Like many a person with F-cup breasts and fashion aspirations, I had long been tortured by the legend of the effective strapless bra. It was, as far as I could tell, a mirage. Some were nothing but hangers-on, less supportive than a corporate WhatsApp group. Some left painful, red welts in my side. Others felt like wearing a bulletproof vest under my party dress. Many fell down entirely. Most weren’t even available above a 36DD, meaning the whole mission was pointless and I’d slink off to buy a thermal poloneck instead. Where was my invite to off-the-shoulder club? Where was it?
Next, it turns out. I’d never have thought to go to Next for underwear. I’d never have thought to go to Next for anything since I stopped needing tailored trousers for work experience — but thanks to a tip-off from Laura Craik in the Evening Standard, I finally found my holy grail.
The Jamie Non Padded Minimising DD+ Bandeau Bra is soft and comfortable but sturdy enough to stay up all day long. It’s underwired but not padded, gravity-defying but without acres of superfluous cleavage. The smooth, seam-free design looks sleek and unfussy beneath clothes — no knobbly bows or bumpy lace. And while ‘minimising’ might raise a few body-positive eyebrows, it’s hard to deny that the fashion climate is still fairly inhospitable to boobs. Sometimes you want to celebrate them; sometimes you just want to flatten them down and forget about them for a while. Hey, look at my shoulders instead! Or my eyes. Or my personality.
Going up to a 38H, it isn’t quite as size-inclusive as it could be. Available in black, white, and one stubbornly trad shade of peachy ‘nude’, it’s not as inclusive as it could be. But given how often the Jamie sells out online, I’m clearly not the only disciple — Next would do well to perk up, pay attention, and widen the range.
While the Jamie is obviously a godsend during the summer, I wear it all through winter, too; its minimising powers work a treat under lightweight sweaters, high-necked dresses, form-fitting thermal polonecks (I have lots), and any other outfit where I’d rather keep the girls under wraps. I’ve worn it several times a week since I first discovered it in 2015, and if it’s ever discontinued, I will riot. It washes and wears brilliantly — I’m still wearing the same black Jamie that I bought four years ago, which goes some way to offsetting the brand’s lack of sustainable kudos.
‘But is it pretty?’ you ask. No! Not in the slightest! It looks like a surgical bandage. But I’ve been shopping for too long to expect every purchase to tick every box. More importantly, it hugs me like an old friend, and supports me like a partner. It has unlocked outfits that I never thought I’d be able to wear without throwing caution — and nipple — to the wind. Sometimes your boobs deserve to swing freely in the breeze, sometimes they deserve to be showcased in lace, and sometimes they just want to be held snugly, by a piece of reliable engineering that has their back.
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