The rise of activewear has seen more women shunning traditional bras in favour of a more sports-oriented look. From a bralette, to a crop top, to a sports bra and tankini there are so many stylish, fashion-oriented choices available. But what’s the best pick to support the girls?
I’m often asked by women what’s the best sports bra for them. To answer this, I go back to the key design principles of each style:
- The bralette is designed to be relatively unstructured, without underwires, moulded cups or padding. The bralette offers shape with low-medium support only. The bralette's real drawcard is the multitude of beautiful designs it’s available in, meaning it looks great as part of a casual, athleisure look, but most often is only suitable for women with a small to average bust size.
- The sports bra by contrast is a sturdier design, offering increased bust support with an emphasis on reducing bounce and potential damage to chest ligaments. If you have a bigger bust, I would definitely advise opting for a sports bra.
Important to note is that as fashion has progressed, so too has the choice when it comes to sports bras. Gone are the days of the sports bra being some ugly beige contraption designed only for fit and function. Nowadays, there are minimum, medium and maximum levels of support available, meaning that you can find a perfect fit and style to suit your bust size and the sports you enjoy most.
As a guide, here's an overview of bra support:
- minimum coverage: suitable activities include yoga, pilates and weight training.
- medium coverage: suitable workouts include spinning, kickboxing and circuit training.
- maximum coverage: suitable training includes running, boxing and cardio.
While the above is by no means an extensive summary, you get a sense of the intensity of the workout, and the corresponding coverage your sports bra should therefore have.
As an activewear designer, one thing I’ve come to understand is how many women struggle to find the perfect fitting sports bra. Frequently women tell me how they experience neck pain and headaches if the sports bra isn’t the right fit for them – this is particularly true for women with a larger bust. If you’ve experienced this, often it can be caused by halter neck designs (placing pressure at the back of the neck) and racerback bras which gather at the shoulder blades (often placing pressure at the top of the neck and shoulders).
In this instance, it is often advisable to look for a sports bra that has traditional bra straps (ie that go straight over the shoulder) to even out any pressure across the neck and shoulders.
Getting the Fit Right
In 2014, Swiss lingerie company Triumph conducted an international survey of 10,000 women and found that a startling number of women are choosing their bras incorrectly. In fact, 64 percent of women still wear the wrong size bra (on a personal note, I was shocked when I recently learned that I was wearing a bra two cup sizes too small for me). Don’t let this be you!
Make sure you are looking for the tell-tale signs that a sports bra isn’t the right fit. They include:
- Straps digging in at your shoulders – a sign the sports bra is too tight
- Overflowing at the top and/or sides of the sports bra – if you’ve got bust exposed in either area it’s a sign that the cup is too small. It also should ring alarm bells because when you start training, there will be more bounce and movement that can prove damaging to the chest ligaments.
- Back fat – when a sports bra is too tight often it presses in so hard against the skin that, irrespective of your size or body mass index – it creates the look of back fat. Go up a size to avoid this cruel phenomenon!
One other detail to consider is how you like to wear a sports bra. Some styles are designed to sit firmly against your chest, and in doing so, restrict bounce and movement of your breasts. This style is great if you have a bust size up to approximately a C cup. Conversely, other styles have moulded cup designs that are intended to "house" your breasts. This style is preferable for D cups and above. Of course you can wear either, but it is about understanding how to both improve your level of comfort and reduce the amount of bounce.
Once you’ve found the perfect fit and structure for you, there is a plethora of ways you can style your look to create the ultimate in sports luxe. From strappy bralette designs, complemented by a sports jacket, to a sports bra peeking through a muscle top, there are endless ways to create a sexy, stylish look that is as flattering as it is functional. And of course, in full support of the girls.