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How to Hide Your Breasts Without Binding

Louise D.

Before we start talking about how to bind, let us first answer the question; When should I consider binding my chest? Truthfully, you will need to evaluate this carefully before you decide that chest binding is for you. If you are a trans man or you are gender nonconforming or even non-binary, then you would probably be considering chest binding as an option. 

However, there are some health risks involved with binding your chest that you need to know about before you decide to start binding. You might need to consider whether it is the best option for you. If your chest does not cause you a lot of dysphoria or you have a flatter chest already, then you might consider not binding your chest due to the health risks involved. 

That being said, there are safe ways to bind your chest, and this is not exclusively through the use of a chest binder. There are also safe alternatives. So let’s explore some alternative options to binding and look at some alternative binding methods. 

Chest Binding

Hiding Your Chest without any Binding


An often overlooked and largely underexplored option to hiding your chest without binding is through an exercise routine. While you won’t be able to exercise your breast tissue away, you will be able to strengthen and bulk up muscles in the area, which naturally creates a flatter aesthetic. Even if someone notices your chest, they will likely just think that you have pronounced pecks. 

Although, this is not a universally foolproof method and works best when you have a smaller cup size already. Many people who experience gender dysphoria tend to exercise a lot and are already fit, so make sure to fit chest-based exercises into your routine and see for yourself the difference that it can make. Remember not to exercise while wearing your chest binder. It is not good to restrict movement and breathing. It is safer to opt for a sports bra and baggy shirts.  


Another option is by layering shirts or other clothing. Again, this option works best for someone with a small chest, but it can enhance other options’ effectiveness and is usually safe. If you combine layered clothing with a sports bra, if you have a small or medium cup size, then it could achieve the results that you are looking for without having to go through that much trouble. It is certainly worth a try. 

Wearing layers will help to hide the curves of breasts and a feminine body shape. It carries few health risks other than overheating in the summer. 

Chest Binding

Sports Bras

A sports bra is designed to press the breast tissue down against the chest to minimize movement of the tissue itself during impact sports and to provide additional back support. This makes them a safe and excellent choice for binding your chest safely. It is also one of the few options that you can wear daily without increased risk to your health. Just make sure that it is not too much on the tight side. 

Trans people with larger breasts might need to consider wearing two sports bras over each other, which is okay, but make sure that they fit. If they restrict your movement or breathing or they leave deep marks in your skin, then they are likely too tight and can be causing problems. 

You can also combine this with a baggy shirt or layered shirts. 

Chest Binding

Chest Binding Without a Binder

One of the main problems that trans men and non-binary people face when they want to bind their chest is the cost of a binder. Many of them are pretty expensive, and not everyone can afford them. Additionally, you might end up finding them too uncomfortable to wear and will then look for an alternative. 

The best advice that we can give here is two-fold: Be aware of the risks to your health and seek medical advice if you experience side effects, and explore options to find one that works for you. What works for one person might not work for you. 

Chest Binding

Alternative Binding Methods

Pantyhose as a Temporary Solution

If you are looking for a temporary solution, then control top pantyhose might be what you are looking for. They are not suitable for long-term binding or repeated use but should be okay for a quick fix every now and then. 

You will need to cut the leg part off and then cut the crotch area open to allow it to fit over your chest. Make sure that it is not too tight and that you can still breathe and move easily. It is important that you not combine binding methods as this can cause dangerous constrictions. 

Chest Binding

Camisole Top (Tank Top)

Some people, usually those with a flat chest, can wear a tank top with a built-in bra. It works best when you turn the top so that it’s back to front. The back part of the bra insert is tighter and will provide more support. As a final step, you can also roll the top up over your chest and torso area a few times to enhance the effect. 

Chest Binding

Compression Bra or Compression Shirts

These are commonly used by people recovering from top surgery or breast augmentation surgery. Or they are used in the sports scene for added support for cisgender women. However, they have been found to be effective and safe binding methods for transgender men. 

They are generally more expensive than normal sports bras but offer more coverage and are safe for chest binding. If you choose this option, remember that you cannot wear these every day for long periods of time as you can a normal sports bra. 

Chest Binding

Trans Tape

This is a relatively new venture that sprung from the idea of medical tape. Trans tape (also called KT tape) allows you to bind your chest without additional clothing. It is great for enhancing a masculine appearance and works relatively well for a larger chest as well. It involves taping breasts back and tucking some of it under your arms which hides a lot of the bulk of the breasts from direct view. 

