Best Strappy Sports Bras

Updated December 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
152 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best strappy sports bras

Sports bras are no longer the “unmentionables” of workout gear. In fact, they’ve become just as fashion-forward as other pieces of sportswear and athleisure — and strappy sports bras lead the charge as one of today’s most popular styles.

Strappy sports bras are pared-down versions of the plain, full-coverage sports bra. Styles feature a series of straps that are often intertwined to create unique patterns. While the straps appear to be lightweight, the intricate patterns provide a reasonable amount of reinforced support. They also aid in distributing weight across the back. 

As far as style, strappy sports bras lend themselves to more than one type of wear. It’s common to see them worn on their own with a pair of yoga pants or shorts. Some women wear strappy sports bras with open-back shirts to show off fancy strap patterns. Strappy sports bras also can be worn partially exposed with cold-shoulder and off-the-shoulder tops. 

Ready to upgrade your bra collection with a strappy sports bra? In this buying guide, we introduce you to the wide world of strappy bra styles and their unique features.

strappy sports bra1
A few strappy sports bras have hidden pockets to store small essentials, such as keys or lip balm.

Key considerations

Basic design

The basic strappy sports bra consists of a plain band, flexible cups, and a series of straps across the back. Bra manufacturers create unique styles based on this design. Often, a variety of strap thicknesses, materials, and weave patterns are used. The flexible cups may be adapted to different necklines and silhouettes. Bands may feature varying widths, branded elastics, or even hook-and-eye closures. All things considered, it’s safe to say that there’s a great deal of variety when it comes to strappy sports bras.

Support

Support is one of the most important considerations when shopping for any sports bra. Three support levels are often expressed in terms of impact: light, medium, and high impact. 

Light-impact (or low-support) styles have a comfortable, flexible fit. However, they don’t offer much in the way of support or compression. For that reason, they’re often reserved for low-impact activities such as yoga, barre, and Pilates. They’re also a popular choice for lounge bras.

Medium-impact (or mid-level support) strappy sports bras offer a decent amount of support. To further minimize bounce and shifting during activity, many styles in this category are compressive. As a result, they’re ideal for cycling, hiking, golf, and weight training.

High-impact sports bras offer the most support. This is achieved through reinforced panels, underwires, and thicker materials with more structural integrity. They’re effective at eliminating most bounce, which is why they’re preferred for intense activities that involve a lot of jumping such as kickboxing, Zumba, and running.

Sizing

Like most sports bras, strappy sports bras express sizing in more than one way. This can make it somewhat challenging to find the right fit, even if you’re comparing exact measurements to a manufacturer’s size chart.

Some strappy sports bras follow regular cup sizing. In this case, you should choose your regular bra size. Others are sized from XS to XL and simply have a measurement chart to help you find your recommended size. Depending on the materials and construction, some wearers may decide to size up. 

A few manufacturers use range sizing. This groups together similar sizes, like 32 and 34A or 34A and B cups. Range sizing isn’t the most popular option since these styles may not offer an ideal fit to certain wearers.

If you have a larger bust, consider opting for a medium- or high-impact strappy sports bra with underwire for added support.

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Features

Popular materials

Strappy sports bras are usually made with material blends featuring polyester, spandex, nylon, and elastane. These materials add flexibility to the bra, not to mention they’re lightweight and soft. In many strappy sports bras, these materials are treated to wick-away moisture so the wearer stays cool and dry.

Removable cups

Some strappy sports bras are designed with removable cups. This feature provides flexibility in terms of fit and silhouette. Some wearers forgo the cups, citing that unnecessary bulk. Others embrace the cups, as they add a degree of modesty to the design.

Hook-and-eye closures

A few medium- and high-impact strappy sports bras have hook and eye closures. This feature, which is often seen on regular bras, gives the wearer more than one option for fit. However, some women feel the hook-and-eye structure takes away from the flexible fit of the strappy sports bra. Other women say the hook-and-eye mechanism isn’t conducive to floor-based exercises such as yoga or Pilates because the metal can dig into the skin.

Strap styles

Countless variations exist when it comes to straps, and we’re not just talking about the weave pattern. Strap thickness, material, and attachment locations can all vary.

It’s common for straps to be approximately a quarter-inch thick, which is comparable to the thickness of spaghetti straps. A few straps are one inch wide, though these are often seen in medium- and high-impact strappy sports bras.

The vast majority of straps are made with the same material as the rest of the bra. However, some styles are made with elastic bands featuring a logo or pattern.

Straps are attached to various locations throughout the bra. Simpler designs feature straps that connect to the band at one or two different points. More complex designs may have 5 to 10 points of connection to the band.

strappy sports bra2
DID YOU KNOW?
Some strappy sports bras feature mesh panels that promote air circulation around the body. This keeps the wearer cool and dry and makes it a popular choice for outdoor activity and hot yoga.
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Strappy sports bras prices

Strappy sports bras range in price from $18 to $100. Price is impacted by overall quality, but the name on the label can also affect it.

Inexpensive: Entry-level strappy sports bras, which mostly include low-impact styles, cost $30 or less. Construction quality isn’t the best for lower-priced bras in this price range, so we recommend sticking to the upper end of it.

Mid-range: Mid-range strappy sports bras run between $30 and $50. They’re made by reputable bra manufacturers and have better overall construction than entry-level styles. This bracket mostly includes low- and medium-impact bras, but you’ll find a few basic high-impact bras here as well.

High-end: The most expensive strappy sports bras cost $60 to $100. Styles in this bracket are incredibly well-made and will outlast most lower-priced options. These strappy sports bras are often made by premium sportswear and athletic brands.

It’s a good idea to wash your strappy sports bra inside a lingerie bag in the washing machine. This will help protect the straps from snagging the agitator and other garments.

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Tips

  • Invest in colorful designs. If you normally wear solid-colored bottoms, add a pop of color to your workout look with a strappy sports bra featuring a vibrant design or pattern.
  • Wear one for travel. Regular bras can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Instead, wear a light-impact strappy sports bra to stay comfortable on the plane, train, or bus ride.
  • Take measurements if your bra starts to feel loose. If your strappy sports bra feels loose, especially around the band, take your measurements. If they haven’t changed, simply replace the bra with one of the same size. If you’ve lost an inch or two, you may need to size down.
strappy sports bra3
Wash strappy sports bras with gentle detergent only. Fabric softener may cause synthetic materials to break down more quickly.

FAQ

Q. Why aren’t there many strappy sports bras made with cotton?

A. It’s mostly because cotton isn’t very conducive to the bra’s design. Cotton is prone to shrink, so there’s a good chance it would affect the fit and support level of a strappy sports bra. Some cotton blends are prone to overstretching during wear, which also compromises fit and support.

Q. About how long will a strappy sports bra last?

A. If you take care of it, which may include hand washing and line drying, a strappy sports bra may last up to three or four years. However, if you wear the bra a few times a week or more, it’ll last closer to two years. Keep in mind that the flexible materials in these bras eventually deteriorate with repeated wash and wear, so they will require replacement once fit and support decrease.

Q. Does it matter how high the neckline is on a strappy sports bra?

A. According to many wearers, the height of the neckline is a style choice. That said, most strappy sports bras with higher necklines offer a greater level of support and coverage. Some women appreciate these designs, whereas others say a high neckline is uncomfortable or makes them sweat.

 

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