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Cheap Bras Buying Guide
Women spend a lot of time and money trying to look their best, and the right bra provides an essential foundation for building that image. Bras range in price from about $10 to as much as $200 (unless you count one-of-a-kind, diamond-encrusted designs that cost millions).
No single bra type fits all women and all occasions -- Redbook magazine reports that women own an average of nine bras -- so we researched many different types of cheap bras to come up with our recommendations. These included standard or everyday bras, push-up bras, strapless bras, and sports bras. Within these four main bra types, there are demi bras that cover the lower half of the breast, full coverage bras that contain the entire breast, minimizer bras that reduce the bust line to create a slimming look, plunge bras for wearing underneath low-cut shirts, padded bras that add a little extra to your natural bust, seamless bras for a smooth look underneath clothes, underwire bras for added support, wireless bras for added comfort, and countless combinations of the above.
Our top everyday bra is the Barely There Invisible Look Underwire (starting at $18, Amazon). This standard bra offers full coverage; seamless, lightly padded cups; and a plunge neckline that dips low in the middle. The best cheap push-up bra we found, the Maidenform The Dream Bra Push-Up Bra (starting at $24), uses graduated padding to create more cleavage. In the strapless category, our top choice is the Lilyette Tailored Strapless Minimizer Bra (starting at $17, Amazon). It's convertible, so you can wear it with straps or without, and it helps give full-figured women a smaller silhouette. Our favorite sports bra, the Moving Comfort Fiona (starting at $24, Amazon), features molded, seamless cups; wide, adjustable straps; and a thick band secured with three hook closures.
The Playtex 18-Hour Original Comfort Strap (starting at $17, Amazon) is a good cheap comfort bra, offering wireless support, a higher neckline, and supportive cups with no padding. One cheap bra that didn't make our cut is the Elita Les Essentiels Crossover Cami (starting at $16, Amazon). There's no way to adjust either the straps or the back band, and numerous women complain about the overall fit. Consumers also aren't impressed with the fit of the Carnival Seamless Push-Up Bra (starting at $17, Amazon), and several say the underwire pops out the side.
Various experts estimate that anywhere from 70 percent to 85 percent of women wear the wrong size bra, which undoubtedly accounts for some of the complaints about fit. When you try on a cheap bra, make sure the band lies flat and doesn't ride up in the back, the cups contain your breasts, and any underwire doesn't dig in. Likewise, the straps shouldn't cut into your shoulders. If they do, you're probably relying on them too much to provide support; that's supposed to be the role of the band. The fabric on the best cheap bras is typically a combination of stretchy spandex or Lycra and soft yet supportive polyester or nylon.
In a field of dozens of lingerie manufacturers, the top bra brands include Bali, Playtex, Maidenform, Olga, Lilyette, and Jockey, a few of which appear on our list. Victoria's Secret owns more than a third of the intimate apparel market, according to one analyst, but almost all its bras start at $30 or more.
Best Cheap Bra
Barely There Invisible Look UnderwireReviewers rave about this seamless, tagless bra, saying it's true to size and so comfortable you forget you're wearing it. It has convertible camisole-style straps that you can crisscross to keep it hidden under certain tops. Read more »
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Maidenform The Dream Bra Push-Up BraBest Cheap Push-Up Bra
Our pick for a push-up bra manages to create natural-looking cleavage and the illusion of a larger bust. Fans of this bra appreciate the lift it provides and praise the overall comfort. Read more »
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Lilyette Tailored Strapless Minimizer BraBest Cheap Strapless Bra
This bra is so supportive that some women report wearing it even when they don't need a strapless. It's designed to accommodate larger bust sizes and helps create a smooth look. Read more »
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Good Cheap Bras
Playtex 18-Hour Original Comfort Strap BraNo woman typically wants to wear a bra for 18 hours straight, but if you have to, consumers say this is a good one to choose. It provides support even without underwire and is our only pick with padded leotard straps. Read more »
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Don't Bother Cheap Bras
Elita Les Essentiels Crossover Cami
This cheap bra is the only one our list that can't be adjusted in any way. There's no back closure; you pull the bra over your head to put it on. Consumers seem put off by the sizing, saying the fit just isn't good and the band tends to be too tight, causing unsightly "back fat." Read more »
Carnival Seamless Push-Up Bra
We didn't find a lot of reviews of this budget bra, but those we did encounter were generally negative; even the positive comments nearly always come with caveats. Consumers report that the fit is wrong and the bra is just plain uncomfortable. Other women say they've had problems with the underwire popping out the side. Read more »
Carnival Seamless Push-Up Bra Review
Playtex 18-Hour Original Comfort Strap Bra Review
Barely There Invisible Look Underwire Review
Maidenform The Dream Bra Push-Up Bra Review
Lilyette Tailored Strapless Minimizer Bra Review
Moving Comfort Fiona Review
Find out the results for our Frugal Month Challenge.
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