What is Binding?
'Chest binding' or 'binding' is the flattening of chest tissue to achieve a flatter chest. Binding is commonly used to alleviate gender dysphoria but lots of different people (not just trans folk) choose to bind their chests for different reasons - all reasons are valid - you don't have to identify as trans to bind.
There are safer ways of binding than others. Never use duct tape or bandages as this can have serious health risks. Wearing a fabric binder that is designed specifically for this purpose is a safer option. Another option is stretchy fabric tape used on each breast separately but never all the way around the chest.
Here we'll look at fabric chest binders.
Choosing a Binder
Choosing a binder can be a little overwhelming - there seems to be so many options. You can easily narrow down your choices by considering the following:
- Long or short - we always recommend short for hot months, particularly in Australia. Some folk like long binders as they provide a bit of hip and tummy compression which can help with dysphoria too.
- Compression strength - this one sounds super important but it's actually more important to get the correct fit which we'll go into in more detail later. Underworks Econo range (943 and 947) claims to give a 'Firm' compression, while the other Underworks binders - Power Chest and Tri-Top (975, 977, 983) - claim 'Extreme' compression. Our most popular binder is the Econo Short Binder (943), and if you get the right fit, it provides excellent compression.
- Colour - the binders we stock currently come in Black, White and Tan. Black is great if you tend to wear dark clothing. Tan is a great option for wearing under white shirts and light clothing.
- Lining - some of our binders have a cotton-lining which makes for a comfier binder (and less nipple chafing). If you have sensitive skin, consider a cotton-lined option such as 977 or 975. The 943 is cotton-lined on the front-panel only (good for nips), leaving the back more breathable (good for sweaty days!)
The Right Fit
Getting the right fit is super important. Your binder needs to be tight in order to do its job, but not be so tight that it you feel short of breath - if you do, your binder is too tight, you need to go up a size. Sometimes we recommend to go up or down a size - check the notes beneath the size chart for each binder (as different styles have different size guides). If you need any help or advice, send us at an email with your chest measurement (measured around the chest across the nipples without clothing) and we can advise. Be aware if your body is still developing or changing (particularly for younger people) - don't squeeze into a binder that is too small.
How To Measure for a Binder
Measuring for a binder is different to bra sizing. With your arms by your side, take a snug measurement under your arms around the fullest part of your chest over the nipples (without clothing). Refer to the size chart of your chosen binder. If applicable, we have included notes recommending to go up or down a size depending on the size. Be sure to check the size chart for each style because sizing of different style differ, even within the same brand.
We are always happy to advise with sizing. If you need some help, send us an email with your chest measurement and the binder/s you are considering.
We understand how important getting the right fit is, so we do accept returns and exchanges. Check out our Returns Policy.
Putting a Binder On
Binders can be tricky to get on - it gets easier with practice, we promise! You can step into it or put it over your head - we recommend putting it over your head like a t-shirt. A handy tip is to fold the bottom half of the binder up before putting it over your head so that it doesn't bunch. This tip works for all binders but is extra helpful for full-length binders.
Illustrations by @samuellukeart
Positioning for a Flat Bind
Once the binder is on, pull the binder over your body like a t-shirt, then lie on your bed and flatten your chest tissue towards the outside of your body (i.e. away from centre of your chest). We've found this to be the best positioning for a flat compression.
Give Yourself a Break
This is easier said than done, we know, but it is recommended that you don't wear your binder for more than 8 hours a day - it's important to give yourself a break from binding. Never sleep in your binder, and never work out in your binder. We stock a Binding Crop which can be used for exercising, and a Compression Swim Top for swimming.
Keep Your Binder Clean
As with any underwear, it's important that you keep your binder clean. To extend the life of you binder, we recommend hand-washing, or washing in a delicates bag on a low setting. Air dry flat or on a hanger and do not tumble dry.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - if you feel any pain, discomfort, dizziness or shortness of breath stop binding. Your binder is too tight.
Take a break if you need.
Try not to wear your binder for more than 8 hours a day (it's a good idea to slowly build up to a full day's wear while you get used to it).
Never sleep in your binder.
- Keep your binder clean, especially in warm weather.