Custom Cuts: High Arms and Low Arms

Custom Cuts are the special options available for selection in your measurements form! This series of blog posts will go into detail on each of those options, and why one or more might be right for you.

Evening, friends! Let’s talk about armholes.

“My current binder digs in under the arms and leaves U-shaped welts around my side. It’s really uncomfortable and doesn’t help the bind at all.”

“I spill out the sides of my binder all the time. It kind of hurts and it looks weird, too.”

Has this been you? If so, good news: your binder shouldn’t be doing this, and it doesn’t have to. A comfortable binder should lay flat on all edges, snug, neither so high at the arms that it cuts in nor so low that it lets you spill out.

The thing is, all bodies are different. All humans are different. This is true even in ways that we don’t usually think about, like, say, in the shape of fat distribution around the upper side chest, or, how big around your arms are, or, how sensitive the skin might be right under them and down the side. Two people with the exact same measurements often experience the same size chest binder very differently!

If you order a binder and find that the arms are cutting in, they’re too high for you. Likewise, if you spill out of the side, the arms are too low for you. This happens all the time, and it’s why Low Arms and High Arms were the first custom cuts we started to offer.

Each option changes the height of our standard cut by 1”. For more than that, make a special request!

High Arms

Spilling out? While wearing your current binder, lift one arm and press your hand over the armhole to cover 1” more than the fabric. If that feels better, we recommend requesting High Arms on your next order.

Alternatively, hike your binder up by its straps and pinch them! Does it feel better to shift everything up a bit? This is the equivalent of a High Arms + High Neck combo.

Extra-High: A few times, customers have requested that we raise the arms by 2” instead of 1”. Every customer who has tried this in my memory has sent their binder back for alterations, asking them to be lowered again. This is not to say that you won’t need it, but I do recommend trying out the regular 1” High Arms option first.

Image:  A Poseidon binder  with high arms, cut 1” higher than standard.

Image: A Poseidon binder with high arms, cut 1” higher than standard.

Low Arms

Feeling sore? Seeing red marks under your arms after a long day? Low Arms might be a good option. I especially prefer my Low Arms relaxed-fit binder for yoga, wrestling, and other activities where I might be moving around and stretching in unusual ways. Customers who do rowing and archery have also reported that lowered armholes make a more comfortable binder for these activities.

*Edit: A very kind customer on Facebook has this to say!

I'm a wheelchair user and your low arm binders have been a real blessing. Pushing a chair involves a lot of back and forth arm movement and all other binders left my underarms red and raw. Meanwhile I wore a Shapeshifters binder for a 7km roll with my family without any repercussions. I wouldn't have any other binder now.

Low-cost option: If your current binder is pinching in and you don’t have the spare cash for a new one, take it to a local tailor. Ask if they have a serger and can just take down the arms by 1/2” or 1” or so. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, just cut that hem right out. Most binders are made of non-fray materials, so the hem finishing is more aesthetic than functional.

Extra-Low: In 5+ years of making custom-cut binders, only one customer has ever asked us for a 2” lowering of the arms. For particular reasons, it was very difficult for this customer to feel any pressure along their sides at certain points. They loved it.

Image: a  Limited Edition Gothic Still Life binder  with Low Arms and Low Neck.

Image: a Limited Edition Gothic Still Life binder with Low Arms and Low Neck.

Special Cases and Combos

High arms + High neck = Maximum coverage. If you want to be absolutely sure that your binder will cover as much as possible, request both High Arms and High Neck!

Image: A  Limited Edition No Signal binder  with High Arms, High Neck, and Wide Straps. Watch for an entry on Wide and Narrow Straps, coming soon!

Image: A Limited Edition No Signal binder with High Arms, High Neck, and Wide Straps. Watch for an entry on Wide and Narrow Straps, coming soon!

Low arms + Short binders: Be Wary. If you’re ordering a Short binder with a length of 14” or less, and you request Low Arms, the side seam can get very short. Since the side seam determines the working horizontal span of the binder, this may reduce the effective binding area down to a relatively narrow band across the chest. If you want Low Arms on a Short binder, we highly recommend a length of 15”-16”.

Image: A Short  black mesh binder  with Low Arms. The side seam takes up less of the vertical length than the shoulder.

Image: A Short black mesh binder with Low Arms. The side seam takes up less of the vertical length than the shoulder.

Racerback + Low Arms: Not offered. This combination never seems to work for anyone, so we’re no longer offering it as an option. My theory is that racerbacks give so much space in the armhole already, that if you lower the arms further, the tension is lost and everything slides out. Even racerbacks with the standard armholes come back to us for a “Higher Arms Please” alteration far more often than non-racerback binders. So if you’re thinking about a racerback binder, consider requesting High Arms along with! It might help.

Side zipper + High Arms: Possible comfort issues. This combination runs a real risk of a closed zipper’s pull and clasp pressing into your side. Even if you are not normally sensitive to fabric close under your arm, the plastic zipper pull may be a different sensation. Generally, we recommend a front zipper with high arms.

Coming from gc2b: In general, we have heard from customers that gc2b binders have lower armholes than anyone else’s. If you find that you like the gc2b cut, you may want to try Low Arms from us. Conversely, if it’s too low for you, you may find that our standard fit works!

Coming from Underworks: In general, our armhole heights are comparable to those from Underworks, more or less. If you find that an Underworks cut works for you, try out our standard fit.