I hated underwire bras—until I started wearing Cuup
My mind has been changed.
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Like a lot of people, my relationship with bras has changed over the last year. This is to say that, most of the time, it’s non existent. When I do wear a bra, it’s more likely to be a bralette or a sports bra than one of the padded, underwired variety. (As Reviewed’s health & fitness editor, I like to tell myself wearing spandex almost exclusively is part of my job.)
At the same time, my barometer for wearing a real bra has gone way, way down. Being home most of the time makes something as staid as a trip to Trader Joe's or the dentist feel like a reasonable excuse to bust out a statement outfit with some big hoop earrings and, yes, an honest-to-god bra. Once I started leaving the house more, I knew I wanted to try Cuup, a lingerie brand that runs rampant in my targeted Instagram and Facebook ads. Here’s what I think of Cuup, and whether or not its bras are worth trying yourself.
What is Cuup?
Cuup is a lingerie company that first started selling bras in 2018. Like a lot of newer brands, it's been all over social media, with its cool-toned, minimalistic ads. What sets Cuup apart from other bra brands is its design—each of its five bra styles have underwire but no padding. Its original bras, the Balconette, Demi, and Plunge, have mesh cups, and the Scoop and Triangle bra have microfiber cups.
Cup sizes range from 30A to 36H. This isn’t as inclusive as it could be—ThirdLove’s size range, for example, extends to 48I—but Cuup has more sizes in development, according to its “about” page. However, there’s no information on what that range will entail or when new sizes will become available.
Each bra costs $68, which is almost double the $35 price of a similar Instagram-famous bra brand, Lively, but is on par with most bras from brands like ThirdLove, Natori, Spanx, and Skims. Cuup also sells underwear in a bikini, thong, and high-waist cut, for $18 each or $45 for three. While all bras can be returned for free if they haven’t been worn for more than an at-home try-on, all underwear is final sale.
Cuup sent me two of its most popular bras, the balconette and the plunge. I also tried the triangle bra, to see how the microfiber cups compared to the mesh.
How do you find your right Cuup size?
If you’re not sure what your cup size is (or just want to make sure you’re getting the right Cuup size, as all brands have some variance), you have three options: Take its online fit quiz, chat with a fit therapist, or schedule a free virtual fitting.
Spoiler alert: My Cuup size ended up being my usual size, 32D (and it fit impeccably in almost all the bras I tried, which I’ll get more into later). But it took me a few tries to get there.
I started off by taking the quiz, which asks for your size in your current best-fitting bra, along with more specific questions like how it fits, where your breasts are the fullest (bottom, center, or top), and how far apart they sit. It prompts you to use a measuring tape or string and ruler to measure your band and cup size, but you can skip that step if you don’t have any handy. At the end, it recommends a size and style its algorithm thinks will suit you best. I found myself overthinking a lot of the answers, mainly because they consisted of a lot of things I’d truly never considered before, so I spent a good amount of time peering down blankly at my chest, trying to gauge where my breasts were the fullest and how far apart they were.
Ultimately, I took the quiz three different times, and got three different sizes each time (only one of which was the correct size), so if you’re an overthinker like me, I don't recommend the process. My issues could have been purely due to user error, but because sizing a bra by description alone is difficult, I’d recommend trying the virtual fitting if you’re unsure about your size.
How does the Cuup virtual bra fitting work?
I set up an appointment with Tania, Cuup’s Director of Fit, over Zoom. To get as accurate a measurement as possible, the fitting required me to have a soft measuring tape or string. I was also asked to remove my shirt, so I wore an unpadded bra underneath. (You can work around this if you don’t have a measuring tape or don’t feel comfortable taking off your top.)
The whole thing took about 10 minutes. I connected with Tania, exchanged pleasantries, and took off my top. If you make an appointment yourself, you’ll fill out a form that asks many of the same questions as the Fit Quiz so your stylist has an idea of your concerns. Then I took two measurements: My band, which is the area of the ribcage where the bra’s bottom strap loops around, and my cup, which is just around the nipple area. It was definitely something I could have done on my own—and was directed to do in the fit quiz—but having someone there and checking that my measuring tape was in the correct position and wasn’t too taut or loose was helpful.
