On today’s docket: a showdown of two fuller cup size sports bras from lululemon.
The free to be serene bra is designed for C/D cups and the free to be elevated bra is for DD/DDD cups. Both are categorized by lululemon as light support. They’re priced the same at $52 each (though some colors are $58) as of this writing.
I’ve previously written dedicated reviews for both bras: the elevated here and the serene here. This post is intended to more plainly show the key differences between these bras. They might look similar, but in practice they have several key differences. These side-by-side photos and notes will walk through those differences.
Throughout this post, the elevated bra is on the left side in purple (“violet verbena”). The serene bra is in deep blue (“night diver”) on the right.
Sizing: the Free to Be Serene Bra is Slightly Looser
I’m wearing both bras in a size 2, which is my normal lululemon size. In traditionally sized bras, I wear a 30D/DD. If you’re between sizes, you might be happier in a size down for the serene bra. I do not recommend sizing down in the elevated bra, as it runs tighter.
The shoulder straps on the free to be serene bra run slightly looser. It’s a noticeable difference from my other lululemon bras. As a more petite gal with smaller shoulders, I’ve always wished I could tighten the straps. I have no strap issues with the free to be elevated bra, which has strap length comparable to my other lulu bras. I got these bras at the same time, so it’s a true difference and not an issue of the straps simply wearing out.
Coverage: the Free to Be Elevated Bra Offers More Coverage
The elevated bra offers substantially more coverage. The neckline is a bit higher on the elevated, and the scoop is a little narrower as well.
Notice there’s also more coverage around the underarms and back for the elevated bra. You can see in the side photos (below) that the scoop under the arms is quite open on the serene bra. If you’re concerned about coverage around the side and underarms, you’ll want to steer clear of the serene.
Similarly, the serene bra has a wide portion at the back where the only fabric is the band and straps. In contrast, the elevated bra has extra fabric above the band around the entire length of the bra.
Support: the Free to Be Elevated Bra is More Supportive
The band thickness is a key difference between the bras. The serene bra band measures 1″, while the elevated comes in at a much beefier 1.5″. Since the band provides a lot of bra support, this makes the elevated bra much sturdier.
The elevated bra has an extra diagonal seam at the front, likely put there to, well, elevate the silhouette.
Overall, the elevated bra is significantly more compressive and supportive than the serene bra. For me, the elevated bra provides about the same support as lululemon’s energy bra. The serene bra has a more “natural” level of support that isn’t as compressive for me.
The point where the straps split in the back is just behind the apex of the shoulder on both bras. The serene bra seems to split just slightly higher, but the difference is pretty negligible. That said, the straps on the elevated bra are clearly sturdier, with one “anchor” strap complimented by several thinner ones, which aids in support. The serene bra has the same number of straps, but all are narrow.
In this photo, I aligned the two bras one on top of the other, matching up the bottom of the bands. If you look closely, you’ll see several of the differences I mentioned: the longer straps on the serene and the lower coverage. Though it’s easy to miss, notice that the serene is also cut to flare outward at the underarms, while the elevated is cut more straight up and down.
Both are much-loved bras, but in my opinion, they have very different ideal uses.
Personally, with its lower support and coverage, I only wear the serene bra for casual and light use: travel, camping, hiking, or light strength work. I like wearing the elevated for things where I like a little more support, like cycling, studio fitness classes, or strength work that might involve a little plyometrics.