Enell Sports Bra Review – Front Closure Sports Bra

front closure bras full figure

High impact plus size front closure sports bra, Enell product review.

By Pat Jameson, Bra Fitter

front closure sports bra large breasts
Image Credit Enell

The Enell Front Closure Sports Bra is an iconic American bra produced by the Montana brand, Enell. As a Bra Fitter one of the most requested features in a Sports Bra is that is it “easy to get on and off”. We all know what a battle getting in to a Sports Bra can be, or worse – out of a high impact Sports Bra after a sweaty workout.

I have had the pleasure of seeing the smiles on hundreds (possibly thousands?) of women’s faces when they have been fitted in to an Enell High Impact Sports Bra – I credit this experience to *possibly* being one of the driving forces behind starting this blog. The Enell Sports Bra can be a life changer… and if not life changing, definitely mood lifting!

The Unique Enell design features

Not only is the Enell Sports Bra uniquely a front closure sports bra. It also boasts a range of other impressive design elements. This includes the full coverage back, which is really there to strengthen the support of the bra, but we find women love this feature for i’s “shape smoothing” effect.

The wide strong straps that sit broadly on the shoulders are another great feature in this high impact front closure sports bra. These straps, together will the full back design, as designed to remove the weight of the bust from the shoulder and transfer this pressure on to the back. The sense of relief this brings so many customers in to change room is probably the being “mood lifting” feature of this bra.

The strong, stretch resistant fabric is design to compress the breast tissue against the chest. By doing this the breasts sit closer to the body and aren’t able to bounce independently so easily. Wearing the Enell Sports Bra is the very definition of being “strapped down”.

Benefits of the Enell front closure sports bra

  • Easy on, easy off – Front Closure Bras are easy to get in and out of
  • Clasps are easier to do up
  • Wire free support
  • High coverage cups
  • Full coverage back with shape smoothing effect
  • The ultimate in compression for that “suctioned down” feeling
  • Available in C – H cup, size 28 – 52″ ribcage / band size
  • A truly high impact plus size front closure sports bra
plus size front closure sports bra

Is the Enell Sports Bra a plus size sports bra?

Yes, one of the truly fabulous things about the Enell Sports Bra is it is available is a great range of plus size sizes. It is also available in customer sizes for those who fall outside of their existing size range.

The Enell Sports Bra is produced in sizes 00-8, which roughly equates to a size 28″ to a size 52″ bra size. My experience is that the cups can suit between a D-H cup.

Enell Sports Bra fitting advice

If you have never been fitted for an Enell Sports Bra my firm advice is to grab a measuring tape and determine your bust size (in inches) and rib measurement size (in inches) as per the diagram below.

From there, determine your rib cage size first and correlate that to an Enell size using the chart below. Eg If you ribcage size is 42″ then you’ll be a size 5.

If your bust measurement falls within the corresponding bust measurements, in this example I mean between 47″-51″ then this style will work for you in a size 5.

If you bust size doesn’t align with the rib cage size eg you get a size 5 for the ribcage but you need a size 3 for the bust size then it’s unlikely the Enell Sports Bra will work for you. You need to be the right “Enell proportion” to work with this bra. While this does work for a lot of ladies, it won’t work for everyone.

Putting on an Enell Sports Bra

An Enell Sports Bra needs to be firm in order to offer its best support. For this reason I expect it to be a bit tricky to get on, especially when its new. Like any Front Closure Sports Bra doing up the front hooks needs to be a little bit of an effort – otherwise there is no chance the bra is going to be firm enough to delivery the support you need during activity.

💡 I strongly advise starting at the bottom of the hook and eye clasps and working your way – do not be tempted to start at the top and work your way down – it won’t work.

As you work you way up the hook and eye clasps you’ll need to shove your breast tissue to the sizes in order to do up the hooks.

Again, I expect it to be a little on the tough side, but we certainly don’t want it to be impossible. If you can’t pull the ends of the bra together in front of your body then the chances are you need the next size up. Likewise, if you whip it on really easily without any sort of effort then it may be that the bra is too big and won’t offer you the functional support you need.

Oprah’s favourite sports bra

I just love this clip of Enell Founder, Renelle Braaten, about how she got an Enell Sports Bra on to Oprah and the flow on effects of this exposure for her business. Such a great story for American women and American small business.

