best in class

The 19 Very Best Bras

One pick will “take you from perpetually petrified of popping out to secure, spillage-free, and slumberous.”

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

As our resident underwear expert, 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 guide to bras for small breasts) 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).

What we’re looking for


We wanted to include bras that come in a wide selection of cups and bands. To broaden the number of options you have, here’s a tip I found helpful from our story to small-breast-specific bras, courtesy of Elisabeth Dale, author of The Breast Life Guide to the Bra Zone: If you go down a size in a band to get a better fit, choose the next cup size up to keep your band-to-cup ratio the same, and if you go down a cup size, go up a band size. Or put another way, a 36AA is roughly the same as a 34A, a 34B is about equivalent to 32C, and so on.


As former Strategist writer Chloe Anello helpfully explains, “Without an underwire, the band is essentially responsible for support,” which is why an ill-fitting bra “will cause your straps to slip and cups to feel loose.” Along with support, the “underwire’s job is to shape the base of the cup and thus the rest of the breast,” undergarment educator Kimmay Caldwell previously told me.

Cup style and coverage

There could be a dictionary dedicated to different cup shapes. A plunge and push-up are sometimes synonymous, but the former is better for those J.Lo-in-that-Versace-dress moments. A balconette is a close cousin of the demi, designed for more cleavage and less cup. Your cup style of choice will also determine the coverage it provides — cups that sit too low could mean an unintended nip slip (which is why fit is so important). The level of coverage lies with the lining, too (which I noted with each recommendation). 

Best bra overall

Sizes: 30A–38DD with up G-cup options | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: T-shirt-style cups with a light lining and molded mesh

There’s been a lot of fanfare around Natori’s Feathers bra, and deservedly so. It checks off a lot of important boxes: It comes in a wide range of sizes with contoured cups for a nice rounded shape and a curve-hugging, snug-fitting band. The larger sizes have wider straps to give people with bigger breasts more support. And it comes in a bunch of colors, from classic black and nude in several skin tones to coral pink and bright lemon lime. For all these reasons, the Feathers is a top seller at New York City’s Bra Tenders, according to store founder Lori Kaplan, who often recommends it to customers who wear A through G cups.

I’m a 36D, and the trick of this bra (as I discovered after Natori sent me one to try for myself) is that while it has a deep, cleavage-highlighting plunge thanks to lower-cut cups, the combination of mesh and lace securely held me in while looking almost magically smooth beneath closer-fitting tops. It’s an uplifting bra as well — I felt like my breasts were gently boosted instead of dramatically pushed up. I now understand why the Feathers inspired writer Molly Lamoureux to declare it “the unicorn of undergarments.” It’s just a nice little number to own — a big part of bra shopping is about feeling your best, and the Feathers is a good-looking bra that makes me feel good.

Best overall bra for small breasts

From $58

Sizes: 32A–44H with half-cups (like A½) | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: T-shirt-style (slightly demilike cut) with memory foam cups for a light lining

The T-shirt bra from ThirdLove topped our list of the best bras for small breasts, in part because the brand makes half-sizes like A½ — which is rare. It’s also a favorite of former and current Strategist staffers, including senior writers Liza Corsillo and Karen Iorio Adelson, along with writer Lauren Ro. But Corsillo summarizes the appeal best: The bra “makes my boobs look equal and perky without overly drawing attention to them.” Because I wear a D-cup, I assumed the bra wouldn’t hold me in well enough, especially since — like the Natori Feathers — it has lower-cut cups (I’d say they border on balconette territory). But I’ve never been happier to say that I was wrong. The brand sent me one to try, and I feel contained without being squeezed. The cups have a layer of memory foam that helps create rounded curves, but the material is thin enough so as not to feel too padded. And the pleating on the straps helps stop them from slipping.

Best overall bras for large breasts

Sizes: 44C–54DD with up to K-cup options | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Balconette style, lightly lined, molded cups

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.

Best T-shirt bra

Sizes: 30B–40D | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: T-style style, lined with lifting memory-foam cups

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.

Best plunge bra

Cuup The Plunge Bra
From $49
From $49

Sizes: 30A–44E with up to H-cup options | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Cups cut with deep V, unlined with sheer or printed mesh

If you’re set on sheer material, the Cuup Plunge is a favorite among panelists with small and bigger breasts alike. Amanda McMillan, a restaurant general manager in Brooklyn and former “underwire cynic,” likes the bra for its “French-girl-lingerie-under-structured-boxy-menswear look” and how the construction allows for a barely-there fit that doesn’t contort her chest. Anello, meanwhile, made an exception to her “no-real-bras rule” for this one. “Surprisingly, it gives lots of support despite how thin it feels,” she says. The leaves-nothing-to-the-imagination mesh is also why Maude founder Éva Goicochea considers it a lingerie piece to liven up her decades-long marriage. The Plunge has also become popular with Strategist staffers, including former writer Latifah Miles and writer Dominique Pariso. Miles has “never felt sleeker” underneath her clothes than when she’s wearing the Plunge. Pariso loves how comfortable and breathable hers is.

