Thursday, April 10, 2014

What to Wear Under Your Scoliosis Brace

Being comfortable in the Boston brace depends a lot on what is going on underneath it.

There are more options than we realized for what to wear under a scoliosis brace.  However, it does require some trial and error to get the fit and feel that is right for you.  Hopefully this post will be helpful to get you on the right track to comfort!

Basically anything under a scoliosis brace needs to be:
1. smooth without any wrinkles (stretchy and tight fitting)
2. free of thick seams or, even better, seam-free
3. thick enough to provide skin protection and not get ruined by the brace
4. thin enough to not be too hot 
5. long enough to run the length of the brace
6. high enough in the armpits to provide protection there
7. nice looking and/or stylish


Option One: The doctor gave us a few Boston T tank tops which are seamless, thick and stretchy.

Pros:  - it has a flap to cover the high piece in the armpit
          - it is thick, tight-fitting, seam-free, smooth, and stretchy

Cons: - it is very thick and Dancer Girl gets hot in it
          - the armpit area is getting all stretched out of shape
          - we can only order them through the doctor or orthotist
          - the color choice is very limited (white and grey I think)
          - they are not stylish

Option Two: One of the first options we came across was a seamless tank top by Sugarlips.  They are not designed specifically for scoliosis braces but they were recommended by many girls who wear a back brace so we gave them a try. We purchased both "the original seamless tank"and the "misses sizing" or "slim fit" tank, as well as a "seamless long camisole"

Pros:  - they are SO SOFT!
          - they are seamless (and really soft)
          - they are stretchy, form-fitting, and smooth (and soft!)
          - they come in a variety of colors
          - they come in two basic youth/adult sizes and in kids sizes
          - the slim fit/misses size fits perfectly under Dancer Girl's brace
          - Sugarlips has other seamless products - camisoles, t-shirts, leggings

Cons: - they don't have the flap under the arm
          - you can't throw them in the dryer or they lose their softness
          - the tank doesn't quite come up high enough in the armpit
Our take:  We really like this super-soft tank and it is cheaper than specialized options (although still more than the average tank).  It doesn't quite go high enough in the armpits to provide complete protection but Dancer Girl is finding that to be "OK" as she gets used to the brace in general. We love the assortment of color and style options and again, they are really soft!

Option Three: (NOTE: Apparently these products are no longer being made. Hope has gone off to college and is no longer in her brace - congratulations Hope! I will leave the review up though in case someone comes across a used Hope's Closet item).

Another one that comes up a lot in web searches is made by Hope's Closet. Dancer Girl wasn't too sure about the style with the bold stitching but many girls would like the fun look I am sure.  In the end we did try one tank top because it claims to have fabric that reduces sweating - sort of like high performance athletic wear.

Pros: - it is a soft, silky material
          - the seams are very flat (but there are seams)
          - it is stretchy and form-fitting
          - it comes in two styles and a variety of colors
          - it comes in a few different sizes
          - the arm hole openings go up high into the armpit and have a double layer to provide protection from the brace
          - proceeds from every purchase go to the National Scoliosis Foundation

Cons: - Dancer Girl didn't end up liking the material's feel under the brace
          - she didn't think it reduced her sweating at all, or help keep her dry by wicking away moisture
          - the seams did irritate her skin a bit even with the flat-lock stitching
          - the armholes were too tight and caused serious rubbing and red marks
          - at $30 per tank it is expensive, especially when it didn't work right for us.

Our take: It is clear a lot of thought went into this product and I really wanted it to work.  In the end though, it wasn't right for us.  If we tried again we would get a bigger size and see if the arm holes work better and if the stitching didn't irritate the skin. Many girls seem to really like these though so I wouldn't rule it out if you are searching for this material, style, and look.  Maybe try a bigger size than you think you need.  If it works and lasts it would be worth the cost for reduction of discomfort.

Option Four and Five:

BraceBuddies Body Sock

I just came across this option today.  It seems like a good one, created specifically for girls wearing back braces.  They say each tank top is custom-made to fit right and ask for specific measurements.  They cost around the same as the ones from Hope's Closet ($30 or so).  If we find we need another option to try, this one will be on our list. We will blog about it if we get one and welcome comments from anyone who has tried the BraceBuddies Body Sock!

Tilly's Seamless Cami

This is another option we have heard of recently. They are not made specifically to wear with back braces but they are seamless.  They come in a variety of colors and sizes, included kids sizes.  From the photos it looks like it won't come up high enough under the arms to give much protection though, but it might be worth a try since the price is pretty good ($9).



We were told to have Dancer Girl wear her underwear up over the brace.

                      Yeah.      Right.

That was clearly not going to happen!

Her current underwear was not working - the seams and bands of elastic were too thick, causing red marks on her skin.

Fortunately we had just recently found some smoother fitting underwear she was wearing for dance and it turns out it works great under the brace too. So we stocked up!

She is wearing a brand called "Barely There" which we found at Kohl's. They are probably available elsewhere too. The waistbands are very thin and flat and have no seams.  The leg bands are also very minimal in thickness. The material is soft and stretchy, and they come in a variety of styles and colors. PERFECT!


