It's a common scenario for most women larger than a D cup. Picture this: You walk into a department store and see rows of beautiful lacy bras in vibrant colors, and then you spot the perfect style. If you can manage to even find your size, you go to the fitting room to try it on only to discover the most uncomfortable, ill-fitting bra in your life (squeezing here, poking there). You return to the floor feeling defeated and head over to the back of the room where the racks of boring neutral-colored bras are hanging. Sound familiar? Well, our editors had enough of these disappointing shopping experiences too, so we decided to test out some stylish and sexy bras in styles available in larger cup sizes. Read on to get our honest impressions of the fit and comfort of these bras, some of which go up to an H cup. And while you're at it, use this guide to make a shopping list of your own.
This article originally appeared on InStyle.com.
Wireless: Natori Glance Soft Cup
"This bra is so unbelievably comfortable, it feels as though I'm not wearing one. I was pleasantly surprised that a wireless version could efficiently support my bust. It definitely dispels the myth that larger women can't go without a wire. This must-have is stylish, lightweight, and, most important, supportive. I've now opened my mind to trying other styles, or maybe I'll stick to this one because it's perfect!"
—LaQuayle Agurs, Reporter
Strapless: Le Mystère Soiree Strapless
"The thing to know about this bra is that the band runs extremely tight—so much so that there are plenty of online reviews and at least one e-com description advising customers to size up in the band and go down in the cup. I didn't discover this until after testing it in my normal size, and I can confirm that this thing kills. As someone who doesn't usually wear strapless, I just thought this was the way it goes and suffered through an entire work day feeling like I was trapped in an iron maiden (a theme lately.) I was also left with two painful blisters from where the silicone lining chafed my rib cage. But it didn't slip—that much I can say! And the shape was nice and round with the perfect amount of light foam."
—Stephanie Trong, fashion features editor
Showstopper: Ashley Graham for Addition Elle Diva Underwire Demi
"Recently, I was browsing Instagram and came across a post featuring Ashley Graham in perhaps the most fabulous bra I've ever seen (see photo, top). I instantly knew that I had to take this bra for a spin! My main concern going into the day was if the bra would actually support my chest, as I have learned through the years that sexy bras don't offer much coverage. This bra had all the support I was looking for—not only did it offer the full coverage and lift I love, but it made me feel sexy. I received many compliments, as it showed through my semisheer sweater. I definitely enjoyed this piece!"
—LaShauna Williams, senior credits editor
Sexy: Panache Clara Underwire
“As a smaller-framed person with a bigger bust, bra shopping is always a long, arduous process that involves getting half naked in the back of a specialty boutique while a very patient salesperson zips around the store grabbing new options. So when I accepted this challenge, I was skeptical—even if the cup was right, there was still the tricky matter of a good fit. I found myself pleasantly surprised, however, when Panache sent over several options, and after trying on two or three, it was clear that finding something that worked wouldn’t be the problem. Instead, I had to narrow down the (many) winners. My favorite? The Clara, an incredibly comfortable unlined style with amazing shaping and support. Wearing it instead of my usual T-shirt bra under a sweater, I immediately noticed I looked more lifted than usual, but in a natural, non-push-up way. Better yet, because of the full-coverage cut, there wasn’t any spillage or outlines under my top (one of my biggest pet peeves). The only downside is that because it is lace, it won’t work under a super-thin T-shirt, but with winter coming up, that shouldn’t be an issue for several more months—plus, this style on the brand's site looks like a promising solution to that problem."
—Alison Syrett, fashion writer
Push-up: Thirdlove 24/7
"I like the support (and extra oomph) that comes with underwire bras, but finding one that doesn't dig into my ribs while still making me feel secure is a major feat. ThirdLove's 24/7 checked off all the boxes I look for in a push-up: The underwire was supportive but totally pain-free thanks to a layer of soft micro jersey (a double layer of fabric on the band gave extra security), and it's made with memory foam padding. It's perfect for a true boost!"
—Dianna Mazzone, assistant beauty editor
Unlined: Paramour Carolina Plunge
"Finally, a beautiful bra perfect for all-day wear. This full-coverage bra provides a bit of everything: It comfortably keeps your breasts in place and offers back support as it lifts and slims. The sleek design does have texture, but I was elated that it looks great under clothes and gives a smooth finish."
—Marina Budarina-Sánchez, deputy chief of reporters
Sports bra: Chantelle High Impact Underwire
"Usually when I think of full-coverage bras for bigger cup sizes, something gigantic, clunky, and matronly like a nursing bra comes to mind, but this sports bra has a modern cut and comes in vibrant shades (in addition to neutrals). It's fully supportive, and not to be crass, but it keeps you from bouncing around while you're working out. I liked it so much that I wore it another day under my regular clothes because it gave me a more streamlined silhouette."
—Jennifer Mason, copy chief
Full coverage: Soma Memorable
"When it comes to bras, I prefer more—more lift, more comfort, more support. This Soma bra didn't skimp on any of my criteria, and I loved that this one didn't have a ton of padding like some other full-coverage bras I've tried in the past. The silky material makes this bra comfortable and gave a smooth appearance under my light top. I also like that it's full coverage but shows just enough cleavage to look modern."
—Teonna Flipping, operations assistant
Perfect nude: Nubian Skin Essential T-Shirt
"Finding a bra that's the perfect nude for your complexion can be a great task—especially finding one that offers support and still has a fresh feel. For women with darker skin tones, the search for a nude bra has become a little easier with Nubian Skin. I was so excited to try one in my shade, "cafe au lait." The color was closer to my skin tone than any other flesh-toned bra I own. It smoothed my bust, and the fabric was lightweight and breathable, but I did take issue with the thinner straps, which dug into my shoulders a bit (an issue for a lot of women with heavier chests). If the straps were slightly thicker, I would have found my perfect nude bra. However, they do offer several other styles in my shade, so I may check those out. If you have fair skin, I would recommend trying Wacoal, as they have a lot of great options."
—LaShauna Williams, senior credits editor