Soft cup bras, or bras without underwires, tend to evoke feelings of either love or hate from most women, with many unwilling to change their opinion. Consequently, today I wanted to share my perspective on some of the pros and cons of each style and address some of the concerns that have been voiced by soft cup aficionados.
Availability: Underwire styles tend to outnumber soft cup styles, which means their selection is lower, and it can sometimes be even more difficult to find a bra you love or that fits you well.
Lift: In most cases, women get the most lift from underwire bras. The underwire allows for better anchoring and support, in particular because underwire can “tack,” or lay flat, against your chest, thus separating the breasts and offering individualized support. In general, if you try the same model bra in a soft cup and in an underwire, the underwire will give you better lift and support. However, soft cups have come a long way, and women who wear smaller cup sizes often find they have nearly equal levels of support from both styles.
Shaping/Style: In part due to their lower availability, there are also not as many shaping options for the soft cup woman, especially if she is looking for something smooth. Many women have asked me for a soft cup bra that has a smooth cup, and they exist. Wacoal has a great option in their Awareness series, but it is only available up to a DDD, and to be honest, I believe the DDD is sketchy in terms of support for this bra, especially if you have heavy breast tissue. Additionally, most of the other soft cup styles heavily utilize seams and/or lace. But, why? Without the underwire, the bra needs to exploit other techniques to give adequate lift and support. Seams and partitions in the fabric help create a shaped silhouette and in some cases even allow the center of the bra to tack. Elomi’s Caitlyn bra is a great example of this principal in action because the seams, the side boning, and the rigid band all lend impressive support to their soft cup model. Lace is also a popular material to use in soft cup design because of its rigidity, and the more rigid the fabric, the more it will be able to offer support. If you look at many of the underwire styles built to support women with bigger breasts, you’ll see that often both seams and structured fabrics are used there as well. Essentially, without that underwire, there needs to be something else about the bra to hold you up.
Price: Most soft cup and underwire styles are comparable in price.
Comfort: Even if they love underwires, many women still find soft cups to be more comfortable, and women who have had breast surgery or have scar tissue often cannot wear anything but soft cups for medical reasons. Having said that, in some cases women swear off underwires because they haven’t been fitted properly. If you’re supposed to be a 36G (UK) or 36I (US), but you’ve been forced into 40DDs, then no, the underwire is not going to be comfortable. More than likely, the wire will be pinching breast tissue on the side and in the front, which will be uncomfortable. Not putting your bra on properly can be another culprit too.
Finally, my purpose with this blog isn’t to claim every woman will be happy with or should wear an underwire (or conversely that you shouldn’t wear soft cups), but rather to note sometimes it can be helpful to keep an open mind about all the different styles available to you.
Erica and Debbie