How the biggest strapless bra in the world gave my life a huge lift!
07:16 GMT, 19 July 2012
Whenever I think of my wedding photographs, I feel a rush of emotion — but not the warm and fuzzy feeling you might expect.
For as well as recording the ceremony that saw me pledge my love to my husband John 21 years ago, the pictures also capture my last, fateful attempt to wear a strapless bra.
I was an F-cup when I walked down the aisle, and the beautiful bespoke ivory strapless wedding dress — made so lovingly for me by John’s dressmaker aunt — kept slipping down under the weight of my cleavage.
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Liberated: Caite trying on two new dresses whilst wearing her new strapless bra
The strapless bra simply didn’t have the strength to support my breasts. The photos show my lovely dress sliding further and further down throughout the day — and taking my bosoms with it.
As I yanked it up again and again, I realised my bust was too big to risk wearing a strapless bra again. And in the years following my wedding, my breasts didn’t stop growing.
I’d been big-busted since the age of 14 but when I became pregnant with my son Jack, who’s now 12, my breasts grew to a J-cup. After I had my second son, Thomas, eight years ago, I became a K-cup.
Even when I slimmed down to a size 10, my bust remained huge.
Throughout my life, my boobs have been the subject of much teasing by family and strangers alike.
I’ve heard all the jokes, and countless times: ‘Don’t go jogging or you’ll give yourself two black eyes’ or, ‘Don’t lean forward, you might topple over’.
But on a more serious note, the shoulder straps from my 36K cup bras have caused permanent indentations in my skin. Imagine dangling two heavy handbags from your shoulders all day every day — and that is the weight I carry on my chest.
'Even when I slimmed down to a size 10, my bust remained huge'
For as long as I can remember, I’ve longed to wear delicate lace bras in the season’s hottest colours. It would be my dream to walk into a lingerie shop and say: ‘I’ll have a matching set of that pretty turquoise-and-pink range.’
But when it comes to K-cups, bras are strictly functional rather than sexy. My normal bras — which cost 30 each — come in cream, navy or black. It appears that concepts such as ‘choice’ go out the window at around a G-cup.
Although some women in my position may consider a breast reduction, I don’t feel the need to change myself — I have always just wished that underwear designers would try a bit harder to cater for us.
And finally, it seems, I may have my wish. Plus- sized retailer N Brown has released the world’s biggest strapless bra, which is said to boast enough support for a K-cup, and claims to be ‘a triumph of textile engineering’.
'Like a hammock': The strapless K-cup bra
I’m sceptical that it will be able to support my breasts but — two decades after my last strapless-bra debacle — I am willing to give it a try.
The bra comes in four colours — white, ivory, black and magenta — and costs from 20 to 28 (at simplybe.co.uk). And at first glance it looks like a hammock. Made from polyester, nylon and elastane, it has a toughened underwire for maximum lift, and strengthened seams for extra support.
There’s boning in the sides to enhance the cups’ shape and give wearers the type of profile that movie actresses from the Fifties would be proud of.
I choose the white one, and I like the simple lace design that gives it a nod toward femininity. There are optional straps that clip on but, as I’ve been tethered by thick bra straps for the past 20 years, I won’t be using them.
Getting into a strapless bra is no mean feat for a woman of my mega proportions. So I use a technique shown to me by a sympathetic bra saleswoman many years ago.
I lean forward, lower myself into the cups and, with my hands behind my back, feel my way around the hooks and clasps — in a dance that requires the dexterity of Houdini. With this new bra, the technique is doubly hard because there are five rows of clasps instead of the usual three. It takes a good five minutes to do them all up but I’m reassured by the extra metalwork.
'I pull on my top and my breasts look more conical than usual – like Madonna's in the early Nineties'
It makes me feel more secure as it reduces my chances of ‘Doing a Judy Finnigan’ — ie. having my dress accidentally slip down to expose my bra, like hers did at the National TV Awards in 2007.
The first thing I experience as I stand up straight is the most extraordinary sense of liberation. I cannot believe how light my shoulders feel now that they are no longer being pulled down by the weight of my breasts.
When I look in the mirror I have another pleasant surprise. The strong cups are actually supporting my breasts, and there’s a clear ‘up and out’ lift that gives me a voluptuous, Jayne Mansfield-esque shape.
I pull on my top and my breasts look more conical than usual — like Madonna’s in the early Nineties. But I’m not complaining. I suddenly realise a whole new wardrobe is available to me, and I go shopping.
Usually, the thick-strapped bras needed to keep my bosom in place dictate what clothes I can wear, ruling out, for example, this summer’s pretty maxi dresses, which are strapless or come with shoestring straps.
Now, for the first time in 20 years, I can try on the dresses most women can wear — the sort of pretty, feminine designs I’ve always longed for. I buy a beautiful summery dress from Evans and wear it on the school run. The sun is shining and I feel like all the other carefree, attractive mothers in the playground.
Later in the week, my husband and I go to a garden party. Smart occasions are usually a nightmare for me but I am able to wear a strapless dress, which looks elegant and fitted — and, best of all, my breasts stay pointing outwards.
My new bra and the glamorous outfits it allows me to wear not only make me look better, they make me feel younger, too. To other people this may just be a strapless bra — to me, it is seriously life-changing.
My husband loves the fact it makes me feel good. When I’m wearing it, I exude confidence and happiness.
This morning, I looked in the mirror and instead of seeing my mother staring back, as I usually do, I saw my former teenage self grinning at me.
This, wonderful, wonderful bra is truly uplifting — in more ways than one.