Sports Bra vs No Bra

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Every styling option you pick is a statement. What you choose to wear should feel good, fit well, and look nice. Here, I’ve put together a thorough comparison of wearing a sports bra vs no bra.

It’s not a simple decision, so read on to the verdict!  


When it comes to choosing degrees of dress or undress, what would you wear? A fair comparison of wearing a sports bra vs going braless requires looking closely at each style.

Next, I’ll examine where they perform best, and how they fall short. Nothing in this world is perfect, so I’ll also list a balanced score of their pros and cons.  

The History of Sports Bras and Going Braless 

The first sports bra came out in the 70s, and like all good inventions, it was born out of a dire need. In that case, it was running without too much bounce. 

Going out with no bra isn’t a recent discovery, it has some interesting history. Going braless is as ancient as the cavemen and women. 

An image of a person doing stretches

It was a sign of sophistication to wear lace bras and elaborate lingerie, while the less fortunate faced the world with no bras. Nowadays, going braless is a fashion trend with high-profile advocates.  

The Future of Sports Bras and No Bra Styles  

Recent times witnessed a significant challenge to the old norms, especially for female dress codes. Going braless is gaining popularity with the rising number of celebrities embracing the au naturel look. 

Nike and Victoria’s Secret handled the sports bra thing in very interesting ways. Nike spent a fortune on research and asked numerous women how they could be more comfortable in their sportswear. 

Victoria’s secret put in a lot of effort too, but their focus wasn’t on sexy looking at sports bras. Their Victoria’s Secret VS sports bra is the byproduct of this.

This is frowned upon by some, but it hugely attracted others to try on the pretty new sports bras.

Sports Bras 

Wearing sports bras is probably the new best friend of millennial women. There’s a generation that grew up with the necessity of wearing breast-shaping bras, and then there’s the new age where braless is totally in. 

Graphic image of a blue bra that describes how sports bras are ideally made from moisture wicking material and have a snug fit

Many women think of sports bras as the magic solution of having support, mild contouring, and comfort. Its simple, clean lines also reflect the practical nature of modern-day ladies.

The fashion and sports industries were quite helpful and contributed to the trend by offering all sorts of shapes, colors, and fabrics to suit every need. 


  • They offer support and comfort
  • They give a firm look to breasts
  • They maintain the natural body look
  • Sports bras look good under flimsy blouses
  • They minimize wardrobe malfunctions
  • They attract less attention in public spaces


  • The good quality types are costly 
  • They should be replaced frequently
  • They need constant maintenance
  • The fabric loses its elasticity after a while
A woman wearing a black sports bra

No Bras 

Wearing no bra can give you a feeling of freedom and nonchalance. It’s felt even more if a woman has been wearing a stiff bra for a while. It does have many limitations though.

Smaller-sized ladies can sport that look with ease, while their bigger-sized friends still find it a bit more risque. 

A woman wearing a black sports bra and gray leggings holding a purple dumbbell exercising outside of the house

There’s a lot of debate about facing sagging breasts once the bra is off, but that was debunked. Sleeping braless is also mentioned here and there, usually as a recommended practice. 


  • Total freedom and comfort 
  • No sweat collecting around the bra lines
  • celebrating the natural body shape 
  • Fewer clothing items to buy
  • Easy dressing up in the morning


  • It could strain the muscles and joints
  • It’s not very practical at the gym
  • It’s not allowed in some settings
  • It’s sometimes regarded as an unprofessional look
  • Attracts a lot of attention

Sports Bra vs No Bra

The debate between wearing a sports bra vs no bra became popularized because of a jump rope test video done by Piper Blush on Youtube. In the video, she compares the differences between jump roping while wearing a sports bra, a normal bra, and no bra. 

Since Piper’s video, several other women have done their jump rope test videos to compare the similarities and differences when moving around. 

Along with exploring how your breasts are affected when moving, I’m also sharing some practical similarities and differences, including overall comfort, impact on your wardrobe, and social reactions.

