For 20 years, I’ve been the go-to guide for empowering women with style while helping them to find the best bra for their shape, size and comfort needs. From my best-selling book The Bra Book to appearances on NBC’s Today, I’ve helped millions of women look and feel their best with upbeat advice on bras and more. And while the bra industry is constantly evolving and becoming more and more targeted to all of our bra needs and with so many choices of bras vowing to lift, separate, smooth, boost, shape and minimize, it’s hard to cut through the noise and pinpoint precisely which one keeps its promises — and will actually do the heavy lifting for you. One bra type that really stands out? The shaping bra. And I found 6 of the best shaping bras out there.
What is a shaping bra?
When I designed my first bra collection for QVC in 2021, The GemBra©️, I wanted to make something that ticked off all the boxes women are looking for with fuller coverage in the cups, a supportive wider band without a wire, and a plunging neckline to go under everything.
With the invention and swift evolution of shapewear in recent years, a new category of bras
emerged known as the “shaping bra.” The best shaping bra not only means it will give you the best shape and silhouette for your bustline, but also act as shapewear for your upper torso, sculpting and smoothing you all the way around. A shaping bra can be the proverbial workhouse of your foundational wardrobe, pulling its weight and doing double duty so you look as slim and sculpted as possible underneath all your clothing.
What constitutes the best shaping bra?
After years of trying on bras, helping others find the right ones and designing my own bras, I have found that the best shaping bra should have the following elements:
The best shaping bras cups:
The cups of the bra will be contoured and will not only fully encase breast tissue, but also distribute it evenly in the cups so nothing is billowing out. Sometimes, the cups rise higher on the sides to ensure nothing bulges under the armpits.
The best shaping bras band:
90% of a bra’s support comes from the band, and the band is even more critical
in a shaping bra because it not only holds up breasts, but also pulls double duty by
smoothing and slimming back and side bulges. A shaping bra will have a wider band than
other bras or be a pullover style that covers most of the upper back, much like a sports
bra. It may or may not contain an underwire.
The best shaping bras wings:
The shaper bra typically will have reinforced side panels (sometimes double fabric) for the firmest compression.
The best shaping bras fabric:
Due to its ability to be both soft and stretchy, the nylon/spandex blend known as microfiber is usually a good choice for a shaping bra.
The 6 best shaping bras of 2023
- Best for lifting saggy breasts : Honeylove V-Neck Bra
- Best for smoothing back bulges : Abbie Everyday T-Shirt Bra
- Best for minimizing a large bust : The Absolute Minimizer
- Best for centering east-west breasts : BraBar Everyday Scoop Neck Bra
- Best for reigning in armpit overhang : Felina Marvelous Side Smoothing T-Shirt Bra
- Best for containing cup spillage : BraBar Soft Day Bra With Back Closure
How do I find the best fit in a shaping bra?Read more: Bra Pro: The 6 Best Shaping Bras To Lift, Smooth and Sculpt Breasts
As with any bra, proper fit is crucial. In my experience working with thousands of women over
the years, nine out of every ten is in a bra that’s not fitting her properly. The shaping bra is
designed to prevent spillage; however, if the bra is the wrong size, nothing will keep breast tissue from creeping out and over the edges. Getting fitted by a professional fitter or measuring yourself (using a sewing tape measure) will get you started on the right foot. From there, you’ll use that size as a guideline to find the best shaping bra for you.
Some shaping bras are alpha-sized, which means S, M, L, XL, and so on — so you’ll want to
figure out the bra’s size range and see where you fall. If it’s a pullover style shaping bra that’s
meant to be compressive all over, you may want it to be on the snug side but not too tight that it’s squeezing your flesh. Remember, smooth is the idea here.
Once the bra is on, you can look at some main points for proper fit, such as whether the band is riding up in the back (hurling breasts downward in the front!) or whether there is a clear line (or bulge) at the edges of the cup. The best way to tell if a shaping bra, in particular, is a good fit is to try it on with a very thin tee or tank over it. That way, if there are any bulges, you’ll easily be able to spot them!
You can also look at yourself squarely in the mirror and see where your breasts are sitting in the cups. With arms hanging down at your sides, your breasts should be about halfway between your shoulder and elbow (without appearing smushed). Also, pay attention to how you feel! You should be able to breathe normally and without restriction, and nothing should be digging in or poking or painfully squeezing you.
Our 6 picks for the best shaping bras
The good news: The latest crop of shaping bras are ultra-lightweight and engineered like
shapewear to solve your biggest bra and slimming gripes. Here, six that will have you shouting
Why we like it
- No underwire
- Made with microfabric
It doesn’t always take an underwire to boost saggy breasts. Advancements in fabrics the bras are made from, and certain design elements can help hoist “the girls” without hardware. This pullover style from Honeylove is made from a supportive micro fabric, with bonded bust support and a hardware-free design to make you feel lifted, secure and smooth!
Why we like it
- Wide size range
- Wide straps
- Molded cups
Banish back fat for good in the ABBIE style from Essential Bodywear. It accommodates a wide range of sizes, from C-cup up to 44H, and has molded full coverage cups, which fuller busts
need to fight spillage. Ergonomic wider straps minimize bounce and prevent dig-in and with the U-shaped back, you get smoothing all the way around. The perfect bra for big busts and back fat.
Why we like it
- Minimizes without flattening
Typically, minimizer bras are more flattening than flattering, but this one by Bare bucks that theory. It minimizes bust projection by 1 inch but still provides a nice natural shape with its unlined cups that mold to your body. The adjustable straps that also convert to a cross-back style.
Why we like it
- Holds like a sports bra
- Double-layer fabric
Designed like a sports bra, this seamless Everyday bra from BRABAR provides medium compression all the way around and hugs the body with its soft, buttery double-layer fabric, removable contour pads and targeted bust support. The scoop bra pulls everything up and in and provides extra support and coverage for medium-impact activities and everyday wear for up to a DDD!
Why we like it
- Light and comfortable
- Wicks moisture
- Side panels
A game changer for full-busts, this Marvelous Side Smoothing T-shirt bra from Felina is designed to eliminate armpit bulge and side spillage with its specially placed panels. The full-coverage cups and criss-cross front cradle offer extra support and ensure you won’t spill out, while the power mesh band has smoothing and moisture-wicking properties.
Why we like it
- Scooped neckline
- Soft, non constrictive fabric
The number of five-star reviews this Soft Day bra has alone should show you how good it is, especially if you’re looking for something to prevent cup spillage. The flattering, slightly scooped neckline brings breasts inward and upward but comes up high enough not to allow any room for spill-out. The band provides solid support without feeling binding or constrictive, and wearers rave about its all-day comfort.
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