The best bra

We could all use a little extra support these days. Whether you’re shopping for your first bra or looking to upgrade some lackluster staples, this is a good place to start. We think any bra you put on your body should be comfortable and well constructed. And it should make you feel beautiful. To find some of the best bras, we spent 23 hours researching bras and talking with industry experts about what makes a great one. Then we enlisted a panel of four testers of different sizes who spent countless hours wearing 43 models from 19 brands—pitting industry titans against fledgling startups. We’re confident that our 10 final recommendations will suit a slew of moods, bodies, and style preferences.

The best bra

As our resident underwear expert — I have thought about granny panties much more than anyone should — I’ve come to realize there’s no supporting player quite like the bra. The bra gets a bad rap because it can be hard to find one that fits, but it’s doing a lot. It has to disappear under your clothing while not cutting into your chest from any angle. It should separate and support your breasts without feeling unnatural or uncomfortable. I previously theorized (in our small-bust-specific bra guide) that the best bra is one you don’t have to think about, and the longer I’ve been on the bra beat, the more I’ve come to believe that’s true. Since no two boobs are alike (which is why you also need straps that adjust accordingly without digging into your shoulders) and considering all of the above, it’s easy to see why bra shopping can be so challenging. To simplify the process, I asked professional undergarment fitters, lingerie-store owners, and those who have tried tons of styles about their most beloved bras (and I’ve included a couple of my own favorites too).

Natori Feathers Underwire Contour Bra

The cult favorite turned classic Natori Feathers has been a Nordstrom Anniversary Sale best seller with Strategist readers for three years running. The Feathers took the gold in this guide because it fulfills everything we were looking for: It comes in a range of sizes; features lightly lined, contoured cups; and has straps that become wider as you move up into larger sizes for more support.

Writer Molly Lamoureux calls this bra “the unicorn of undergarments” for its comfort and support. Parsons fashion-marketing student Tammy Lee is another devotee, describing how the bra makes “your boobs look natural while being held up.” It’s the top seller for shoppers with A through G cups at New York City’s Bra Tenders, according to store founder Lori Kaplan, who says the lightweight, seamless, deep-plunge bra works under T-shirts “but still has some feminine effects.” Natori also takes the title of Most-Mentioned Bra Brand, earning rave reviews from our panelists. Mia Leimkuhler, Strategist senior manager of audience engagement, is a former Feathers devotee who has since switched to the Flora, which is very similar but has a thinner cup material.

ThirdLove 24/7 Classic T-shirt Bra

This ThirdLove T-shirt bra topped our list of the best bras for small breasts, with three Strategist staffers pointing us to it. Former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson tried it as part of her deep dive into the world of start-up bra brands. Since Iorio Adelson usually experiences strap slippage, she especially liked how the pleated design keeps them up on her shoulders. She also gave it top marks for feeling invisible while still being supportive, while Strategist writer Lauren Ro agrees that the bra fits and wears really well. Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo gives it a third thumbs-up, saying that it “makes my boobs look equal and perky without overly drawing attention to them.”

Lane Bryant Cacique Smooth Lightly Lined Balconette Bra

Jasmine Elder, founder of JIBRI, and content creator Thamarr Guerrier of Musings of a Curvy Lady both highly praised Lane Bryant’s intimates line, Cacique. The sheer number of sizes — including cup sizes up to K and band sizes up to 54 — makes it a clear winner. Elder and Guerrier mention that the label’s bras have wide straps and bands that look seamless under clothing and don’t pinch the skin. This balconette bra is the one Guerrier turns to the most, calling it “a trustworthy style.” It delivers the shape she wants, and it’s smoothing enough to be a true unseen undergarment. Alternatively, if you’re interested in something wireless, Elder relies on this unlined bralette from the brand, which she says doesn’t have underwire but supports as if it did.

Warner’s No Side Effects Full Coverage Underwire Bra

Sometimes you need a little support on the sides — which is why I chose this Warners number. Its biggest selling point is the “No Side Effects” fit with the band featuring higher and wider panels (compared with what you’ll see from other bra brands) on each side of the cups. Pre-Warners, I would often struggle with spillage. Intentionally showing off sideboob is one thing, but feeling as if my chest is oozing out around the edges is not the effect I’m going for. Now, what once was spillage is kept into place with the help of the panels. I thought the result would be uncomfortable — a price I was admittedly willing to pay — but fortunately, there’s none of the restriction or resistance I was expecting. It’s like my sides are being firmly but gently supported rather than unpleasantly smushed in. The bra also just makes everything look so smooth. (If you read on, you’ll see that the wireless version of this bra also makes an appearance on this list.)

Calvin Klein Perfectly Fit Lightly Lined Memory Touch T-shirt Bra

An underwear list wouldn’t be complete without Calvin Klein. Lamoureux turned us on to this T-shirt bra from the label that has a devoted fandom for its light lining and just-right level of coverage. Another fan is Lauren Stephens, co-founder of the clothing company Dudley Stephens; she previously worked in PR for Calvin Klein, which is how she first learned about the bra. She hasn’t worked there for years but still sings the bra’s praises and especially likes the memory foam that molds to a wearer’s body, giving a more personalized lift.

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