This store requires javascript to be enabled for some features to work correctly.

FAQ & Chest Binding 101

Answers to your questions about ordering & what chest binders even are

Chest Binding 101

Chest binders are undergarments meant to flatten the chest. Many folks of many genders wear them for many reasons.

Trans men, of course. Nonbinary/genderqueer folks who find themselves between or somewhere outside of "man" and "woman." Gender-fluid folks who have one gender one day, and another the next. Trans women who aren't out yet. Cis men and women. Pretty much anyone who has a chest they want to reduce the size of.

Gender dysphoria. To "pass" as a man in day-to-day life. Breast reduction and back pain relief. For dancing. For archery. For other sports. For sensory reasons. Post-surgical recovery. Costuming. Or simply for the look.

Yep! There's no such thing as the Binder Police, and anyone who tries to claim the job probably isn't the best source of information or community. If you find yourself curious about wearing a binder, go ahead and give it a try! There are more affordable options available, you don't have to invest in a more expensive bespoke binder just to try one out. And if you come out and catch us at an event, we'll have a full range of sizes available for anyone to try on.

In general, yes. If it hurts when you put it on, then no, and you should take it off right away. We recommend not binding for longer than you have to - the conventional wisdom dictates an eight-hour maximum, but this number will vary widely from person to person. Take weekends off from binding if you can. It is never a good idea to wear your binder to bed.

In addition, many potential individual issues may hinder breathing and make binding variably unsafe, including but not limited to: asthma, scoliosis, chronic chest pain, fibromyalgia, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, preexisting chest injuries, and prior respiratory illness. We blog extensively about binding with various conditions, and making binders which are helpful for people with some of these conditions, under the tag Binding Safety. Please do peruse this link if you have any concerns!

Yep! Take a look at our blog's Customer Selfies tag for years of photographic proof, and this tag for reviews. Also check out our product reviews, and the Testimonials page here!

For your sake, please don't!

Ace bandages get tighter as the day wears on. They will slowly constrict around your chest like a very flat snake and eventually crack your ribs.

Anything inelastic, like duct tape or saran wrap, goes up against the pressure of your lungs expanding. Breathing with it is even more likely to bruise or crack a rib.

As for sports bras: the tight elastic in straps, hems, and underbust bands is not meant to actually compress your chest. Applying narrow bands of pressure around the ribcage creates a real risk of rib dislocation.

We know these are all very popular ways to portray binding; we've seen all of these in webcomics, comic books, manga, music videos, TV shows, movies, the whole field. We make binders so that you can feel as good about yourself as you felt about that one character, without the attendant health risks.

Ordering and Tailoring

Custom tailoring can be difficult when we can't get you in the studio to fit in-person. If you find your garment doesn't fit the way you need it to, head to our Alterations Form and fill it out within 45 days of receiving it. Follow the directions on the form to return to us for resizing!

As every product is customized and made-to-order, we generally do not issue refunds.

Sometimes this is obvious. If it hurts, it doesn't fit. If it fits, it won't hurt. And if it does nothing at all to your profile, it's definitely too big.

At other times, the question of the perfect fit can be very subjective! The "right" amount of compression can vary from person to person, depending on chest size, chest tissue density, physical activity level, dysphoria level, lung capacity, affinity for the sensation, and more.

If you think your binder might be too loose, or not compressing enough:

First, put your current binder on and maybe a shirt on over it and look at yourself in the mirror. How do you feel about how you look? Do you want to be flatter?

Next, breathe in deep and do some physical activity, whatever that means to you. Push your body into Action Mode for five minutes. Assess how this feels.

Finally, press your hands palm-flat against your chest. Can you compress yourself manually more than the binder does already? If so, a different binder could compress you more than the one you have on. It might need to be a tighter one, or one made of different (stiffer) material, or both.

If you think your binder might be too tight, or compressing too much:

First, how does it feel when you’re standing still? Any pain, shortness of breath, pinching?

Next, how does it feel after exercise? Can you still breathe deep and get lots of air? Are you getting any cramps in the little muscles between your ribs?

Finally, how does it feel after a full day (whatever that means for you)? Are you sore at the end of the day? Any lightheadedness, lingering headache or backache?

If the answer to any of the above was yes, then you need a bigger and/or less compressing binder.

The right amount of compression is the amount that feels good (dysphoria), feels good (lack of pain), and feels good (ease of breath). If any of these factors are off, it’s time to try again. Don't be discouraged; we've been fitting people for ten years, and we've found over and over again that you can, in fact, have it all.

