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When I think about bras and underwear, one of the first things that comes to mind is discomfort—both in terms of how these sets feel on my body, and how they make me feel about my body.
I remember trudging into Victoria’s Secret when I was a teenager, feeling smaller under the shadow of those half-bodied yet still svelte mannequins. All the padded bras and lacy thongs at the store just didn’t feel right for me. I felt dejected by the way I could never find the proper size, and how most bras pinched at my skin and left behind angry red marks on my back and shoulders.
Even as I got older and brands like Cuup became more accessible for my budget, I shrank from stocking up on fancy lingerie for one simple reason: It didn’t feel good on me.
Then I found out about TomboyX—a size- and gender-inclusive brand specializing in bras and underwear for all bodies. It piqued my interest, both as a curvy human and as someone who prefers to shop fashion and lingerie brands that don’t conform to cisnormative standards or vanity sizing. Here’s what happened when I put one of TomboyX’s Instagram-famous sets to the test.
What is TomboyX?
Established in 2013, TomboyX is a Seattle-based brand founded by Fran Dunaway and her wife Naomi Gonzalez after Dunaway was having trouble finding a button-down shirt that she liked.
From there, TomboyX grew to become one of the most popular destinations for gender-inclusive bras, underwear (including leak-proof underwear for periods and/or incontinence), swimwear, and more. Products are available in sizes 3XS to 6X, which underscores the brand’s commitment to size inclusivity. You can also shop its picks at Nordstrom, although the selection is limited compared to what you can find on the TomboyX site.
TomboyX’s products aren’t the only selling point—the company’s values are a major part of the appeal, too. Items are made in women-owned facilities, where all employees are paid a living wage. With a focus on sustainability, most of TomboyX’s cotton underwear and swimwear are created from Oeko-Tex 100 certified materials, which are fabrics free from potentially harmful chemicals. Natural materials—like crab and shrimp shells, sustainably harvested and processed Beechwood fibers, and recycled water—are used during the manufacturing and finishing process in an effort to maintain eco-friendly standards.
How do you find the right size at TomboyX?
TomboyX offers an assortment of bras in all kinds of silhouettes, including V-neck bralettes and racerbacks, as well as compression tops (which compress breast tissue) and adaptable bras (which are designed to accommodate inserts).
Sizing, however, doesn’t go by cup or band, which sets it apart from other bra brands like ThirdLove. Rather, TomboyX bras are available in sizes from XS to 6X, while compression tops are available in XS to 4X. The company doesn’t offer an online fit test like ThirdLove, but it does have a comprehensive sizing chart, along with instructions for how to measure your bust to find the best option for your body.
The sizing chart can also be helpful when it comes to underwear, with tips for how to measure your hips and calculate body measurements in inches. The underwear is even more size-inclusive than the bras, with options from 3XS to 6X. You can also shop a variety of silhouettes, including 4.5-inch trunks, 6-inch fly, and 9-inch boxer briefs.
TomboyX also offers this fit-guide comparison chart, which can give you a sense of how all of its products—including apparel—might look on your body type. It’s not the most scientific and, given how interactive other bra brands make the selection process, I found it lacking. Still, it might be a useful resource for some.
I’m usually a 38C in bras and wear a size L or XL in underwear, depending on the brand. After measuring myself out, I felt that a size L in bras and underwear would be the best for me.
How I chose my TomboyX set
I avoid padded or push-up bras because I don’t like the way they feel up against my body, nor do I want to accentuate my bust or cleavage. But because I’m also broad-shouldered and have side-set breasts, I prefer bras that offer good side support, and enjoy sporty racerbacks for everyday wear.
With underwear, I’m equally specific. Although I sometimes wear bikini-cut underwear, I prefer options that are high-waisted (like Cuup’s high-waisted underwear) and deliver a lot of coverage. I’d much rather feel comfy in a pair of boy shorts or trunks than relive the misbegotten thong and G-string days of my teens and early 20s.