While many people bind using this method, there are some that find it uncomfortable and report pain with the removal of the tape. It is suggested that the tape be removed with the help of oils and that you do not place Kinesiology tape straight over your nipples. You can use a bit of cotton or some toilet paper and tape over that instead of directly onto your nipples. 

However, if you do find that this method causes too much pain on the removal or it is irritating your skin, then you should probably move on. Your body might also just really not like the adhesive that is used on the tape. 

Chest Binding


This is the stuff that a diving suit is made of. It will likely be very gentle on your body and is suitable for binding. If you are looking into making a homemade binder, then neoprene is a good material to use. Many medical compression equipment like back braces are made of neoprene, so it is something that you can find in stores. 

While the contours of a back brace can be uncomfortable as a chest binder, you can certainly consider making a binder from it or, if you do not find it too uncomfortable, use the standard back brace as a binder as well. You should not have a problem wearing neoprene directly against your breasts, but if it causes irritation, it is also possible that you are allergic to it. 

Chest Binding

Important FAQs

How Effective is a Tight Fitting Sports Bra Underneath Baggy Clothes?

It is best not to make it too tight. Buying a sports bra that is too tight can be tempting, but it can be very dangerous if it restricts your breathing. Make sure that if you use a sports bra, it is one that fits you properly. If you are already finding that wearing your binder is uncomfortable because of how snug it fits, then you will definitely have the same problem with a sports bra. 

Does the Size of my t-Shirts matter?

Yes, the size of your t-Shirt definitely matters. Going up a shirt size can really change the way your clothes sit on your body and can make curves much less visible. Remember that a t-shirt is not gender-neutral, so shop from the men’s section in order to avoid buying something that will enhance an unwanted feminine shape. 

Side Effects of Chest Binding

There are a number of side effects that you can experience from wearing a binder. We will discuss some here, but what you are experiencing might not be included on this list. Regardless, if you are experiencing any side effects or health concerns that you associate with wearing a binder of some sort, it is best to consult a doctor. If side effects go untreated, you can cause permanent damage to your body. 

  • 76-78% of people report skin problems or problems with the deeper tissue, including scarring, tenderness, swelling, infection, and itching
  • 74-75% reported chest pain, shoulder pain, as well as problems with the back and abdomen
  • 51-52% reported difficulty breathing
  • 47-49% reported changes in posture, muscle atrophy, or broken ribs

A 2017 study found that almost 90% of people who bind went on to experience at least one adverse side effect. About 80% agreed that it was important to discuss binding with a doctor, but only 15% actually did this. This study also additionally added overheating as a possible side effect because many people are also layering their clothing. 

Improper Methods to Bind Your Chest

One method that is an extremely inappropriate and dangerous way to bind is with ace bandages. These are designed to get tighter as you move, and this becomes dangerous when breathing. The action of breathing can tighten the elastic bandages slowly, so you might not even notice right away. It is not a suitable alternative to a binder. 

Some people might use things like duct tape to bind which is also a bad idea. That sort of tape is really not good for your skin. 

There are several acceptable methods that can be done wrong, which can cause health problems. For example, the sports bra method is only appropriate if you do not wear overly tight sports bras. Supplement results with baggy clothing before opting for a garment that is clearly too small for you. 

Safety Measures For Wearing A Binder

These safety measures apply to a homemade or commercial binder. Adhering to these four rules will lessen the risk of side effects and improve your overall binding experience. 

Firstly, limit the time that you wear a binder. It is advised not to wear a binder for longer than eight hours. 

Do not sleep with your binder on. Even if it is a real binder, it is not a good idea to wear it to bed. 

Use powder or chafing creams to minimize skin irritation. Prolonged and untreated skin irritation tends to result in infections that can be difficult to treat, painful, and can cause scarring. 

Skip days of the week. Do not bind your chest every day. Take a break every now and then (every week). 

Do not combine methods. While we have suggested wearing an additional sports bra, this is not the same as combining different methods of binding. We understand that chest dysphoria can be very uncomfortable, and in the case of non-binary and transgender men, hormone replacement therapy does little to address this. You might be pretty desperate to hide breasts, especially if you are a C-cup or larger, but we must caution against taking it overboard. 

If you plan on getting top surgery, then you should be keeping binding to a minimum overall. This is because prolonged or severe binding damages the integrity of the skin and chest tissue which will greatly impact the outcome of surgery. No matter how tempted you are to chest bind daily, it would be best to avoid doing this if you want to enjoy maximum efficacy from your top surgery. 

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