Speaking of her famously bountiful breasts, Kate Upton recently mused, “Every single day, I’m like, Oh, man, it would be so much easier … if I could just take them off like they were clip-ons.” On this issue, and this issue alone, I have the upper hand over the most sexually desired woman on the planet. As a small-breasted woman, I do have clip-on boobs. They are called “padded bras,” “Kleenex,” “sweat socks,” and silicone bra inserts with names like “Fullcuptuous,” “Cleavage Cupcakes,” and “Silicone Magic! Braza Dolly Super Wedge.”
As a tween, I stuffed my bra on a near-daily basis. Today, I don’t even bother with a “real” bra (the kind with cups and wires and hook closures) unless I am planning to stuff it. This happens two or three times a year, most recently when a man I was dating asked, “Can you dress on the slutty side of hot tonight? I want to make some guys at this party jealous.” If I’m already altering my appearance by curling my hair, slathering on makeup, and squeezing into a cinching minidress, why not change my boobs, too?
My methods, however, have changed since adolescence. We live in a sort of golden age of bra stuffing, with a vast array of cutely named silicone cutlets and DIY YouTube tutorials. But as a grown-ass woman, there is a right way and a wrong way to “clip on” your one-night-only mammaries. What follows is a guide borne from the experience and observations of a double-A-cup woman and her many small-chested friends, all of whom have no personal boundaries whatsoever. As I see it, there are three key principles for boosting your boobs beyond that which a single bra can do.
1. What to Wear: The Double-Bra
“I’m like an inch away from having enough cleavage to pull this off,” an A-cup friend sighed while showing me a low-cut Zara sheath she intended to return. “Are you kidding me? One inch is easy; double-bra that shit,” I cried, yanking open my underwear drawer and throwing a padded strapless bra at her face.
As explained by the Paris Hilton character in the Nicole Richie roman à clef The Truth About Diamonds,* double-bra-ing works like this:
“If stuffing won’t work because your top is too little, wear two bras — strapless under and strappy right on top of it. Everything will be held in place and will look three times the real size.”
You can double-bra with two strappy bras, too; the key is that both bras should have molded cups and, ideally, padding. (Double-bra-ing with sports bras is basically chest-binding.) But like all bra-stuffing methods, there are perils: The next morning after I pelted her lingerie, my friend texted to inform me she’d gotten laid in her low-cut Zara dress. “WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE EXTRA BRA?” I asked. “Threw it under the bed when he wasn’t looking,” she replied.
The double-bra is the greatest of DIY breast enhancements. If you have never double-bra-ed, go home and double-bra right now — the results will leave you breathless. Figuratively, because your tits will never before have looked that good, but also literally, because you’ll have multiple layers of high-tensile materials wrapped around your ribcage. If you are willing to endure further discomfort, consider supplementing the double-bra with an X-back: This involves pinning or tying your bra’s straps together between your shoulder blades to form an "X," which offers impressive results but can make your back and shoulders a little sore. I once X-backed so tightly my upper-armpit region went numb. I didn’t say bra stuffing would be pleasant; merely that I could get results.
2. What to Stuff: Socks
When it comes to inserting foreign objects into your bra to create the illusion of larger tits, I fall into the Jenna Marbles camp of bra stuffing: Socks are superior to all other options. This is for three reasons: First, you already own them. Cleavage Cupcakes cost $44! Spend that money on the bra, not the gelatinous wad you’ll be discarding as quickly as possible if anyone sees you naked. [For more on the Stuffing Dignity Debate, see Principle 3 below.] A padded bra with a sock inside feels roughly the same as a padded bra without a sock inside — that is, a sort of stiff foaminess mediating between hand and tit. As one who has hooked up well into adulthood with socks in her bras — and proceeded to interrogate her hookups afterward — the sock doesn’t make that big of a difference. He’ll be too busy looking at the tops of your breasts, which will be sticking out anyway.
Second, socks are versatile. You can use a big ol’ sweat sock for mega-boost, or ankle-height hosiery for a teensy one. As a grown-ass woman, your breast-enhancing goal is likely no longer “the bigger the better,” but something garment- or event-specific. Generally the most effective method is to fold the sock in half, then place it on the bottom of the bra cup, the same place where a padded bra has padding. You’re adding more padding.
Finally, like the double-bra move, socks can be tossed out of a bra and kicked under the bed or hidden behind the toilet in a manner that suggests preexisting messiness. If you sneak to the bathroom to stow them in your purse, socks are lighter and more compact than silicone cutlets, too.
3. When to Say No: Silicone, Cotton Balls, Duct Tape
Some would argue that, as a grown-ass woman, there is more dignity in using your hard-earned money to purchase devices specifically engineered to improve boobs — padded bras, silicone cutlets, surgical implants — than there is sticking socks in your bra. I disagree. As a grown-ass woman, you are financially literate, confident, and in control. You do not waste your money on mammary novelties invented for narcissistic celebrities to wear on red carpets in borrowed dresses. You spend your money on the dress itself; on the party you’re attending; and on the room of your own where you store your bras, socks, and safety pins. Grown-ass women are in charge of their own bodies; they bra stuff as they please, and they do not need “lingerie accessories” in hot-pink packaging to make it feel socially acceptable.
And if plausible deniability is something you care about, a breast-shaped wedge of silicone cannot be explained away.
Some materials I do not recommend for DIY bra stuffing, however: Kleenex, toilet paper, cotton balls, or other disposable paper products, which are difficult to make stay in place and have a tendency to clump, pill, slip out the sides, and fall apart. I also do not recommend duct-tape bras, which are an old-school pageant strategy for which you use industrial-strength adhesives to hold your tits in the exact place where you like them. Duct tape isn’t calibrated for three-dimensional curves; duct-tape bras get pokey and pointy and the tape sticks itself and folds awkwardly all the time.
And then there are the times it behooves one to embrace small-breastedness and eschew stuffing and bras altogether. Swimwear and backless dresses come to mind. The joy of being small breasted enough to go totally braless when a sternum-baring gown demands it! For all the pain you endure the two and a half times a year that you undergo the above tortures to create the illusion of cleavage, remember that the freedom to go braless in a backless dress is your reward. This is the freedom Kate Upton will never know; revel in it.
For, as glorious as your artificially enhanced DIY cleavage may be, the true freedom of bra stuffing is the freedom of choice — to stuff or not to stuff, the decision is yours. With this article, I have merely educated you to the available options; but only you can decide what kind of breasts are right for you. It’s your body. Be as fake-boobed basic as you want to be, or as bralessly bohemian as you please.
* I read the whole book. It is a remarkable document of the dying days of pre-Kardashian-era pseudofame.
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