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Battle of the Sports Bras

BY RENNIE DYBALL

It’s a good time to shop as an equestrian – everything from breeches to show shirts and even hunt coats are being constructed with performance fabrics to keep us cool, dry and riding our best. The final frontier? Performance underwear. Personally, it took me years to find a perfectly comfortable, no-show cotton thong to wear under breeches (thank you, Target). And for many of us, sports bras are an even bigger challenge.

In addition to the obvious – banishing the bounce – you want a sports bra that’s sweat-wicking and smooth, with lines that are barely detectable under clothes, especially for showing. Bonus points if you can continue to wear it after riding. It’s a tall order, so in the interest of my fellow riders who have to make accommodations for our endowments, I took several sports bras for test rides to see how they stacked up. Among them, I found my new favorite and I hope you will, too. For reference, I typically wear a Medium/8/36C sports bra.

Each bra gets a rating of 1 (meh) to 5 (hallelujah) in the following categories:

  • Control (as in, keeping the girls under)
  • Comfort
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Smoothness
  • Saddle to street

SheFit Ultimate Sports Bra 

Not gonna lie: I had to read this bra’s operating instructions more than once before I got into it correctly. (I lent one to a friend from my barn who got stuck in the bra briefly as well!) There are a lot of closures on the SheFit: a zip up the front, a ribcage band that’s essentially a long strip of Velcro with a wide hook so you can adjust it to just the right fit, and two fully adjustable straps that go over your shoulders for whatever tightness and lift you desire. The company brands this as their “Zip, Cinch, Lift” technology. A tad overwhelming at first, but it really pays off in the end. The control that comes with this much adjustability cannot be understated. You feel fully “locked in,” but not constricted. The downside for me personally is the look of this bra under tank tops and thinner riding shirts. There’s a bit of that dreaded armpit area bulge going on, and in certain shirt materials, I can make out the zipper underneath it.

Kinda like wearing armor. In a good way. Photo courtesy of Rennie Dyball
  • Control – 5
  • Comfort – 4
  • Sweat-wicking – 4
  • Smoothness – 3
  • Saddle to street – 3
Think I pulled something trying to get this angle of the wide, fully adjustable rib band. Crazy comfortable. Photo courtesy of Rennie Dyball

SheFit Ultimate Sports Bra: $64, available in sizes XSmall to 6Luxe (like a 6XL)

Nancy Rose Performance Perfect Bra 

I adore this line of workout wear and own several tanks and sweatshirts by the designer. The materials are buttery soft, the lines super flattering and the quality is top notch. The Perfect bra is definitely cute – I love the slim double straps. And like my other Nancy Rose pieces, the sweat wicking is second to none. I can be wringing out my polo shirt after a lesson but my bra will be dry by the time I’m back in my car. The lines are beautiful, too – barely detectable under tank tops and show clothes. The bounce control was pretty average for me, though. Good, not great. But the other attributes here make this bra a real contender, especially for those who are smaller-chested.

Cute cut and buttery-soft material. Photo courtesy of Rennie Dyball
  • Control – 3
  • Comfort – 4
  • Sweat-wicking – 5
  • Smoothness – 4
  • Saddle to street – 4
The best for all-day wear and wicks sweat like none other. Photo courtesy of Rennie Dyball

Nancy Rose Performance Perfect Bra: $68, available in sizes 2-12

Cheata Equestrian Trotter Bra

Here’s another bra, like the SheFit, that comes with instructions for putting it on. But don’t let this turn you off – the Cheata is a feat of engineering that’s my new go-to under my show clothes. The company promises the same level of support as layering multiple sports bras, but I’d say it’s even better than that. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain to get on, and yes, it takes a little getting used to — the soft outer layer hits a couple of inches below your ribcage. But it’s almost invisible under a show shirt and jacket, as promised — even my super-lightweight coat for summer that’s pretty unforgiving. Nothing that I’ve found so far looks better underneath show clothes. Only downside is that a big nude bra underneath street clothes is not a cute look, IMO, so this is a riding-only bra for me.

Love the compression with this bra coupled with the clean lines under clothing. Photo courtesy of Rennie Dyball
  • Control – 5
  • Comfort – 4
  • Sweat-wicking – 5
  • Smoothness – 5
  • Saddle to street – 2
With all that engineering, the look is somehow still smooth. Photo courtesy of Rennie Dyball

Cheata Equestrian Trotter Bra: $69.95, available in 8 color combos, sizes XSmall to XXXLarge

What are some of your favorite sports bras for riding? Help your fellow riders out and tell us in the comments on Facebook and Instagram

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