Oh, I know it’s still there, and it’s still technically lingerie. Wandering through different lingerie stores during the holiday shopping season had me wondering, though – where were all the bras?

What I saw, over and over, was the same bra – a seamless molded foam one – in a myriad of colours, covers, and sizes. Molded foam bras claiming to be invisible under t-shirts, to smoosh in arm pit fat, to push up, be sexy, to hide nipples, to be comfortable. And for many people, they must be – because they are the largest seller for bras in the market. In fact, in most of the brand stores I ventured into, they were the only type of bra available (outside of bralettes and sports bras, that is.) There weren’t many pieced, fabric bras on display at all. As someone who makes lingerie, it’s immediately noticeable.

If molded foam works for you, that’s great! Here are 3 of the reasons why they don’t work for everyone (and why you might find what you need with another style.)

You don’t fit the mold.

a machine used to mold foam cups for bras
A typical machine used to heat set foam, and to seal fabric to foam.

You mom always told you that you were original, and she was right! Your breasts are your own, and have their own unique characteristics. Molded foam cups are exactly that.  They are molded to a shape (the foam is pressed into an exact mold) and only one shape. If your breast’s aren’t that shape exactly, the bra cup won’t fit. It will dimple, turn out at the top, or you bulge out – ending up much more visible than promised.

For bra manufacturers, however, it’s much easier to churn out molds through a machine, attach straps and a back band, and mass produce the product than trying to design different bras to accommodate different breasts. Workers don’t require the same investment in training as they do for creating fabric bras. There are many other reasons why manufacturers are choosing to go down this route, but not all of them (in fact, few of them) have anything to do with making a bra that is better for you. There are a number of companies still dedicated to building better bras, but that’s a whole other post!

You’re too hot.

In all senses of the word, you’re simply too hot for a molded foam bra! The foam itself isn’t nearly as breathable as fabric alone. Added to that is the fabric that is sealed onto both sides of the foam, and you get a bra cup that is capable of holding water. For many women, including myself, foam bras become sweaty and uncomfortable, sometimes leading to rashes.

 You prefer not to live on the edge…of the bra strap.

A common complaint I hear from women is that the straps on their bra are constantly sliding down off their shoulders. If you have this problem, look at where the bra strap attaches to the cup of your bra and to the back band. Many molded foam bras are in a demi or balconette cup style (they aren’t a full coverage bra that covers the entire breast mound) and it is a current trend to set the strap quite far out on the cup toward the under arm. For those of us not blessed with broad shoulders, that means straps are closer to the edge and that much more likely to fall down!

Solving the foam dome problem

What’s a gal to do, then, when all the bras in the world seem to be domes of foam? They have lots of great selling points – and we all appreciate a bra that covers up when our nipples decide to get perky.

One solution is to look for a contour bra. These bras have foam, but it is usually cut and pieced into the shape of the breast, just as fabric is, or thin and flexible. The result is a more sculpted, genuine shape. You can also find contour bras that are only partially foam – a lower cup for push up effect, or a power bar to help push the bra forward and away from the under arm. Some will be pieced foam inside with a seamless cover.

That doesn’t solve the heat problem, though. If you aren’t a fan of the heat, but still worry about those pesky perky nipples, look for seamed, lined bras where the seam goes directly over your nipple. You’d be surprised how much protection and modesty that seam placement allows you!

If you’re concerned about seams showing through your clothes, I urge you to wear the clothes you’re concerned about and put them on over bras as you try them on. A well-made, great-fitting, seamed bra in a neutral colour should be almost invisible under all but the most skintight of clothes.

Of course, you can always contact your trusty custom bra maker for a consultation if you’d like to try having a contour or pieced bra made exactly to fit your body!

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