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  • Writer's pictureKaitlin Owens

Bustin' Out: Vintage-Style Lingerie Solutions for a Fuller Bust

You can put down the beige, shapeless shelf bralette. It's OK.


It’s a heartbreaking realization that many of us have been forced to come to: A Good Bra Is Hard to Find.  Now, if you have a bust larger than a D cup, a good bra is damn near impossible to find. Add “Vintage Look and Feel” to your criteria, and you might as well start going braless.

I’ve scoured second-hand shops, antique malls, eBay, Etsy– even — hunting for a good vintage brassiere larger than a damn B cup, and all I’ve been left with is the grim understanding that those sizes simply don’t exist anymore (if they even existed at all). It begs the question: were all women pre-1980s card-carrying members of the I.B.T.C (Itty Bitty Titty Committee)? Did Busty Babes simply not exist a century ago? 

Of course not. I mean, look around, even today you can’t get a bra larger than a D cup at most lingerie stores (and don’t even get me started on Victoria’s Secret’s vanity sizing). Women have always had varying body sizes — and for most of our sartorial history, larger women have struggled to find garments that fit.

That was until I hit the scene.

Rest assured, I have hunted down every single fuller bust, vintage-style bra that the internet has to offer. I’ve bought them, worn them, assessed their strengths and weaknesses, and now I’ve come back, battle-worn (and quite literally scarred from stray underwires) to give you the skinny on the best bras available for purchase today.

The absolute BEST of the best is Rago. They are an incredible brand with a wide variety of bullet bra styles that go up to a 58H. My favorite make and model is the 9603 Front-Closure in Blush. This thing will cinch you up like a Barbie Doll. If you’ve got a dress that you want to look perfect in, this is the thing that’ll make it happen. But please be advised: this bra is NOT comfortable, especially in the armpit region. 

If you’re looking for a more comfortable, “Daily Driver” type of bra, I would highly recommend the 2202 Expandable Cup. This bra gives you incredible shape. It cinches the waist while still remaining pretty comfortable. It’s the type of bra where you don’t have to be worried about eating a big lunch while wearing it. 

Carnival also has a Soft-Cup Longline Bra if you’re looking for something at more of a budget-friendly price point. However, I will say that there is a noticeable quality difference between Rago and Carnival. The Carnival one isn’t BAD per se, but you definitely get what you pay for.

Now, I know not everyone prefers the Bullet Bra Bust Shape (gasp!). So, if you’re looking for something that has a bit of a vintage flair —while still keeping the modern, rounded bust shape — I would highly recommend Dita Von Teese’s Fuller Bust Line. These are the first bras I have ever bought where I thought: Wow! They didn’t just take the small bra and make it big — this is actually made for me!  They fully repatterned the bra to better accommodate a larger cup size but kept the same design as the straight-size garment. Which is just a breath of fresh air.

Far too often, if you have a fuller bust, you’re relegated to the beige sacks at the bottom of the website, so it’s always incredibly appreciated when there’s a special line of fuller bust bras that are companion pieces to the straight-size designs. We get the same look as everyone else — just made in a way that fits us.

Hopefully, a decade from now, articles like this won’t be necessary. Every lingerie brand will just start making high-quality, well-crafted, beautifully-designed brassieres for larger sizes.

But until then, I’ll keep my day job. 🌀


Kaitlin Owens is a vintage fashion writer, movie buff, lover of good eats, and a women’s size 7.5 (if any shoe brands are reading). She is the Editor-in-Chief of Dilettante Magazine. You can find her on socials @magdilettante.


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