Best unlined bra

Sizes: 32C–44E with A- and half-cups (like B½) | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: V-shape, unlined (foam-free and double-layered)

The intention of unlined bras is to highlight the natural shape of your breasts. I like to think of them as bras that are the closest thing to going au naturel — particularly if you find yourself annoyed by those with foam and padding that push you up to the high heavens. (With that said, if you’re used to a lot more material, wearing an unlined bra may take some getting used to — you may feel like your breasts are just hanging out, and because unlined bras are often on the sheerer side, your nipples may show through.)

The Second Skin from ThirdLove (which was sent to me by the company) has become one of my all-time favorites because it’s practically invisible underneath clothing. It features double-layered cups made from a blend of nylon and spandex — an especially stretchy combination that’s lightweight but still feels substantial and ensures nothing peeks through. It won’t provide as much lift as a lined bra (you’d be better off with ThirdLove’s Classic T-shirt Bra for that), but the stretchiness of the cups helps keep everything secure with no sagging.

Best balconette bra

Cuup The Balconette Bra
From $49
From $49

Sizes: 30A–44E with up to H-cup options | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Balconette-style, unlined with darted seam on cups and sheer mesh

Cuup’s the Balconette bra has wide-set straps and a straight-ish neckline that’s both secure feeling and a bit cleavage baring. It has fans in both Anello and Beverly’s owner Beverly Nguyen: Anello likes the bra for “adapting to your breasts,” as it’s made with the same mesh as the popular Plunge mentioned above. And Nguyen — who has modeled for Cuup in the past — fell in love with the Balconette the first time she wore it and now owns nine of them, counting the bra as something she can’t live without. She praises the style for its “perfect half-corset fit” that doesn’t sit too high on her chest.

Best contour bra

From $35

Sizes: 30A–38G | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Contour cups in a T-shirt style, foam-lined

Think of a contour bra like the push-up bra’s cousin. This style features cups specially cut to sculpt the bust in a way that’s more seamless than a push-up’s padding traditionally is. Natori’s Bliss, which is designed in a T-shirt style and comes with a touch of padding, gives wardrobe stylist Grace Thomas the “subtle lift most of us are looking for in our bras.” She even goes as far as to call it an upgrade to the brand’s fan-favorite Feathers bra for its well-thought-out details. The cups of the Bliss are cut just low enough to wear with a V-neck without having to worry about the top of the bra playing peekaboo, as is the band, which is scooped in the back and easy to wear with tops that bare slightly more skin. Still, Thomas adds that the band isn’t overly thin; it falls higher on the sides, and she likes that the lace trim throughout makes the Bliss a sexier version of an everyday bra.

Best minimizer bra

Sizes: 32D–44DDD | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Minimizer-style, high-cut cups and lightly lined

Minimizers don’t have the best reputations — they’re notorious for feeling restrictive and uncomfortable, not to mention looking passé. But this Wacoal style boasts endorsements from two bra-store owners. As Linda Becker, a.k.a. Linda the Bra Lady, says, “Minimizers are known to be ugly,” but the Visual Effects is not, with a “pretty all-over lace that’s very smooth and gives a lot of support” while making you look a size smaller. (She should know because she relies on it herself as a G cup.) Kaplan has high praise for the bra, too: “It does what it says it’s going to do, and it’s got nice wide sides, so it contains any side pooching.”

The bra also has the Strategist seal of approval. From personal experience, bras advertised as “minimizing” can be very smooshing. This one is decidedly not. It doesn’t emphasize my breasts as others do — I put it on when I don’t want them to be as “exposed,” so to speak (like underneath a tighter turtleneck). It sits high enough on my chest that I never worry about any slips or spillage. And probably best of all, it’s perfectly seamless even when worn with the thinnest of T-shirts. I just forget I have it on, which is the sign of a truly great bra. I even wrote an entire ode to it, naming it the best thing I bought in 2022.

Best bra with side support

Sizes: 34B–42C | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: T-style style, lined with foam cups, extra-wide side-coverage panels

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.)

