How to Find the Right Nike Sports Bra Size for You
A Nike sports bra technical designer weighs in on how to measure your sports bra size and select a style for the best fit and feel.
For many athletes, sports bras are a crucial part of every workout outfit. This is because a sports bra is one of the most technical clothing items athletes can own, explained Tara Sweeney, a Nike sports bra technical designer.
But the ideal fit comes down to more than just measurements. "Finding the right sports bra comes down to striking a balance between comfort and support for your breast size and firmness, body type and intended activities", said Sweeney.
For more on finding the right fit, Sweeney shared how to calculate your bra size, as well as how to choose a Nike sports bra for different activities.
How to Measure Your Nike Sports Bra Size
According to Sweeney, in order to correctly measure yourself for a Nike sports bra, try to wear an unlined, lingerie-style bra that allows for some separation between the breasts.
Start by measuring your underbust (around the bra's bottom band, just under the breast). Then, measure your cup.
"For Nike sports bras, you will need to take a cup measurement", she said. "This means you start from the centre of your chest between the breasts and measure over the fullest point of the breast while keeping the tape measure parallel to the floor and ending where the breast tissue ends at the side".
Use this measurement tool to get started.
Find Your Bra Size
Find your bra size with this two-step quiz. Before you start, wear an unlined bra that supports your natural shape—no bralette or padded bra.
First, Measure Your Underbust
Measure around the bra's bottom band, just under the breast. The tape measure should feel snug. Round up to the closest measurement. If you don't have a measuring tape, use a piece of string and a ruler. Follow the above instructions. Lay the string on a flat surface and measure with the ruler.
Second, Measure Your Cup
With the tape measure parallel to the floor, lay the tape across the fullest point of your breast. Measure from the centre of your chest to where your breast tissue ends on one side (where an underwire should sit). Round up to the closest measurement.
Your Nike Bra Size
3 Ways to Tell If Your Sports Bra Fits
To ensure your bra fit is perfect, in the changing room (or your own home), try this quick, three-step test.
1. Check the Straps
"The straps are critical in creating a balanced fit", explained Sweeney. "They help provide tension on the neckline and underarm area to help distribute the breast weight and alleviate pressure on the bottom band".
Here are a couple of signs that Sweeney said might indicate you're not wearing the right size:
- The bra might be too big if you constantly feel the need to adjust the straps or if the straps are sitting far out on your shoulders.
- The bra might be too small if the straps are putting pressure on the neck and there is excessive (and visible) cutting or digging in the shoulders.
Adjustable straps are a useful way to customise the fit of a sports bra, but Sweeney advised that tightening them should not be used as a fix for a sports bra that doesn't fit properly in other areas, such as "the cup being too big or the band being too loose".
2. Assess the Band's Tightness
When it comes to functionality, the bottom band of a sports bra is the garment's MVP, noted Sweeney. "It's the foundation of any bra, so it should fit snugly against the ribcage directly below the bottom of the breast tissue", she said. "[The band] should feel firm but not cause discomfort. Don't forget you have to breathe in this!"
To indicate a proper fit, see if you can comfortably place two fingers under the band while wearing it. Here are some additional tips:
- The bra is probably too big if the band moves up and the cup area feels unsupported and loose when you raise your arms.
- The bra is probably too small if the band feels so tight that it's difficult to take deep breaths and freely move.
3. Mimic The Activity You Plan to Do In The Bra
A bra should help make you feel more confident in your activity or sport. The best way to test for that, said Sweeney, is to duplicate whatever movements you'll do while wearing it, whether that's moving through your favourite yoga flow or settling into a deep squat. "Ask yourself what will make you most comfortable in your activity", she added.
"Sports bras aren't one style suits all", she explained. For example, consider two people with the exact same band and cup size practising yoga. One may prefer a light-hugging sports bra that allows for natural movement in both breasts, while the other might want a snug, high-neckline sports bra to prevent slippage during inverted poses.
One option isn't necessarily better than the other. The way your sports bra fits and moves with you should be as individualised as you are.
Finding the Best Bra Size: Additional Fit Factors to Consider
"Although strap and band fit tend to provide the clearest signs that a bra fits correctly, a few other indicators can signal the wrong size", said Sweeney.
A bra that is too small will often:
- Have a neckline and/or underarm area that causes the breast to spill or cut out of the sides of the bra
- Feature a neckline and/or underarm area that sits too low on the body
- Contain a cup area that is too short, which can cause the bottom band to ride up and sit on the bottom of the breast rather than just below the breast tissue
A bra that is too big will often:
- Show excess fabric bunching or gathering throughout the cup area
- Have a neckline and/or underarm area that sits too high, potentially rubbing the neck or underarm and causing chafing
- Not provide any compression or support, or allow for too much breast movement
Find the Right Nike Sports Bra For You
Here are the four key types of Nike sports bras, plus how they're designed to feel on the body:
1. Nike Alate: For a Second-Skin Feel
These bras are designed to feel like a second skin, with soft, non-constricting fabric and a frictionless design that allows the breasts to move in a natural motion. You can choose from varying levels of coverage, like the Alate Minimalist, which has super-thin straps and a low-profile design, or the Alate Curve, which features a higher neckline and lower band.
2. Nike Swoosh: For Snug, Distraction-Free Support
If you're the type of athlete who wants a no-frills sports bra that will ensure a snug fit, little breast movement and adequate support for a wide range of activities, the Nike Swoosh sports bra is for you. With a range of necklines and the ability to choose between padded and non-padded varieties, wearers can minimise distractions while taking part in their favourite activity.
3. Nike Indy: For Freedom of Movement & Expression
With a range of necklines (V-neck, U-neck and longline) and bold colours and designs, the Nike Indy sports bra is inherently playful and expressive. This bra is meant to accentuate and hug your body shape, with adjustable straps and removable cups.
Like the Alate bras, these tend to allow the breasts to move in a freer, less restrictive motion, but are still dynamic for all types of movement. Adjustable straps and removable cups allow for further customisation.
4. Nike Alpha: For a Personalised, High-Support Fit
Similar to the Nike Swoosh sports bra, Nike Alpha sports bras are designed for extra support and bounce reduction. They feature extra-wide straps that are adjustable, so you can make the bra truly your own. You'll also find styles with a front-facing zip for easy removal.
Words by Julia Sullivan, ACE-certified CPT