Help the sisters out -can we get a little lift, please?

Hooters. Jugs. Sandbags. Cans. TaTas. Knockers. Breasts. Boobies. Bolt-ons. The Twins. Chest puppies. No, this is not George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television,” these are just common terms for those appendages we female equestrians drag around with us day in and day out.

Whatever you decide to call them, we all know they can be a ginormous pain in the tuckus. We worry because they’re too big or too little, too high or too low, one is bigger than its counterpart or they’re facing in opposite directions. Seems you can’t ever find a happy medium when it comes to boobs.

I don’t know about you, but I like to forget about them for as long as I can, or at least until I need to worry about shoving them in an appropriately designed “container,” such as a bra or a swimsuit, or (heaven forfend) a bridesmaid’s dress. Just out of curiosity, has anyone in the history of the world ever said, “Oh yay! I get to go bra/bathing suit/bridesmaid’s dress shopping today!” Um, that would be a resounding “NO!”

I found myself facing that very situation recently. Interesting fact — did you know a good sports bra should only be worn a year? Yep, poor sports bra, it only gets one birthday. Ever. I just found that out about a month ago. Sadly, I’ve been known to let my bras age to toddlerhood. In fact, some might even be old enough to go to kindergarten! Alert the sports bra police! Anyway, I digress. The point is, I needed some sports bras suitable for riding, and in a jiffy.

I despise shopping, unless it is in a tack shop, so the internet is my friend in this instance. I did a little research on the interwebz. One of the first options I came across was a bra that could only be described as the mutant offspring of a beer cozy and a life-vest. Oh, HECK NO! Not in a gazillion years!

After I stopped laughing and did some more diligent searching, I found a couple of sites that had some serious over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. One of the best sites I found was Title Nine, not only because it had a HUGE selection, but it rated them in terms of bra size and ability to corral various sizes and shapes of, erm, boobies.

My father (bless his heart) has always described me as being built “like a brick $hithouse.” My girls are a respectable 36DD, and that’s after reduction surgery and two kids. Trust me, I don’t say this to brag, just to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with.

When it comes to sports bra shopping, there are two schools of thought: There are those that prefer a compression style bra, which is the kind that tends to shove the girls together and up against your chest, giving you that oh-so-attractive uni-boob look. These are best for A and B cups. Others go for what is called an encapsulation bra, the kind that gives each breast her own little apartment to surround and support her. These are considered the best option for D and DD cups. C and D cup wearers can choose a compression/encapsulation hybrid bra that offers the best of both worlds.

Personally, I look for an encapsulation type bra that is comfortable enough and stylish enough to wear all day, because I hate having to go through 18 costume changes and am usually racing out the door to beat traffic when I leave for the barn after work. If at all possible, I try to avoid something that looks like Xena, Warrior Princess, could have used it as armour. With this in mind, I spent a good amount of time perusing the Title Nine site. Title Nine specializes in clothing and athletic wear for women, and their bra gurus are experts in matching women with the perfect sports bra. After much comparison shopping, I went with The Super Lace Bra and the Cuz She Says So Bra. They arrived promptly, and when I tried them on, I was pretty darned excited. They both fit well, which wasn’t surprising as I’d asked the bra gurus at Title Nine for a little guidance – those ladies sure know their mammaries!

I wore the Super Lace Bra to the barn first.

The Super Lace Bra available from Title Nine

This bra is an ultra-serious underwire bra that lifts, separates, and all but puts the girls up on a silver platter. I honestly felt it improved my posture! When I walked into the barn for a lesson with two of my riding buddies one asked if I’d lost weight (yes!) and the other stared at my chest with a raised eyebrow, saying I looked really good and asking if I’d done something different that day. (Note to self: This could be why you don’t let your bras get old and tired!)

The Super Lace Bra did a fabulous job holding things in place while I was practicing the sitting trot and while jumping, which is important, as breasts can move up to seven inches when bouncing! Gack!! Makes you think about the sitting trot in a whole new light! The straps are wide and comfy, and did not slip at all.

The bra also did a nice job in terms of wicking away sweat. It’s comfortable, but you definitely know you are wearing it, so it’s not a bra I lounge around in. As that’s not it’s purpose, I’m okay with that.

Just for giggles, here’s a little bounce test video I made. I know it’s not on a horse (kept forgetting my video cam when I was at the barn) but you get the drift.

Bounce Test for the Super Lace Sports Bra

The second bra I tried was the Cuz She Says So bra.

The Cuz She Says So Bra, available from Title Nine

This bra is is also underwire, and is made in a seamless cup style that has mesh for breathability and molded panels for superstructure-type support. It also has wide, comfortable, non-slip straps which are nice because you don’t need to worry about any “escape-age” while picking hooves.

While this bra did not give me the Jane Russell-esque sweater model feeling the other bra did, it certainly gave the girls a feeling of security and support as I tried sitting trot and some jumping. I mean, with a rack like mine there’s gonna be bounce, but this bra did a very good job of controlling it.

The bra is comfortable enough for all day wear, looks good under t-shirts and certainly held its own when I rode in it. Because of the power-mesh construction, it performed a little better than the first bra in the sweat department.

Here’s the Cuz She Says So bounce test:

The final bra I tested was from our wonderful friends and sponsors, SmartPak!

SmartPak’s SmartShape Full Support Bra

I spoke with the ever-helpful folks at SmartPak and based on what I told them about my size and my riding style they sent me the SmartShape Full Support bra, which is an underwire-free (can you say ahhhhh!) sports bra that I would categorize as part encapsulation, part compression style.

It’s got a strip of mesh above the boobies and mesh on the back for ventilation, stabilization in the yoke, sides, and center gore, and is made of a technical fabric designed to wick sweat away from the body. This was the most comfortable of the bras I tried, as well as the most air conditioned.

The SmartShape is definitely a bra I can wear to lounge in or all day. It also did a good job of corralling the girls, although there may have been slightly more bounce at the sitting trot and during jumping than the other two. The straps stay in place and the padding is quite comfy. Did I mention I loved this bra for its comfort factor? This bra is a great option for a rider with a C cup or someone with D+ who rides for pleasure.

Bounce test for the SmartShape Full Support. (Are y’all getting a good giggle out this?)

During the course of writing this review I learned more about boobs and bras than I ever thought possible. I mean, I knew selecting the right bra was crucial, but I had no clue that bras were not supposed to have birthdays, or that proper care was so crucial to the bras continued ability to serve its purpose. After I’m done, I typically chuck the bra in the washer and drier and have done with it.

The bra gurus told me it’s best to protect my investment by hand washing the bra (not gonna happen) and hanging it to dry (okay, this I can do). They also told me not to use fabric softener as it inhibits the moisture wicking properties of the bra. Who knew?!?!?! Apparently, if you are determined to machine wash your bra (gentle or hand wash cycle only!) you should also fasten the hooks before doing so. I have no idea why – maybe so they don’t catch on the velcro hook ends of your horse’s bandages??

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. Happy bra shopping!