Is the Enell a High Impact Sports Bra?

The Enell Sports Bra is a tried and tested high impact sports bra for plus size (and petite framed) women. The Enell Sports Bra is loved by runners, horse riders, gymnasts, cross fitters, park runners, casual walkers, zumba ladies… and more, I am sure!

Just because the Enell Sports Bra doesn’t have underwire, doesn’t mean it can’t control breast tissue. In fact, the very nature of this sports bra being wire less is one of it’s real assets – this allows it to offer a strong compression that you will never achieve from a underwire sports bra.

Enell Sports Bra advice from a Bra Fitter

To reiterate some of the points I have made in this article I think it is really important to take your measurements before buying an Enell Sports Bra, this is the best guide to finding your right size. Also remember, that while the hook and eyes are technically easier to do up because of the front closure system, they can still take some effort due to the compressive design and stretch resistant fabrics in the Enell Sports Bra.

I hope you love your Enell Sports Bra as much as I have loved fitting it this past 10+ years!

front closure bra reviews
front closure sports bra
Available in a range of colours here

Best High Impact Front Closure Sports Bras

front zip sports bra
front zip sports bra

Why do we need a high impact front closure Sports Bra for high impact exercise?

The reason most of us would never consider working out without a suitable support solution has a pretty straight forward reason… the actual natural support systems in our breasts are inherently weak. Whether they were even designed to cope with the demands of sports and exercise I don’t know?!

The natural support system of our breasts is the skin and the Coopers ligaments. Both are weak and any damage done to them is irreversible.

If our skin is repeatedly stretched and strained it will permanently stretch. And the Coopers ligaments which are a thin weave like formation of ligaments similar in size to strands of hair will also rupture if they are taken beyond their desired range of motion.

This is why we need a Sports Bra when we exercise. The “natural” systems won’t cut it in the real world, they don’t adequately work to limit the displacement of our breasts during activity.

How do our breasts bounce during activity?

Most women are aware that our breasts will “bounce” during activity, but the truth is it’s a little more complicated than that.

When we do high intensity activity our breasts will move, or displace, in three different directions. Up and down, side to side and in and out.

A good high impact Sports Bra will work to limit the breasts displacement in all three of these directions. But it will never stop it all together. Researchers actually believe that stopping breast displacement all together would not be a good thing. Rather, we want to reduce the breast displacement to a significantly reduced amount resulting in a more comfortable and less traumatic experience for our breast. The aim is to ensure that the skin and the coopers ligaments are stretched and strained beyond repair.

Most Sports Bra brands aim to produce product that will lead to a reduction of 50-60% of breast bounce when compared to a bare breast bounce during activity (ouch, I wouldn’t want to be in those clinical trials!).

How does a High Impact Front Closure Sports Bra deliver its support?

There are two methods/approaches a bra will use to support our breasts during activity.

  1. The Compression method – this involves compressing the breast tissue against our chest during activity. This limits the distance of the breast from the body and leads to a reduction in breast bounce. Some ladies love this approach, others don’t.
  2. The Encapsulation method – this involves separating the breasts and cradling each breast with a structured cup. The breast is not flattened. Some ladies feel better with this style of support as it gives a more natural shape.
  3. A combination of both of these methods – this involves some degree of separation/encapsulation with an overlying compressive layer. This is sort of the best of both worlds in my opinion. My experience in the change room would certainly suggest women tend to really like this approach. The feel secure but still shapely to some degree.

Just remember, it’s not the underwire that supports the breast tissue as such. In actual fact, I think you’ll find that most high impact front closure Sports Bras actually don’t have underwire at all. This is because it’s hard to add a significant enough amount of compression to the style if there is underwire built in to the bra.

A note about zip front Sports Bras

When a zip front Sports Bra is good it can be really good! When they are bad… they are REALLY bad! Please be careful with buying zip front Sports Bras that aren’t otherwise highly recommended by a trusted source. There truly is a lot of rubbish out there. If the zip isn’t appropriately covered it can’t cause significant rubbing. Also, if the bra isn’t fitted right even a well designed zip up bra can cause chaffing due to the zip element.

Here’s a list of my favourite Front Closure High Impact Sports Bras for 2020:

Enell Sports Bra

enell front opening high impact plus size sports bra

Made famous my Oprah many moons ago, the Enell Sports Bra is hard to go past as a rockstar high impact Sports Bra.

