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Flat & Fabulous: Lingerie for Women With Unreconstructed Breasts

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

Breast cancer treatments are changing and evolving to meet the needs of women with this disease.

Patients now have more options after bilateral or unilateral mastectomy procedures. They may not need or want to wear a prosthesis or a post-mastectomy “pocketed” bra.

Many women opt out of breast reconstruction surgery altogether. They choose to remain unreconstructed. And this choice is now more visible, thanks to social media and “flat and fabulous” support groups. But having unreconstructed breasts doesn’t mean a woman gives up her desire to wear beautiful or feminine undergarments either.

Agent Provocateur (US)

unreconstructed breasts

Debbie Bowers from Going Flat After Breast Cancer
 Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times

Play Out Underwear brought attention to this subject by featuring two flat and fabulous models in their ad campaign and fashion show. One of them, Melanie Testa, shared her thoughts with me on what women with unreconstructed breasts want in lingerie:

Just because we have chosen mastectomy without reconstruction doesn’t mean we don’t still want the fun trappings that fully breasted women have access to. This option does not mean we forfeit our femininity.

The time has come to acknowledge that not all women choose to replace their loss. Some of us choose to remain flat. Simply, beautifully, flat. Some remove just the affected breast, some choose symmetry, and bilateral mastectomy. Some of us accept we cannot reconstruct even if we want to (many of our bodies reject implants). We are all different and unique.

Either way we need the dignity of seeing our bodies and our reality reflected back to us though our clothing and lingerie of our choice.

unreconstructed breasts

Melanie Testa for Play Out Underwear

The post-mastectomy lingerie landscape is also changing. AnaOno Intimates is one brand working to meet the varied intimate apparel needs of breast cancer patients. Their styles (see below) work for those with partial, whole, or no breast reconstruction. Founder Dana Donofree explained via email some of the line’s design elements:

Breasts or no breasts, we all want to feel beautiful, and that has nothing to do with boobs! 

Our Kelly and Jennifer are the most popular with our flat and fab sisters, it’s perfect because it’s protection against the body and adds a layer of support without being bulky or thick, like a tank or camisole. It’s also feminine, lacy and sexy. 

Many of the challenges I have heard is with low-cut shirts, or see through tops, feeling conscious about scarring or shadowing showing through a blouse. The Kelly can be worn in many colors to either blend in or stand out and use as a piece of your outfit. What makes it so special is the multi stretch lace, that way no matter what is happening “under” the bra, the bra fits and forms to you body. 

So you need something flexible, but seamless options that are available can be a bit basic and boring, but they work….sometimes. 

What should you consider when shopping for lingerie not specially made for unreconstructed breasts? First, look for adjustable straps, multi-way stretch lace, and wireless and seamless designs. Second, pay attention to fabric quality, extra linings, and cuts that accommodate sensitive areas. Finally, garments with compression may be more comfortable. If you like the option of wearing a prosthesis, there are bras, bralettes, and loungewear pieces with pockets or removable padding.

Here are a few examples of styles that may fit women with unreconstructed breasts:

unreconstructed breasts

 

unreconstructed breasts

Jennifer Tonal Sport Bra
Available in 2 Colors, Sizes XS-XL
via AnaOno
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Kelly Lace Bra
Double Layer Front/Racerback Style
Available in 4 Colors, Sizes XXS-XXL 
via AnaOno
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Pocketed Plunge Bra
Available in 3 Colors, Sizes XS-XL (Bands 30-38)
via MAKEMERRY by AnaOno

unreconstructed breasts

Coobie Lace Coverage Bra
Available in 12 Colors, One Size (Fits 32A-36D)
via HerRoom

unreconstructed breasts

Wacoal B Smooth Bralette 
Non-adjustable straps and w/removable padding
Available in 5 Colors, Sizes 36-38
via HerRoom
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Hanky Panky Adjustable Stretch Bralette
Available in 23 Colors, Sizes XS-M
via HerRoom

unreconstructed breasts

Signature Lace Unlined V-Front Cami 
Available in 4 Colors, Sizes XS-L
via Hanky Panky
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Silky Luxe Cami w/adjustable straps
Available in Sizes S-L
via Hanky Panky
 
 
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Miel seamless bras, panties, and camis
Compression-style camisole w/adjustable straps
Available in Multiple Colors, Fitting S/M, M/L, L/XL
via Miel
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Baxter T-Back Pointelle Knit Cami
Available in Sizes S-L
via Eberjey
 
unreconstructed breasts
 
Cara Cami w/Adjustable Straps
Available in Sizes S-L
via Eberjey
 

 

What do you think of these lingerie options for women with unreconstructed breasts? 

Featured Image: Kelly Lace Bra from AnaOno

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Breast and bra expert, author, and founder of TheBreastLife.com. My latest book, The Bra Zone: How to Find Your Ideal Style, Size, and Support, busts common bra fitting myths and helps consumers navigate the confusing world of bra styles and sizes.