey areas for women trapped in a smooth cup cycle who really need the support of seams.

      As for the inviting other people to think something about me based on seeing my bra seams; those people who would judge me or fantasize about what's beneath my clothing will do so whether or not they can see bra seams and I simply don't give mental energy to those people.

      Delete
  14. I favor seemed bras over molded cups, because I like that my cup moves along with my breast. I hate molded cup bras simply because of that reason. I don't mind that the seems shows over my T-shirts, and I don't mind that my nipples get cold and show either. I love colored and lacy bras, but I also happened to love white tops, so I also look a lot for neutral colors, and certain opacity because I have dark nipples.
    Sincerely I prefer seems and hard nipples, than a bra that dosen't follows the movement of my breasts. What I do mind is the color of my nipples showing, I have dark nipples, and some bras don't conceal them, as much as I love them (dessous for example) so I can't wear it with light colored tops. Its hard to find lacy or mesh stuff that wont show the color of my nipples. (Idina is great for me because it does the job). I do own a couple of molded bras, because sometimes they are required for certain outfits. molded bras are more likely to have a much lower gore ( I'm short so even if Idina is a plunge, it fits me more like a medium gore). I'm also still looking for a good push up bra in my size (32G) I have shallow breasts, so sometimes I want to show more projection with certain outfits. Push up bras at this size are kind of hard to find tho :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is such a great explanation of how you feel about your bra fit. We all prioritize certain features or functions of a bra over others and it's great to hear that stability and fluidity of movement is important to you. You're absolutely right that on high set breasts or breasts on a short torso, a plunge gore will often give medium support because of the proportion to the torso or breast height. It really is hard to find a good push up style over an F cup and I understand that with shallow breasts sometimes you'd like some enhanced roundness. xx

      Delete
  15. Im still looking for that push up bra, not to mention strapless its another difficult story when it comes to shallow breasts

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sooooo completely true. I'm American and I used to be *obsessed* with my bra not showing. I absolutely got this from the other women around me, who were similarly obsessed, the general consensus being that any hint of natural breast shape, lace, or seam was skank-y. On the other hand of course, yards and yards of padding, to look as big as possible, was desirable. Go figure. And molded cups too ... the idea was to look as much like Barbie as possible, I guess. Gigantic and bizarrely symmetrical. Because then, you know, the fact that one has boobs is somehow "less obvious". I got over it after spending time in Europe, where women commonly wear unlined and seamed bras, and look perfectly professional and elegant - generally more so, in fact, than American women. So, great job getting the word out here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are saying everything we hear from our clients who fear seams before they realize that they can get more support and variety from a seamed bra. Thank you, thank you for letting people know they can overcome their seam phobia! xx

      Delete