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Reader Question: Where can I find affordable contour bras for work?

For today's post, I wanted to spotlight an excellent reader question I received. Take a look at A.'s situation:

I was fitted a few years ago as a 28GG. To be honest, my question is do you know any places that are reasonably priced for bras? I am having a hard time with finding bras that are smooth and not unlined. I wear a lot of tight shirts so the unlined bras look horrendous. If you can offer any advice please let me know, I work retail and I run around a lot so my back tends to hurt quite a bit. --A

For a minute, A. had me stumped! Since I started Miss Underpinnings, I've gravitated towards cut-and-sew or non-padded bras. Contour styles can also be a bit harder to find in this size. Many full bust brands cut off their size availability in contour bras at a 28G (Cleo Jude) and other brands don't offer padded styles to 28-backs at all (the Panache Porcelain Viva). Finally, a few companies are choosing to release padded versions in a smaller cup range (Freya's Padded Half Cups). After ruminating on A.'s dilemma, I suddenly remembered a ton of awesome and affordable contour bras that are available for 28GGs. Here are my top four picks:

Freya Deco, $60

In the past, Freya only made the Deco up to a 28G, but last season the 28GG appeared on the market. I recently tried out a Deco style (the lovely & amazing Hatty) in this size and I was enamored with the comfort and knockout fit. If A. likes to go seamless, doesn't mind a bit of sassy cleave, and wants a bra that will be comfortable all day long, I think the Deco would definitely do the trick. Now, there's one drawback I can envision: the bra above is a plunge. Obviously, a plunge bra reveals more skin than a full coverage or balcony style. The Deco also offers a push-up effect. While insanely soft against the breast tissue, the push up provides forward projection and lift. So, if you're a lady that does a lot of work-related lifting/bending over and you don't want to be aware of spillage or movement, the Deco might not be the best bet.
Cleo Juna, $53

I have such a lingerie crush on this bra! I haven't bought it yet so I can't speak to the fit, but Cheryl from Invest in Your Chest did a great review of it and the customer feedback on Bravissimo's website is overwhelmingly positive. I'm mildly obsessed with this bra because I'm repulsed by most beige padded bras. Maybe not repulsed, but definitely bored. While I find so-called "nude" bras to be pathetically bland, I adore the Juna's cute patterned trim, center gore bow, and flattering circular shape. If A. is willing to sacrifice for the seam down the middle, this bra is a strong contender for "best work bra".
Ewa Michalak CHP, HP, CH, or PL bras, roughly $23-47 before Paypal fees and shipping

From the styles listed above, it's clear that Ewa Michalak has the best stock list for contour cups in this size. A. is sure to find a color or style she prefers amongst this wonderful selection. The padded bras from this Polish lingerie brand are gorgeously designed, carefully sewn, and look awesome under close fitting tops. Like the Cleo Juna, many of these bras do carry seam texture through the middle of the cup but for coverage and smoothness, they definitely get the job done. Some women find that these bras run snug (the plunge and HM styles, in my experience) so A. might be able to order and return her sister size (30G? 30GG?). However, if she'd like to order a 28, it's considered a custom order and won't be returnable. It's a gamble, but the bras are worth every bit of risk.
**Sister Size Option: Parfait by Affinitas Contour Styles, $38-$58

While Parfait doesn't produce 28" bands quite yet, many of their styles are rumored to run extremely tight in the band. I'm wearing one as I write this (the Tamara Padded) and it feels just as snug as smaller bands from other companies. If A. would like to try out her sister size, I've heard from Parfait that some of the basics lines (i.e. the Jeanie) run generous in the cup as well. Their contour selection is colorful, fun, and contains pretty basic shades for more professional situations.

A note on price...

I've listed the suggested retail price for the styles above. However, If you're on a more stringent budget, there are a few tricks for grabbing a deal. Like any garment, you can wait until a season has passed to buy the fashion colorways at budget sites or boutiques. I've snatched up a few sets in summer shades (fuschia, bright yellow) lately that retailers don't want to carry into the winter. If you're comfortable with independent retailers, ebay has some great options. Also, if you don't mind previously owned bras, I know some of the users on Bratabase sell styles that didn't work out for their shape. My favorite tip? If there's a store or online retailer you especially like, SIGN UP FOR EMAILS. Email notifications allow you to shop a sale first, provide you with special discount codes, and let you know when they have new merchandise.

Alright, ladies. We gotta help A. out! What are your tips for saving $$$ on bras? Do you have a favorite contour style for work that you'd recommend?


  1. I second the recommendation on the Cleo Juna. I've historically despised padded/molded bras, but I'm wearing the Juna as I type. I'm really glad I took a chance on it, as it's so nice to have a lined option on those occasions when unlined just won't do. The fabric is soft and feels wonderful, the fit is secure and supportive (and stays so even through time-of-the-month size fluctuations), it's not too plunging or low-cut, and the matching briefs are some of my favorite ever. I find that the band loosens a bit over the course of a day's wear, so I'd recommend checking on a store's return policy before ordering, but it tends to tighten back up just fine after a hand-washing. This is a great list!

  2. I don't know what your budget is, or if you handsew. If you don't mind it, you can buy the bra you need very inexpensive and alter the band. You can use it as a back up until you get the bra in your size that fits. I have many alterred bras that I have worn while waiting to get the bras in my size.
    I am a 32 band most of the time, in lower end dept stores, those bands run big, so I alter to a 30 ish.
    You can either sew the wings( in a fold) or where the hooks (one side) are and eyes(other side), take the stitching out and cut the band, the fold the end back into hook / eye material at the end and sew back together. I handsew, but it works well. The great thing is, you can get the cups you like(lightly lined T shirt bra cups) that fit you and fix the band to your size. You said you wear tight tops, a nude color with light lining can keep thing opaque and no one will see anything.

  3. My favorite contour style for t-shirts and work is the Freya Deco, but I also like the Panache Porcelain plunge.
    Here was my strategy to save money on the Deco: find the best-fitting size in-store at Nordstrom in the US, then order from eBay, where I can usually get one new for under thirty dollars.
    If A. is in the US, are any EM bras realistically returnable? I don't know what the postage to Poland is or if anyone's been able to return bras (there's a 10-day return policy from receipt of order, how is that verified?), so it may be a risky maneuver.

  4. If alterring isn't an option Wacoal's btemptd line has a 30G in a push up. I don't know how the fit might be for you. Its $42. with 5. priority shipping and free returns on Wacoal /btemptd site.

  5. I have been wearing my Juna-variations (Rihanna and Darcy) for the past 2 weeks as everyday bras. They are awesome. Highly recommended as an everyday option if it works for you.

  6. I just want to say if you're bottom-heavy in your breasts, the Deco doesn't fill up entirely or fit quite right.

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to look for me. I really appreciate it and this has given me more of an idea to go off of. I usually like padded/molded bras because I am so petite the other styles look horrendous on my frame. But thank you so much I am beyond thankful for you researching so much! <3


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