Which sports bras are best?
Picking out a sports bra is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to buying workout clothes. The right one can help you power through tough workouts, whether it’s a hot yoga class or a pick-up basketball game.
Finding the right sports bra isn’t just a matter of finding one that fits well. Instead, you need one that ticks all the boxes on your list: consistent support, reliable compression and built-to-last construction. Of course, there’s no shame wanting a stylish sports bra, such as the Panache Underwired Sports Bra, which comes in over a dozen patterns.
What to know before you buy a sports bra
Sports bras are classified into three categories based on support level: low-impact, medium-impact and high-impact.
- Low-impact sports bras: These bras are suitable for activities like yoga and walking, offering the lowest level of support. These styles usually lack underwires, compression and contouring. However, they’re appreciated for their comfort and are often worn as lounge bras.
- Medium-impact sports bras: They are worn for cycling, skiing or dance fitness. They’re effective at reducing bounce, and some styles even offer light compression for added support. In addition, many medium-impact sports bras have thick or adjustable straps.
- High-impact sports bras: Geared toward intense activities like soccer and running, these bras offer maximum support and compression, and it’s common for them to have underwires. Given their unique construction, many of these supportive sports bras are expensive.
The majority of sports bras are available in progressive sizing, such as small, medium and large. Manufacturers typically provide size charts that make recommendations based on the cup and band size. However, many wearers express frustration at finding the right fit with these bras.
Some sports bras, including many premium styles, follow traditional bra sizing. However, they may offer a more customized fit, especially because these sports bras usually have features like adjustable straps and hook-and-eye closures.
Features of sports bras
Most sports bras are made with cotton or polyester blends, including stretch materials like Spandex, elastane or Lycra. These material blends offer a snug, flexible fit.
While remarkably durable, stretch materials wear out over time. Eventually, they lose their elasticity and won’t fit the way they did when you first bought them. Unfortunately, that means they will compromise on support. For that reason, it’s recommended to replace your sports bras every six months to two years.
Many sports bras have adjustable straps to improve fit, quality and support. It’s considered an essential feature, especially in sports bras that follow progressive sizing, since it may be harder to find a better fit with these styles. Additionally, certain premium sports bras have a cushioned and adjustable, wide-bottom band for stability and comfort.
In addition to a snug fit, sports bras may have other supportive features. Compression bras, for example, prevent movement by securing the bust with a tighter fit. Underwire sports bras stabilize the bust and maintain weight toward the center. Other sports bras have contouring seams that add moderate structure and support to bras, particularly those without underwires.
Many sports bras, including several low-impact styles, come with removable cups. Some wearers leave cups in the bra for shaping and modesty, whereas others feel bothersome because they’re prone to moving inside the bra.
There are a multitude of ways in which sports bras are breathable, a feature that sets them apart from many other styles. Mesh panels, for example, boost airflow around the body. Another option is the skinny strap design, which keeps wearers cool by exposing more skin than thicker straps. Finally, wick-away materials sweep sweat away from the body to keep wearers dry as well as cool.
How much you can expect to spend on sports bras
Cheap sports bras, which are usually low-impact or lightweight, cost $25 and below. Mid-range styles, priced $30-$50, include well-made styles from leading athletic brands. Speciality sports bras with enhanced support or fit features run from $50-$100.
Sports bra FAQ
How do I wash sports bras?
A. If possible, wash sports bras by hand with gentle, bleach-free detergent. Otherwise, you can place them in a laundry bag inside a washing machine on the delicate cycle. Then, hang them to dry or lay them on a mesh drying rack.
Can I use a sports bra for swimming in the pool?
A. You can do so in a pinch, but it’s not recommended because chlorine may bleach colors or damage materials. Instead, invest in a swimming bra. Its design is similar in shape and support, and it’s made with pool- and beach-friendly materials. Additionally, many swimming bras offer sun protection and have UPF ratings.
What’s the best sports bra to buy?
Top sports bra
What you need to know: Considered a premium option, this adjustable Panache bra offers a customizable fit for improved support.
What you’ll love: Encapsulation design is suitable for high-impact sports. It reduces bounce without flattening the bust, while its wide straps distribute weight more evenly across the chest.
What you should consider: There are occasional reports that sizing is inconsistent.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top sports bra for the money
What you need to know: This traditional style, suitable for medium-impact exercise, is versatile enough to wear with most workout tops.
What you’ll love: Made with breathable, wick-away HeatGear material that dries fast. Its crisscross design improves support across the shoulders. Available in several fun patterns.
What you should consider: Some wearers felt it didn’t offer the support they expected.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: In addition to a smooth, seamless design, this bra is made with wick-away materials.
What you’ll love: The material is super-soft and cool to touch. Its wide band prevents the bra from sliding around. The unique backstrap design looks great with open-back workout tops.
What you should consider: Not suitable for medium- or high-impact activity.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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