Normally most of what I write about is Vintage-centric, but I feel I must share on this seemingly unrelated topic. I turned my tendency for extensive research to finding the VERY BEST sports bra, now that I'm more active in my effort to fit into my smallest vintage pieces. Even a vintage gal needs a great sports bra, right?
(I am so thrilled to announce, by the way, that I now fit into ALL of my smallest vintage and actually now need to re-sell some pieces that are now too big! Watch my shop in the coming months for some great items from my own closet.)
Now, this is going to be biased according to size, because I only tested for my own 34B figure. As most smaller chested girls know, finding a sports bra that not only doesn't flatten but is also supportive enough without showing too much nip is a real challenge. Here are the bras I tested, and the results (and most of these come in black!):
1) BEST!: Danskin Tech Elements Aerosilver Flex Sports Bra
This is an AMAZING bra. PROS: Supportive enough for High Impact sports, Not only does not flatten your boobs but has a bit of padding (so rare in sports bras) and provides a really nice shape while concealing the nipples. Semi-Adjustable hook and eye closure. CONS: Straps do not adjust (I am altering my straps because I'm a petite and strap length makes a big difference in terms of support) Harder to get on pullover style with a hook and eye closure on the bottom back. To me, it's worth it to get all the benefits the bra provides.
2) GREAT!: Lily Of France Stop The Show Sports Bra
This is running in a close second. PROS: Supportive enough for High Impact sports (though just a squeak less support than the Danskin Aerosilver), Also not a boob-flattener and has that rare bit of padding that most sports bras lack, providing a really nice shape. As advertised, the nipple is totally concealed. Semi-Adjustable hook and eye closure. CONS: As above, the straps do not adjust and petites will have to alter them down for maximum support. Harder to get on pullover style with a hook and eye closure on the back. Also runs small, trust the reviews in this case and order the roomier size. Again, worth the trouble for the great shape and benefits.
3) COMFY and SEXY: Jockey Medium Impact Moulded Cup Mesh Bra
This is a really comfy bra with a lower cut. PROS: Another rare padded bra (why couldn't I find these a few years ago?) which hides the nipple and provides a beautiful shape. Lower Cut for a change of style, Pushes you up, Supportive enough for medium impact sports (I would not recommend for very high-impact), Adjustable Hook and Eye Closure, Adjustable straps, COMFORTABLE enough to wear all day. Easy On and Off. CONS: Not for high-impact sports. Runs large, so order a size down. Some people report falling out of the top of the cups but I believe this is remedied by ordering the smaller size (I'll let you know)
4) COMFORT of COTTON and SUPPORTIVE: Natori Sport Underwire Sports Bra 34439
This is a very supportive bra for a cotton bra! PROS: Comfy Cotton, Very Structured and Supportive enough for Medium Impact sports, Adjustable Hook and Eye Back Closure, Adjustable straps (but I still need to alter for my petite frame), non-compression bra maintains your shape, which is nice for smaller breasts, easy on and off. CONS: Lined but not padded so can show a bit of nip
5) MOST COMFY COTTON: Lily Of France In Action Sports Bra 2101755
This is one of the most comfy sports bras I've tried. PROS: SUPER Comfy Cotton Bra, Non-Compression Bra does not flatten your shape which is nice for a smaller figure, Adjustable Hook and Eye Back Closure, easy on and off. CONS: Not as supportive as some--I'd recommend for low to medium impact sports, Non-adjustable Straps (need to alter straps for petite), Only lightly lined so does not hide nipples so well.
6) COMFORTABLE ENOUGH FOR EVERY DAY: Donna Karan Intimates Casual Comfort Active Wear Underwire Bra DK-35160
This has been my favorite gym-to-everyday bra for years. PROS: SUPER Comfy cotton bra, non-compression styling does not flatten your shape, adjustable straps that a petite does not need to alter. Easy on and off. CONS: Not supportive enough for high impact sports--I'd say this is a light duty to medium impact bra, Not so concealing for nipples, Can no longer find in BLACK.
7) GREAT SUPPORT AND BREATHABILITY: Moving Comfort Cara Medium to High Impact Sports Bra 728460
If you don't mind a nipple show, this bra has fantastic support. PROS: Excellent support for Medium to High Impact Sports, Breathable Mesh Fabric, Mildly Adjustable Straps, Easy On and Off. CONS: Sheerness and lift allows too much nipple to show through, very structured so not the comfiest on the market but it's not uncomfortable either.
8) LIGHTWEIGHT ERGONOMIC SUPPORT: Falke Ergonomic Full Support Bra 36131
If you don't mind a Nipple Show, this is a great lightweight yet supportive bra. PROS: Unique construction allows the breasts to be ergonomically supported and lifted while maintaining their shape, Comfortable Lightweight Fabric and Construction, Adjustable straps (though I found I would need to alter for my petite frame had I kept it), Medium Impact Support. CONS: Nipples are enhanced because of the way the breasts are supported and lifted in the unlined cups.
9) BOOB FLATTENER: Champion: Shape Vented Racerback Soft Cup Sports Bra
This is advertised as a shaping bra, but I found it flattening. PROS: Very Supportive, Pullover Style is fairly easy to get on and take off, Can be worn on it's own as a top. CONS: Flattens more than it shapes though admittedly less flattening than other compression-type bras.