What Is a Spacer Bra?

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When hunting for a new bra, you may encounter different kinds, including something called a spacer bra. However, what is a spacer bra, and what are its purpose and benefits? I’m explaining what spacer bras are all about and how this innovative style can improve your wardrobe.

What Is a Spacer Bra?

A spacer bra is a type of bra that uses dual-layer foam fabric instead of single-layered paddings in a regular bra. If you want some form of padding yet feel like padded bras are too bulky, the spacer bra is a more lightweight, airy, and breathable alternative.

A person sitting on a bed wearing a spacer bra

One of the challenges of finding a new bra is that the padding can sometimes constrict airflow when worn. A spacer bra solves that problem by weaving layers of thin fabric with a spacer yarn. To better understand the technology, it’s best to learn about its origin, creation, and components.

What Is the Origin of the Spacer Bra?

Despite looking like a traditional T-shirt bra, a spacer bra uses more lightweight and breathable fabric. It’s an enhanced bra design that uses air pocket technology from an innovative 3D material.

It evolved from the idea of using mesh fabrics to layers of cross-section fabrics to provide opacity, support, and mold.

Creation of the Spacer Fabric

In the 1960s, the intimate apparel industry focused on comfort, support, being lightweight, and virtual invisibility underneath clothing. Recent advances in textile technology utilized this idea to eliminate bulky bras.

The first attempt to develop the spacer bra used mesh fabric to ensure breathability while reducing irritation and friction. However, some people expressed concerns about the sheerness of the bra.

The creation of spacer fabrics led to the use of specialized monofilament fibers with a porous structure to reduce moisture. These were initially utilized in bandages, which is why bandages are absorbent wound dressings that dramatically reduce sweating.

What Are the Components of a Spacer Bra?

The spacer bra may look like a shirt bra. However, its differences come from the spacer layers, three-dimensional fabric, and lightweight cups. These aspects make you feel like you’re not wearing a bra while retaining the purpose of a typical bra.

Graphic image of a blue bra that describes that spacer bras are lightweight and has subtle shaping structure

Lightweight Cups

A spacer bra uses thin padding into the cups, ensuring the bra remains opaque. This design contributes to the cups having a smooth shape yet supportive hold of the breasts without adding volume to the bust. You get to enjoy the cushiony feeling as if a pillow-soft material is cradling your chest.

The spacer fabric is usually just an inch thick, providing an ultimately light and luxurious feel. When held between the fingers, the bra gives a fluffy sponge-like texture. Even so, it can softly contour the bust with the same support as a regular bra.

Polyurethane cups are widely used in the brassiere industry. However, it is low density and easily gets discolored at high temperatures and pressure. Spacer fabrics replace the polyurethane foam for better heat and moisture exchange.

Three-Dimensional Fabric

A regular bra uses two-dimensional material with two threads. In contrast, spacer bras utilize a three-dimensional fabric with other knitted fabrics connected using a spacer thread.

Unlike 2D fabrics, the 3D design of spacer bras enables heat and vapor to leave the body by moving through the permeable layers. After that, cool air naturally ventilates the bra to provide maximum air circulation and cooler temperature.

During production, the layers get folded three times and sewn together. The precise stitching also makes a spacer bra easy to maintain and wash.

A person modeling a spacer bra

Spacer Layers

A spacer is a cross-section fabric with a hydrophilic first layer. A hydrophilic material is commonly used in products that need to retain shape and form despite interaction with water. This allows the spacer bra to release moisture.

Meanwhile, the second layer is hygroscopic, ensuring airflow and heat dissipation. The surface temperature of the bra keeps the chest cool despite fluctuations in humidity and temperature. This is also why the spacer fabric is a key component in ensuring thermal comfort when wearing the bra.

The third thread builds up the material to give further structure to the cups while also leading away moisture and heat. The air pockets between the threads let the air circulate freely between the two outer layers. These structural layers provide flexibility to the cups with recovery and resistance to compression.

Features of a Spacer Bra

Lightweight cupsProvide a smooth shape to the bust
Three-dimensional fabricCombat heat and moisture
Spacer layersKeep the chest cool and retain bra structure

What Are the Benefits of Spacer Bras?

A spacer bra incorporates spacer foam to create foamy air pockets to let air pass through the bra cups. The same technology allows the cups to retain shape while having thicker linings than regular bras. The combination of these features lets spacer bras provide several benefits when worn.

  • Lightweight: This type of bra uses a premium spacer fabric that keeps the body feeling fresh and breezy even when worn for long periods. As the air pockets pass through the cups, you get a soft feel on the skin as if you’re not wearing anything.
  • Subtle shaping: Because of its thin cups, a spacer bra molds nicely against the breasts, encouraging a flawless rounded shape for the bust without excessive padding.
  • Support: The multilayer foam in the cups and center gore can support the bust despite being lightweight. However, the level of support may depend on the strap style and broadness of the band. If you have a large chest size, you may need a wider side panel for centering.
An image of what a spacer bra looks like

Who Should Wear a Spacer Bra?

The problem with other bra styles is that they cause the breasts to sweat because they are too confining. You may consider bras with lightweight materials, although some might not offer the right amount of support. This is where a spacer bra shines, balancing comfort, support, and being lightweight.

  • Women who sweat a lot: Due to the thin, airy cups, ladies who want to reduce sweat inside the cups during warm weather or a light workout can wear spacer bras.
  • Women with sensitive skin: Some ladies have sensitive skin that gets rashes due to dreaded boob sweat. A spacer bra can serve as a cooling bra for sunny afternoons or a long day of physical work.
  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women or those who are nursing can also try to wear spacer bras. The form-fitting cups provide support to the ever-growing breasts.
  • Women who need to contour breasts: Spacer bras are ideal for ladies who want to sculpt their breasts without the compression of a pushup bra. They can cover the breasts without the heavy seams, helping shape the bust.
  • Women who don’t like thick padding: A spacer bra is ideal for those who love the look of molded bras yet don’t want to carry the extra bulk. The bra has a seamless finish that guarantees a smooth appearance for your body’s silhouette.
  • Women who like low-maintenance bras: The multi-faceted spacer fabric has superb aging resistance. It can resist constant friction even if you hand wash and pack it in your luggage several times.

There may be some space between the curve of your breasts and the cups’ top portion for flat-chested ladies. While this may form an invisible ridge under your clothes, this still depends on the material. Opt for spacer bras with underwires to improve underbust support and prevent gaping.

Related Questions

When Can I Wear Spacer Bras?

You can wear a spacer bra in most situations, including everyday errands, lounging, light workouts, or work. However, using spacer bras may not be ideal when doing high-impact activities.

Which Type of Bra Is the Best for Daily Use?

The best type of bra for daily use must provide a smooth feel on the chest while creating a seamless silhouette, much like what you’ll get in spacer bras. A spacer bra can serve as a t-shirt bra because of its lightweight yet contouring cups.

Is It Safe to Use Padded bras?

It’s generally safe to wear padded bras, especially if the foam isn’t too thick and firm. Like in spacer bras, the padding has a light and luxurious feel.

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A spacer bra uses unique spacer fabric to create three cross-section layers. This allows air to circulate through the outer layer as the bra wicks away sweat while providing support and shape. Spacer bras are convenient alternatives with a more airy feel if you want to break free from padded bras.


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.