There are two basic styles of sports bras. Choosing the correct plus size sports bra style is critical to having a one that meets your needs. Before you decide on brand, size, or other features, you need to answer the question compression or encapsulation?
But First, Do You Really Need A Sports Bra?
If you exercise at all, you need a sports bra. According to an article in Wikipedia, movement while playing a sport or exercising can cause damage to chest ligaments. Wearing a sports bra can reduce the potential for damage, and alleviate the discomfort many women experience.
As the name implies, a compression bra stabilizes breast tissue by compressing them. Most manufacturers offer three levels of support. What you choose depends on personal preference and the type of sport you’re participating in. We’ll talk more about support in a moment.
In general, compression-style sports bras are better suited to women who wear size A or B cup bras. Some manufacturers recommend this style for C cup wearers too.
Encapsulation bras look like regular bras in that the breasts are separated into their own cups. Another similarity to a regular bra is size. You should begin your sports bra fitting with the same size you wear in a lingerie bra.
The fit will be a bit more snug, and the cups, straps, and band will cover more than your lingerie bra covers. The goal is to fully support your breasts and keep movement to a minimum.
You may have already guessed that the encapsulation style is preferred by women who wear a size C cup or greater. One reason for this is that compression-style bras have a tendency to give larger busted women what has been referred to as a “uni-boob” look.
However, some companies offer bras in a compression-encapsulation combination.
Features To Look For
- You’ll want to make sure the band is comfortably snug. It should not be as loose as your lingerie bra, but not tight either
- You should be able to raise your arms and move without the bra moving with you. If it does, it’s probably too large.
- The band and cups provide the most support, not the straps, so take your time and find a style that’s made for your body.
Underwire or Wire-free
- Compression bras are mostly wire-free. If you choose this style, you’re choosing a bra that will be comfortable and a pleasure to wear
- Many encapsulation styles are also wire-free, but women who wear a cup size C or greater will find many styles that offer the extra support of underwires
- Like finding the properly fitting bra brand, you want to take your time when finding the perfect fitting underwires, too
Which Level Of Support
Support is offered in three levels. It can also be referred to as impact. Personal preference and the type of sport you’re participating in dictates which level you choose.
- Low impact would be perfect for activities like walking or yoga
- Working out at the gym or hiking would call for medium impact
- You’ll need high impact if you’re running, playing tennis or taking part in other sports that involve extreme movement of the breast
This Debenhams video covers all three levels of support.
The Fashion Aspect
Sports bras come in a wide variety of fashion styles.
- Straps come in racer back, crisscross, and camisole styles. They can come as two wide straps or in multiples of small, interlaced straps. They may be adjustable, but usually are not. Choose carefully.
- Closures can be back hook, front hook, front zip and pull-on. There is a large group of women who wear nothing but the front zip style because of the ease it offers when slipping into the bra.
- You will also have the option of choosing high-cut, low-cut, and padded styles. And, of course…
- You can wear your sports bra under a tank top or t-shirt, in combination with another top, or wear it all by itself. The options are almost limitless and the choice is yours.
Other Factors To Consider
The fabrics used to make your new sports bra are modern miracles. Bras can include a combination of nylon, rayon, spandex and polyester mesh. It’s not common to find them made in cotton.
That’s because today’s fibers are:
- structured to keep your body cool
- able to breath
- wick moisture away from your body, keeping you comfortable
- dry up to five times faster than cotton
Trying On Your Bra
One final thing many of the experts recommend is to give your bra a little “test drive” in the fitting room. Once you’ve checked that everything else seems good, bend, stretch and jump up and down. If the bra passes this test, congratulations, you probably have a winner!
Where To Begin The Search
There are a number of places that offer plus size sports bras. You may already have a favorite or two. However, there are three online sites that I want to bring to your attention.
Chances are excellent that you’re already familiar with this company. They are excellent to deal with, and their site offers many user-friendly extras.
For example, they offer:
- Expert Bra Finder, an interactive program that helps you find the correct size
- If a real person is what you need, you can call and speak with one of their “amBRAssadors Fit Experts”
Of course, there is no charge for either of these services. And, their plus size selection is excellent.
You may also be familiar with Her Room. But, have you taken a look at their Bra Fit Center? This includes an excellent video on Plus Size Bra Fitting as well as a whole suite of bra-fitting information. Once you’ve determined your perfect size, you’re ready to choose from their extensive selection.
Nike has been commended as a company that has made tremendous strides in offering size-inclusive selections of products. The online site offers a fun Bra Fitting Guide. This includes a brief video that shows exactly how to measure yourself and an interactive chart to help you find your perfect Nike sports bra.
Online chat with a Nike Women’s Expert is available as well.
If a Nike bras makes its way to your shopping cart, take a couple of more minutes and check out their plus size athleisure wear. You just might find your new favorite outfit too!
I hope I’ve given you enough information to help make your next sports bra shopping trip a fun activity. You now know you’re looking for either a compression or encapsulation style. You know you have a choice of front closure, back closure, or pull-on style. You’ve also read about some of the shoulder strap configurations available. Maybe most importantly, you know the techniques you can use to make sure you have a perfectly fitting plus size sports bra.
Let Us Know In the Comments Below!
Once you’ve found it, please include a comment below. We’d love to know what you found and why you love it. If you have a favorite store, please share that with us too!