Finding the styles that fit...you
As most small- or medium-breasted women will tell you, finding a comfortable compression sports bra is not that difficult. There are countless styles and fabrics to choose from. Not so for the encapsulation model, which tends to have fewer styles and cost more than compression sports bras.
Of all bra styles, the strapless bra is the most technically challenging to design. Without straps, they must rely completely on the strength of the fabric, the design of the band, and the shape of the underwires to stay in place and provide support. A strapless bra without underwires is a bandeau and has no significant support.
The most successful strapless bras have a wide band; boning under the arms and at the center front; deep underwires; gripper-like silicone strips along the inside to reduce slippage; and special elastic with exposed small rubber loops to help grip. Some strapless bras also put boning in the cups. Such boning gives additional support to larger breasts.
Strapless underwires are different from other underwires. Not only are the wires they taller, but they also curve in to encompass the breast more than a normal underwire. When the underwires splay, they actually encircle the breast giving better support as well as reduced slippage.
Even with all this technology and sophisticated designing, a strapless bra will always be a little uncomfortable and need to be pulled up throughout the evening if the wearer is active.
Underwire vs. Wire-Free Bras
Until the end of WWII, bras were soft cup (wire-free) designed. The invention of the underwire revolutionized the industry by allowing a bra to have support but with less breast coverage. Demi bras, push-up bras, strapless bras and low plunge bras are all possible because of underwires.
Underwire bras, however are not for every woman. Underwires were designed with the presumption that women are columnar in shape - without curves or a tummy. Underwires may splay, but they do not fold or curl to accommodate a woman's figure. Hence, women with an extended diaphragm or those that are pear shaped can find wearing underwires uncomfortable - their bodies push the underwire away from their body and consequently send the underwire points poking into their body... ouch!
Underwires in DD cup size and up will not provide as much support as a soft cup bra with encircling support panels built into the cups. Underwires provide a very narrow surface area to support the breast thus transferring the breast weight more to the shoulder straps. Support panels have more surface area in contact with the underside of large breasts to hold them up. Wire-free bras are a very comfortable solution for every woman, but especially those with size DD cups or larger, and who are curvy or petite in stature.
Underwires will also be problematic on women with wider than normal breasts. As mentioned earlier, breast implants also tend to be wider than a natural breast. Wire-free bras are a great solution for women who don't enjoy wearing underwire bras and for women looking for comfortable bras. Wire free bras are just plain comfortable. Lingerie manufacturers understand this and now make many great looking soft cup bras. We encourage you to look at the wide selection now available.
Keep reading. Next section: Find the Styles That Fit - Cup Styles