Dancer Girl prefers the sports bra style because of the softness and comfort and there is no clasp in the back.  We thought this would be an advantage for the brace - no wires or thick bands, etc.

However, some of her current ones actually had thicker bands than we realized and were incredibly uncomfortable in the brace.  The bands were also very wide so went too low and interfered with the brace all around, not just in the higher armpit area.

Yesterday we found a solution at Kohl's - a minimal sports bra style (called a "bralet") by Lily of France. The band is thin and the style is very comfortable.  They come in a two-pack in a variety of colors.

NOTE: The "Barely There" brand also makes a wireless thin band bra style called Custom Flex Fit.  Dancer Girl tried some on but preferred the Lily of France ones because they are more of a sports bra style.  I could see the Barely There ones being good though for a more traditional bra style.


  1. 16 yrs old "S" curve in the high 70's. At SickKids (the hospital i am at) the tanks they give dont do anything for me. I was having the same issues. A mother from Toronto created a body sock because her daughter was also having troubles. I wear her sock and its really helpful. It also eliminates layers and straps. I dont know if this would concern you, but you dont need to wear a BRA or anything under it. The fabric is also soft and it allows me to wear WAY more clothes with it. This is her website if you are interested.

  2. Thanks for the information! We found the Brace Buddies website just recently but haven't ordered anything from it yet. It sounds like a great option though. We will definitely check it out. It is always better to get a personal recommendation.

  3. Great post, This is very helpful because wearing a back brace is already uncomfortable by itself so anything that can help alleviate it would be a great help. I think that it is so important to find the right under garment because those braces can cause rashes and irritation to the skin especially when you sweat and since you'll be wearing it all day there's a big chance that you'll sweat in it. Someone wearing a back brace can still do a things that requires a lot of movement and it would be nice if they can do it as comfortable as possible.

    Toni Simpson

  4. Exactly right - trying for as much comfort as possible is the goal! We have been lucky so far and are not dealing with rashes or much irritation. In the end the Sugar Lips tanks are proving to be the favorites so far with Dancer Girl.

  5. I am struggling! I have found lots of information for girls but my 12 1/2 son will start wearing his brace 21 hours a day tomorrow. Any suggestions for boys shirts to wear under the brace? We've tried Dri-fit and they are just too bulky. Going to purchase some "wife Beater" style shirts today and see how that goes.

    1. makes a shorter version in navy for boys.

    2. Not sure if he still wears the brace, but if he does BraceBuddies carries other colours too like Grey, black, white or red that he might like!

  6. Oh, that is a tough one since most of the sites we have come across do speak to girls... when you are looking for things under the brace just be aware of the seams. Look for flatter seams along the sides, if you can't find seamless ones for boys, and a knit with less ribbing or as smooth as possible. I found some options for boys but at 12+ he may be too big for them. They are sensory friendly clothing for kids who don't like seams, rough fabric, etc. and might work well under a brace if you can find the right size. Google "seamless tops for boys" or "sensory tops for boys" and see what you get. I found this list: I think I will do a post about this issue since you are likely not the only one struggling with this... hopefully we can find something that works! let me know if you come up with anything and I will add it to our blog while I keep looking...

  7. Found one searching for "seamless tops for men"... it is a t-shirt rather than a tank but might be OK for the winter at least. It says it is seamless and smooth... on sale for $9.99 Think that might work? Good luck!

  8. 15 y/o, boston brace. I find that the best thing is usually sports bras or anything with a non-seamed band if possible because it can dig into your skin. Try going for those molded foam cups - definately no underwires, or if she's small enough, camis with a built in bra shelf. For undershirts I find camis are good because the straps are less likely to show, and I made these rectangles of muslin cloth that cover the armpit area so no sweat :) try to get the doctor to cut the front of the brace (under the boob) as much as possible if not it cuts into your boob a fair amount!

  9. My daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis at 6 years old with at 32 degree curve. She is now almost 13 and its down to 27 out of brace and 19 in brace. She is awesome about wearing her brace - b/w 18-23 hr/day. But as the teen years are approaching the fashion thing is coming to bear. Currently she is most annoyed that her t-shirts rub on the strap on one side and in about a month - they start getting holes in that spot. Is there any suggestions to prevent the rub??? I'm about to try duct fixes everything

    1. Dear Anonymous of 7/17/16 post,
      My 14 year-old daughter wears a Boston Brace and needs a shirt with a flap. She has had unbelievable success with the Hope's Closet cami style shirts. Be sure to get the fit correct. The first one we bought was too big and didn't work. I didn't think she was going to be able to wear the brace 16 hours/day until we found these shirts.... and she has been completely successful. It also helped with the fashion troubles we were having...just looks like a regular camisole when the straps show. Good luck!

  10. Some quick information, Hope's Closet is now closed. Hope is heading to college and no longer is bracing.

    1. Thanks for the update. I'm glad to hear the bracing is over and wish Hope all the best in college!

  11. This has been very helpful thank you.

    1. I'm so glad you have found it to be helpful. Good luck with your scoliosis journey.

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    1. Thank you so much! I am glad that you have found this to be helpful. We have found the scoliosis community to be very helpful and supportive overall. I hope you are finding the support that you need.