If you’re a Canadian, the seasons usually go something like this: 3 months of mild cold, 6 months of very cold, and then, if you’re lucky, 3 months of moderate to actual heat. When the heat comes, people rejoice in the streets, baring as much skin as possible for as long as possible. Out come the flip-flops and strappy sandals, the skirts and easy summer dresses, and the skimpy tops. Your body loves it too—your skin takes on a nice glow and your hair gets a momentary reprieve from being brittle. It’s a beautiful time to be alive.
Somewhere around the end of May or maybe early June, you start to notice something a little less fun: your body starts to sweat more. Everywhere. If you’re a plus-size, full-figured woman, you start putting anti-chafing creams between your legs on days you want to wear dresses, and coating your underbust in some kind of powder or cream just to soak up the extra pools of sweat.
With summer comes heat and moisture, and if you are blessed with a full-figure, you need as many tools in your arsenal as possible to fight against these two things. Both heat and moisture help create a breeding ground for bacteria which can form and lead to skin irritations and infections on and around the skin of your breasts. I’ve written in-depth about the perils of underboob rash and offered some ways to prevent it, and what to do to manage the symptoms once you already have it.
One of the solutions I mention is wearing a spacer bra, a bra with specially-formulated aerated-material that breathes better than your standard bra fabric. While spacers are a great option just to get air circulating, another bra worth having in your summer arsenal is a moisture-wicking bra.
Moisture-wicking bras help keep you cool with the use of lightweight materials that absorb sweat from your body and keep the moisture away from your skin. Often, these bras also dry quickly, ensuring that you’re not a damp mess the entire day.
While my underboob rash article focuses a lot on topical powders and creams you can put on to manage moisture, I wanted take a step back today and review some great moisture-wicking bras for big breasts to consider during the summer months.
When we hear the term moisture-wicking, we usually think about sports bras. After all, no matter the time of year, donning a sports bra usually means you’re about to get your sweat on, and you don’t want that sweat clinging to you during your workout.
Fortunately for us, bra manufacturers have started to create everyday bras that are engineered to keep you dry when things get hot. Here’s a look at two everyday bras and a sports bra that claim to be moisture wicking, and my thoughts on each.
Lilyette by Bali Women’s Super Cool Comfort Minimizer Underwire Bra
Fit: consider sizing up in the cup
The straps are super comfortable! They’re made of a soft, flexible fabric and are cut wide enough so that they are comfortable and supportive without creating any shoulder dig. The straps are positioned so that they sit nicely on your inner shoulder. Between the positioning and the fabric of the strap, you won’t have to worry about the straps falling down.
The straps were great when I wore this bra for a day. I’m not sure how well they’re going to age though, given how stretchy the fabric is. This might be a case where I’ll have to bust out a strap saver sooner rather than later.
The band of the bra was surprisingly wide, so there were no unsightly lumps under my shirt when I put it on. After a sedentary day at the office, punctuated by a bit of walking at lunch, I was pleased to see that the band stayed put and didn’t ride up my back.
The bra comes with 3 hooks on the back, regardless of the size and has a nice fabric overlay where the two sides of bands meet, which I thought was a nice detail.
The band doesn’t come up that high in the underarm area. While this may be great in terms of cooling, it’s certainly not great when it comes to side support. I had to go up a cup just to keep my boobs from popping out of the sides.
The cups are unlined, which is fine and dandy for me. Most of my day to day bras are unlined. The combination of big boobs and small nipples means that I haven’t really got headlight issues, and I want to avoid bulk wherever humanly possible. This obviously may not work for others.
The underwire on this bra is quite wide. I would not recommend it if you’re full on top, really narrow-rooted or have a narrow chest/torso. Your boobs are simply not going to fill out the cup (especially at the bottom), and you’re going to feel like the underwire is attacking your sides.
If you’re full on the bottom, and your breast tissue generally goes wherever a bra wants it to go, this bra could very well be a winner for summer months.
But does it wick?
Lilyette claims they use a trademarked material called Coolform on this bra. When I look at the materials used though, it’s nothing out of the ordinary—mostly nylon, with some elastane thrown in there to keep things from being too rigid.
