The Sports Bra Heard Round the World

In 1999, Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty in the Women’s World Cup final and in celebration, she whipped off her shirt and dropped to her knees ecstatic. There was a stir of controversy over her jubilant reaction to which she replied with, "There's something primal about sport that doesn't exist anywhere else - when you have a moment like scoring a winning goal in the World Cup championship, you are allowed to release this feeling, this emotion, this response that is not elicited anywhere else."

There’s no doubt about the feeling Chastain had over the win and her freedom of expression rocked the world in more ways than one. Even though it was her sports bra that made major headlines, the moment carried a weight more significant. It brought more eyes to the sport, in general, made Chastain an automatic sports hero, and normalized the sports bra as a piece of outerwear, no longer confining it as an undergarment only.

With her genuine and well-deserved moment of glory, she single-handedly shifted the narrative of what is and is not deemed “acceptable” in the eyes of the public.

Women of History Paving the Way

Approximately 20 years prior to this momentous occasion, the sports bra originated in the late 1970s by women who needed a bra for jogging. Lisa Lindahl, Polly Smith, and Hinda Schreiber worked together to meet the needs of many, including themselves. The three were tired of having to wear two bras just to jog around campus. They wanted to create a garment that would hold the breasts closer to the chest and take out the painful bounce. There was the challenge of keeping them confined, while also making the fabric feel good.

After rounds of testing to find the design that delivered support and comfort, the Jogbra was born. After evolving in design and style over several decades, the sports bra remains an essential part of any workout or athletic event and has come a long way in terms of fashion and style. Though function is still the primary allure, there’s now a wider range of colors, fabrics, and designs.

These choices allow individual style to still shine through whether the sports bra is worn underneath another item of clothing or on its own. The idea of wearing it while running, practicing yoga, or baring freely as a real-time response to a winning goal is no longer as taboo as it once was. The improvements in functionality, evolving design, and the foundation laid by powerhouse women who pioneered solutions we still benefit from today have all led to how we think about and wear a sports bra.

Finding a Sports Bra Where Fashion and Function Work Together

Since the beginning, it was determined that sports bras must fit snug but not too tight. The goal is to reduce bounce while still allowing enough breathing room to be comfortable. The search for the right combination is one many have found challenging throughout the years. Add on to that the idea of finding a fashionable sports bra that could motivate your next workout or blend in with a team uniform and the search becomes more difficult, at least in years past.

A few of the important functional details to look for in a quality sports bra are adjustable sturdy straps, breathable materials, and a variety of cup sizes and styles that are customizable per person and level of activity. Different body types require different levels of coverage and stretch. And the travel bra you wear to go for an outdoor hike may be different than what you wear for a HIIT class.

These days you don’t have to compromise between function and fashion if that’s what you prefer. Whether you want a basic black sports bra a la Brandi Chastain or want to add a bit of pizazz to your everyday exercise routine, there’s a super cute sports bra that will offer you the comfort and style you’ve been looking for. In past years, having a bra strap show would be shocking to some, but in today’s world, there’s more freedom to work out in the way that feels most comfortable, which may mean sans shirt.

We’ve come a long way in terms of what’s available when it comes to sports bras, which in turn, helps to motivate us to move more, be stronger, and feel good about what we wear.

Channel Your Inner Chastain with the TomboyX Soft Sports Bra

Our TomboyX Soft Sports Bra is reminiscent of Chastain’s “winning sports bra” from her 1999 championship. It’s a go-to for any level of activity with sizing that ranges from XS to 4X. Like with any piece of clothing, basic black is standard and works well for any workout outfit. It’s a classic heavy hitter that always secures a top spot in the sports bra rotation. 

The specialized Drirelease® construction with breathable mesh keeps you drier and cooler for longer. Plus, the Freshguard® technology grabs a hold of odors and sweat with its moisture management. The scoop-neck front and back make the design more appealing and the super soft sewn-in molded cups support lower intensity gym workouts like yoga, biking, and hiking. 

There’s also the option to go insert-free. Mirroring the style of the Soft Sports Bra, the addition of removable cups can be swapped for pads or breast forms. It was designed for those wanting more modest coverage, those in transition, or those recovering from a mastectomy. The style and functionality are still the focus; the difference is that it gives people the alternative of a sports bra with removable pads.

How to Wash Sports Bras with Removable Pads

Our sports bras are machine washable and can be tumble dried. However, if you have a sports bra with removable padding, it’s best to wash the padding and bra separately to allow the inserts to retain their shape. Throw your machine washable sports bra in with the rest of your workout gear and hand wash the inserts and let them air dry.

Sports bras are made with durable materials that are conducive for stretching and movement, but in order to maintain the integrity of the material for as long as possible, wash with care. Otherwise, they can become too stretched out or worn and not offer the support you need to stay active.

Underwear, Outerwear, Just Wear It As You Wish

Pioneers like Lindahl, Smith, and Schreiber and legendary athletes like Brandi Chastain have paved a path for those who no longer want to be restricted by what they can do and how they can do it. The sports bra was never specifically classified to be worn underneath clothing or on its own specifically; the intention was to get the job done and keep everything secure up top.

The idea of wearing sports bras as athleisure outwear is more common than ever as people wear them not only for exercise but to lounge around the house or carry on with their daily activities. When they’re made with quality materials and solid construction, it gives people the confidence to wear them as both underwear and outerwear.

Fashion trends include wearing it under an unzipped hoodie or paired on its own with a comfy pair of sweatpants or leggings. It’s become more of the norm to a point where a Chastain pose in today’s world may not have been as jaw-dropping as it was twenty years ago, leaving her athleticism to take center stage.

Additionally, with the option of creative designs, it’s yet another way to show off your personality through fashion. For low-key activities that don’t require jumping or actions that cause consistent bounce, our Racerback Soft Bra is a sporty version of our Essential Soft Bra. There’s no underwire or padding but the Next Gen band provides support for easy movement and comfort. The draw is the range of styles and colors available that elevate the cut and make it outerwear ready. From sushi to sloths and holiday-inspired to rainbow pride favorites, showcasing your sense of style has never been more fun.

The Staying Power of the Sports Bra

Who knew that this largely underestimated garment would make such a statement back in 1999 and continue its momentum decades later. The original sports bra met a need that so many benefited from and has since evolved into including those who want more customization and options to meet them where they are in life.

There’s always a sense of achievement in finding the perfect fit. When the right feel, function, and fashionable elements all come together, it’s nothing short of a small miracle. For a piece of clothing that is worn on nearly a daily basis, why wouldn’t you want to reach for the best?

The concept of a personalized solution has become a powerful way for people to feel uninhibited when participating in sports, exercising at the gym, or simply staying as active as possible. It may have started as a solely functional piece but what it gives is so much more. Chastain made that perfectly clear when she bared her sports bra in a way that represented joy, enthusiasm, and freedom that was iconic to the times and has left a lasting impact since then.