With that in mind, I settled on the Racerback Soft Bra, which is underwire-free and made with 95% Oeko-Tex certified cotton and 5% spandex. It also features a scoop-neck front and elastic chest band, and is available in a variety of styles.
As I started testing in May and Pride Month was right around the corner, I chose the rainbow-inspired “Progress Pride Stripes” design for the bra. To match, I settled on the 4.5-inch Trunks—also made from 95% Oeko-Tex certified cotton and 5% spandex—as they seemed like they’d offer good coverage and have that fun, athletic feel I like for everyday lingerie.
What I like about my TomboyX set
I loved how the set arrived: in a recyclable cardboard box with each item packaged separately in a reusable, biodegradable product bag. One of the first things that struck me as I wiggled into the Racerback Soft Bra was how much support the elastic chest band delivered. I felt just as uplifted and held in as I would with an underwire bra, but the band stretched around my torso, so it gave a lightly compressive feel all over my upper body. Even moving around—jogging, dancing, doing weekend yard work—it never pushed up to the point where I felt afraid of unintentional exposure.
The cotton fabric on both items felt soft to the touch and not too heavy against my skin. The 4.5-inch trunks were stretchy and easy to slip on, and the elastic waistband wasn’t as constricting as the chest band—a good thing, given that I do have a belly and a tighter band might leave marks. However, it was tight enough to stay in place.
Because of how much coverage the racerback bra gave me, it felt like it could easily be worn as a crop top, and a modest one at that. During my testing period—which lasted about two weeks—I wore it out and about town with black overalls and high-waisted black denim jeans, and received several compliments. (I paired both looks with my favorite Dr. Martens platform Chelsea boots and felt like a total bad*ss.)
I was also impressed by how well both the bra and underwear held up after multiple tumble dry cycles. I didn’t notice any pilling or shrinkage, and the colors didn’t seem to fade. If anything, they stayed as vibrant as the day I received them.
What I don’t like about my TomboyX set
There were some downsides to the bra. The chest band sometimes flipped up when I sat down, right over the area where my belly is most pronounced. It was a minor annoyance, but one that occurred more than once during the two-week testing period.
One of the other noticeable things was underarm bulge. I’m a thick babe, so I know it’s also just the way my body is built, but it seemed more pronounced in the TomboyX bra than in others I’ve worn. It’s possible I might have needed to size up to an XL, so we’ll call that a draw. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind.
With the trunks, the fabric bunched up when I wore them under jeans. Even at home wearing the set on its own around the house, the bottoms rode up whenever I sat down.
Should you shop at TomboyX?
Overall, I liked my experience with TomboyX’s products. The Racerback Soft Bra has a sports bra-like feel that gave me a lot of coverage in ways a “traditional” bra wouldn’t, and I felt confident enough to wear it in the style of a crop top on warmer days. While not the same as a compression top or a binder, it also had a lightly compressive quality, which left me feeling snug and supported throughout the day. It also stayed in place even when I was very physically active.
The 4.5-inch Trunks, while fun to match with the Racerback Soft Bra, didn’t blow me away enough to justify their expense—they just seemed like run-of-the-mill bottoms, and if I ever order from TomboyX again and want to grab a set, I might explore a different underwear style.
Although TomboyX is one of the most well-known LGBTQ+-owned brands right now, the company has faced criticism in the past by some members within the community. In 2020, model Trinity Bree accused the brand on Twitter of misgendering and transphobia during a photo shoot. TomboyX later revealed in tweets that the brand met with him in response and is committed to ensuring the trans community feels “welcome, cared for, [and] respected on [photo shoot] sets,” and to “learning [and] getting better every day.”
If you’re someone who’s passionate about supporting LGBTQ+-owned businesses, the TomboyX controversy might be something to keep in mind as you consider places to shop. It’s also an example of how the LGBTQ+ community isn’t monolithic, but a dedication to staying educated is the cornerstone of all progress.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.