Throughout high school, I collected bras with the unbridled enthusiasm of a millennial hoarding succulents. As my dresser drawers overflowed and my bank account drained dry, I struggled to justify the indulgent habit. I convinced myself that I needed a bra in every color of the rainbow, so I could match my straps to any shirt. I reassured myself that wearing sexy, lacy bras made me feel confident, so stocking up on them constituted self-care. I even deceived myself into believing that owning more sports bras would motivate me to be more active. The delusions soothed my shopper’s remorse, but when it came down to it, most of my shiny new acquisitions were relegated to the back corner of my closet and forgotten within a month. Only a few bras stayed in constant rotation, and once I realized this, I cracked down on my purchases. The curated “capsule” that I have compiled takes you through every activity and every persona you can dream of:
- The Queen: Natori Feathers Underwire Contour Bra in White
With a plunging V-cut, delicate lace trim and a thick band that fits like a hug, this bra is equally flattering under clothing or on its own. It is also ridiculously comfortable; unlike most push-up styles, which rely on aggressive padding and stiff underwires to do their job, this bra performs beautifully with only soft, smooth cups and a flat underwire. It provides visible (but entirely natural-looking) lift, will not poke through clothing and is deceptively sturdy. Since this style is a bit of a splurge, resist the temptation to choose a brighter colorway and try something you can wear every day first. I recommend starting with white, which is sexier than nude but just as multipurpose.
- The Workhorse: Calvin Klein Convertible Bra in Nude
Once, in middle school, I forgot that my PE class was scheduled to run the mile and showed up in a bandeau instead of a sports bra. No more than twenty seconds in, the wretched thing slid to my waist. It stayed there over the course of four miserable laps, and I left the field with a new, intense aversion to anything strapless. I share this traumatic memory not for masochistic pleasure, but to emphasize how firmly I stand behind Calvin Klein’s convertible bandeau design. A nude, strapless bra is absolutely necessary to wear under dresses and sleeveless tops, and I am so grateful to have found one that provides maximum security. The band is lined with grips for traction, and the band is comfortably snug. And, since it comes with removable straps, you basically get two bras for the price of one!
- The California Beauty: Free People Adella Bralette in Black
This bralette is unlike any other on the market, with dramatic lace details, the perfect longline cut and a playful, strappy back. Whether you wear it as a top or beneath your favorite sweater, it will add so much dimension to your outfit. As someone who usually struggles to find a well-fitting bralette, I particularly appreciate how easily this one can be adjusted: one set of straps controls width, and the other, lift. The material is also super sturdy, a rarity among lacy styles. I recommend buying the black colorway, which is universally flattering and easy to match with various outfits.
- The Athlete: Nike Women’s Pro Classic Padded Sports Bra
As gorgeous as an elaborate sports bra can look, I always prioritize practicality and comfort when I am working out. Nike’s no-nonsense design has been my go-to for years: it is easy to slip on, fits like a glove and provides support without feeling restrictive. I primarily use mine for running, and I really appreciate how effectively these wick sweat. Nike bras will also last you forever: they do not lose their shape as they are stretched and will not pill in the wash. While I would start with buying one in black, you can certainly explore the range of vibrant colors that the brand rotates in each season.
- The Fashionista: Mitaloo Backless Adhesive Bra in Nude
I live in dresses and strappy, impractical tops, so I am always on the lookout for backless bra solutions. After stretching my last one for a year (gross, I know), I bought this one off of Amazon. I have already worn it 10 times, and can confirm what all the reviews say: it is an absolute gem. The cups push you up as well as any normal bra, which is an impressive feat for such a lightweight design. It is also completely invisible under clothing! What sets this bra a league above the rest, though, is the quality of its adhesive. Mine has clung to me through many a 90 degree day, and is still going strong. More importantly, my skin has not reacted to it at all. To prolong the efficacy and life of this bra, follow the included instructions and keep it stored in the original packaging.
Whether you are working hard or playing hard, look no further than these five bras. They will have you covered- literally and metaphorically.