Sleeping with big boobs can be difficult. If you have big boobs, you know what I am talking about: they get in the way sometimes. They take up a lot of space. I am sure some of you ladies have had a bed partner roll over onto your boob, right? Because there’s no way it can be just me.
They actually *move* around, which is hard for those without breasts to understand. Here is the best way I could come up with to explain it: imagine that your arms had no bones in them, no way for you to physically control their movement. They would just hang there, right? And when you laid down to go to sleep, they would be all over the place: you’d have to situate them just so, to be comfortable, but if you moved a tiny bit the wrong way, one might fall out of position. Having large breasts is like that.
It is the movement that bothers me the most in terms of physical discomfort. A few years ago I started really analyzing my sleep and I found that any kind of movements in the bed would disturb me even if they didn’t wake me up. And this explained why I always slept more comfortably in tight shirts: they restrained my breasts and let me sleep more comfortably. But as my breasts have gotten larger, and larger, tight tshirts just weren’t enough anymore. Without a bra, my boobs were all over the place. So, I started looking into sleep bras.
Here are my requirements for a sleep bra: It must fit. It must be comfortable, and have no underwire (I don’t like sleeping in underwire.) It must keep my boobs close to my body and hold them relatively still when I am sleeping. It must be easy to get on and off (because I’m not wearing any sleepwear that is going to interfere with my sex life, and I don’t want to wrestle with a difficult bra when I am tired.) And, it must be inexpensive, because I am not paying a lot for sleepwear. I do not actually care what shape it gives my boobs: it is not a bra I am wearing out in the world, it is a bra I am wearing to sleep in. (It seems that at least a few bloggers are concerned about the shape that a sleep bra gives their boobs, and while they are of course free to have whatever standards they like, I think this is silly.)
I knew I didn’t want to wear underwire when I was sleeping, so that narrowed the field. I looked at soft-cup bras in my size range. I almost said I looked at a lot of them, but there really aren’t a lot to look at! It felt like a lot though. I was very attracted to the Royce line of wire-less bras, but many reviewers said they are tight and hard to get off and on. I liked the idea of Bravissimo’s sleep tanks with built-in bras, but they cost more than I can afford to dedicate to sleepwear (and are very rare to find on eBay.) I also considered Panache’s maternity support bras, but again, cost was an issue as well as fit.
So, I started thinking about camisoles with shelf bras. These aren’t a great option for ladies with large breasts: they just generally don’t have enough room in them, and the bras certainly aren’t suitable for regular use. But, I thought I might be able to find something that could work for busty sleepwear. I first tried on the camis at Old Navy, and found them to be of very poor quality: the fabric is very thin, the straps too stretchy. I looked in the athletic department at Target, where there are tanks with built-in bras, but they were all pretty small-cupped. In the end, I got lucky at Nordstrom Rack.
Nordstrom Rack, in case you aren’t aware, is the discount arm of Nordstrom. They carry a lot of the same things Nordstrom does, and some things Nordstrom doesn’t. The Rack is actually a great place to shop for bras; I got my Fantasie Lynsey there for less than $30. They also have great deals on SHOES . . . Ahem, where was I? Yes, camisoles. Nordstrom Rack carries a line of lingerie called “St. Eve.” Back in the 90s I used to see St. Eve at places like Marshall’s, but they have seriously revamped their line since then, and the quality is much improved. They now make very robust shelf-bra camis: the straps are strong and not too stretchy, and the fabric is thick. I have heard really good things about St. Eve underpants, too.
It turns out that the St. Eve camisoles are great for sleepwear. I like them in medium; I found that while I fit into a small, the smalls are shorter than mediums, and I like the tops to be long so they don’t ride up. A large was too roomy in the bust, and therefore not as supportive as I like. And these camis are surprisingly supportive! They hold my boobs close to my chest and keep them pretty still. They do give a little bit of lift, but mostly they give support, and as we learned from Astrid in this post, support and lift are not the same thing. In a day to day bra, I want support and lift, but in a sleep bra, I want support overall. These camis are actually supportive enough for lounging around the house. (My only complaint is that the straps do cut into my shoulders if I am wearing them while upright, and as I have tender shoulders, this is not fun. It isn’t always painful, but when it is, it really hurts. ) Yes, they do give a kind of mono-boob appearance, but if I’m just making breakfast or getting ready for bed, I don’t mind.
Also great for my pocketbook: St. Eve camis are $6-$7 at Nordstrom Rack. So I could afford to buy a bunch of them in a rainbow of colors, and I did. I’ve been wearing them every night for more than a year now, and I’m still pleased. So, I definitely recommend these as sleepwear for someone on a budget.
I would still love to try Bravissimo’s sleep tanks: they are so well-reviewed and look so comfy! But until I can afford those, these St. Eve camis are a good solution.