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what is underwire bra

You’re faced with decisions every time you go bra shopping. From various bra styles to unique bra features, every bra is different. And, you have a lot to consider when selecting the best bra for you. A full cup bra or a balconette bra? An unlined bra or a lined bra? A bra with underwire or a wire-free bra?

While many bra styles and features are based on personal preference, many women wonder if underwire is necessary in bras. Should you opt for an underwire bra versus a wire-free bra? Read on to get all the details that will help you decide!

What is an underwire bra?

An underwire bra is a bra that features a rounded piece of sturdy material, such as metal or plastic, in the fabric below each bra cup. The underwire must extend from below your armpit to your cleavage area for the underwire bra to be a good fit. A bra with underwire may be called a wire bra or an underwire bra.

Related: Which Part Of The Bra Provides The Most Support?

What does underwire do?

There’s a myth that wire bras are uncomfortable, but that’s not true. Only an ill-fitting wire bra will be uncomfortable. (In fact, all ill-fitting bras will be uncomfortable.) What makes underwire bras uncomfortable is when the wire doesn’t fit your breasts correctly. A wire bra that is your true size and fits well will always be comfy. That’s because the wire will sit properly under your breasts and won’t dig into your skin or breast tissue.

But aside from being comfortable, wire bras offer a variety of benefits. Underwire bras have three main purposes:


Having underwire in your bra cups lifts your breasts. The underwire sits right on your breastbone below your breasts, which provides an all-day natural lift. In contrast, a wire-free bra has no wire under the cups, so your breasts rest naturally on your chest.


An underwire bra helps shape and contour your breasts. Because the wire extends from your armpit to your cleavage, the wire creates a rounded, forward-facing appearance.


Underwire provides extra support for your bust. The lifting and shaping help to keep your breasts in place, and the wire helps evenly distribute weight in the bra.

Do you need underwire?

Do your bras need to have underwire? The simple answer is no. Every bra feature and bra selection is based on personal preference and your end goal. If you want a bra that lifts, shapes and supports your bust, an underwire bra will be a good fit.

To buy a wired bra or a wire-free bra – that’s the question. It’s a good idea to try on both wired bras and wire-frees when bra shopping, if you’re unsure of your preference. (Of course, it’s essential that you get a bra fitting prior to trying on bras. This ensures you only try on bras that are your size to get the best fit.) There are a variety of wired bras and wire-free bras, and testing them out will help you decide what’s most comfortable and confidence-boosting to you. But, it’s never a bad idea to have a mix of bras in your lingerie drawer.

Related: 5 Best Bras For Full Busts

We Highly Recommend

Whether you’re shopping for new everyday bras or lingerie for a special occasion, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find bras that fit well and feel good, especially when you’re doing it on your own. If you’ve ever felt unsure about your bra size or you just don’t know where to go to find good bras, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings. Their expert bra fitters will take the pain and frustration out of bra shopping and do all the work for you. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best bras are hiding.

If you’ve struggled with finding bras in the right size, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy bra shopping!

Featured image lingerie:
Emma Plunge Molded Bra P5490 | Emma Hipster P5495 in Bare
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Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is the founder of, a lifestyle and relationship blog offering relationship advice and encouraging women to be the happiest, most confident version of themselves through positivity and self-love. She's also a freelance writer and communications strategist. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, and check out some of her accomplishments on her portfolio.

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