First, pick a style! Stripes, glitter, solid color, skin tone? There's plenty of options on the main store page.

Once you’ve chosen, head into that listing, pick out your variant, and consider length. Pricing is set at the base price up to 18" long, and everything over that will cost more according to materials (up to 30"). All lengths are vertical from shoulder to hem, when laid flat.

Now it’s time to take your other measurements. You’ll find our Measurement Guide under Info in our main menu. Take all measurements as directed and note them down in the form on the listing. Depending on the length, you may be asked for stomach and hip measurements in addition to chest and underchest.

At this point you can either decide to check out, or you can scroll down to the Add-ons! Here you can fine tune your binder and purchase additional customizations. If you're new to our store, we recommend considering a zipper, but leaving the rest alone for now. Once you've gained a sense of what works for you, the fine-tuning options will make your binder's cut and fit perfect.

We are happy to widen or narrow the straps, raise or lower the armholes and neckline, taper in the waist, or provide a relaxed fit. Many customers find the relaxed fit helpful for long days, high activity, swimming, and any time of reduced lung capacity.

For folks with a 6” or greater difference between Chest and Under-chest measurements, we recommend adding a stiff insert (a strong, flat reinforcement, 8" tall) to the front of the binder. This is excluded for relaxed fits and Front Zippers. Depending on your indicated needs, we're happy to exclude this, include it for smaller chest sizes, or widen or narrow the stiff insert by up to 2".

If you're not sure what you need, we highly recommend you try our standard fit first!

Yes! Everything in our store is made-to-measure, with no size limit. Yes, really. No limit.

We at Shapeshifters feel very strongly about making clothes that fit all bodies. It's not just a slogan for us - it's how we do business. When you come to us, we make you something that fits. That's that.

We offer flat pricing across all sizes.

It's in the construction and sizing. Both garments start off with the same strong power mesh base, but once we have your measurements, we run them through different patterning processes to create different garments for entirely different purposes.

Our binders are cut with a straight seam down each side and finished with a simple flat-serged hem at the bottom. They can be just short enough to cover your chest, long enough to cover your hips, or any length in between. When sized correctly for a binder, this garment will compress your chest to create that flat silhouette you're looking for.

The sports bras are cut with a tapered-in side seam and finished with a folded-under hem that sits just under your chest. When sized correctly for a sports bra, this creates a garment that supports but doesn't necessarily compress your chest.

Note that it's possible to request a binder that's actually somewhere in between! If you choose a short length and select 'Relaxed Fit' and 'Taper In' for the fine-tuning options, you will receive a binder that fits a little more like a sports bra.

Yes! We run small sales seasonally, and one big Off-The-Rack sale starting the last week of November.

We cannot afford to run our own giveaways right now, but we're looking into ways to do it again. In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your local LGBTQ+ center and see if they have a program for supplying gender-affirming garments! We work with many such centers across the globe and are always delighted to make nonprofit-funded binders that go to people who need them.

Wait Time & Shipping

All of our garments are made-to-order by four very talented tailors who each work on separate schedules to keep our employees and ourselves safe during the pandemic. Each garment is made in the order that it was purchased.

Custom Binders and Sports Bras take 4-6 weeks to make and ship.

For Binder Dresses and Custom Design Commissions, please see their respective listings for production times. If you have already commissioned a custom design, please refer to your invoice.

If you haven't received a shipping notification within that time, please check the email you used to place your order and your spam folder in particular. We may be trying to contact you to clarify something about your order.

If you have no email from us, please feel free to contact us via our Contact Page. If you have already been in contact with us about your order, please reply directly to that email chain.

We are shipping from Vermont in the USA; you will receive an emailed tracking number when we ship your order out.

Note that the United States Postal Service is not what it used to be. We can only hope for its continued recovery, and we deeply appreciate your patience and understanding.

If you're a US citizen and agree that we should have fixed the post by now, we invite you to send a cutting email or place a crisp phone call to any of these people in charge.

Please contact us ASAP with your order number and the changes you need made! If you have already been in contact with us about your order, please reply directly to that email chain. If you're changing your shipping address, we will need your full new address, including zip code and preferred name on the package.

No, sorry! Local pickup is not currently available.

We value your privacy and safety. All of our garments are shipped in unmarked, recyclable mailers from Brattleboro, Vermont. They have our return address on the outside, but no company name. If you are outside of the United States, the customs form will list the contents as "Clothing."

May we all live to see a day when we don't have to worry about it anymore.