Overall I like how this bra feels on me, very light and airy, probably owing in part to the fact that the cups are unlined. This bra wore nicely during the day. It did get bit moist during my lunch hour walk in the park, but it dried off quickly, and didn’t feel uncomfortable.
If you’re in the market for a minimizer bra, it’s definitely worth a try. It’s definitely comfortable and will suit when you want to wear a button down and not worry about gapping. However, be warned, while it’s supportive, it’s not going to give you any uplift.
Olga Women’s Play It Cool Underwire Contour Bra
Fit: True To Size
The Olga Women’s Play It Cool Underwire Contour bra has got cushioned straps on the front half of the bra, and your standard adjustable straps at the back of the bra. The material at the front part of the idea is plush and feels nice to the touch. These are certainly sturdier straps than the Lilyette Super Cool.
The padded part at the front is a little on the short side though and doesn’t come up high enough to reach the back part of my shoulder. Instead, the strap sits on the top of my shoulder in such a way so that both the part of the strap where the padded part and the adjustable part are sitting on the apex of my shoulder.
There’s not much of a band in the front of the bra. The cups are held together with a strip of horizontal fabric that doesn’t feel very sturdy. On the plus side, the construction of the front of the bra makes it good for people with high stomachs.
The back band features three hooks. While it’s not cut to be as wide as the Lilyette Super Cool, it does sit comfortably on the back. When it comes to smoothing, it’s not as seamless from behind as the Lilyette, but it still does an okay job of smoothing.
I quite like the two-tone coloring of the cup, as I think it’s nice design accent. I also have to say that I was surprised that I would like the shape of the cup this much.
The Olga Play It Cool has got thin padding which helps to shape the cup. I have mixed feelings about this. On the plus side, the cups actually have a great natural shape that isn’t oblong. On the negative side, the lining adds a little bulk, which I’m not sure I like.
The underwire on the Olga bra fit around the bottom of my breasts nicely, and sat comfortably against my chest wall. The underwire doesn’t come up too high along the sides either, which I appreciated.
Even though everything fit okay and the cups had enough depth at the bottom to support my boobs, the center gore still would not quite tack, and gapped about a centimeter from my chest.
But does it wick?
Olga has its own version of Coolform, called Chill FX, which is meant to line the bra cups and pull the moisture away from your skin. Here’s what I have to say about that. I think the lining did its job in the sense that my boobs didn’t feel sticky or sweaty after doing a light walk in the bra. The cups were on the thick side compared to what I normally like to wear though, so the bra didn’t feel particularly cool.
I think the Play It Cool is a really good option as an everyday bra to wear on a day that doesn’t involve a lot of vigorous movement. It also comes in a wire-free version for those who aren’t fans of underwire.
Honorable Mention: Playtex Women’s Secrets Breathable Cool Shaping Underwire
I’m giving this bra honorable mention status because it had a lot of good reviews, and seemed like decent value for money given its price point. Sadly, this bra is not produced in my size (they only go up to DD), so I was not actually able to try it. Given the amount of positive buzz around it, I thought I would include it in the list.
Playtex too, produces its own fancy fabric, called Nilit Breeze, and this is the only bra I came across that had a natural fiber in it, cotton.
At the top of my moisture-wicking bra wish list: Merino wool
My dream plus size moisture wicking bra is one made of merino wool. Unfortunately, the one below doesn’t come in my size.
Sure, merino wool can be almost prohibitively expensive, but I would argue that you certainly get what you pay for. Merino wool has some amazing moisture-wicking properties that you are just not going to find in any other natural material.
Merino has antimicrobial properties that make it very odor resistant, to the point that you can wear a merino shirt for days and not have to wash it. They also do any excellent job of absorbing moisture and keeping it away from your skin.
Icebreaker, a leading maker of merino apparel has developed sports bras using this material, which is awesome. The less awesome part is, they don’t make them in larger cup sizes, and they currently only come in the over-the-head racerback style that I hate. Here’s hoping that one day, someone makes a merino bra with supportive underwire in my size. A girl can dream.