In Search Of The Most Comfortable Bra
So it’s that time to replace a couple of bras. After having a cancerous tumor in my breast, I’ve become more particular with how comfortable my clothes are. But sometimes I get sidetracked into getting something beautiful, but tight or impractical. Finding the perfect bra is like finding the perfect pair of jeans or Mr. Right. Somehow I’ve found the right man, I’m still working on the jeans and I have just narrowed the bras down.
I’m the type that despises wearing a bra and go without one every chance I get. I’m lucky to be small enough to not need one for support, it’s more for coverage. Patterned shirts, double-chested pocketed tops and vests are my best friends. Bras are trifling, restricting, contraptions that are the bane of my “girls’ ” happiness. But they’re part of social norms and can be very pretty.
After having a tumor grow to the size of a tennis ball, then shrink, my left breast is now much smaller than it was pre-cancer. For a while, it was difficult to pull on a bra overhead. The lymphedema I had made it painful to lift my left arm, so bras without a front or back closure didn’t work for me. I’ve learned that the more frequent and tighter bras are worn, breast sagging and breast cancer risk goes up. So the options are to go braless or wear something very comfortable and loose.
Online shopping is convenient but the major drawback is that you can’t feel the material and see how it lays. Some of the brands I’ve tried are Maidenform, Calvin Klein, Warner’s, Bali and Hanes. There is no one bra that is suitable for all occasions but I’ve narrowed them down to 3 favorites.
Bra shopping is hard enough, so I bought a bunch of bras to have at home and compare. The sizes I mention in this review are based off of 34A/36A. I’m closest to a 34A but find the band is too tight, so I add on a bra extender; 36A would work but the cups are a little bigger.
What I look for in a bra:
Light or no padding
Hook closure on the back (not front closure)
Neutral color (blush or nude, black or dark grey)
Pros: Both brands have light padding and adjustable straps on the front for easier access and you can convert them to wear as crisscross.
Cons: While both brands’ have a soft material, they could use more stretch, which is key for comfort.
Verdict: True & Co.’s is slightly darker and there’s an extra bit of contoured padding inside the cups, which I don’t need or want. The True & Co. bra $54 is nearly identical to Warner's $21.99. I didn’t love either versions, but if YOU do, go with Warner’s for the lower price.
Pros: The material is incredibly soft. The adjustable bracket in the back makes it harder to adjust while wearing; but it’s more comfortable against the body since the back is more vertical, there is less pressure of the bracket on the skin.
Cons: After putting it on and wiggling around in it, I felt the bra shift a bit. Under the bra cups are seams that aren’t stretchy, which doesn’t allow for free movement.
Verdict: I almost kept this bra but the band elasticity is more important than the very soft material. Very close, but not quite.
Hanes Women's Convertible Seamless Wire Free Bra Small $12.69
Pros: This is one of the most comfortable bras ever because the entire bra is stretchy; the fabric is a ComfortFlex Fit 4-way stretch fabric. Hanes has a program called Hanes for Good, which uses sustainable practices and is the only apparel company to have won the Energy Star award 9 years in a row. For a short info clip about their practices, click here and select the video on the left.
Cons: It has no padding, which does not provide coverage through shirts. I’ve had a bra insert sewn on the left to make up for the little one.
Verdict: This Hanes bra is so stretchy and comfortable that it is worth it for me to pay and get inserts sewn in. The cups on a size small fit but the band is too snug. Before I was stretching out bras over the back of a chair, but since the elasticity wears out over time, I now use a bra extender with 3/8” spacing between the hooks. After several months or so, when the bra stretches out, I can remove the extender and all will fit fine.
This is great for daily wear and for exercising, I like this one so much I have it in grey, nude and light buff heather which is a light pink.
DAILY & WORKOUT FAVORITE
Pros: Since I’m small chested, I can fit some kids’ clothes and saw this pullover bra in the girls’ section at Target. Since this is a girls’ bra, it is smaller all around, than a women’s sports bra, so I sized up to an XL, which fit nicely on my usual 34A size. There’s less material (from top to bottom) and I prefer this because I don’t need or want the extra coverage. Less coverage = less restriction = more comfort.
Cons: The material isn’t as smooth and soft as other bras. It’s not quality material so there’s been some pilling after having it for just a few months. There is no bra hook, which is a must for me since I go braless every chance I get and remove my bra with my short sleeved shirt still on, by unhooking the back, pulling the down the shoulder straps and pulling out the bra from the neck hole.
Verdict: The pro of minimal coverage is outweighed by the cons of the material and absence of bra hooks …...
Warners’ Easy Does It Bralette RM0911A, Extra Small $38
Pros: This looks like a sports bra from the front, but has hooks on the back, which is my favorite feature of this one. It makes it easy to get on and off and the straps are convertible to crisscross. Most bras have a separate band for the bottom edge that can be thick and tight, but this entire bra has stretch which makes it fairly comfortable to wear. The material is of higher quality than the Cat & Jack’s Girls’ bra above.
Cons: It’s slightly bigger than the Cat & Jack one listed above—for me, there could be a little less coverage/material.
Verdict: I bought an XS for less coverage, but since it makes the fit tighter, I’ve adding on a bra extender with 3/4” spacing between the hooks until it stretches out nicely. After trying it out for a while, it’s just not as comfortable as my other choices for daily wear, I prefer less material hugging my body and material that isn’t as thick. If you are larger chested and need more support, this one might be fore you.
Wonder St Women's Lace Triangle Bralette, Medium $8.99
Pros: This bra is similar to Urban Outfitters Out From Under’s version but comes in pink, which is close enough to nude to wear under light colored shirts and not stand out. Plus, pink is prettier. It’s incredibly comfortable because it’s wire-free, has a ton of stretch in the band AND the straps and least coverage; you will hardly notice you’re wearing a bra.
Cons: No padding and lace makes this less compatible with fitted shirts.
Verdict: This is one of my favorite bras mainly because it is so comfortable. Most days, I wear a t-shirt and it works just fine. The bonus is it’s so feminine and pretty. This is my favorite daily bra and I switch over to the Hanes Women's Convertible Seamless Wire Free Bra when this bralette doesn’t go with my top.
I’ve tried other bras including Warner’s Easy Does It No Bulge Bralette RM3911A but the material was too thick, so that was a definite no.
Favorite Bra Accessories
Bra Extenders, 6 pack
The elastic band on bras stretch over time. After a year or two, bras can become too loose. These bra extenders increase the life span of your bras. Be sure to check which size you need, since bras can have different spacing between the hooks.
Mesh Laundry Bags
Washing and drying bras and panties in the machines can wear out the elasticity. Extend the life of your delicates by using these mesh bags, washing in cold water and hanging dry. These bags also come in handy for traveling, you can separate dirty from clean laundry, or store shoes in them.