Yes. We ship to everywhere the United States will allow us to ship. Shipping cost is automatically calculated at checkout. Note that we do not and cannot cover import fees or tariffs.

International customers, please note that we take measurements in inches.

Customers in the United Kingdom: please confirm your current VAT regulations, as your post office will charge you at pickup. We cannot cover any customs fees.

While we understand that import charges can get expensive, we cannot falsify our customs form. Doing so would run the risk of becoming flagged for package inspection, holding up shipping times, and even having our shipments refused entirely, making us unable to serve our international customers at all.

The Making Of

Each and every Shapeshifters garment is hand-made by our team in our small studio space in scenic Brattleboro, Vermont. By keeping our operation small we can ensure quality, an unlimited size range, and a wide array of individual adjustments and customizations.

Because all of our customers have their own needs and tastes, and because no body is the same, every Shapeshifters binder and sports bra is made for its individual customer. Each one is a unique garment created to our customers' specifications and no two are alike.

The inner layers of our garments are a strong but soft power mesh, an 85/15 lycra/nylon blend which we are proud to source domestically from within New England. The outer layer of non-mesh garments, accessories, and dress skirts is typically a 70/30 lycra/nylon blend of four-way stretch spandex. This is typically either sourced from deadstock fabrics in New York City, or custom-printed in North Carolina.

Our base fabrics are sourced from a mill in Rhode Island; our outer fabrics are sourced domestically. Because we prioritize environmental impact, labor ethics, and supply chain accountability, we do not source fabrics overseas, and we try to find sources as close to us as possible. The exception to this is our source in Portland, Oregon, who supply us with recycled poly spandex for our solid black and solid white binders. The fibers are made from plastic bottles. It's pretty neat.

Our product packaging is 100% recycled poly mailers, recyclable with plastic bags, and tissue paper and stickers both made with recycled and recyclable materials. We pack using EcoEnclose products, and highly recommend them.

We give our larger scraps away to our local circus college, theatrical efforts, and other crafters; when there's an excess, we ship grab bags of large scraps to crafters and makers all over the world.

If we make a mistake in manufacturing, or need to replace your garment with a larger one during the alterations process, we keep the non-fitting garment, launder it, and stock it for events and Off-the-Rack sales. If we don't sell it off the rack, we'll donate it to an LGBT center, shelter, student group, or binder redistribution group.

Our office paper comes from a local paper mill, and we do not shop at Amazon for any supplies or furniture. If we can't freecycle, we buy used, or employ local craftspeople to make what we need.

We at Shapeshifters firmly believe waste reduction is an extremely high priority for our continued collective survival. To that end, we're dedicated to buying more environmentally-friendly materials, refining our production process to reduce fabric waste, and keeping our various supply chains as local as possible. If you have suggestions or ideas, please let us know!

Shifts in the Shapeshifters sewing studio are staggered so no two people are working in the studio together unless it's specifically requested by the employee and all parties consent, which can be revoked at any time for any reason. HEPA air filters are changed regularly. We supply KN95s both to curb the spread of COVID and to keep our sewists safe from fiber dust.

All employees have as much paid time off as we can afford.

Thank you, always, for your patience and your support as we navigate this world with as much care as we can muster.

Wear & Care

Pretty slick if it's shiny, pretty soft if it's not. The binding mesh is close-woven, with a very soft hand. Please order samples to find out for sure! We find there's no better way to be 100% certain of texture and color before you place your order.

Always wash cold, either hand-wash or delicate machine cycle. Hang to dry.


Note that we recommend garments in the Swimsuitable tag; avoid mesh and lace. Mesh can be a little see-through, and lace can snag.

Like any swimsuit, a binder will last much longer if it is rinsed thoroughly after each swim. Please bear in mind that regular swimming in chlorine pools can fade the color from reflective prints more quickly than regular wear.

Finally, as with every exercise, your capability to do it while binding depends heavily on your own physical abilities. Listen to your body, take it slow at first. If you have concerns about getting out of breath, we encourage you to select a relaxed fit.

Mesh garments have only mesh layers: three in the front and two in the back. These are light and breezy, easily our most breathable option.

All other garments have a solid color or a print on the outside of the binding mesh. There is still a mesh layer next to your skin that keeps the sweat from sticking close, but they should be washed frequently when it’s hot. Shiny prints, in general, will be warmer than non-reflective fabrics.

Cool! That's really awesome of you!

We recommend reaching out to your local LGBT center, a local homeless shelter (especially one for LGBT youth, if you have one in your area!), a student group, or Point of Pride. Any of these organizations would love to get your binder to someone who needs it.