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Underwired or Wirefree Sports Bra

Underwired or Wirefree Sports Bras?

Update 7 January 2022.

Hi, it’s Amy your resident sports bra expert from Sports Bras Direct. Today I want to discuss one of the most divisive issues in the sports bra world. To wear as underwired sports bra or a wirefree sports bra?

The fact is, whether you choose an underwired or wirefree sports bra is very much down to personal choice. But how much is our choice dictated by our experience and preference with an everyday bra?

Are there actually any significant pros and cons between underwired and wirefree sports bras? Differences that we should be aware of to help us decide which option is best for us.

Read on to find out.

Consider This

It wasn’t that long ago that underwired sports bras were the norm. With limited wirefree options available, unless you wore a crop top. Bra manufacturers often took their underwired styles and simply upped the spec! Not anymore. The sports bra world is now one of almost infinite design and variation. The beneficiary of which is you.

Many women, especially those who are larger than a D cup, often prefer an underwire in their everyday bra for the added support and lift it provides. However, everyday bras are not put through the same stress as our sports bras. Nor do they have to deal with the increased heat and sweat our bodies produce during exercise.

What difference is there between underwired and wirefree sports bras in this more intensive environment? Is it true that larger breasted women need an underwire to achieve enough support during exercise?  Let’s examine some of the things to consider when deciding to go underwired or wire-free.

Things to Consider


Gone of the days when the only way you could get good sports bra support was to wear underwire. Modern wirefree sports are just as supportive as their underwired counterparts.

Modern designs and technical fabrics allow manufacturers to design both options equally. Underwire still has its place but don’t dismiss wirefree as the unsupportive little sister.


In the sports bra world comfort as equally important as support. And for many of us underwire immediately evokes images of wire poke and casing rub.

Once again, modern design to the rescue. Technology in the actual wire used in sports bras has advanced over the years and some sports bras now have ‘flexi wires’ which are designed to move with the body as you exercise to maximise comfort.

The channel which houses the underwire should be plush and soft with sufficient room at either end of the channel to ensure maximum comfort and prevent any painful ‘poke through’ of the wire.

For wirefree designs there is admittedly less to worry about. One less element is the comfort chain! That said being wirefree does not immediately ensure comfort. You still need to ensure your wirefree sports bra fits you like a glove. Soft, seamfree designs are a good starting point.


I am talking size of the wearer here not size of the sports bra. Those with a bit more up top have traditionally been biased towards underwired designs. In both their everyday bras and their sports bras.

Many women feel the underwire offers better shaping and support for their larger breasts. And for many women this may be true. That said, many modern wirefree designs also offer great shaping and support too.

As such, this does come down to personal preference. You need to feel comfortable and confident in your sports bra. If an underwired sports bra does this for you great. Also great if this is achieved in a wirefree sports bra.

Breast Separation

Underwired bras hold each breast separately and securely in their cup. Hence, helping to separate the breasts. For larger cup sizes this separation is important. As it helps stop chafing between the breasts during longer or more intense exercise.

However, some wirefree sports bras achieve this same breast separation using technical fabrics. As well as clever moulding and advances in bra design.

Many wirefree sports bras combine both encapsulation and compression to optimise breast support. These wirefree bras can also be much lighter as they do not need to incorporate the wire into the bra structure.

Underwired or Wirefree Sports Bras, Body Image

There is Nothing More Important Than Fit

If you wear an underwire sports bra it is essential that the underwire fits the shape of your breasts correctly.  The underwire should sit against your rib cage, not digging into, or sitting on top of any breast tissue.  If you cannot find an underwire bra that fits around your breast tissue correctly then it may be better to choose a wirefree sports bra instead.

Sports bras use very different fabrics and technical designs to everyday bras. Rather than relying just on an underwire for support. There are now many wirefree sports bra’s available that offer greater support than their underwired rivals…even for larger breasts.

For lengthy training, such as long distance running, some women find that the underwire starts to become uncomfortable against their rib cage.  Other women love their underwire for intense activity and prefer the comfort of a wirefree sports bra for yoga classes.

Every woman has different needs for a sports bra and personal preference will always be a factor.  Whether you are pro or anti underwire, a good fit must always come first.

Final Thoughts

My hope is that this article has shed some light on the controversial world of ‘underwired or wirefree’. I know I have not given you a definitive answer as to which is better and that is because there isn’t one.

Weigh up the pros and cons of each and make your decision on what is better for you. Don’t go underwired simply because your friend recommends it. For the record though, I am a huge fan of wirefree. For me they offer comfort with the support to boot. But hey, that is just my personal preference!

Regardless of your preference, sports bras should be viewed as an essential piece of equipment rather than just underwear. Hopefully this blog has given you the confidence to view a sports bra in a different light to your everyday bra, and maybe try something different!

Check out our range of Underwired Sports Bras and Wirefree Sports Bras.

Yours in support.

Amy x

Amy Jaffers

Amy is the face behind Sports Bras Direct, Australia’s largest sports bra website. She's a mother of two, outdoors lover and sports bra expert. Her life mission is to help active women get the support they need as well as assisting women in need through her charitable donations.

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