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Kit: Sports bras when you're an E cup

charlieeliseby charlieeliseAug 10th 2013
I've been searching for the best sports bra ever since I started going to a gym.

I've been through an awful lot of them over the years, especially since I started triathlon.

I wish I was one of the girls with a body fat percentage so low a compression suit will cut it, but I'm not, and there's only one way round it, especially for running, and that's a good sports bra.

I've reviewed a few of the bras I'm currently harbouring in my kit box, and have included the one I'm currently using for racing, which I think may the be answer for me - and maybe for you too.

The main things to consider are fit, comfort and support.

Obviously the best thing to do is try on as many as you can: and I warn you, the difference between normal bra sizing and sport bra sizing is extreme. It also varies from company to company and from one design to another. I've included my experience to help you judge for yourself.

When I try a new bra on I always subject it to the bounce test - I literally jump up and down in front of a mirror to see what happens and how it feels. I also swing my arms (to check for potential chafing) and move my shoulders to ensure the straps don't slip.

I would also point out that although I'm a an E cup, I'm also pretty small around the back, making the cups smaller as well. I usually take a 30 back size and as I'm very short, I ideally want fully-adjustable straps. You'll know what works for you, so I've tried to include details which might help along the way.

I've not included info or any bias on price, as I'm sure you can shop around, wait for sales, use discounts etc. Plus, I would stress, this is not something you can afford to save on, especially if you are of a bigger bust: for your comfort, if not for anything else. Another point is that sports bras, especially for those of us training on average 6 days a week (and possibly using a sport bra 6-10 times a week) it's not possible to have one which will last you years and years - expect to buy once a season at least. I have some which have lasted longer, but in general they start to show wear after a season's use. If you find one you really like, buy many if you can at a good price and alternate them for longest wear.

Wash them in cooler water and don't tumble dry... you don't want to spend all that money on a decent bra to melt it in the machine!
Kit: Sports bras when you're an E cup
Shock Absorber D Max

This was my bra of choice right up until this season. I had one which I loved and managed to find a supplier which was extremely affordable: needless to say I bought several!

Fit: It gives rather a '50's' look, and is a bra style, with no underwires (I've never got further than a fitting room with an underwired sports bra; I've always found them too thick and hot to even consider). It comes up quite high and is a full-cup affair, so not one for low tops (unless you have a brightly coloured one, a few years ago I had a magenta one which I adored and looked great as a contrast, but the black doesn't have the same effect).

It is not a racer back, but the straps are comfortable and do not slip. They are adjustable, but not fully (i.e. all the way to the cup) - I usually wear it on the smallest setting.

I found I needed to go up a back size in this bra, and down a whole two cup sizes (32D). The cups in this are extremely generous!

Support: Second to none, and great for all disciplines. No problem in running in this number!

Comfort: When I was only doing sprints and shorter runs it was extremely comfortable. However I wore my (admittedly rather old) one to race in last year and there was definite bounce on the video (eugh). As the bra got older it became stiffer, especially on the elasticated straps and has begun to chafe in hotter weather and on longer distances, mostly on the straps/arms. When new however, it's very comfortable. (FYI, I wash my bras after each use on a cool synthetic sports wash with eco-friendly liquid). If this suits you, I'd recommend you purchase new each season.
Kit: Sports bras when you're an E cup
Shock Absorber Ultimate Dry Advantage

This is my favourite bra for cycling as it has amazing 'coolmax' fabric which wicks away moisture and is unbelievably comfortable. I did my first 100 mile ride in this last week. It's also good for cycling on hot days when you want to unzip your jersey as it's not at all see-through and the crop top style is suitable for wearing on its own (not a look you'd catch me in currently, but it is an option).

Fit: Very comfortable. I needed my usual back size but still went down two cup sizes. The straps aren't all that adjustable, and I would have liked some extra hooks (this is the new fastening method). I've not been able to make it chafe, partly thanks to the crop top style and shoulder adjustments.

Support: Unfortunately while this is great for cycling, I simply cannot run in it. I thought I could but after a while it's clearly just not supportive enough. However it has earned a spot in my lyrca collection for all the advantages I outlined above.

Comfort: Amazing. Brilliant in the heat.
Kit: Sports bras when you're an E cup
Shock Absorber Active Multi Sport

This one is an old favourite and a good all-rounder.

Fit: Another crop top style but with the same level of adjustable straps as the D Max. It's good for all sports and does avoid that '50's' look if you dislike that. I went up a back size and down two cups sizes again in this one.

Support: Very good. I run in it regularly. The only reason I haven't raced in it is because it's white and shows a lot outside my trisuit.

Comfort: Also good, but not outstanding. It has also started to chafe a bit more as it's aged, and the material is quite thick and not as wicking as the Ultimate Dry - as you'd expect.
Kit: Sports bras when you're an E cup
Lynx Sports Bra

This is my current favourite, which seems at first glance to be a strange choice: but I can vouch for the comfort and support. Disclosure: I won one of these in a competition, but I'd never have written this about it if it was no good! And I will be buying more, very soon...

Fit: Lynx have their own way of measuring. I found it hard to believe I was ordering a 27" back but I decided to trust them (and I figured I could send it back if it was off). You measure your rib cage at its narrowest (breathe out!), find your measurement on the table, and measure your full bust to pick from three 'cup' sizes. It turned out I was right at the top of the smallest 'cup' (sprint) and for some reason I ummed and ahhed about whether to size up, but I stuck rigidly to the tape measure and table and went for a 1 sprint - and I was glad I did as it was definitely the correct size.

When it arrived it looked a bit like a prototype. It's a crop top style. There's none of the bells and whistles you get with other brands, and even the back fastening seems quite DIY - it's elastic loops with a metal hook, much like a heart rate monitor.

I was worried the band would be very tight but it was very comfortable, which then made me worry it was too loose. I was worrying needlessly. When on, the bra makes you look a lot more 'athletic' - I really like the look - but somehow it doesn't fell like you are compressed or at all tight. It feels lightweight. I have worn it inside out on occasion and it's hard to tell the difference.

The straps are not adjustable. As a very short person this is usually a deal breaker for me but it is actually ok on this bra. I have considered taking the straps in an inch or so, which would be easy to do, but it's not really affected the performance of the bra in my opinion.

The one thing I would disagree with the on the description is that my white bra is not suitable for wearing as a top on its own because it is semi-transparent. However it comes in blue and black too which may make all the difference. I will be purchasing them next so will update on that.

Support: I don't know how it does it, but it's amazing. Ideal for all disciplines, and I raced in it two weekends ago. I don't even think about it when it's on.

Comfort: Second to none. Lightweight, non chafe, great in hot weather. Designed for bigger busts and definitely gets my seal of approval.
 
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