Underwired or Wirefree Sports Bras – Which is Best?

Nothing creates more debate in the bra world than ‘underwired’ or ‘wirefree. And the sports bra world is no different. It seems we have our preference and are not willing to change for anyone!

Our choice often comes down to personal experience and what we were exposed to when we were young. ‘Mum wore underwire and so do I’.

But are you making the best choice for you? Perhaps wirefree is a better option. Maybe underwired will work better for you.

Read on as I look at the two most divisive features in the world of sports bras. You may just change your bias and end up with greater support and comfort. And that is a good thing!

First, Some History.

Did you know the very first sports bra was wirefree? That is because it was simply two jockstraps sewn together. The first specifically designed sports bras remained wirefree.

Designs were simply a basic version of modern sports crops. And were designed to compress the breasts against the chest.

Eventually, sports bra design came of age and structured sports bras entered the market. It was a game-changer for many women (especially the bigger busted) as cupped sizes allowed a better fit and support.

Sports bras became available in both underwired and wirefree styles. Let’s look at each style in turn.

Underwired Sports Bras

As the name suggests these sports bras contain wire that sits ‘under the breasts. Many of us will be familiar with underwired everyday bras. It is common for larger breasted women to prefer underwire for the added shape, support, and lift it provides in their everyday bra.

Underwire is commonplace in the sports bra space. Many brands offer underwired styles and promote its support and lifting benefits. As a rule, underwire is only found in structured sports bras.

Underwired sports bras hold each breast individually in their cup. Hence helping separate the breasts. For bigger cup sizes this separation is important as it helps reduce chafing between the breasts during intense or longer exercise. 

Modern sports bras contain many variations of the ‘underwire’ theme. Brands promote ‘flexiwire’ or ‘wonderwire’ to make underwire more appealing and thus more saleable.

Wirefree Sports Bras

Once again, the name says it all, ‘wirefree’. Quite simply these are sports bras that are free from wire. Wirefree everyday bras are less common but, in the sports bra, and crop space wirefree is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Many brands offer wirefree styles and wirefree is exclusively the feature of choice in the sports crop space. You will often find styles that come in both underwired and wirefree options giving you the option in the same style.

We talked about ‘breast separation’ earlier. Once the exclusive domain of underwired sports bras. Now many wirefree sports bras achieve separation using technical fabrics combined with clever design and moulding.

Does Size Matter?

In a word ‘no’!

You may be under the impression that the only way large breasted women can get the support they need is with the use of underwire. This is no longer the case.

Modern bra design has come a long way. Technical design and unique fabrics mean wirefree styles are as supportive if not more so than their underwired cousins.

If you sit in the A-H cup range, you will find support from both underwired and wirefree styles. Unfortunately, sports bra companies still only offer underwired support for HH+ cups. Fingers crossed this will change in the not-too-distant future, so all women have the choice they deserve.

Does Age Matter?

In a word ‘yes’!

As a rule, girls with developing breasts should stick to wirefree styles. Developing breasts can be sensitive so it makes sense to remove anything that can irritate. Soft, wirefree sports bras do just that.

At the other end of the scale older women often prefer wirefree styles for the same reason. Especially those that are undergoing hormonal changes associated with menopause. Just like puberty, menopause can cause breast sensitivity and breast growth. As such wirefree support should be considered.

Also, women who have undergone breast surgery should stick with a soft wirefree style during their recovery.

It’s All About Fit and Comfort

At the end of the day, your sports bra needs to fit you and be comfortable. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have made that statement! If it doesn’t, it isn’t doing its job. Quite simply, fit and comfort come first. With underwire or wirefree a distant second.

If it doesn’t fit you, it won’t perform like it is designed to. The band should fit, the cups should fit, and the straps should fit. And if you choose an underwired style, the underwire should fit.

The underwire should fit the shape of your breasts. It should sit against your rib cage, not digging into, or on top of any breast tissue. If you cannot find an underwire sports bra that fits your breasts correctly then choose a wirefree style instead.

Sports bras are not like everyday bras. They are designed to work in stressful environments. Heat, sweat and bounce all take their toll on your sports bra and your body. If you regularly undertake long training sessions or live in a hot environment, you may find underwire can become uncomfortable or even rub. If this is you then try wirefree.

What is Best for You?

The whole purpose of this article is to provide you with the information to decide what is best for you. Underwired or wirefree?

For the average women there is no right or wrong answer. It quite simply comes down to what you feel supported and comfortable in. If you don’t then try something else. Simple!

At the end of the day your sports bra should not cause you pain or discomfort. If you feel the underwire digging in. Try wirefree. If your breasts feel out of shape or squashed, try underwired.

In Conclusion

It is time to put your personal biases aside. The best sports bra for you is one that offers the support you need with the comfort you deserve.

Whether it has underwire or wirefree should be put to one side in your quest for the perfect sports bra. Take off those blinkers and discover all that is on offer on the other side of the fence. You may just find your best new workout partner!

The best place to start your search is a specialist sports bra store like sportsbrasdirect.com.au. Not only do they offer a plethora of information on everything ‘sports bra’. They also offer a great range of underwired and wirefree sports bras perfect for every woman.

Nothing beats a specialist when trying to find the best for you.

Yours in support.

Ella x