Best strapless bra

Sizes: 30B–44H with some I-cup options | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Seamless cups, foam lined, built-in boning

The Wacoal Red Carpet came up the most out of any strapless style we heard about. Though it was specifically shouted out for bigger busts, it comes in such a wide size range that we had no trouble crowning it with a “best” title. It has somewhat of a cult following — Becker mentions that it is often the only strapless bra that clients with G and H cups feel comfortable wearing. Kaplan agrees that it offers “phenomenal support for a bra without straps.” But it’s not just a bra-store staple: Strategist contributor Nora Whelan is another member of the Red Carpet fan club, telling us that unlike other strapless bras, this one doesn’t lose its shape or slide down constantly. It’s so comfortable that she recounts a time when she fell asleep in the “soporific bra” during a house party. “Big-boobed girls of the world, trust: This bra will take you from perpetually petrified of popping out to secure, spillage-free, and slumberous,” she assures.

Best lace strapless bra

Sizes: 32B–40DD with some DDD options | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Lace for a light lining, removable and convertible straps, silicone to keep in place

I’ve been burned too many times by strapless bras, which tend to slip down easily, have cups that don’t actually support my breasts, and include extremely uncomfortable underwires. (Sometimes all three all at once.) Still, I immediately liked this little number — which Wacoal sent me to try out — because it looks pretty with lace that resembles roses. Regardless of aesthetics, it’s a wonderful strapless bra in its own right. The lace makes the bra super-breathable, and it felt like my chest was secure without being squashed. I would liken the Halo to a more supportive bandeau, but it doesn’t try to push my chest up as high as other strapless bras do. The band is wide enough to offer some side support, and there’s silicone on the edge of the cups to keep the entire thing in place (but it doesn’t rub against my skin).

Best backless bra

Sizes: Cups A–G | Underwire: Wired | Cup style and coverage: Deep V-shaped plunge, unpadded, adhesive wings

When we asked seven lingerie experts about the best backless bras and boob tape, NuBra emerged as the best of the best. The Feather-Lite is notable for its sizes (cups A to G is a generous range in the world of backless bras, from what I’ve seen), and shades (with tones of tan and chocolate, as well as brighter hues like coral and lilac). It’s the bra that Caldwell wore on her wedding day. “It was 95 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 percent humidity, and that sucker stayed on,” she recalls. The impressive feat comes down to the “really, really sticky” gel that’s inside the cups of the bra. Just note that there’s a bit of a learning curve to putting it on: “My biggest tip is not to try to put your entire breast into it — that’s not how it works,” Caldwell explains. “It’s supposed to just sit on the front of your breast and then clip in the middle.” You can also rewear the Feather-Lite over and over, as it can be hand-washed with soap and water without the bra losing its stickiness.

Best wireless bra

Sizes: 0–5+ (equivalent to cup sizes A–G) | Underwire: Wireless | Cup style and coverage: V-neck, high-cut cups, clasps in back, unlined with sheer micro-mesh

We’ve called this non-wire option from Negative the archetypal wireless bra. It has a built-in fan base already, which is why it’s making an appearance on this list. Anello, a mesh obsessive after a pandemic-induced Great Underwear Purge, considers this her absolute favorite bra for how it manages to provide support (sans wire) without flattening, with mesh that stretches enough to be full coverage. Photo producer Emily Eisen seconds that, saying that while it’s “a little sexy,” the clasp band helps it be just as supportive as something with underwire. If there’s any doubt left, Leimkuhler explains that it was the only bra she needed on a two-week honeymoon through Europe.

Best (less expensive) wireless bra

Sizes: XS–XL (equivalent to 30B–38D) | Underwire: Wireless | Cup style and coverage: Pullover, scoop design with removable pads

For a cheaper wireless alternative that offers more coverage, consider this True & Co. option. Since it’s designed to be more of a middle ground between a T-shirt bra and sports bra, it does the lifting and supporting jobs well. Strategist contributor Brodie Lancaster, who’s also a longtime remote worker, counts the bra among her top-five work-from-home bras. The bra has a “long-enough-to-be-a-crop-top” look and comes in colors reminiscent of surgical bandages, along with colorful hues with names like beet red and dusky orchid. If comfort’s a priority, you can’t go wrong with its fabric, which is “softer than any other bra material I’ve encountered,” Lancaster explains.

Best wireless bra for small breasts

Sizes: XS–2X | Underwire: Wireless | Cup style and coverage: Pullover, scoop design, wide straps

Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens and former New York Magazine photo editor (and filmmaker) Stella Blackmon call this wide-strap, pullover-style bra “small-bust-proof.” They each own several, which made the case even stronger for including it here. “They feel like nothing on,” Kitchens says. “They’re so comfy but still supportive enough that you don’t look dowdy.” Kitchens even pairs one with matching undies (our pick for the best high-rise brief) and a button-down at home. Blackmon, for her part, likes how breathable the Arq bras are, despite featuring wider straps and being made from a thicker cotton. “Truly every time I reach for it, compared to my other bra with the same shape, it’s a relief,” she explains.

