When breast cancer treatment ends and you’re ready to move on
One day the dust settles, you’re done with decisions about going flat after mastectomy, getting tattoos on your breast and managing lymphedema risks. You’re ready to move on after cancer. It’s time to put on your best frock, a beautiful piece of lingerie and go on a date, or a work meeting, wellness rave, you name it…
When perusing lingerie options, what surfaces most often are pocketed bras Nora Batty would reject. In that moment, you realise – it’s 2021, and yet there’s a gaping hole in the lingerie market.
It was during just such a moment that a customer reached out to us. On a mission to be seen, she asked us to design a post-mastectomy bra. Something daring, bondage-inspired and bright red. This is how Ms Pomelo’s Red Power was born.
Confidence after breast cancer
It started with a DM from a client named Tracie: “Could you make a post-surgery bra with a sexy harness style top? One with luxurious fabrics – satin and lace — that would make me look and feel sexy and womanly.”
A mood board accompanied the message. “I’m looking for something like this that can be adapted.”
The message was loud and clear: “Confidence is one of the main worries post cancer. Underwear is such an important element post-surgery, but because it’s not visible, it’s often forgotten. This is for women looking beyond the merely functional. We want sexy, empowered lingerie, not just something that holds a prosthetic.”
Ms Pomelo accepted the challenge and started work on Red Power.
Body changes after mastectomy
When designing the bra, body changes, such as the loss of breast, change in the appearance of the torso, chest cavities, extra bits of skin under the arms (dog ears after mastectomy) and scarring had to be taken into consideration.
Just as important was physical and emotional sensitivity. In the past, these considerations led the industry towards pocketed mastectomy bras, which are all about full coverage and max comfort.
Luckily, BDSM-themed designs offer space for masking mastectomy issues. The simplicity of the design can be contrasted by choices of fabric, such as leather and Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). We were onto something…
Meeting the design challenge
For the design to hold its own, the bra parts had to be soft and lightweight, yet sufficiently strong to support the weight of the breast (or breast prosthetic) effectively. One goal: create a bra that’s universal and works equally well for regular women and women after mastectomy.
- Colour: Hot red and sultry black. What else? Red is the sexiest lingerie colour of all time.
- Structure: Longline bra with high underarm coverage to cover scars, dog ears and prevent chafing. The soft, stretchy band elongates the bra line and helps balance the whole piece, preventing it from ‘travelling.’
- Design: The front resembles a sports bra. A solid panel with pockets nests the breast forms (or a natural breast, or a knitted knocker) snugly.
- Material: To keep the Red Power light and soft, we chose microfibre as the main material, and mesh/microfibre for bra pockets. The cups are layered with elastic and inelastic mesh to afford shape and forward projection for heavier breasts.
- Support: The harness, which is made with bra strap elastic, makes the bra stretchy — but not too stretchy — giving it structure and the ability to support up to G/H cup.
- ‘Exposed’ look: Skin-tone mesh elements create an illusion of a breast. It adds some sexy, but keeps the prosthetic covered.
If you’d like to learn what to expect from a quality mastectomy bra, see our post “Rediscover yourself after mastectomy“.
The initial fit was spot on for both our model and our client, Tracie. Bar some minor issues with shape of the cup and softness of harness elastic, it was a relatively straightforward process.
Here’s what our testers said:
38D: I love how super soft and comfortable it is. I wear it around the house and for bike rides.
40DD: Design is exactly what I wanted and feels and looks comfortable. It looks great visible in a slash necked top. I am trying it with different types of prosthesis. The underarm width is perfect – seriously, just holds in the ‘dog ear’ that lots of us suffer with which makes it so comfy because normally a thinner strap bra strangles it.
Telling the story right: model search and photoshoot
Ms Pomelo, our brand character, is the epitome of joie de vivre. She’s a voluptuous woman who’s going places, has career and family responsibilities. Given the special meaning of the Red Power piece, it was important for us to get the story right.
Then we met Victoria, a mother of two young kids and a TV journalist. Not only did she fit the size profile, she embodied Red Power’s message of women as sheer forces of nature, smart, nurturing and not fazed by challenges.
Victoria had never done a lingerie shoot before, and feeling relaxed while posing semi-naked in front of a blinding camera light is no easy task. By shoot day, she was a natural. See our ‘behind the scenes’ coverage.
We chose on-demand manufacturing and will make Red Power to order only as part of our Industry 5.0 model for creating zero redundant inventory. A plus for customers: each bra is made just for you and reflects your specific measurements.
The cost of quality
Red Power is a complex piece to make due to design and functional issues, as well as the mobilisation of resources required. Additionally, Ms Pomelo guarantees the product and will repair it for free. With these factors in mind, its price point is £45. Mastectomy patients are eligible to get it VAT free (at £37.5, effectively).
The lingerie community is singing the praises of Red Power. Check out Curve’s review “The Art of Healing” where Red Power is featured alongside other trailblazing brands including AnaOno, Anita, EverViolet, L’eclat de Flore, and BreastFlower.
Perhaps what makes Ms Pomelo happiest, though, is the reaction of Tracie and other clients. What Red Power achieves for them: Sexy, empowered visibility. Pure confidence.