Racerbacks vs. J hooks

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The one essential item that everyone should have in their summer wardrobe is a racerback bra.  I remember a few years ago, it was "cool" to have your bra showing and no one really cared about hiding it.  I even owned a red tank top with a built-in shelf bra that had rhinestone straps that were meant to show.  I don't know if I'm just getting more modest in my old age or if that has become unfashionable, but now I'm very concious about my bra showing.  I don't like it. 

If you get a good racerback bra, it will be concealed under most tanks.  The problem is finding one.  My favorite lingerie brand is aerie by American Eagle.  I only wear aerie undies and half of my bras are aerie (the other half are Victoria's Secret Pink).  Can you believe that aerie doesn't have a single true racerback bra in their inventory?  It's true.  Apparently the trend now is for bras to have J hooks.  I'm sure almost everyone reading this has a bra with a J hook or has at least seen them.  I think all but 2 of my bras right now have them.

In case you're unsure what they are:

This is my own Victoria's Secret Pink bra.  I've had this bra for a few years now and I wear it at least 2-3 times per week.  P.S. The background is actually the comforter on my bed, stylized a little in Photoshop to hide all the cat hair on it, because yes, I was too lazy to use the lint roller before taking these pics.

Admittedly, this is convenient and I use them.  But there are a few drawbacks:  1) You have to adjust the length of the straps to be more loose each time you want to use the hook, 2) The adjustability of the straps is limited because of those rings (As a petite woman, I like my bra straps to be able to adjust all the way, because even if these are as tight as they can be, they're still a tad too loose.), 3) These bras hook in back, so unless you have your hubby connect the J hook for you, you have to fasten your bra, fasten the J hook, then perform some gymnastics moves to get your arms in the straps.  But the biggest drawback of all is that when the hook is in use, the straps always show on the neck side of my tank top.  I don't have to worry about them showing on the outside, but they show on the inside, so is that really any better?

An illustration of the J hook bra problem.  Image courtesy of gap.com.

I own one aerie racerback bra that I bought in 2006.  It was actually the first aerie item I ever bought and it was so fantastic that it made me a believer in the brand.

I would wear this bra every day, but it doesn't really fit me correctly.  In retrospect, I should have gotten one size bigger, but for whatever reason, the summer I bought this I was convinced I was a smaller size than I really am.  I'm not sure why I thought that, but I have been regretting it ever since.

The thing that makes racerbacks so much better than J hook bras is the fact that the straps connect really low in the back.  This means that the straps go in very gradually.  There's no harsh X like there is with the J hooks.  The straps on racerbacks are designed in such a way that they fit exactly under the straps of any tank like the green one in the above photo.

Does anyone know a good source for a racerback bra?  Victoria's Secret has exactly one, but I'm not a huge fan of it.  Pink and aerie have none.  Please, lingerie gods, bestow on me ONE GOOD RACERBACK BRA.  That's all I ask.


  1. Never ever heard of the j-hook! Totally need to up my bra education, and now am going to be in search of the perfect one for all the tanks I've been sporting all summer (gulp, some showing a little strap!). Thanks!!!

  2. Victoria's Secret has 2 now. The incredible and the body by Victoria. I think the heartbreaker comes in racer back now too but I'm not quite sure