If I’m not mistaken, whoever first said “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em,” was referring to their SO, but I would argue that the saying rings just as true in regards to a certain undergarment: bras. With slipping straps, gapping cups, and ever-evil back rolls, a bra can be the bane of our collective existence (none more so than a strapless one). There are a lot of bad bras out there. Like, really bad. The upside to this is that bad bras make it a lot easier to appreciate good ones—and good bras there are.
Whether you’re a hardcore exercise enthusiast or you just prefer a little compression, it’s particularly important that your sports bras are up to snuff. As if treadmill sprints and kettlebells weren’t enough of a challenge, trying to do them in a crummy top without support is a near impossible feat. Going to yoga class sans any bra at all? Good luck with that downward dog.
Fret not. Like I said, there are great sports bras out there. Below, you can find them conveniently gathered in one place. Thank me later.
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Best on Amazon
Strappy Longline Sports Bra
This Amazon pick features removable cups and boasts rave reviews. Plus, the price is right and it’s long enough to wear as a top to the gym. What’s not to love?
Best in Sustainablility
Simone High Support Bra
Everything from Girlfriend Collective is top tier, and this highly supportive bra with adjustable straps is no exception. The best part, though, is that it’s made out of 12 recycled water bottles that otherwise would have languished in landfills.
Best High Neck
Techflex Claudia Sports Bra
It wicks away moisture and is quick to dry, but more importantly, it is the cutest shade of pink.
Look, some workout gear is for practicality and conquering PRs. Others are for snapping fire mirror selfies in the locker room. That’s just the honest truth, but with this bra, you get both wrapped into one.
Swoosh Sports Bra
This seems to be the most universal sports bra—almost everyone has owned one at some point in their life. It was even rated best overall by the expert testers at the Good Housekeeping Institute, and with good reason. It’s super compressive and stays in place, getting the job done.
Best for Inclusivity
Superhold Sports Bra
This sports bra has fans. Seriously, the reviews are glowing. It’s also one of the most size-inclusive bras on the market, offering large through 7XL.
Women’s Full Figure Underwire Sports Bra
Best for Small Chests
Wild Thing Bra
With lined cups, removable padding, and sculpting fabric, this bra is perfect for smaller cup sizes. The ruching and cut are also ultra flattering.
Best Seamless Fit
Women’s Fashion Seamless Sports Bra
Not only is this one super stretchy, but it’s also insanely comfortable. Thanks, Amazon!
Best for Low-Impact Exercise
Spacedye One and Only Shoulder Cropped Tank
Half the straps for double the support. Don’t question the math of it, just know that you’ll feel as secure as ever in this compressive bra. (Which, as a bonus, looks great as a top, too.)
Best for Post-Mastectomy
Women’s Front Closure Sports Bra
Soft cotton, a great fit, and front closure make this a favorite among those who have undergone surgery.
Orion Colorblock Sports Bra
The jazzercise ladies won’t stop talking about how stylish you look in this little number.
Best for Big Chests
Studio Lite Longline Bra
This bra has enough room for all of you and enough support to keep you in place. Those with bigger cup sizes often appreciate bras that have additional banding on the bottom, as this one does, because it provides extra protection against slippage.
Best for Wearing as a Top
Nulu Wrap-Front Long-Line Bra
For when you have pilates at 5 p.m. and drinks immediately afterward.
What should I look for in a sports bra?
- Compression. This is essentially what defines a sports bra. In non-scientific terms, compression is what squishes your boobs, holding them securely in place as you move around. Some bras are more compressive than others, so consider what you want from your bra. Styles that are described as “high-impact” are going to be more restrictive and will hold your breasts in tighter than bras that are dubbed “low-impact,” which are more akin to bralettes. Intuitively, high-impact bras are better for high-impact activities that include running or jumping. Compression bras tend to be wireless, too, and some people with large cup sizes find that pull-on compression bras are not compatible with big busts—although that’s mostly a matter of preference. Other sports bra styles rely less on compression and instead use molded cups to cradle and stabilize each breast separately. These styles are more likely to have clasp or zipper closures. You’ll also find some sports bras that combine these two styles.
- Adjustable Fit. A bra that has adjustable straps and/or an adjustable band is more customizable, and therefore more likely to be a successful purchase because you can tailor it to your needs. Adjustability also factors into longevity. If you want a bra that will last, it’s best to pick one that you can adjust as your body changes, or as the fabric stretches with wear (or shrinks in the wash).
- Fabric Type. All signs point to you sweating in this thing, right? So look for breathable fabrics that won’t suffocate your skin. Go for moisture-wicking materials that will do a better job of eliminating odors and minimizing sweat stains. Accumulated moisture and sweat can lead to bacteria growth. Yuck.
- Comfort. Of course, what matters most is that you feel comfortable and secure in your sports bra, whichever one that may be. A lot of these factors come down to what you like best. Whether you want padding or underwire, a pull-on style or a front closure, one-shoulder or spaghetti straps—it’s all about your personal preferences.
Can I wear a sports bra all the time?
The jury’s still out on this question. There’s plenty of debate about whether doing so can have harmful results on your lymphatic system, and until we know for sure, it’s better to be cautious and avoid wearing one for long periods of time. Wearing one for a couple of hours on a daily basis (like during your workouts) is perfectly fine, just try not to wear it all day, every day.
How does sizing work?
Your sports bra size should be the same as your regular bra size. Many styles, however, are made using the XS-XL scale, in which case you can use your go-to bathing suit top size for reference.
Can I rewear a dirty sports bra?
No, you better not. It’s best to wash a sports bra after each use because of moisture and bacteria. With that said, if you didn’t work up a sweat and feel like the bra is clean enough to wear twice in a row, go for it. I’d recommend capping that at two wears, though, to be safe.
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