Comparing Sports Bra and No Bra Features

Bra Usage Support Comfort Ease of Use
Sports Bra Exercise, errandsFor low to high-impact activitiesCan feel compressiveCan have tricky straps or pull-over design
No Bra Lounging, layeringNoneHighly comfortableNo strap, hooks, and cups to align


Sports bras and being sans bras are similar in many ways, and many women have a style that oscillates between the two, mostly depending on their outfits. 

Some have clear preferences that they rarely change, while others are still undecided. 


They both offer comfort, especially when compared to any regular bra. There’s a moment every girl or woman knows so well; that’s when she gets home and takes off her bra

Being braless the whole day is a much-coveted feeling for most women. It’s still a luxury or a wish for most though, just like anyone on high heels dreams about the day flip-flops become corporate wear. 

Sports bras are an extended form of going without a bra. There’s no wire pinching the skin, tight straps that need to be stretched out because it is cutting through the shoulder, or rigid cups re-modeling the natural body shape.

Natural Look

They both differ from the carved idealistic look of push-up bras, they’re more natural and faithful to how the body looks, and there’s no embellishment in both cases.

Many women who started adopting a braless look, or shifted from bra to sports bra, noticed that they looked very different, and realized that each woman had unique attributes. 


Many celebrities and social influencers are advocates of ditching the bra. This goes from sheer dresses to wearing sports bras as tops. It’s no longer an act of rebelling against the norms or adopting a style that’s not very chic for the sake of convenience.

Bras are out for a significant amount of people, and they’re quickly replaced by sports bras, bralettes, or no bra at all. 

A woman wearing a black sports bra and leggings with a flower design seated on a brown wooden chair


Women who ditched all kinds of bras and those who opted for wearing a sports bra at all times, usually feel that the two options are very different from one another. Here’s how. 

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Wearing a flimsy chemise with petite buttons is a normal outfit when there’s a bra underneath and a risque styling decision if it’s worn solo. A sports bra is a middle ground between both situations.

It’s comfortable but much less prone to wardrobe malfunctions. This is a non-issue for a rising number of women who believe in their right to flaunt bare chests just like men. 

Extra Costs

Good quality sports bras are quite costly, and one needs a full set to last throughout the week, with many colors to go well with the various outfits. 

Doing the math for this one is quite easy. It costs zero dollars to be braless, and far more to wear sports bras regularly

Social Reaction 

This is usually an unsavory debate. Women like to feel fully entitled to their bodies, and that’s not up for discussion. I’m social animals though, and the looks of admiration, disapproval, or harassment still matter. 

Nowadays, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to making style choices, it seems that everything goes, but the ‘norm’ of a certain setting implies its ‘faux pas’. 

Assuming I’m not in an avant-garde milieu where odd-is-in, being braless attracts a bit more attention than wearing a sports bra.

A woman in a gray sports bra and black leggings is seated on a cemented floor near a white couch

Structural Support: Which is More Healthy?  

What sets sports bras apart is their ability to provide support. This is particularly true for the gym, but it’s just as important in everyday life. 

Maintaining Body Shape 

Being braless is certainly comfortable. Recent studies have shown that no bra is better for breast shape than wearing a bra. 

Other sources recommended giving some more support without crushing the breast tissue or letting it become too lazy by giving it full support. This is easily achieved by putting on a nicely fitting sports bra.

It gives the correct amount of support to keep the muscles toned. Sports bras were once unpopular because of the mono-boob look they gave.

Newer fabrics give support, and at the same time show the natural breast shape. This point alone converted many women from contouring bras to sports bras. 

Supporting Bigger Cups

Carrying plus-sized breasts adds extra strain on the shoulder, back, and chest muscles. This increases naturally with movement, and a bit of extra support is appreciated. 

You might’ve noticed that women with ample endowments, usually walk with their backs thrown a bit more to the back, or a few degrees to the front. This affects their neck, back, and shoulder negatively.

The end-of-day relaxed feeling of being braless is unfortunately compromised by the soreness they get in their muscles. That is easily remedied by providing just a bit more support. 

Good Posture   

Sports bras aren’t just for sports. Their contribution to good posture and a healthy body isn’t really in need of scientific proof. 

