My boobs were the first part of my body I ever felt confident about, and I usually take every opportunity to emphasize them accordingly. But sometimes—like when your job-interview-appropriate blouse starts to strain against its buttons so badly you look like you're posing for the cover of a romance novel, or when the classy bridesmaid dress you're trying on reveals a veritable Marianas Trench of cleavage—a large chest can be real trouble. Enter, the magical subset of undergarments called minimizer bras, which help—well—minimize the size of busts.
"With having a larger chest size, having a minimizer bra can allow you to wear certain styles that you may have previously written off," explains Sarah Sullivan, creative director at lingerie brand Lively. "It's definitely good to have one in your collection."
Are these bras, which are designed to reduce your bust by a cup size or more, the sexiest bras you're ever going to wear? Maybe not. But after taking nine different kinds for test drives, I can attest that they live up to their names, without resorting to the smush and squash techniques favored by your trusty sports bra.
What to look for in a minimizer bra
Before adding any old minimizer bra to your cart, there's a few styling details to keep in mind, with fit and feel being the most important. Simply put, try your bra on thoroughly before ripping the tags off. "When looking for a minimizer bra, trying it on under a few key wardrobe pieces is very important so you can see the shape it gives you and assess how certain clothes fit in that style," Sullivan says. "Your shape under a shirt should be smooth with nothing cutting in at the neck, and you should feel minimized and round, but not flat and compressed."
Consider more technical components, too: is the band digging in around your ribcage, or is it gaping in certain areas? Are the cups padded or unpadded? What's the spillage situation like? (It should be none.) "You should also make sure that the majority of the support is coming from the band so your straps aren't doing all the work," Sullivan says.
Tl;dr—try it on and test it out to see if it's a minimizer match made in heaven. When in doubt, schedule a bra fitting with an expert to get a professional opinion. Or, scroll my picks below and try them out for yourself.
Below, find a ranking of the best minimizer bras, from 'does the job' to 'you'll pry this off my cold, dead, chest.'
Best Minimizing Bras
Don’t be fooled by the delicate lace and the pretty design: This minimizer bra lives up to its name, and the black and white iteration looks very Black Swan. It doesn’t make it up higher on the list because the material is a tad flimsy and doesn’t provide a ton of support.
This is not the comfiest bra of the bunch, but it does sit the best underneath thin fabrics and t-shirts. The straps are thick and supportive, but not bulky, and the underwire, to quote a bad Geico commercial from the early aughts, lifts and separates. It’s also available from band size 30-44 and cup size C-I.
Most of the minimizer bras that I tried reduce cup size by about an inch, so this one gets major points for reducing boobs by three inches without fully smooshing them. And it’s pretty damn comfortable, to boot.
The Amazon reviews convinced me I needed to get this inexpensive bra (they also convinced me I needed this vibrator but that’s a different story). I was promised a comfortable, supportive bra that would help my clothes fit better, and that’s what it delivered. However, the texture definitely shows through t-shirt material, and while normally I don’t mind that, the unsexy design of this bra is not something I want to show off. It works best under thicker materials.
Even though this bra is full-coverage, it manages to do it in a chic, minimalist way. The fabric is heavy enough to keep your nipples from showing and very soft to the touch. The neckline also works with lower-cut tops. It comes in band sizes 34-42 and cup sizes C-G.
I bought a salad and a can of kombucha today for lunch, and that cost more than this bra. I’m giving it top honors because it is wildly comfortable, under $20, and it does an excellent job of making my boobs look smaller while also maintaining two distinct boob shapes (no uniboob here!). I am not someone who generally enjoys wearing full-on bras, so the fact that I just said “wildly comfortable” is telling.
Strapping yourself into a bra shouldn’t be a hassle, which is why I love this effortless number by Chantelle. It’s wire-free and unpadded, giving you an easy-breezy feel that’s simple to slip on and off. And even though it’s microfiber body is stretchy, it’s not so flexible that it skimps on support. Try it on and you’ll see what I mean.
Those with big boobs know that even though sports bras are supposed to be compressive, they’re often not compressive enough. Which is why I implore you to splurge on this super supporter from Knix that will keep you in place during your sweatiest, most intense workouts. Running, bouncing, dreaded burpees—boobs up to a 40F will handle it all, and look good doing it, in the Catalyst.
There’s a reason this bra keeps selling out—it’s so darn comfortable. The straps feel like clouds on your shoulders, never digging in our feeling like they’re going to break from holding you up. I also love the convertible, ballet-style back that gives me extra support when I need it that can be hidden under racerback styles. This bra is *chef’s kiss*.
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