Now, how do you go about bra-hacking your way to more comfort?
Determine exactly what is making you uncomfortable
- Wires digging in at the sides
Hack: Bend the tips of the outer wire slightly outward, away from your body. It's best to do this while actually wearing the bra so you can feel exactly when you've reached the right angle. I do this on maybe 70% of my bras.
- Wires poking you in the armpit
Hack: There's nothing you can do to fix an actual bra you already own, save remove the underwires and turn it into a wireless bra. This works best when it has wide, non-stretchy straps, and a firm band, since that's where much of the support will be.
However, if you're in the try-on stage, sister-sizing is the hack to try. Go UP a band and down a cup. Although the cup volume is the same, this will often drop the wire height. It isn't true across all brands, but it meets the rule-of-thumb criteria: it is true 80% of the time.
Consider Polish and other Euro brands. Rosme in particular, shines with its lower-height wires. Anita is another brand that has some lower-height wire styles like the Pure Allure.
- Wires are digging into your chest/solar plexus
Hack: If you otherwise love the bra, try a bra-liner; the soft, padded fabric will provide cushioning and substitute for an underband.
In terms of future shopping, you'll now know to avoid bandless, shallow-cupped styles. You also may want to try designs that dip up beneath the gore and put less pressure there.
- Bra fits well but the wires are just uncomfy in general
Hack: You cannot make these wires more comfy. Focus on avoiding the issue in the future: If the wire is super thick, sturdy and rigid, like Elomi, Panache, and Felina Paramour, then you know to strike those brands from your comfort list and look for softer, gentler wires. If you are getting chafing on your side/underarm area, check to see if the wire has the Nike swoop shape, as many UK brands do. If so, look for an upright U-shaped wire that stays close to the boob and does not wing back toward your side. Polish brands, and Euro brands in general, are a good bet for this. Even most US brands tend toward the U-shape.
- Harsh seams that are irritating
- Bra has those mini-vampire stakes, also known as side-stays
Hack: You do not have to put up with that. Rip them the fuck out. However you have to. Most of the time, I use scissors to make the tiniest snip I can in the bottom of the casing (that vertical strip of fabric that covers the little plastic torture device) where it meets the band and just slide them right out. Victory for Comfort: Achieved.
However, there are a couple of brands -Freya being the worst I've seen- where those nasty little suckers are actually sewn into the band. When, after a prolonged and bloody battle, you succeed in getting them out, you will see that they have three tiny holes -at each end!- where the thread attaches. Back when I still put up with brands that do this, I would make two small snips, then take a seam-ripper and blindly saw it back and forth at each end of the stay until I cut through all the threads. The only bra that ever was worth going into combat like that was the Freya Jolie.
- Scratchy lace
Do a loooong soak in fabric softener or hair conditioner. I add 1/2 capful to just enough warm water to cover the bra, then leave it there for at least 2 or 3 hours. Rinse. This is successful about 50% of the time for me. it's always worth a try before tossing a bra. That worked for the La Isla.
- Back Clasp is irritating/scratchy
Hack: For stiff clasp fabric, the fabric softener soak is not usually effective, and I resort to tucking a folded tissue beneath it. However, for the 2nd problem, the easiest fix is to simply fasten your bra on the middle hooks. If the band is too snug for that, then, after you wash the bra - while it is still wet - gently stretch the band out a bit. Do this one side at a time, so you don't distort the wires. This works best on a non-mesh band, though I have used this hack successfully on them too. It worked perfectly on the Rosme Rosabel.
- Straps are irritating
Hack: You really can't fix this. But you can mitigate it, to varying degrees, by loosening the straps. I'm not a fan of wearing straps super-tight for 'lift'. It creates a lot of discomfort, and, if your band fits, it is generally just a sign that you need to drop a cup size.
- Bra fits well enough, but you're drooping
Hack: Yeah I'd advise doing the opposite: try fitting your smaller boob. Sometimes putting up with a little double-bubble is totally worth the trade-off in increased comfort. That was the case for me with the Delmira Floral Lace bra:
In this case, dropping a cup gave me much better lift and significantly dropped the wire height.
The 40G might, arguably, be a better 'technical' fit, but that's irrelevant to what is the comfy, and therefore, the right fit, for me.
- You are forced to settle for a white bra in your size
Hack: Dye it. And if you are too lazy to dye it properly, with RIT, or, you have sensitive skin and that's a no-go, then use food coloring along with a squirt of lime juice or vinegar. Pretty much as you would with Easter eggs. I've done this many times and particularly liked the results of the pastel food dyes.
Note: this won't work on cotton or all-polyester. The fabric needs to be have some blend of nylon to absorb the food coloring. Blends result in tonal effects, which are fun. I have a few old pics of this, such as this muted violet from mixing pink/blue, this once-bright blue (that is also a cautionary tale on why you cannot dry them in sunlight) and this pale pink, faded after 4 years. Basically, embrace your inner finger-painter and release any need for perfection, and this is a lot of fun. Plus, no matter how badly it turns out, it will still be better than a blinding granny-white bra.
There are many more advanced hacks you can do, some that practically re-make the bra, if you are seamstress inclined - which I am not, at all. If you have any simple comfort hacks I've missed, by all means, share them!