Back to Blog

How to buy a binder that fits

drag king kings of joy lgbtqia+ queer the king coach trans Jun 01, 2023

If you are planning to get into the world of Drag Kings, chances are you have heard about chest binding. Binding is the process of flattening your chest to achieve a more masculine or non-binary appearance. It may be something you want to do as a Drag King while performing to capture a more authentic look.

Some Kings choose not to bind and incorporate their breasts into a costume by using nipple covers such as pasties (common in Burlesque performances) or black crosses. This is completely fine. We are Drag Kings. We can do whatever we want!

Be aware that chest binding can be potentially dangerous if not done right. It is important to know how to bind your chest safely to avoid any unwanted health problems. 

To flatten your chest or create the illusion of pecs, you can use a binder (a type of compression crop top) or binding tape. Today we’re going to dive into how to buy a binder that fits.

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when buying a binder:

1. Purchase a proper binder: 

Never use any makeshift binders like ace bandages or duct tape. These materials are not designed for this purpose and could cause serious harm. Instead, invest in a chest binder created specifically for this use. There are many reputable companies online that sell them. And if it’s something you are interested in using off the stage, then avoid the cheap, poorly made ones. It’s worth investing some money into for longevity and for your health.

2. Get the right size: 

It is crucial to get a binder in the right size. If the binder is too tight, it could cause difficulty breathing or even physical injuries. If it is too loose, it will not flatten your chest properly. Follow the size chart provided on the website or contact the vendor for guidance if you are unsure.

3. Don't wear the binder for too long: 

It is not recommended to wear a chest binder for more than eight hours per day. This allows your chest to breathe and recover from any compression. Take breaks whenever possible and listen to your body if you feel any discomfort.

4. Put your health first: 

Binding has been linked to some health problems such as skin irritation, breathing difficulties, and back pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop using the binder immediately, and contact a medical professional.

Some binders are badly designed and poorly made with cheap fabrics and thick seams. These can cause chaffing and heat rash and are extremely difficult to get in and out of. Overall a very unpleasant experience if you’re doing it daily.

I’ve often had more success with finding a sports crop top that flattens. Sports crop tops are made to be breathable and to move in and the better quality ones have flat seams which help prevent chafing. The fabric will also wick away sweat whereas cotton absorbs sweat. Not only can sweat stain, but it’s also what causes bacteria to grow in the fabric which causes your clothing to smell.

It’s worth going into a store, such as lululemon athletica, and trying all the styles on. You may need to go down a size. NB. lululemon is in Canadian sizes so a size 6 = an Australian dress size 10. The staff there are fit experts and will be able to help you. I used to work for lululemon which makes me a fit expert too and way more into fabrics and garment construction than I ever imagined I would be!

The areas that need to fit are:

  • The band around your ribs. This needs to be firm enough not to ride up but remember, it’s not flattening anything. You should be able to fit 2-3 fingers underneath the band. If it’s too tight, it will affect your breathing. If it’s too loose, it will move around and cause chafing.
  • The straps. They should sit firmly, not loosely. They should not be cutting into your shoulders. This will become painful throughout the day, even if you think you can bear it in the moment. 
  • Think about the clothing you will be wearing over the binder. You don’t want the binder to show. Make sure the front of the binder is not too high so it doesn’t show underneath your button-up shirt when you have the collar open. The armpits should also not too high for underneath your favourite singlet and the straps should not be too elaborate making lumps underneath your t-shirt.
  • Remember that clothing that uses a high percentage of lycra/elastane may give a little over time, but if they are well made, they won’t give fully until the elastane breaks. High-quality garments can last up to 5-10 years.

Consider the colour. If you choose black, this will show through some white or light-coloured fabrics. Go for a skin tone if they have it in your colour or a neutral colour. Yes white will get grubby but is better than black for under other clothes.

Once you find one that works and you’ve tested it out, wearing it at home and out and about, go back and buy three more. Clothing stores are often updating their styles and that style may not be there again next season. 

How to take care of your binder:

Remember that the elastane in fabrics does break down over time - hence the phenomenon of baggy knees in tracksuit pants. So avoid putting it into the dryer wherever possible as heat speeds this process up.

To make things easy, have a couple of binders and wash them with soap when you are in the shower. Hang it out during the day and you’ll have an easy rotation of binders ready to go.

How to remove a binder:

Any binder you use will be an aerobic workout to get in and out of. One of the best methods to remove a binder is to start standing, then bend over, bending your knees. Cross your arms over and reach behind and pull from the seams at the back to remove over your head while still upside down. You may need to hike the front seam over your breasts as well.

Wearing a binder can be a safe and effective way to achieve the desired masculine or non-binary look. However, it is essential to do it safely and correctly. Be sure to purchase a proper binder, get the right size, and put your health first. With care and attention, chest binding can be a valuable tool for Drag Kings to create your desired masculine silhouette.



The King Coach

P.S. Looking for how to bind using binding tape? It’s coming!

P.S. If you wanna be a Drag King, pop your name down on the waiting list to be part of the Kings of Joy for first-time Drag Kings.

Get me in your inbox!

Inspiration and love letters delivered right to your inbox. 

No spam. I will never sell your information, for any reason.