Every outfit is composed of individual pieces that work alone and together to create an entire look. That dress may be nice on its own but it is divine with a belt; those boots look a bit awkward with bare legs, but textured tights make it meant to be. However, every bit of effort you make is wasted if you’ve got the wrong pieces underneath your outfit. Best case scenario, you’re visibly uncomfortable. People might not know the reason, but they’ll know something’s off. Worst case scenario, they’ll see the VPL and know the reason.
That’s why a well-constructed undergarment wardrobe is the most important piece of any outfit. Different pieces serve different purposes, and it’s important that you get the right ones for the right settings. Here’s my outline for a successful undergarment wardrobe:
If you’re on the “curvy” side of #TeamPCA then going without a bra is a non-starter. I’ll be the first to admit how vain I am, but this is even more of a necessity than that; it’s an issue of pain. First piece of advice: GET YOURSELF MEASURED. And do not go to Victoria’s Secret, where the measurement system is notoriously inconsistent. Belle at Capitol Hill Style recommends Coup de Foudre, for DC-area ladies, as a reputable place to learn more about your sizing.
Second, build that bra wardrobe like you mean business. I like to have the following three kinds of bras on-hand to suit all my needs.
Or, the every-day bra. I get mine from Gap Body; that’s where I’ve found the best fit and the least likelihood of quadriboob. Plus, as my every-day bra, this gets the most wear, and Gap Body’s prices allow me to replenish my supply with regularity. I recommend getting two nude-to-you bras and three of any color you want.
Who doesn’t love feeling fancy? Measurements are ultra-important here, though, because the lacy/satiny/etc-y brassieres are less likely to be that supportive. Given the size of my girls, I still like something with a molded cup and underwire. I also think a demi cup/balconette is a great fit for curvier gals; it is sexy but it still provides tons of support. I’m staunchly anti-pushup; I really don’t need the threat of my ladies choking me to death. Victoria’s Secret has a great selection of fancy pieces that support larger-chested ladies. I think the lace detail on this one is gorgeous, and it is lightly lined so you don’t have to worry about the support issue:
The Date Lightly Lined Bra | Victoria’s Secret
Since you don’t technically NEED fancy bras, buy as many (or as few) as you like! I’d recommend having at least one on hand for impromptu fancy moments, but other than that, it’s your call.
This is where the pain issue becomes the forefront. Sports bras aren’t about looking nice; they’re not about looking invisible; they’re about saving you from down-the-road back pain. Larger chested ladies have a bit more to account for, and therefore the process is harder. The best advice I ever heard was that I should never buy sports bras sized S/M/L – I should continue to buy using my regular bra size.
6pm.com is my go-to for activewear. I’m not concerned with matching or looking cute while I’m working out (because, let’s face it, I look like a hot mess when I’m working out), but I do care about getting my money’s worth. You can spend Old Navy prices at 6pm and get Nike and New Balance pieces no problem. You can sort by size and type; my combination of “34D” and “sports bra” brought up seven options. Given that I don’t work out more than once a day, seven is more than enough! This CW-X bra looks promising – the fact that it clasps in the back suggests it’ll be easier to get in and out of than your average running bra:
N.B. that rules for sports bras apply to impact sports; you can totally get away with wearing something less intense when doing yoga (though you’ll still want plenty of support as you move from cobra into downward dog).
(I had a friend in middle school who thought “panties” was the most hilarious word ever. He wasn’t wrong.) Y’all, the VPL is the worst! You can take an otherwise-perfect look and ruin it with your underpants. Don’t be that person. Here are the panties I rely on:
The thong is the curvy girl’s best friend. Let’s put that out there right away. You may look at the thong and think “There’s no way that’s comfortable,” but as someone with junk in my trunk, let me tell you this: no matter what underpants you wear, you’re going to wind up with a wedgie. Might as well minimize the amount of cloth.
I own two types of thongs, and they’re both from Hanky Panky. Hands-down, they are the winners of the thong race. The first is the original-rise signature thong, which is lacy and comes in one-size fits all. And it really, really does! I prefer this fit to the low-rise fit because I feel like it just suits my shape a bit more, and since I’m not wearing any low-cut pants, there’s no danger of the whale tail.
The lace panties are invisible under all but the most delicate fabrics; for those, I love the BARE Eve natural-rise thong. Natural-rise falls somewhere between low- and original-rise, and these come in sizes. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE VAIN ABOUT YOUR SIZING, ladies. If you’re a true large, don’t try to fit into a medium. Everyone will know, and it will not be pretty.
Thongs being surprisingly versatile animals, you still want to have a number of full-coverage panties on hand. These do not have to be granny panties, either! My favorite brand for these is Honeydew Intimates, who make cute-but-modest options. These are my favorites:
Lace Waistband Hipster Panties | Honeydew Intimates
For panties (both thong and full-coverage) I honestly recommend having as many on-hand as you can justify buying. Why not? They’re much cheaper than bras, so having a stockpile isn’t as much of a problem as it might otherwise be.
We also need to discuss:
Ladies, replace yo’ unders regularly. Don’t let them get tattered and misshapen and saggy. It’s not going to be attractive nor will it be comfortable. Just do it. No questions. Just do it.