Seams: Making them Work

Hello Ladies,

I recently wrote a blog touting the many fit and support advantages of seamed bras, and one our readers, Catherine, lamented that although seamed bras fit better she often cannot wear them during spring and summer because they do not blend well under the more heat-friendly fabrics required by her climate.  As a result, I want to kick off the week with some helpful information on what characteristics enable seamed bras to actually blend seamlessly under knits as well as to highlight what style tops give your lingerie drawer more freedom.

The Bra

When looking for a seamed bra that will work under knitwear or thinner materials, I recommend examining the bra for two things:  design details and construction.  As beautiful as embroidery, ribbon, and stiff lace can be, these fashion elements often appear bumpy or raised under less forgiving fabrics:

Some manufacturers, like Curvy Kate, have been perfecting ways of taking an ornately designed bra and utilizing tighter stitching, flatter embroidery, and smoother details to create a style that is surprising versatile.  However, in most cases, bras with lots of frill and embellishment won’t cut it under a tee shirt and are better as a supplementary style for tops and dresses with thicker fabrics.

But don’t swear off designs with lace just yet as some of the better, more discreet styles use a soft and flat stretch-lace on the top portion of the cup, which contours beautifully to many breast shapes and lays smooth under clothes:

The construction of the bra, specifically the technique used to sew the seams, can also alert you to whether the style will work under knits.  More designers are adapting to the demands of consumers and using discreet seaming that is smaller and tighter so that as you fill the cup with your breast tissue, the seams pull across and lay smooth.  To determine if the seaming will be unobtrusive, examine the exterior and interior of the cup.  On the exterior, the seaming should form a thin line that isn’t significantly raised from the rest of the fabric as with the Freya Faye:

or the Wacoal Alluring:

On the interior of the cup, the seaming usually becomes a much thicker band to ensure the fabric holds together and offers firm support all day:

Sometimes a fashion style will use a thicker seam as a design element, but that does make it more difficult for the seams to disappear under knits:

On a personal note, my current  “tee shirt bra” is the Freya Faye.  Thus far, I’ve found that the Faye blends the best under clothes and gives a rounded shape comparable to a molded cup.

The Tops

Let me preface this section by saying that I am not a fan of tissue weight tees or thin knitwear as I feel like these fabrics border on sheer and tend to have a more relaxed drape that doesn’t work for my body type.  If you do like this style, then there may not be a happy medium with a seamed bra as the fabric will be too light to support it.

For tee shirts, I am always stalking companies that use a heavier gauge cotton, especially Pima cotton as it’s thick enough to support some of the sexier bras.  Currently, I’m loving the J. Crew Perfect-Fit Tees, Ann Taylor’s Ballet Neck Tee, and Boden’s Knits (BodenUSA.com coupon page).  All of these retailers utilize a more substantial cotton that conceals seams, lasts multiple seasons, and fits well.

As a fellow southern-residing lingerie enthusiast, I can appreciate the unique challenges presented by the unrelenting heat, and I’ve found that opting for natural fabrics can be one of the best ways to enjoy fancy lingerie but still keep cool.  In addition to tees, my wardrobe consists of:

Cotton Button-Fronts:  I can wear these alone or with a thin cotton cami layered underneath for more protection:

Shirts with Boobage Details or Patterns:  Printed tops are a little more forgiving than solids since the pattern camouflages the seams, and design elements like ruffles or pleats can either cover the seams or distract the eye from them:

Structured Fabrics:  I have a few tops and dresses in more structured fabrics (usually cotton) that are breathable but give a lot of leeway for what bra I can wear.  For example, the dress below uses a slightly heavier fabric construction made from cotton/silk with an added cotton lining (plus there’s a slight pattern too):

To be fair, natural fabrics can be a pricier option, which is why I tend to watch sales and focus on building a fairly small wardrobe (all my “out of the house” clothes will fit into a mid-sized suitcase).

Another Option

If you have trouble locating a tee shirt bra that fits properly but finding ways of working seamed styles into your summer wardrobe is a daunting prospect, try unconventional tee shirt bras like those that use spacer fabrics or memory foam for the cups instead.  The material won’t be as rigid or predefined as most foam cups, which means it will contour more to your shape.  Good options include the Elomi Hermione, the Fantasie Rebecca, the Fayreform Profile Perfect, and the Natori Calais.

