Tiny tatas? It's all good! Our experts are here to tell you everything you need to know to find the perfect sports bra for your body
How to Pick the Perfect Sports Bra
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Sports bras used to come in one style (binding), one color (gray), one fabric (cotton), and one size (fits all). Those were the dark days of fitness for women—and we won't even talk about leotards! Thankfully, the past decade has seen a revolution in support for sweaty sisters, with an explosion of sassy styles, fun colors, and moisture-wicking fabrics. Another area of major innovation: size.
But while there have been plenty of new additions to the market for average-sized women (like these Sexy Sports Bras to Spice Up Your Workout)—and even the well-endowed (like The Best Sports Bras for Big Boobs)—what are the small-chested sisters supposed to do? We went to the experts to find out. Here, how to pick the perfect sports bra if you're AA, A, or B cup.
Photo: Corbis Images
Don't Trust the Built-In Bra
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Tempted to go braless or just trust in the built-in shelf bra in your workout top? Don't do it, says LaJean Lawson, Ph.D., adjunct professor of exercise and sport science at Oregon State university and a research/design consultant to the sports bra industry for nearly 30 years. "While you don't need as much support as larger ladies, you still need some. Plus, you need protection from chafing or visible nipples, moisture management, and comfort," she says. "Choose stretchy cups that hug breasts close, pullover styles that give maximum flexibility, seamless styles for comfort, and light, moisture-ventilating fabrics. You can add a little padding for shape and to disguise nipples as well," she explains. (Try the Fineform A/B Cup bra, brooksrunning.com; $30)
Photo: Brooks Running
Buy for Your Body Type
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Just because you have small boobs doesn't mean your whole body is child-sized; all sizes of breasts come on all sizes of women. Yet, some of the hardest bras to find can be those for women with a small cup size and large band size, as is the case for larger-sized women who are more apple-shaped than curvy. It can also be an issue for female athletes. The fit tend to have broader backs and bigger shoulders, yet are very lean so they have less breast tissue, says Jennifer Ferguson, CEO and founder of Handful Bras, a company that designs sports bras specifically for active women with smaller cups. She recommends looking for sports bras with features like adjustable straps or several rows of hooks on the bottom band. Try the Juno Bra, brooksrunning.com; $60. (While you're at it, Put an End to Post-Workout Breast Pain!)
Photo: Brooks Running
Look for Compression and Cups
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Bitty boobs don't move as much as larger ones, it's true, but that doesn't mean they don't bounce during exercise. They do, however, need to be supported in a different way, Lawson says. With larger breasts, the focus is often on "encapsulation," or separating the breasts to support them, but this can backfire for smaller chested ladies. "Shaped cups may be too loose and curvy over the breast, leaving it unsupported and strange looking—that is, if you can even find a shaper bra in those small sizes," she explains. Ferguson adds that compression bras often provide plenty of support but flatten you out, so the solution is to find a bra that combines small encapsulating cups with compression, offering the best of both worlds. Try the Freshly Squeezed Orange Bra, handful.com; $35.
Be Honest with Sizing
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"Before you even pick up a bra, do a little realistic self-analysis," says Lawson. She points out that women change size throughout our lifetimes and while growing bigger breasts gets most of the attention, there are plenty of things that can shrink your bust, like weight loss, aging, having a baby, nursing (it's true! Some women get smaller!), or intensifying your workouts and losing body fat. And being in denial about your downsized DDs will only hurt you. "The more honest you are with yourself, the easier it will be to find the fit you need," she adds. Try the Adjustable Handful Bra, handful.com; $48.
Keep Thin Straps for Low-Impact Workouts
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Bust-ed: One of the most-oft listed perks of having smaller boobs are, well, their perkiness. But even smaller breasts are subject to the laws of gravity, Lawson says. "A good sports bra can prevent avoidable sagging caused by your skin stretching under the extremes of movement-induced bouncing," she explains. And know that some sports create more chest movement than others. So while you can get away with a thin, strappy yoga bra for yoga or weight lifting, you will likely still need a compression bra for running or high-impact sports. Whichever type of bra you go for, however, it doesn't hurt to look for ones that offer a little extra bust boost. Try the Strappy Push-Up Sports Bra, breezecomfort.com; $38.
Photo: Breeze Comfort
Look for Little Details
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A little bit of shaping and padding can go a long way in making you feel feminine and supported, Ferguson says. She recommends looking for features that "flatter, not flatten," like gathering in the center of the cups, cups that grip the skin to prevent gaping, removable pads that contour to your body, and adjustable straps to provide lift. Details like straps, patterns, and cutouts can also give you the illusion of being fuller-busted without sacrificing comfort or functionality. Try the Analog Breeze Bra, vimmia.com; $90.