At the end, Tania confirmed that, yep, I’m a 32D, and suggested two bras (the Plunge and the Balconette) that seemed best for my body type. Afterwards, I received an email that summarized my fit session.
I didn’t try out the chat function, but it seems like a nice middle ground between the quiz and virtual appointment—say, if you’re pretty sure about your size, but want to confirm it with someone, or determine if one style of bra could fit you differently than another.
Which Cuup bra is the most comfortable?
Once I received the bras—which arrived in a delightful triangle-shaped package, along with a small mesh garment bag—I wore them for about two weeks. (Yes, even while working from home; I’m very brave.) Below is my experience with each Cuup bra, ranked from my most to least favorite.
1. Cuup Balconette Bra
The Balconette is Cuup’s signature bra, with a vintage pinup-style cut and airy mesh cups. Basically, it looks like a classic push-up bra, only without the actual push-up effect. I got it in the “Blush” color, which is a pink-ish nude.
I was mostly worried about it being unlined. When my usual size doesn’t fit me quite right, it’s almost always too big, as was the case when I tried Lively’s bras, which gaped around the top quadrant of my breasts. It’s easy to hide this with foam padding—which creates the illusion of a breast underneath clothing even if it’s not that comfortable—but seems more difficult with wrinkly, loose mesh.
But the bra surprised me, and I can confidently say the Cuup Balconette is the best-fitting bra I’ve ever worn. There are no wrinkles or gapes in the cups, whether I'm standing up or sitting down, and the mesh provides nice ventilation. I can see that making hot, muggy, boob sweat-inducing summer days much better.
It’s also really comfortable (you know, for a wired bra). Its straps never slip and the wire doesn't feel overly taut, but it provides enough support that I don't have to grab my boobs every time I run up the stairs, which I have to do when I go braless or wear a bralette with minimal support. After several hours of wear, I start to notice that the wire digs slightly into my sternum, so I'm happy to take it off at the end of the day. Still, I'm able to wear it throughout entire work-from-home days, which I can't say for a lot of the other underwire bras in my drawer.
Because the Balconette cups are mesh, it doesn’t provide a lot of coverage, and is almost totally see-through. The lack of padding also means the impressions of your nipples might poke through a little bit. (This particular style has darting down the center of the bra, which exacerbates the effect.) I don't mind this—I only notice it with sheer, tight-fitting, light-colored tops—but it’s something to be aware of.
2. Cuup Plunge Bra
The Plunge bra looks like a cross between a classic T-shirt bra and a bralette, with a slim, V-shaped neckline and mesh cups. It fits near perfectly for me, though I'm more aware of the wire throughout the day than I was with the Balconette.
It's also see-through, even though I got the darkest shade available (black), and it has the same 3-D nipple effect as the Balconette, especially if I wear a tight shirt. Still, any beef I have with the Plunge is simply a result of comparing it with my beloved Balconette. Overall, the Plunge is supportive and comfortable, and is a bra I can see myself returning to again and again.
3. Cuup Triangle Bra
The Triangle bra is my least favorite of the three I tried. That said, it’s still pretty good. Its microfiber material is less form-fitting than the mesh, which means it's was a little big on me—the band area is fine, but the cups have that dreaded wrinkly look that the other bras don't. Something about the mesh and cuts of the other bras make them seem luxurious, but the simple T-shirt bra cut and microfiber material of the Triangle feels less fancy.
The microfiber also doesn't offer much more coverage than the mesh. The blush color I tried seems only slightly less see-through than the mesh Balconette, and the lack of padding makes my nipples poke through a bit.
On the plus side, the microfiber seems nearly as breathable as the mesh, so it’d probably also be great in the summer, and it's still supportive and comfortable. It also covers more real estate on my boobs, so if you’re fuller-chested, you may prefer this option because it offers more coverage. All told, it’s a perfectly fine bra, just probably not the one I’d choose from Cuup next time.
Are Cuup bras worth buying?
Based on the size disparities between the mesh and microfiber bras, you may have to play some chess to find your perfect fit. As for me, I’m fully sold on Cuup’s mesh Balconette and Plunge bras. I won’t always want to wear underwire over the next few months (old habits die hard)—but when I do, you can bet it’ll be a mesh Cuup bra.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.