Now, it’s your turn!  There was a lot of love for seams on the last post.  Do any of you ladies have some extra advice for how to make seamed bras work into your wardrobe?

Erica

Seams: Making them Work
Erica
Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.
Tagged on:                                                                     

15 thoughts on “Seams: Making them Work

  • June 26, 2012 at 11:43 am
    Permalink

    I’ve posted before about it but I often wear my choli underneath a shirt if I have a more bumpy bra and I want a smoothed out look. It only comes to my underbust and is short sleeved so it doesn’t add much extra weight either.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm
    Permalink

    I actually do not own a seamless bra that fits. I tend to hide thicker seams with a patterned t-shirt. I don’t look my age, so I tend to wear punk looking shirts with crazy patterns on a thin material. For a thinner T I tend to wear a 3 part seamed cup with vertical seams, like the Rhea. I’ll also layer a ribbed tank under a shirt if it is a thinner bra with seams. Living in the south I worry more about nipples showing when entering a cold building then seams. Wearing a cami or ribbed tank really helps with that.
    Now, I admit to wearing clothes that are too young for me, I’m working on getting my wardrobe to match my age. That pink button front is BiuBiu correct? What about the dress, and is that a cami under it? I seriously need to start adding some pieces to my wardrobe.

    Reply
    • Erica
      June 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm
      Permalink

      Have you tried the silicone nipple covers? I’ve heard good things about them from customers who have tried them, and they help eliminate that pesky high beam issue!

      Yes, the pink button-front is from Biu Biu, and the dress is from Gap and does require a cami for work. That dress is so comfortable! I can work all day in it and just feel great (and I like how I don’t have to worry about what’s showing when I move).

      A few years ago, I started moving away from the graphic tees and jeans, and I did it slowly so as not to go into withdraws, lol. I like to keep my clothes flattering, minimalistic, comfortable, and if possible, a little edgy. 😀

      Reply
      • June 27, 2012 at 1:37 am
        Permalink

        I love the outfit you are wearing with the pink blouse, it looks very sophisticated and pretty.

        Reply
        • Erica
          June 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm
          Permalink

          Thanks, Ms Pris! I am wearing my new Biu Biu blouse again today, actually. 🙂

          Reply
  • June 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you so much! Those t-shirt suggestions are very helpful too. I do actually end up wearing some tissue-weight tees, but this gives me other options. Looking at my new Cleo Alexa vs. the ones you showed, I can actually see the difference between the seams that don’t show as much- I think that will make bra shopping a lot more hassle-free :-)!

    Reply
    • Erica
      June 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm
      Permalink

      So glad you found this helpful, Catherine! Tissue-weight tees are pretty tough to work with, so I can see needing a tee shirt bras for those days. Sometimes I think the design of the seams bolder to enhance the aesthetic, but on the more “basic” seamed bras, you can really tell where the manufacturer tried to make the bra as versatile as possible. 🙂

      Reply
  • June 27, 2012 at 1:39 am
    Permalink

    I am trying to work more prints into my tops wardrobe, because they may camouflage seams better. In the meantime, I look for bras with very flat seams, and I also wear mini-camis when necessary.

    These days I find it almost impossible to find tees that are heavier than tissue-weight in stores. It seems everyone expects us to layer, but I hate layering!

    Reply
    • Erica
      June 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm
      Permalink

      Ms. Pris, I hear ya on having trouble locating thicker gauge cotton. After the prices on the fabric jumped, retailers switched to offering tees in tissue-weight, which is just so thin! They are out there, but they are usually a little more expensive ($20-$30 vs. $10-$20).

      Reply
  • Pingback: The molded cup bra delima « By Baby's Rules

  • August 11, 2012 at 3:52 am
    Permalink

    Great post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am inspired! Very useful info specially the ultimate phase 🙂 I handle such information a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a very lengthy time. Thank you and good luck.

    Reply

What are your thoughts?