The Barely There Invisible Look Underwire bra starts at $18.
How many seldom or never worn bras lurk in the back of your delicates drawer? A U.K. survey revealed that women own an average of nine bras but wear fewer than half of them. Rather than spend $60 on another scrap of lace that provides no support, concentrate your spending on several essential styles to establish a solid, cost-effective foundation for your wardrobe.
Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable bras.
- The Barely There Invisible Look Underwire (starting at $18) makes a supremely comfortable everyday bra, according to consumers posting online reviews. It has convertible straps that crisscross in the back and it comes in a variety of colors and prints, including basics such as black and taupe. (Where to buy)
- The Maidenform The Dream Bra Push-Up Bra (starting at $24) relies on graduated padding to enhance cleavage and create a feminine shape. Women posting reviews appreciate that the result looks natural and doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable. The straps are convertible in the back. (Where to buy)
- The Lilyette Tailored Strapless Minimizer Bra (starting at $17) is something many reviewers say they thought they would never find: a strapless bra that doesn’t fall down throughout the day or evening. It doubles as a minimizer for a slimming effect and comes with convertible straps for women who want to wear it as a standard bra. (Where to buy)
- The Moving Comfort Fiona sports bra (starting at $24) offers enough support for vigorous workouts, reviewers say -- even for women with larger cup sizes. Unlike most other sports bras, this style includes an adjustable band and straps, so you don’t have to pull it over your head to put it on. (Where to buy)
These bras all have seamless cups and, with the exception of the Moving Comfort sports bra, all incorporate underwire for additional lift. They’re made from a blend of nylon or polyester and spandex/elastane/Lycra to provide stretch and support. The Maidenform push-up isn’t the only bra built to flatter. Even the non-push-up bras on this list have molded cups that help shape the bust.
Convertible straps detach in the back so they can be crisscrossed underneath racerback tops and other sleeveless cuts. The straps included with the Lilyette bra can be configured to stay hidden under halter tops and one-shoulder tops as well. This feature makes a bra more versatile and keeps women from having to buy so many slightly different designs.
Look for hook-and-eye closures in the back with at least two hooks -- three or more if you have a larger bust or worry about so-called “back fat” around the edges of the band. The band should lie flat against your back and keep from riding up, and the straps shouldn’t dig into your shoulders. Buying an ill-fitting bra is perhaps the surest way to relegate it to the recesses of that drawer, so try to visit a store and have a professional measure you for the correct size.
Feel like you're constantly wasting money at the ATM? Looking for a less expensive alternative to a gym membership? Yahoo! Finance's Farnoosh Torabi has advice on how to avoid common money-wasting pitfalls.