The Enell Sports Bra really relies on the compression method to deliver it’s support. There’s not much separation going on there. I always say this style works best for those wanting to feel like their breasts are suctioned against their body. It truly does just get them “out the way” so you can get on with it.

The full back and wide straps are another great feature. And the unqiue fabrication that truly doesn’t stretch out makes this one built to last. I am a BIG fan!

The thing to know about Enell is that they produce their sizes in size 00 – 8, so you have to be roughly speaking the right dimensions for any of their sizes in order for it to work. So some ladies can’t make this option work. They have a great size chart that helps guide you through choosing a size.

Brooks Dare Zip Run Bra

front zip sports bra

When I first saw this style I wasn’t so sure to be honest. The materials are lighter than I am used to seeing in a high impact Sports Bra and that worried me.

But truth be told once I took mine out for a spin I really enjoyed the feel of this on the run. It’s a little less “suction down” than the Enell Sport and that was refreshing for longer periods of wear.

The Zipper has a little latch under it to help zip this up with ease.

I also enjoyed the broad, soft straps and full back design. Oh and the seamless finish on the material is pretty special too – i think it adds to the overall “lightness” I mentioned.

The Brooks Dare Zip Run Bra is Available in 30 – 40, A – E cup.

Anita Active Petite to Plus Size Front Closure Sports Bra

Anita Active is well known in our industry for high quality fabrication and design, and the Anita Active Petite to Plus Size Front Closure Sports Bra definitely lives up to that.

Similarly to the Brooks Dare Zip above, this styles feels “light on”. I feel secure and supported without feeling like I am wearing a all encompassing device of a bra.

The strap adjustability is easy to manoeuvre from the front, using a good quality velcro, but as I always say bras that don’t have a lot of elastic in the strap will not actually need to be altered regularly, if at all. This is certainly a benefit.

I found this style fits true to size, but do note that Anita do not produce a DD or DDD cup, so their E cup is really an American DD cup. Don’t let that confuse you 🙂 I have also read reviews that this style fits small around the ribcage band, but I didn’t find that at all. I would suggest that like any front closure sports bra they can be harder to first do up – but this needs to be the case as they will not otherwise offer adequate breast control.

Available in size 30 – 44, A – E (their E cup = American DD cup).

Yvette Sports Bra Plus Size

front opening full figure sports bra

The Yvette Plus Size Sports Bra has a great traditional and slightly youthful design and feel. A great option for medium to perhaps some impact support in my opinion.

The more traditional sports bra back design makes it a nice fashion piece under sports gear too. The cup design also leans towards a natural shape. This style is trying to offer both some encapsulation and compression support.

A unique feature of the Yvette Zip Sports Bra is that you can adjust the firmness around the band from each side of the bra (as pictured), which makes for a great tailored fit and gives you the ability to firm it up if it stretches.

The Yvette Plus Size Zip Sports Bra claims it can fit up to an F cup in it’s ‘Plus’ version but in my personal experience and from having read reviews I do think it’s best for a size C-DD cup.

Champion Motion Control Zip Sports Bra

I chose to include this Champion style because I truly love the way it marries fashion and function pretty well. After all, we all deserve to feel great when we are working out.

There are a few great features about this style that I want to share, but before I do, I would suggest that this style is most suited to medium – high impact activity. It’s a little lighter than the Enell Sport, Dare Zip Run Bra and the Anita Active Frontline Open bra.

Things I really enjoyed about the Champion Motion Control Zip bra are the lightly moulded cups that left a great natural shape, the straps that had full adjustability from the back and the fact that I felt like I was wearing something pretty fashionable when I hit the road in this. The back design is pretty special!

Available in 34 – 42, B – DD.

A quick note about getting in to a Front Closure Sports Bra…

While you may not truly want to hear this, I do have to make sure you know it… Front Closure Sports Bras will certainly be easier to get in and out of than a traditional Sports Bra BUT you can’t expect them to be really easy to whip on.

In order for a Sports Bra to function it needs to be firm. This means we want you to have to put some effort in to getting the hooks/zip done up, otherwise you just won’t get the control out of it that you need to. I generally say that a Front opening Sports Bra should be tough to get done up, but not impossible.

Just keep that in mind when you go to try your new bra on.