Ever walk into a lingerie store, floor-to-ceiling with push up bras, padded lace numbers, delicate bralettes and think to yourself: Which one of these will make my breasts … smaller? Sales associates, small-chested friends, and prospective dates flinch at my quest for an instant boob reduction. The truth is having DD’s require effort: Jogging usually requires two bras, lack of support has my shoulders in knots, and there’s always that nagging fear that I am showing too much.
The most punishing is shopping online for clothes when the dreaded question arises: Which size should I get? My answer is, “Well, it depends.” I think to myself: Who is the designer and do they typically cut generously in the areas I need? What is the neckline? Is the dress made to be worn close to my figure or is it more free flowing, which tends to cause the “tent” phenomenon: a billow of fabric pitched by your chest. I typically buy two different sizes in order to find the magic number with room in my chest, and then have a tailor tweak the excess fabric. This mom-approved method requires time, money, and effort; commodities I often am without. The reality looks a lot more like this recent situation: I splurged on an Isabel Marant dress that I wanted to wear on a special date. It arrived, except the size that fits my frame induces smashed cleavage, where my boobs are forced to flatten upward over my neckline, causing spillover. It’s not a good look as it is, but I have a secret weapon: a fantastic minimizing bra.
Minimizers can reduce your breasts anywhere from a quarter of an inch to well over an inch, depending on what you desire most in a silhouette. They have a bad reputation for being unattractive and uncomfortable — it can be a necessary evil, much like Spanx. But that’s not the case anymore. Plenty of brands are making them in beautiful fabrics and easy-to-wear designs. After road testing countless minimizing bras, I settled on five that really worked.
I have a conflicting desire for my breasts to be smaller without wearing a bra that feels like a torture device. Typically if you are asking for a full-coverage minimizing contraption, you get a pretty complicated underwire — one that digs into your sides with a thick bulky frame to go along with it. This bra has an ingenious design where the spacer between your breasts arcs upward and rests nicely on my rib cage. It holds me in without feeling like corsetry. The wire isn’t intrusive, and “swoob” (sweaty boob cleavage) has no business here — a ribbon of mesh fabric rests across your chasm, keeping you cool.
Triumph Shape Sensation Underwire Bra $60, Amazon
The hardest ask for these minimizers proves to be finding one that doesn’t look straight out of your grandmother’s underwear drawer. This bra manages the impossible: full coverage without coming up to your décolletage. The seductive mesh fabric seems like it wouldn’t be effective but the combination of its thinness and the underwire keeps you buoyant without adding bulk. It’s a bra you can wear after dark, not in the dark.
The Great Eros $98, The Great Eros, 135 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn; 718-384-4072
As a late bloomer, my chest developed at a later age, making my self-concept at odds to my current incarnation. I still have the mindset of my teenage years and I find myself drawn to simpler (read: training bra) times. I like the idea of wearing something clasp-less with feather-light support and no underwire — it’s just more comfortable. Aptly named, “Second Skin,” this bra lets me forget I’m even wearing one, and has the most noticeable minimization (1.25 inches means well over a cup size!). I’d wear this day and night, and maybe even to my next hot-yoga class.
True & Co. True Body V Neck Bra $49, True and Co.
With most of these minimizers there is little to no padding — extra layers defeat the purpose to shrink your circumference, right? The drawback here is you lose any sort of nipple coverage with a thin cup lining. If you can see my nipples, especially when they are firm, I feel overexposed. This bra felt like a bra. I’m supported, covered, and my twins didn’t so much resemble pointed peaks — instead they’re closer to pillowy clouds. Added bonus: Wide straps help carry the weight.
ThirdLove 24/7 Classic Full Coverage Bra $68, ThirdLove
Can your boobs really have it all? Turns out yes they can. Forming shapewear fabric holds me in, while supportive thick wings shave down my sides. The full-coverage cups have a neckline lined with elastic making sure there is no upward overflow and keeping you firmly in place. The bra’s fabric feels the most lavish I’ve found, with a demure lace jacquard that’s subtle yet sophisticated. Extra points for the three-clasp support system allowing my back to take on less burden.
Le Mystere Smooth Profile Minimizer Bra From $42, Amazon
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