With the massive Barre craze happening—as well as yoga and Pilates addictions that will never die—the bra question needs to be addressed. When you’re running or SoulCycling (I would imagine, can’t speak from experience), you need a bra that locks and loads. With your feet pounding pavement or pumping in those bizarre metal clips, priority numero uno is keeping your girls from bouncing all over the place. For a low-impact exercise like barre, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, this isn’t necessarily the case.
(Related: Treat Yourself (Yes, Yourself) With Something From The 7 Most Beautiful Up-And-Coming Lingerie Brands)
I knew there was no better person to ask about this quandary than not-your-typical-lingerie-designer designer, Dana Donofree. Dana is the founder of AnaOno Intimates, home of one of the most comfortable sports bras on the market—because it has to be. I’ve written about Dana before, but to recap, she is a cancer survivor who had to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, and a grueling regimen of chemotherapy.
At the end of it all, she found that bras simply did not fit her anymore. A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, Dana set out to fix that problem herself. The result is a line of bras, and sports bras that prioritize fit and comfort above all, whether you too are a cancer survivor or you’re just looking for a fantastic bra.
Here are Dana’s tips for shopping for a sports bra for low-impact exercise for your barre class and beyond.
Go with a natural fabric
“Generally speaking, when shopping for a sports bra to wear to Barre or Pilates or any low-impact exercise, it’s best to keep in mind breathability and comfort that offers light support,” Dana says. “Natural fabrics, like our sustainable bamboo material in our Jennifer collection, help keep your body heat regulated by wicking sweat away from the body, and they can prevent skin irritation from sweat and movement as well. The mesh back features on our bra is also great for keeping you cool while you work out.” Leave the poly-spandex blends at home, ladies.
Think “second skin”
“Comfort is essential, too. No one wants to be distracted by the band of their bra cutting into to their body while trying to ease into a deep yoga pose, or feel restricted or pinched in a Pilates roll-up,” she says. “You want your bra to move with you, while still keeping everything in place. It should be a gentle, second-skin, just like your favorite pair of yoga pants.” We all know bras with underwire are torture across the board, but even keep an eye out for any extra clips, hooks, or too-tight bands as well.
Test it out (really test it out) before you buy it
Merely trying on is not enough. “Make it a point to move and bend and lift your arms while trying on a sports bra, just to make sure it doesn’t ride up or feel restrictive,” Dana says.
Fashion should make you feel good, even for working out
“Let’s not forget; fashion can make athletic or workout gear fun. Our Jennifer bra is stylish enough to wear on its own or peeking through a tank, and its ultra-soft construction can take you from the studio to the smoothie bar after class with ease. We’ve heard from many women they even forget it’s on, it’s that comfortable.” I have one, and I am telling you, in the summer I’m going to wear it as a shirt.
You need a little give
For some reason, women have this impression that sports bras need to be so tight we can barely breathe. Not so. “It’s important—especially for women who’ve had breast surgery, and even more so, reconstruction surgery—to make sure there isn’t too much compression when shopping for a bra to wear to the gym or exercise class,” Dana advises. “You want a little give because tightness can sneak up on you and cause lots of discomforts.”
A Guide To The Bras That Work Under All Those Tricky Necklines, Even Backless Ones
We have our t-shirt bras for our t-shirts, our plunging bras for our deep V-necklines, and our nude bras for those semi-sheer shirts. But what do you wear with dresses and tops that have complicated necklines and backs that don’t even work with your strapless 5-way bra and you don’t want to go braless? As trendy as it is to rock an exposed bra, sometimes you want to keep it hidden. “Invisible” clear bra straps aren’t the solution.
Check out the bras that work for those tricky clothing styles:
- For low-back dresses: When a dress has a low back, sometimes you can pull your regular bra down far enough so you can’t see it. When that doesn’t work, try a low-back bra converter such as Fashion First Aid Low Expectations Low Back Converter, $8.95, Amazon. You attach it to a regular bra at the back and wrap it around your stomach and it lowers your bra a few more inches.
- For racerback styles: You probably have at least one three-way bra in your lingerie drawer that converts into a racerback style, but if you don’t, you can use a clip to convert your regular bra. Try Hollywood Bra Converting Clip, $8.79, Walmart. It works great for sleeveless dresses that always expose a bit of bra strap when you move around. For really wide racerbacks, stick with strapless bras.
- For plunging-necklines: If you want to show a bit of cleavage, but don’t want to expose your bra, a U-shaped plunging bra such as Nordstrom Intimates U-Plunge Backless Strapless Bra, $36, Nordstrom, is the solution. The long-line bra is cut so it works with necklines that go to your sternum.
- For backless styles: Sometimes a low-back bra still isn’t enough. When you have a dress or a top with a really low back, a stick-on bra is your best option. Stick-on bras like a Lingerie Solutions Backless Strapless Bra, $18.99, Target, have adhesive tape that keeps your bra secure. This one has an underwire to provide a bit of extra support.
- For cutout styles or pieces with low fronts and backs: For those “I bought this dress but have no idea what sort of bra I can wear under it” moments, you need a strapless and backless bra where the cups aren’t attached. Individual stick-on bra pads are the way to go. Fashion Forms Ultimate Boost Adhesive Bra, $15, Bare Necessities, may stretch the definition of “bra” but they give you more support, thanks to pad bumps, and coverage than going without a bra.