TfTM Blog: ‘an Underworks binder experiment’ by NashPosted: June 10, 2012
So, I’ve been wearing a chest binder nearly every single day for almost 2 years now. I’ve only ever used one kind – because it seems to work well enough and is relatively affordable. I wear the Double Panel Compression Shirt from Underworks, always opting for the white color. This style and color are supposed to look like an undershirt — it’s not perfect, but it comes closest to this effect.
I wear my binders hard. Meaning, I wear one day after day until it wears out, rarely washing the thing because I always have it on (except when working out & sleeping). This results in my binders losing compression strength and getting dingy very, very quickly. I decided to check my bank account records to see how long it took from my last binder purchase to the time I started feeling like it wasn’t working well enough anymore. 2 months! In just 2 months I wore my binder out. In 2 months of constant use I had gotten my binder to the point wear I often felt self-conscious about my chest because I wasn’t getting enough compression.
Well, one of my brothers came up with an experiment to try out.
I know not everyone could afford this experiment – it involves purchasing multiple binders. But I thought I’d share the experience. Wearing a binder out in 2 months – both in terms of compression and coloring – means having a binder I’m comfortable with at all times can be an expensive endeavor. This time around, I bought 3 binders and rotate which binder I wear everyday. Even if each binder wore out in 2 months – meaning I’d have 6 months before I bought my next one – I’d still have a longer period of time in which the binder I was wearing daily provided an adequate amount of compression and maintained it’s color. Moreover, I believe this group of 3 binders will take longer than 6 months to collectively wear out. There’s something about wearing the same garment day-in-and-day-out that is rough on it – especially one that is intended to maintain shape. Never giving it enough time to dry, relax, or be cleaned.
So, a binder experiment is in place. How long will it take for these binders to all wear out?
A new-ish binder next to a worn out binder. You can see that the binder on the right is more discolored & stretched out.
A new-ish binder next to a worn out binder. The shoulders on the right-side binder have stretched out remarkably from pulling the binder up daily & adjusting it throughout the day.
If you’ve experienced the same binder frustration as me and are curious about this experiment – I do have a couple tips. It turns out it’s cheaper per-binder to buy multiple at once if you’re going with Underworks. There’s a bulk discount for 3+ binders. Plus, Underworks has had the same discount code running for at least a year – the under10 discount code provides a 10% discount on your entire purchase. Ultimately, with shipping, each binder ended up costing around $26 as opposed to about $32 if I was to purchase a single binder.
If you do have some worn out binders or are in need of a used binder at no/low cost, there are a few programs out there that collect old binders and match them with trans* folks that cannot afford or acquire them:
In a Bind – TransActive Education & Advocacy
Big Brothers Used Binder Repository (see here for some critique of this program that I definitely resonated with when I first reviewed it – decide for yourself given the director’s policies)
I’ll let you know how long it takes these bad boys to wear out!