Ask Allie – Bra Tanks for Large Busts

Reader April came to me with a question I have been asked many times:

Just out of curiosity, have you ever found a shelf bra tank top for larger busted women? I like to wear them to bed, so I want something soft with a bit of support. But I can’t find tops with enough “shelf” to cover my larger bust and wide straps like a traditional tank. Is it hopeless?

No April, it’s not completely hopeless, though it is a really tough struggle to find that which is comfortable, attractive and actually does as it claims.

I had a hard time finding classic wide-strapped tanks with built-in bras. When I asked those in the lingerie “know,” I was told it is because wide straps do not support properly. A wider strap does not have the thickness or the proper structure/weight dispersion to offer large-bust shape support. Spaghetti straps, as with bra straps dig in when the bust is not properly supported. If there is no support, all weight is placed on the straps. If the tank, camisole or bra has proper support built in, a thinner strap will not be uncomfortable.

To assist all women who want to comfortably and elegantly (meaning not fall out of one) wear a tank or camisole with shelf bra, here are a few that readers or I have tried, or get great ratings for support, comfort and style:

Bravissimo Strappy Top With Built-In Bra: Bravissimo is an awesome company in the UK, made specifically for women with large busts. Not only do they have a great line of bras, but they carry clothing (including button-down shirts and dresses) made for women who may be large busted yet not plus sized.

This tank is a simple basic that could work around the house with yoga pants, with a little cotton skirt for a beachside barbecue, or even under a suit for work.

Bravissimo’s line is not cheap, but I have never heard anything but the most wonderful reviews for their quality and customer service.

Glamourmom’s Built-in Bra Glamourtank: Glamourmom has been known for a while for a company that sells stylish and well-fitting nursing tanks. Due to popular demand, they have now come out with a non-nursing tank with some of the great features from their classic tank.

The tank has a soft cup bra and an elastic shelf to provide more support and shape than a classic shelf bra, adjustable straps, and even mesh pockets if you desire more enhancement (hello chicken cutlets) or help (hello nursing pads or pads to cover “highbeams.”

Glamourmom is offering 10% off if you purchase two or more tops and they always have a money back guarantee.

Soft Surroundings’ Cotton Underwire Cami: Underwire can often be seen as painful, but reviewers have told me this tank is really comfortable while giving a decent amount of support, shape and coverage.

Adjustable straps mean you won’t be hanging to your belly button or pouring out of the neckline. The built-in underwire bra goes completely around the torso, offering good and even support and a smooth line.

As with regular bras, this garment should not be tossed in the wash and dryer with other casual knits. Best to wash in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle or hand wash, and let air dry. This will help it keep its shape and elasticity.

All American Comfort ™ Bra Tank from Woman Within: Hailed as a great lounge tank by those with larger busts, this bra comes in fun colors, a broad range of sizes and is a really great price.

Some say quality is equal to it’s $14.99 price tag, but for a casual lounge tank, you usually will find the same quality at your local Big Box retailer.

The top is made for the larger busted woman, so it provides far more coverage than a classic bra tank. Many use it as a cami under lower-cut tops to provide cleavage coverage.

Valmont Lace Trim Bra Camisole from JMS: Pretty, supportive, colorful, great range of sizes. I have friends who own literally a dozen of these tanks and consider purchasing more because they are so comfortable and supportive.

The tank runs snug in the torso, so it’s most popular as a base layer, under a jacket, or for those with a true hourglass frame.

7 Comments

  1. April 2, 2009 / 3:55 pm

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  2. Anonymous
    February 28, 2009 / 4:21 pm

    I’m 44 yrs old and a 32 FF and I am starting to get headaches from wearing bras. I’ve been looking around for alternatives. I was wearing Fantasia bras which are also made for large busted, small framed women and right now I am wearing a cheap shelf bra cami from JJill which is super comfortable and doesn’t look bad at all under sweaters. There are other alternatives out there. Just google it and you’ll see that there are millions of women also looking for more comfortable alternatives. Just as a side point, women who wear bra’s all the time have a higher incidence of breast cancer. It’s not natural to have them up like that all the time. So find something that lets them hang out, cover it over with a vest and only wear a bra for special occasions.

  3. Anonymous
    January 22, 2009 / 10:59 pm

    Ditto Anonymous of October 9th! 32DDDs don’t get any respect from manufacturers.

  4. Anonymous
    October 9, 2008 / 4:53 pm

    Really helpful! I just wish there were more options than just Bravissimo for large cup size/small band size…if you ever find any, let us know!

  5. Cara
    October 8, 2008 / 8:11 pm

    Wow, this is a helpful post!

  6. Anonymous
    October 4, 2008 / 1:55 am

    I still wear nursing tanks even though my son is 4 because they are more supportive, provide more fabric and coverage and are super comfortable. Nice to see there are other options out there.

  7. October 3, 2008 / 5:26 pm

    I can attest that Bravissimo is a great company for large-busted gals. I am 36D, size M (6-8) and was about to give up on swimsuits, etc until someone told me about them. I don’t have one of their camis, but I think I’ll get one b/c I have the same problem with all other camis. I ordered a bikini and a bra from Bravissimo and love them. I also recommend Le Mystere for bras, etc for large busted women.

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