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Hook and Eye Settings on a Bra: What Are They For and Do I Need Them?

Most bras commonly have three or four rows and columns of bra hooks and eyes in the back. But do you know what they’re for? Do you need all these hooks and eyes, or can you get away with less? Before we discuss what these nifty little tools do, allow us to correct one very popular and common misconception – bra hook and eyes are NOT added to bras to accommodate three different sizes.

The facts is that these settings are there to compensate for any band stretching that may happen over time. Now that we have this myth corrected, here’s a quick guide to bra hooks and how to use them:

  1. The first bra clasp is the tightest setting on the bra and it should be used when you first put the bra on. As your day goes on and your body warms up, you may want to loosen the bra by moving to the second or third hook. This will give you a little more breathing room and make the bra more comfortable.
  2. The second hook is typically used for everyday wear. It’s not as tight as the first hook, but it will still provide good support. It gives sufficient mobility and an allowance for any shifts throughout the day. For instance, sweat might make the fabric of your bra less stretchy, so it’s better to use the second hook if you know you’ll be sweating a bit.
  3. The third hook is the loosest setting and is typically used for special occasions when you want a little extra give. You can use it if you’re just entertaining guests at home and want to be comfortable without going bare underneath your clothes.

Are There Other Alternatives?

If you’re looking for a bra without hooks for any reason, then a pull over bra is perfect for you. These bras don’t have any clasps, so they slip on and off easily. They’re perfect for days when you want to get dressed quickly or for people who have trouble reaching around to fasten a bra in the back.

But just because pull over bras don’t have hooks doesn’t mean they don’t offer ample support, because in many cases they do. Plus, they look good under clothes. Whether you’re looking for something fashionable or simple and classic, there are you have plenty of options on the market.

Just remember, if you have a little more up top then these bras may not be suitable for you. They are generally designed for A-D cups. So, if you are bigger than this a traditional structured bra with a hook and eye closure may be the only option for you.

Two women in sports bras.

What About Sports Bras?

As is often the case, things are slightly different in the world of sports bras and the same rules don’t necessarily apply. Hook and eye settings on a sports bra generally have a different purpose. To hold you FIRMLY in place!

80% of a sports bra’s support comes from the band so it is important to have a sports bra that allows adjustment of the band to allow you to ensure you have the support you need.

How is this achieved? By the columns of hooks. When you first wear your new sports bra you want it to fit snugly on the loosest setting. That way as the sports bra ages and inevitably stretches over time you can tighten up the band by moving the clasps up a column or two.

Why do sports bras have different numbers of rows? Some have as little as two. Some styles have up to five! As a rule this is a combination of support and size.

The higher the support level of the sports bra the firmer, and often wider, the band needs to be. And that firmness needs to be supported at the point of closure. Thus, a larger number of hook and eye rows.

Also, for larger back sizes you generally find a higher row count. Some brands will have three rows of hooks and eyes in their smaller sizes. Increasing to five in their larger sizes.

So, Do You Need Bra Clips?

The answer is it depends on your preference, your size and how tight you like your bra to be.

If you have a smaller cup size and aren’t overly fussed on having a nice firm band then a bra without clips could be suitable for you.

If you have a bit more up top and like a nice firm band that you can adjust to your preference. Then a bra with hooks and eyes will be best for you.

No matter what, make sure your bra fits well and is comfortable. The right fit is more important than how many hooks are in the back! 

Yours in support,

Amy x

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