I hate exercising. There are a variety of reasons why, but one of the biggest ones (no pun intended) is that after three kids, things start to fly around when you’re moving and they’re not properly secured. I’ve found that one way for me to hate exercising a little less is to constantly change it up with different classes: barre pilates one day; spinning the next; and then maybe one day I’ll graduate on to the Zumba class.
But in order for that to happen, all items must be properly stowed and secured before take off. So I put my big girl panties on, joined the Y and set off to find the best sports bra for those who are blessed in the chest. If your cup size is smaller than a D, congratulate yourself on great genes and go ahead and read one of our other articles. But if you’re a D or larger, let’s dish, girlfriend!
In my quest to find the best sports bra for big tatas, I did what any seasoned researcher would do: I posted a note on Facebook. (P.S. Click here to request to join our amazing private fashion group on Facebook!) I will admit that I was floored by two vastly different things: the number of women who immediately jumped in to help and offer suggestion, and the number of women who commiserated with me.
Next, I established my super-scientific judging criteria for the best sports bra for big boobies:
- Is it comfortable? Working out already sucks, we don’t need to add in uncomfortable clothing on top of it. Your sports bra should be tight, but it shouldn’t be a torture chamber.
- Can you tell I have two boobs or does it create the dreaded uniboob? I’m here to sweat, not to win a competition, but I still demand the ability for myself and the public to know that I have two boobies. Most sports bras that have little to moderate support (including the current one I have from Old Navy) don’t do much for big-boobed girls other then to smash your breasts together into one giant, dreaded uniboob.
- Do things stay in place when I bounce/jump? This one is pretty self-explanatory and is the main function of the product, but you would be surprised how hard it is to find a sports bra that accomplishes this criteria.
- Is it a reasonable price point? This one is definitely up for interpretation. I am, by nature, a bargain shopper (thanks, mom!). However, I am really trying to emphasize quality over quantity. A $6 sports bra on the clearance rack sure sounds great, but if I get knocked out by my left breast in Zumba class, is it really that great? I am willing to open up my price point if the quality and support is really there, but I still wanted to be in the $50 range.
Option 1: Gigi Bra by Athleta
Even though I hate going to the mall and prefer to have everything sent to my doorstep, this felt like something I needed to try on before purchasing. So I grabbed the middle child and moseyed on over to the sports bra section of Athleta.
The display section was thoughtfully arranged by support options, ranging from none (I’m jealous) to maximum support. This Gigi bra is considered a “high support” bra but only fits sizes C – DD. Not a good sign, and I should’ve known I was in trouble when the sizing was only S-XL. But in the interest of investigative journalism, I soldiered on. I took both a M and a L in the dressing room with me.
The high neckline seems like a great feature in theory, but in reality, it makes the bra a real bitch to put on. I could barely get the medium over my head, let alone my arms through the holes. I was sweating (and swearing) when I swapped it out for a large. This time, I was able to get it over my head and my arms went in the correct place, but that alone was a struggle and felt like a workout. I was a little out of breath when I got everything in place, and there was still a three button clasp in the back to do. I took a deep breath and went for it.
With the Gigi bra on and the girls in place, I took inventory. My boobs looked okay – you could tell there were two (score) – but the bottom band was bisecting my breasts in an uncomfortable place. So, like 80% of my boob was in the proper place and 20% was protruding under the band because the cup was too small. I still attempted the bounce test – there was some jiggle but things stayed relatively in place. With a bigger cup size, there was a small possibility that this could’ve worked. Unfortunately, there is no bigger cup size available. On to the next one, but first, can someone help me take this damn thing off?!
Pros of the Gigi Bra by Athleta:
High neckline to prevent spillage from the top
Cons of the Gigi Bra:
- The band cut off mid-boob
- Putting it on and taking it off was like its own workout (maybe that’s a pro??)
- Molded cups (ugh) with removable padding in them (double ugh)
- No underwire
Option 2: The Power of She Bra by Athleta, $58
Since I was already in the Athleta store, I decided to try this bra on. This bra was recommended to me by a friend. She swore that her boot camp instructor wore one after having her third kid, and that everything stayed properly in place through jumping jacks and all sorts of related shenanigans. The first thing I noticed was this bra is only available in S – XL, and it was found in the mid-level support section. All signs point to this not being the sports bra for me. But I grabbed a few different sizes, handed my four year old my cell phone, and gave it a whirl. The Power of She Bra is much easier to put on – there are no band closures, so you step in it and pulled it up. I also loved that the straps were like normal bra straps – anything tied around my neck or even a racerback style can give me neck and back pain after wearing for too long. Unfortunately, there is no support or underwire within the bra itself, so that dreaded uniboob was in full effect. I thought I could deal with it IF the support was good, but a quick bounce showed that this was not the sports bra for me.
Pros of the Power of She Bra:
- Comes in pretty colors and patterns
- Relatively easy to get on. I loved that you stepped into it and then pulled it up.
Cons of the Power of She Bra:
- Expensive. Will cost you an easy $50+.
- Very little support. Things were flying in the bounce test.
A fellow large-chested friend recommended a brand called Panache, but warned that it was expensive. At this point, I was pretty desperate to keep everything in place before my next cycling class, so I went to work (i.e. I typed the brand name in the search bar of Amazon) to find this bad boy.
While Panache doesn’t seem to be sold on Amazon, a high-rated lookalike came up for under TWENTY DOLLARS. You can bet your ass I added that to my cart. I was able to try it on approximately 48 hours later, and it was well worth the wait. The fabric was thick, and thank the lord, there was underwire present! Since the sizing is actual bra sizing, the fit in both the width and the cup size was just about perfection. This bra is a racerback with a two-prong closure, so it’s relatively easy to slip it over your head and then manhandle your goodies into place. The tricky part is then closing the two prongs in the back once the bra is on, but consider it a warm-up yoga pose. As for the bounce test, I’m happy to report that nothing fell out of place or hit me in the face during my cardio class. In fact, I was so impressed with this bra that I immediately purchased a second one.
Pros of the Syrokan Full Support Bra:
- Uniboob is banished with actual bra sizing and underwire.
- Support is by far the best of all bras tried on to date.
- PRICE! Under $25 means you get to spend more money on workout clothes that people will actually see!
Cons of the Syrokan Full Support Bra:
- Relatively limited styles and colors.
- There’s a two-prong clasp in the back that can be kind of tricky to close.
- While the support is the best of the bunch, there’s still some movement in really high impact exercises. Still a better alternative then a straight jacket and some duct tape.
- The racerback means that some of your boob weight is resting on your neck versus your shoulders, which gives me a little bit of neck pain if I’m wearing for longer then an hour or two. But for a 45 minute class, I can survive like Gloria Gaynor.
Key Lessons I’ve Learned While Trying to Find a Sports Bra
- If your cup size is over DDD, don’t even bother trying on anything that comes in sizes S-XL. You need customized support in the cup AND in the band, and that ain’t gonna happen with small, medium, large stuff. Save some time by looking for sport bras that come in bra sizes like “36 [email protected]#% those are huge.”
- Underwire is your friend. If you truly want your two girls to not mesh together into one giant uni-boob, you’re going to need some underwire.
- Get ready to pay. Sports bras with any type of support to them seem hard to find under $40, but when you add in the requirements for the Big Boob Crew, it adds an extra $20-$30 to the existing price tag.
- Be prepared to sacrifice cuteness. Mama loves an athleisure look, and most of the work out looks of late are designed to show off that strappy bra with the mesh inserts. Not going to happen. Here’s to waiting for lunch lady chic with 1,000 closures to come in style.