Bras with lots of stretch in the cup fabric definitely help (Natori Satin Fleur, Anita Twin, and to a lesser degree Wacoal Dual Control) but still, when I experience hormonally-induced swelling, the wires themselves eventually just irritate me. The fit of the bra is subtly changed in multiple ways and the wires, by their very nature, cannot adapt enough to the changes. Result: I quickly become uncomfortable. This is where you would think it would be a good idea to try a maternity style bra, which are theoretically designed to adapt to such changes.
However. The vast majority of styles available are not actual maternity styles, but rather nursing styles featuring horrid hard plastic clips, the edges of which rub the skin raw. Seriously. What genius thought of that. The first bra of this type I tried (because it could be converted by removing the hard plastic) was an utter failure: Bravado Essential Embrace. Like a scuba suit with the all the softness of canvas. So while it's tempting to try brands like Hot Milk or Cake, with their unique plastic 'flexi-wires', the unfortunate fact is that the hard clips would ruin all other comfort features for me. Royce is known for offering both maternity & nursing styles - but they also are known for some of worst shapes ever seen in wire-free designs. Horizontal seam frumpitude extraordinaire. Like kryptonite for full-on-tops.
So that leaves me randomly trying wire-free options that have designs that seem promising. It's a lonely road, people. The latest two attempts:
Curvy Studio Cotton Wireless BraIf this seems familiar, that's because it is the cheaper line of Curvy Couture, made for Target. I reviewed the regular version here: Curvy Couture Cotton Luxe Wirefree.
How does the down-market version compare? Favorably...in some ways.
Straps. The Target version loses the awful straps of the spendy version: no ring connectors at all, and no wadded up lump of sewn fabric either. That's a pretty big improvement. That alone makes the Comfy Studio version wearable for me. They are still quite pretty with the lace edging on the inner strap. Very fine and soft, it causes zero irritation and looks great peeking out from a wide-necked top.
Shape. A bit droopy on its own. Which the Couture version is not. This one has more projection but less lift. However, it looks reasonably good under clothing. Better than expected. Also the gore is lower on the Studio version.
Fabric. Ah, here's where they slashed their costs, resulting in a pricepoint of under $30. This is not the silky rayon/cotton blend of Curvy Couture that felt almost like bamboo. Uhhhh, no, it is not that fabric. It is a polyester heavy cotton blend. Soft-ish, but not soft. And that satiny underband? Gone. Ribbed fabric that is not soft covers it instead. Also gone is the lavish lace, replaced with much smaller token lace strips.
Band. This is the least comfy part of the bra, and really noticeable when sitting down for any length of time. First, it runs very tight, just like Curvy Couture does. A good 2 sizes worth. Beyond that, it is extremely tall, around 6". I dislike overly tall bands, so that's not a plus for me at all. When sitting, it tends to roll & dig. At least there are no side stays. This is the usual issue that often makes underwire seem more comfy to me overall: I hate the restrictive, tall band of many wire-frees and the way they just seem to concentrate the weight of my boobs onto a narrow band of space across my chest.
When Do I Wear It? I'm less likely to wear this for lounging around on weekends. The band just isn't comfy enough for that. But I would wear it to work, when sitting upright at a desk, rather than reclining with feet propped, renders the band reasonably comfy - well, 'neutral' is more like it. But I like it best for a more active weekend with standing/walking involved.
Just My Size Super Sleek Front-Close Wire-Free Bra
This was a total fail.
The ridiculously poorly designed ring-connector strap strikes again:
All of that seamed, wadded up fabric, plus the ring connector and strap slide clumped together in one perfect storm of 'Ow!'
Here's a view of the top of my shoulder.
All of that weight concentrated on 1/2" of skin as a single pressure point.
I felt immediate discomfort. After less than 5 minutes - literally just long enough to take these pic - I couldn't wait to remove this bra from my body. Angry red marks had already formed where the strap sat.
Fabric. This was nice. Silky nylon with lots of stretch. And the front hooks provide an option for those with arthritis or shoulder injuries.
Though I can't imagine the hook closure lying flat beneath a blouse.
Also: cleavage. You won't avoid it.
Shape. Quite decent, really. For that alone, it's a shame the bad strap design makes it totally unwearable for me.
It might, however, be wearable for you if: you are very petite and very high-set, which would enable you to have the straps fully shortened (moving the slider away from the top of your shoulder) and causing the ring to fall further down toward your back. Also, it would help if you are full on bottom, to avoid the over-the-top wench boobs the style creates on me.
Size: 42DD (fits like a 38G)