Most sports bras are made of a blend of fabrics designed to do something specific. Some fabric blends are designed to wick moisture and keep you dry. Other fabrics are meant to breathe while you’re working out and help you stay cooler. Some fabric blends are more supportive and make a better foundation for sports bras designed for high-impact activities, while others are more comfort-oriented and better for low-impact sports bras. Knowing your fabrics can help you select the right sports bra for your activities and needs.
Polyester/Cotton is a classic sports bra blend. Many of the compression sports bras you see in a typical department store are made with a polyester and cotton blend. This blend is geared toward comfort, and also offers some moisture wicking capabilities. Great for low impact and some medium impact activities, depending on bra design and bust size, but may not be supportive enough for high-impact activities.
Cotton and Lycra is becoming a very popular blend. Cotton gives you moisture-management properties and comfort, while Lycra adds stretch and support. These bras are typically comfortable and supportive, and good for low impact, medium impact and even high impact bras, depending on design.
CoolMax is a specially formulated fabric designed to keep you cool and dry during your workout. This fabric is meant to be moisture wicking and breathable, and it delivers. Combine that with the stretch and support of Lycra, and you’ve got something a step above cotton and Lycra. You’ll find this in mid-to-high-end sports bras, designed for a wide range of activities.
This three-fiber blend is designed for comfort, moisture management and support. The polyester and cotton fabrics provide a soft, comfortable base for the sports bra. Cotton brings moisture wicking to the table. And finally, the Lycra offers support and stretch you need in a sports bra. These fabrics lend themselves well to low impact and medium impact activities, but need the right design for high impact activities.
This blend offers a soft feel, but it’s mostly about the fit. A blend of supplex Nylon and Lycra feels luxurious, and fits like a glove. It provides great support and shape retention, and isn’t prone to stretching and misshaping like cotton blends. This blend may be appropriate for all activity levels, depending on the design and the ratio. However, it might not be as comfortable as some of the cotton blends, so women typically choose this blend for medium or high impact activities and might choose a different sports bra for low impact activities.
A Note on Microfiber
Microfiber is a fabric type you’ll see in many bras geared toward comfort, but microfiber is usually a specific form of polyester. Microfiber is moisture-wicking and many designers emphasize its softness and comfort, but it can also be made to have high levels of elasticity. It’s not a bad fabric to have in a sports bra, but cotton and polyester blends can offer the same benefits. Microfiber can be a selling point in a sports bra, but don’t let designers mislead you to believe it offers something you can’t get in other fabric blends.