The first-ever sports bra was designed out of a jock strap in 1977 by a trio of women in the Northeast. Although the initial pullover “compression” style design was quite simplistic and worked for some women — it didn’t work for all.
Since then, an encapsulation version was designed that looked more like a regular bra, with two separate cups, clasps in the back, and sometimes, even an underwire. Many brands offered this style in different sizes — yet, women were still unhappy, claiming they’d have to wear two or sometimes even THREE sports bras at a time to get the proper support for high-impact activities. While fabrics and construction improved over time, there was still a lot missing — until 2010 rolled around.
What Is SHEFIT?
Sara Moylan, who goes by “Sara Marie,” a fitness figure competitor and beauty queen, designed the first fully adjustable sports bra and called it SHEFIT. Born out of her own need and millions of other women who simply couldn’t find proper sports support, Moylan started the business with one employee (herself), in her basement. A 2016 appearance on Shark Tank yielded her a deal with Daymond John of FUBU fame, and she’s now grown the Michigan-based company to a $7 million dollar one.
The core “Ultimate” bra works with the brand’s patented “zip, cinch, lift” method. Utilizing Velcro, the wearer first zips the bra up the front (which has an additional hook-n-eye inner closure to ensure the bra never pops open), then cinches the bottom band Velcro strap, then “lifts” the bust line up to her preference using the two Velcro straps. It’s a concept that had never been done before (and SHEFIT sells at a higher price point because of the quality of its materials and its U.S. manufacturing) but has since been replicated by other brands trying to capitalize on the bra’s success. SHEFIT has performed extensive testing on its bras, standing behind its claim of offering 33% more support than competitors.
Perhaps the best part is that the brand uses its own sizing system and offers a vast range of 11 sizes — accommodating a 25-inch band up to 47 inches, catering to women of larger stature who were previously often ignored by more mainstream brands.
It’s hard to duplicate a brand like SHEFIT. In fact, the company has adamantly spoken out and warned consumers of brands that are producing knockoffs and infringing on SHEFIT patents, and pawning off their products. While we understand not everyone can afford the SHEFIT price point (it’ll run you $75 for the Ultimate bra), there are some other great sports bras on the market offering great support for large and small busts alike, with some of the same features SHEFIT offers.
Here are our favorites:
6 SHEFIT Inspired Sports Bras to Shop
1. Nike DriFit Indy Sports Bra
About the Bra: The Nike Dri-FIT Indy Sports Bra makes simple support even easier with straps that adjust in the front. The soft fabric is designed for breathability on the front and back in case you work up a sweat. With easily removable pads that slip in from the top, it’s effortlessly comfortable.
Why We Like It: Specifically designed for larger busts and from Nike’s plus-size collection, it has adjustable straps, which many sports bras on the market don’t. Plus, Nike has always made a decent sports bra and this one is only $35.
Price: $35 at Nike
2. Under Armour High Crossback Zip Bra
About the Bra: The crossback straps on this high-support bra give you the support you need to keep your focus during high-impact workouts. It has nonremovable, breathable foam pads for extra support & coverage.
Why We Like It: This is offered in 32 sizes, up to a 42DDD. It zips up the front, with a lock-in-place zipper and several features for sweat-wicking and breathability.
Price: $41.97 (reg. $55) at Under Armour
3. Champion Motion Control Zip Sports Bra
About the Bra: Champion offers the maximum support motion control collection, with innovative motion control cups with targeted zones for support, stretch and breathability.
Why We Like It: Another zip-up option with a wide size range, offering encapsulation-style support and superior wicking capabilities.
Price: $27 at Champion
4. Fabletics No Bounce High Impact Sports Bra
About the Bra: While this one is more medium support so better for lower-impact activities, the longline style offers more coverage and support than most, and won’t roll up while you’re working out.
Why We Like It: It comes in sizes XS-XL, accommodating A-D cup sizes, in lots of fun prints — at a price that can’t be beaten.
Price: $69.95 at Fabletics
5. Athleta Ultimate Zip Front Bra
About the Bra: Supersonic fabric made with recycled nylon is sleek with supportive compression, and the front zipper lies flat for distraction-free workouts.
Why We Like It: It’s specifically designed and tested for high-impact activities like cardio and HIIT workouts. Offered in sizes XXS-XL, comfortably supports up to a DD and holds them in place while you’re jumping or running.
Price: $59 at Athleta
6. Victoria’s Secret Knockout High Impact Sport Bra
About the Bra: Premium 4-way stretch, quick-drying and durable, this style was made to move. Semi auto-lock zipper keeps you secure, with a strong, yet breathable spacer fabric.
Why We Like It: This one is a fave because it has a patented “bra within a bra” technology — meaning you get two bras in one (accommodating up to a size 40F). It has hidden cushioned underwire cups, with a front-zip “cover.” The adjustable padded straps offer stabilized support, making it perfect for running, boxing and other high-impact cardio.
Price: $54.95 at Victoriassecret.com
How To Shop For a Sports Bra
Whether you’re looking for a SHEFIT bra, another one of the bras on our list, or something else, it’s important to know how to shop for a sports bra.
- Fit: Get measured at least once a year and have a general idea of your bra size. Some sports bras (mostly pullover styles) are alpha-sized, meaning letter-sized, and each one accommodates a range of bra sizes, while others, such as encapsulation styles, offer specific bra sizes. This will help you achieve the perfect fit.
- Bounce Test: If you’re shopping in a store, do the “bounce test.” This means, putting the bra on and jumping up and down. If you get more than a centimeter of movement, opt for a different bra or perhaps a smaller size.
- Styles: Know that there are two basic styles of sports bras to choose from. Compression is often one piece and pulls over your head, while encapsulation “encapsulates” each breast separately, and looks more like a regular bra. Decide which one is right for you.
- Activity Level: Your activity level also determines your bra choice. If it’s low-impact, a more stretchy “yoga bra” style will do while if you’re running, you might want something designed for higher impact activities. The bra will often tell you on the tag, which it’s designed for. Pay attention to this, or you may not be happy with its performance.
- Care: Remember to properly care for your sports bra to extend its life. Wash between every use, as the dirt, sweat and oils can break down the materials of the bra faster. You’ll also want to avoid extreme heat, such as the dryer. It’s better to let it air dry.
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