According to some women, one of the hardest pieces of a wardrobe to shop for is a bra — especially if support is a top priority. If you’re inclined to agree, it’s worth investing in an underwire bra.
The rigidity of an underwire in a bra provides excellent support and much better shaping than other types of bras. The underwire gives it structural integrity, making it less likely to warp around the cups. With that said, most underwires have a reasonable degree of flexibility, which means they’ll move naturally with your body.
Not sure which underwire bra is best for your bust? Don’t worry. With so many types of underwire bras on the market, we’re sure you’ll find one that suits you.
For the best support and shaping in an underwire bra, it’s recommended to choose styles with a longer wire length. Ideally, the underwire should have more of a U shape than a C shape.
Perks of underwire
The main reasons women switch from wire-free to underwire bras include a desire for more support and better shaping. But that’s not all. Underwire bras also help keep your bra in place rather than shifting or sliding with movement. And, unlike some wire-free bras, underwire bras don’t require frequent adjusting.
Women with larger busts often benefit from using underwire bras because they are dependably structured. The unique design eliminates sagging by lifting the bust to a flattering height. In terms of appearance, not only does an underwire give the bust a smooth, rounded silhouette, many styles are virtually undetectable beneath flimsy and fitted blouses.
Finding the right size
It seems obvious to choose a bra of the correct size, but if you haven’t bought a bra in a while or have only worn wire-free bras, it’s essential to take new measurements to determine your current size.
One way to find the right bra size is to get measured by a professional. They’ll measure your band, bust, and cup sizes. If you prefer to do this on your own with a tape measure, here’s how:
- To find your band size, wrap the tape measure around your back and above your bust, just above your heart.
- To find your bust size, wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your bust.
- To find your cup size, subtract the band size from the bust size.
As an example, let’s say your bust size is 36 inches and your band size is 34 inches. The difference is 2 inches. Based on a bra sizing chart, you would be a B cup.
For reference, bra sizing charts are as follows: a 1-inch difference is an A cup, a 2-inch difference is a B cup, a 3-inch difference is a C cup, and so on.
Finding the right cut
There are several types of cuts for underwire bras. Here are a few of the most common ones.
Sports bra: Some sports bras have underwires. According to manufacturers, the addition of the wire enhances support and reduces bounce.
Strapless bra: Many strapless bras have underwires to achieve natural shaping. These bras often have nonslip details to help keep them in place beneath garments.
Push-up bra: The majority of push-up bras have underwires to maximize lift. The cups are often contoured, and the underwire adds necessary structure beneath and around the sides of the bust.
Demi bra: Demi bras usually have underwires to maintain support and structure, especially since cups in these styles cover only half or two-thirds of the bust.
T-shirt bra: Many t-shirt bras have underwires to help give the cups a smooth, near-seamless appearance.
If you’re looking for a breathable underwire bra, consider one made of cotton or satin.
The basic construction of an underwire involves a flexible piece of metal. While the wire excels at maintaining its shape unless significant pressure is applied, it will naturally mold to your body’s shape over time.
Unfortunately, this flexibility can also be a pitfall. A flexible wire is more likely to be damaged in a washing machine by the agitator or heavy, wet clothes piled on top of it. For that reason, it’s recommended to either hand wash your underwire bras or launder them separately inside a garment bag on the delicate cycle.
The underwire is completely encased in cloth to prevent it from directly contacting the skin. To minimize friction, the casing is often made of a material that is softer than the rest of the bra.
Many premium bras feature underwires with wire coverings at the tips. These consist of rounded, protective coverings to smooth over rough wire ends. In the event the seams of the wire casing pop, the covering ensures the wire won’t scratch or otherwise injure the wearer.
Many underwire bras are designed with nonslip detail around the wire casing. This is typically in the form of rubber or silicone dots. Not only does nonslip detail help keep the bra in place, it further reduces friction against sensitive skin. Notably, some nonslip details contain latex.
DID YOU KNOW?
To keep your underwire bras in the best condition, stack the cups onto one another in a drawer. Tuck the straps outside of the cups to prevent indentations or marks on the padding.
Bra washing bag: Laundry Science Premium Regular Bra Wash Bag
Protect your underwire bras in the washing machine with help from a bra wash bag. These ultra-soft bags are made with micromesh and zip closed to secure your garments. The bags fit bras up to G cups.
Bra detergent: The Laundress Delicate Wash Laundry Detergent
Regular detergent is harsh on underwire bras, so consider switching to this ultra-gentle formula designed for delicate garments. It’s made with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients and is cruelty-free. The formula has a soft, fresh finish with ingredients like lavender and bergamot.
Underwire bra prices
Inexpensive: Basic underwire bras cost $30 or less. Construction is decent in these bras, though the underwires may be somewhat flimsy. To get the best bang for your buck, it’s recommended to stick to the higher end of this bracket.
Mid-range: Underwire bras that cost between $35 and $55 tend to be remarkably well-made, including many that are manufactured by leading brand names. Given their high construction quality, these bras last much longer than less-costly options.
Expensive: The priciest underwire bras run as high as $60 and above. Most of these are made by premium bra retailers and designers. While these styles boast impressive quality and detail, only a few are actually better than mid-range options.
When you begin to notice your underwire bra shifting around more than it used to, it’s a sure sign that it has overstretched and worn out.
- Invest in a few neutral colors. In order to conceal your bra beneath tops and blouses, invest in a variety of neutral colors like white, nude, black, and brown.
- Be careful when removing tags. Tags are usually sewn into tight reinforced seams on bras. If you must remove them, do so carefully with sewing scissors, which allow the most precision with each cut.
- Buy off-season patterns or colors. To save big on an underwire bra style you like, buy off-season patterns or colors. More often than not, they’re priced far below neutral or trendy options.
If your underwire is popping out of its casing, it can be repaired with a few strategic stitches.
Q. Some underwire bras as sold in multipacks. Is it cost-effective to buy them this way?
A. Yes, it can be cost-effective to purchase underwire bras in bulk, but the quality is often subpar. With that said, it may not be a big deal if you’re looking for casual or “day off” bras, especially if they’re comfortable.
Q. Why is it so hard to find sports bras with an underwire?
A. Only recently have manufacturers begun to include underwires in some sports bras. Since they’re not as popular as many wire-free bras, they’re often harder to find. Fortunately, these styles have surged in popularity, so there are new arrivals on the market every year.
Q. About how long will an underwire bra last?
A. It depends on how often you wear it. If you have many bras and rotate them, the bras may last a couple of years or longer. However, if you wear the same bra on a near-daily basis, it’s common to replace it every 9 to 12 months.