Best wireless bra for large breasts

From $32

Sizes: XS–XL (equivalent to 28DD–40H, with extended sizes 1X–3X here) | Underwire: Wireless | Cup style and coverage:  Pullover V-neck design that’s lined with mesh

While reporting our guide to the best wireless bras for large breasts, I heard much love for Cosabella — and received recommendations for everything from the sexy Curvy Plunge to the sporty Soire Confidence. But I took it upon myself to try the brand’s best-selling Never Say Never bra. Even though the bra contains no underwire, I thought it felt almost like a typical underwire bra, support-wise. The wide, side-smoothing band works wonders as an underwire would. It stretches to accommodate my chest, as opposed to making me feel stuffed in. And since the lace is lined with mesh, it’s mercifully breathable. Notably, the bra comes in hard-to-find sizes like 28DD and 40H, making it more size inclusive than most.

Best wireless bra with side support

Sizes: 35A–40C | Underwire: Wireless | Cup style and coverage: T-shirt style, lightly padded with clasps in the back extra-wide side-coverage panels

“It’s a mouthful, but I have seriously never worn a more comfortable bra,” personal stylist Allie McKenna says of this Warners wireless option. It’s part of the same “No Side Effects” line as the full-coverage style I mentioned above. Like me, McKenna praises the smoothing side panels. “If I’m wearing an actual bra, I want to make sure that it shapes me and holds me in properly so that I look and feel my best,” she says. “This bra does that.” Since it’s wireless, it doesn’t dig into her torso — in fact, the bra is so easy to wear that McKenna doesn’t feel the need to rip it off, as she does others. Keep in mind that the cups are lightly padded to give the bra a little more support.

Best sports bra

Sizes: XXS–6XL| Underwire: Wireless | Cup style and coverage: Scoop design, racerback, longline silhouette, designed for full coverage

It would be a Herculean effort to count how many times we’ve heard about Girlfriend Collective’s Paloma bra, making it rise above all the other contenders. (It was also featured in our best sports-bra guide.) Lauren Roxborough, former head of marketing for hot-yoga studio Y7, turns to it when she knows she’s in for an active, sweaty class. Natalie Holloway, co-founder of Bala (maker of our favorite stylish wrist weights), likewise relies on hers for intense workouts. “They are not restrictive in your movement and show none-to-little sweat,” she says. But it works outside the gym, too: Lancaster wears it for WFH, saying that it stays put, is structural, and supports her chest (thanks to its compression style) without becoming uncomfortable. “If anything,” she says, “it encourages me to sit up straighter, for which my osteopath is grateful.”

Some more bras we’ve written about

Our experts

• Karen Iorio Adelson, former Strategist senior writer
• Chloe Anello, former Strategist writer
• Linda Becker, a.k.a. Linda the Bra Lady and founder of Linda’s
Stella Blackmon, filmmaker and former New York Magazine photo editor
Kimmay Caldwell, undergarment educator
• Liza Corsillo, Strategist senior writer
• Elisabeth Dale, author of The Breast Life Guide to the Bra Zone
Emily Eisen, photo producer
• Jasmine Elder, founder of JIBRI
• Thamarr Guerrier, content creator at Musings of a Curvy Lady
• Cora Harrington, author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie
• Natalie Holloway, co-founder of Bala
• Lori Kaplan, founder of Bra Tenders
• Courtney Killpack, runs lingerie store Bosom Besties and Instagram account Bra Fittings by Court
• Simone Kitchens, Strategist senior editor
• Molly Lamoureux, writer
• Brodie Lancaster, Strategist contributor
Tammy Lee, Parsons fashion-marketing student
• Lisa Mayock, co-founder of Monogram
Allie McKenna, personal stylist
Amanda McMillan, restaurant general manager in Brooklyn
• Latifah Miles, former Strategist writer
Beverly Nguyen, Beverly’s owner
• Dominique Pariso, Strategist writer
• Lauren Ro, Strategist writer
• Lauren Roxborough, former head of marketing for hot-yoga studio Y7
• Lauren Stephens, co-founder of fleece-focused clothing company Dudley Stephens
Grace Thomas, wardrobe stylist
Nora Whelan, Strategist contributor

Additional reporting by Lauren Schwartsberg, Karen Iorio Adelson, and Dominique Pariso

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The 19 Very Best Bras