There’s another thing you notice with teen girls who experience the rapid development of their bodies. It intimidates them a little. They hunch their shoulders forward to hide the evident changes. 

Wearing a sports bra lends them more than just support, it gives them the confidence to stand up straight, as they feel that they’re ‘well covered’. Soon enough they’ll flaunt what they have, but not right away!  

A girl showing the back portion of her sports bra

Bra Vs No Bra

This entire debate often brings up a larger consideration for ladies… bra or no bra? Certainly, there are situations where you have to wear a bra, whether for professional or personal.

But, there are a variety of times when the jury is out. Generally speaking, you should wear a bra in the following situations:

  • Whenever your breasts need support, such as working out or post-surgery.
  • Professional situations, such as at work
  • Certain attire that needs coverage, such as an elegant evening gown

Beyond that, it is really up to you and your comfort. There is never a situation where you shouldn’t wear a bra, except for perhaps a specific dress or bralette.

When NOT to wear a bra is a matter of personal preference. With that no bra vs bra debate out of the way, let’s talk more about when you need to wear a sports bra.

When to Wear a Sports Bra

Sports bras can be donned almost anytime and everywhere, but here are a few situations where putting on a sports bra offers real benefits. 

  • At the gym or for any other sports
  • Going on a hike outdoors
  • Home improvements on a summer day
  • Long days at work 
  • Wearing a flimsy top  
  • Teen girls with quickly developing bodies
  • Having a big cup size and wanting to ditch the bra 
  • Wanting to show off the natural body shape
  • Needing a tad more contouring without the bra wires

There’s more, of course, sports bras are awesome. But I’ll stick to the essentials in this list.  

When to Go Braless

Women would say this all the time, but they know better than that, and here are the best times to take that route. 

  • It’s winter, so no one knows what’s underneath that pullover
  • It’s summer and everyone is sporting one form or another of freshness
  • Women with smaller breasts can get away with that look all year round
  • The work environment is laissez-faire so there are no raised eyebrows
  • Being around friends in intimate social gatherings
  • Clothes with solid cuts rather than button-ups or deep V-cuts

Life is too short to be stuck in uncomfortable bras, even if they were soft and lovely sports bras, but balance is good too, and choosing the right outfit for the right place is smart.

Related Questions

Is It Better to Exercise With or Without a Bra?

When working out, it’s preferable to wear a bra, especially a sports bra, as the quick movement of the breasts might be painful. Wearing a bra during intensive exercise will help prevent breast bounces, improving your actions.

Is a Sports Bra Better Than a Regular Bra?

A sports bra is preferable to a conventional bra if you desire a bigger coverage area, wider straps, and excellent bounce control. However, they don’t work with all clothes, so ordinary bras might work better in certain situations.

Is It OK to Wear a Sports Bra as an Everyday Bra?

Yes, you may use a sports bra as your daily bra as long as the cups, band, and straps can comfortably support your bust. However, some sports bras are more compressive than others, so they may not be ideal to wear for longer periods.

What Is a Sports Bra? (And How To Pick One For Various Activities)

Sports Bra vs No Bra: The Verdict

I’ve examined the effect of going braless on muscles and posture. It’s generally agreed that braless is freeing but ultimately uncomfortable. It gets even harder after moving a lot, or when a woman already has a large-sized breast.

This is where wearing a sports bra saves the day. The extra support offered by a sports bra relieves some of the load on the chest area while maintaining muscle tone.

There are also positive social aspects and fashion bonuses for wearing a sports bra, and these can’t be missed. Approval from the people I care about is nice. 

Matters of taste don’t have rights or wrongs, so I wouldn’t address that. Your personal preferences are intact! Performance and health are the deciding factors here.

Having looked at the pros and cons, and the really important effects on posture, the verdict is clear: sports bras win.  


Allena is the Founder and Editor of The Better Fit, a platform dedicated to empowering women with practical advice on bras and fitness, inspired by her own revelation of the widespread issue of incorrect bra sizing. Her expertise and tips have been recognized by major publications such as Cosmopolitan, Better Homes & Gardens, Insider, and NBC, making her a trusted voice in women's wellness and lifestyle.