If this is your first time wearing a chest binder, you must be wondering, how tight should a binder feel? Well, it should feel like a hug. The binder should be comfortably snug and should not be impeding your breathing.
If the binder is new, it’s common to find it a tidy bit tight, but as long as you can comfortably breathe and you are satisfied with the amount it flattens, you have nothing to worry about as it will enlarge with time.
While this is the case, if the binder is too tight that you are struggling to breathe, it’s definitely too small, and you will be endangering yourself by continuing to wear it. Other signs the binder is too small include:
- Marks on your skin
- Pinching or rubbing
- Tissue spilling out of the top, sides or bottom of the binder
- Pain, soreness or extreme discomfort
- Extreme difficulty in putting on the binder
- Shortness of breath when you put on the binder
As mentioned, it’s common for a new binder to be a little tight, and you might have a problem putting it on, but if the discomfort isn’t going away after a week, get another that is a size up.
What if the binder is too large?
Most people buy binders that are too small often because they want to flatten their breasts as possible, but it’s not uncommon to buy a binder that is too large. Signs your binder is too big to include:
- Extremely loose shoulder straps
- You keep readjusting the binder often
- The binder doesn’t bind and fits like your regular tank top
- The binder leaves enormous gaps around your armpits or shoulders.
When your binder is too small, you have a few options: alter the size by yourself, buy a smaller binder, or return it, if your store allows it.
If you are crafty and know sewing, you can easily make the binder smaller by bringing the side seams in.
Don’t try to shrink the binder in a hot dryer, as you will damage it. Binders are made from spandex and elastic, and they can melt, hence weakening the fabric. While you will have a smaller and better fitting binder, your confidence body wear won’t have any stretch; hence it won’t give you the compression you are looking for.
The heat will also weaken the seams, and your binder will wear out fast.
How to buy the right sized binder
The key to buying a binder of the right size is to take your breasts measurements before heading to the stores. Thankfully, many vendors have instructions on how to measure the chest using tape or rope.
Studies show that most trans and gender-nonconforming individuals are unaware of their breast sizes. If you are in this category, one of the easiest ways to tell the breast size is to use fruits.
A Cup = medium to a large strawberry
B Cup = small clementines
C Cup = Grapefruit
D Cup = Honeydew melon
Binders come in different styles that include:
Long shirt style: These are the most popular as they compress the chest without feeling or looking like a bra. They also tuck easily into the pants. Some binders have stomach compression, while others have a relaxed stomach.
Mid-length style: From their name, these binders reach the belly button area or just at the top of the pants.
Sports-bra style: These binders only provide chest compression, and they are ideal for those that don’t want to overheat or don’t like the full-length styles.
Vest style: They usually have a zipper or Velcro to make it easier to put them on and off.
How to put on a binder
How you put on the binder depends on the type you have. If you have a full or mid-length binder, the best way to put it on is to step into it instead of pulling it on like a t-shirt. Stick your feet between the shoulder straps, pull it up to your chest, then stick your arms through the holes.
It’s often tricky to put on a binder, especially for the first time. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources such as this one you can use to learn how to do it properly.
After wearing the binder, make the necessary adjustments, so you don’t have the dreaded “uni-boob” at the center of your chest. You also should ensure the binder isn’t too tight or too loose that it doesn’t provide the necessary compression.
If your binder is rolling up or at the bottom, tuck it in, and you are good to go.
At the end of the day, take the binder off and check how your skin looks and feels. Pay close attention to even the minor changes as they might be a sign of your binder being too tight or you are wearing it for too long than necessary.
How often to wash chest binder
There is no one definitive answer for this as plenty of factors come into play. The frequency for cleaning the binder depends on the binder material, how often you wear it, how long you wear it, the climate you live in, how much you sweat, among many other things.
A good rule of thumb is to clean the binder when you feel it’s necessary. If you live in a cold, dry place and you don’t sweat, the binder won’t stink up too quickly, so you can get away with washing it once a week.
But If you live in a hot area and you sweat a lot, it will be gross even wearing the binder two days in a row, so you will have to wash it every day if you don’t have an extra one.
When it comes to cleaning it, treat the binder as a delicate and wash it by hand. Avoid machine-washing, but if you have to, use the “delicate” setting. Once it’s clean, air dry it by hanging it or laying it overnight.
It’s unwise to machine dry it, but if you have to, do it for 7-15 minutes. Remember to put it in a delicates bag, so it doesn’t get damaged or caught on other clothes.