10 Braless (Yet Supportive) Outfit Ideas to Try This Summer
Plus, a few stylist-approved tips for how to ditch the undergarment once and for all.
To bra or not to bra? That is the question weighing on many people's minds as we re-enter society as social beings post-pandemic. For some, #vaxxedgirlsummer will involve breaking out every outfit that never got to see the light of day outside their (super sanitized) apartment in 2020, never making it to those rooftop bars or bottomless brunches. But others are on the fence. After all, how do you go from wireless to wire clad after almost a year and a half off the hook?
The short answer: if you don't want to, you don't have to.
Contrary to popular belief, wearing a bra (or any undergarment, for that matter) isn't mandatory. Just like there are no actual "body type" fashion rules you need to be following, you don't need to wear a bra (in public or otherwise). Bras support your breasts, provide coverage, and help your clothes fit better; they serve a purpose, and it's nice to have the option to wear them. But whether or not you wear a bra is a personal choice, just like shaving your body hair.
If you'd feel more comfortable (and confident) going braless, there's no time like the present to try it out. And, after the whirlwind year that was 2020, aka the year of comfort, you won't be the only one saying goodbye to bras.
How to Go Braless
It sounds obvious, doesn't it? If you want to go braless, just stop wearing a bra. But for most of us, it's a sentiment easier said than done. If you've worn a bra almost every day since you were a teenager (maybe even younger), not wearing one might feel unnatural before it does liberating.
Celebrity stylist Cindy Conroy said it best: We may hate bras, but after years of a love-hate relationship, we're accustomed to having that structure.
"We're used to the support while we speed walk to meetings, stroll down the street as we window shop, or sprint to catch the subway before the doors slam shut," she tells InStyle over email. "The feel of the wire under our bust has become normal, so when it's gone, you're going to feel a little weird."
And that goes for any time you try something new: the first time is always the hardest. So for anyone ready to ditch their brasiers cold turkey, more power to you, but to those a little more hesitant, there are plenty of ways to ease into it. A great way to do this is to first take a look at your wardrobe and pick out pieces you can comfortably wear without a bra, like a tight-fitting black tank top or loose button-up blouse.
"A black tank top is great because it will stay opaque even as it stretches over your body and having it be a bit tight will help keep you supported," Originally Lovely designer Kaitlin Barthold tells InStyle. "Wearing loose, button-up blouses is another great option. Just make sure they aren't too sheer - unless that's the style you are looking for." She adds that silk, rayon, or light cotton blouses will likely feel most comfortable and look the most professional.
The next step is to start going braless in public settings. Start small with trips to the grocery store or on a morning walk, then ditch your bra on a date with your girlfriends.
"The key is to get to a point where you're not thinking about it, fidgeting with your clothing, or compensating by inverting your shoulders or having bad posture," says MIKADO personal stylist, Jordan Stolch. "Easing in is a great way to build confidence and have it feel natural."
A Note On going Braless For Bigger Busts
In case you were wondering, you can still go braless even if you're well endowed. That being said, after going braless, you might find you prefer wearing one if for no reason other than the support a bra can offer. Jené Luciani Sena, an accredited stylist and fashion expert who specializes in bras, also adds that if you're above a C-cup, reveals are other factors that might deter you from going braless.
"Multiple studies have shown that the constant bouncing of our breast tissue up and down over time will contribute to sagging and possibly cause pain and discomfort in the future. Our breasts are made up of ligaments and tissue that can stretch over time, and a properly supportive bra is essential," Sena says - but reveals there is a workaround for bigger busts.
"That doesn't mean it has to be a heavy foam bra with an underwire and a big contraption," she adds quickly. "Often a simple wire-free style with soft cups is all that's needed."
Bottom line: It doesn't matter if you're an A cup or a G cup. Whether or not you wear a bra is still up to you. If you feel comfortable and confident sans bra, that's fantastic. If not? Also fine. That being said, if you clicked on this article (and have come this far), you're probably at least somewhat curious how other people are embracing the braless lifestyle.
Below, we've rounded up 10 tips from designers, stylists, and influencers on how to go braless in 2021.
Start With Bralettes or Bandeau Tops
If you're still hesitant to go braless, Stolch says bralettes and bandeaus are a great starting point because they're comfortable, wireless, and padding-free. Plus, bralettes and bandeaus offer light support, "something we're accustomed to feeling from years of wearing conventional bras," she says, adding they also "provide a sense of security that we're conditioned to expect as we operate in the world."
Wear Your Workout Tops Outside the Gym
Image consultant Christian Sismone says one of the easiest ways to go braless when you're 'blessed in the chest' is to wear form-fitting workout tops.
"I love a great racerback workout top and it allowed me to get comfortable with the natural movement of my twins," she tells InStyle.
Printed Tops Will Take the Focus Off Your Chest
Busy prints distract the eye, so if you want to draw attention away from the fact that you aren't wearing a bra, Stolch recommends opting for printed patterns around the bust area or extra embellishments, like ruffles or pockets.
Accessorize With a Cardigan For Coverage
"I recently wore a spaghetti strapped dress that had a great deal of structure without a bra. I'm a 42H and it was amazing," Sismone tells Instyle.
That being said, the image consultant admits wearing this sort of looser-fitting outfit does require a certain level of comfort. "Without a bra, you will have a bit more bounce," Sismone says. "If you're not good with that wearing a cardigan may help."
Smocked Bodices Are Supportive
Because they're fitted and well-tailored around the bust, San Diego-based personal stylist and fashion blogger, Vanessa Valiente tells InStyle that a smocked bodice can offer a nice amount of support, particularly for larger busts.
"Bustier women often have to size up to get a structured garment to fit their bust," Valiente explains, but because these garments are flexible and can accommodate the extra width, wearing this style top or dress is easier and more convenient than having to take everything in at the waist.
In addition to garments with smocked bodices, Valiente says denim dresses and jumpsuits or rompers are also awesome for not wearing a bra because the material is "dense yet stretchy; the perfect combination for bralessness of all sizes."
NYC-based personal stylist Nicole Russo of Let's Get You says that one of the keys to going braless is to wear tops that cascade over the bust line and move with the shape of your bust. Case in point: V-neck silk camisoles or blouses.
"The fitted top portion drapes in the direction of how breasts lay, while the volume along the stomach doesn't reveal all the roundness of an entire boob," Russo explains. "This combination hides the lines of a breast, making it less revealing."
Add a Blazer
If you want to minimize the risk of awkward situations, blazers are Conroy's go-to for a cool look that works double-time to cover the nipple. "Even if you wear a sheer blouse or linen T-shirt, your braless journey will be your little secret," she says.
Bodysuits are a two-for-one special garment that's stretchy enough to be comfortable, but that's tight enough to give you support in lieu of a bra, Conroy tells us.
"If you're nervous that it's not enough coverage," she adds, "gravitate towards high neck bodysuits. While a scoop neck or deep V is alluring, it's also the perfect recipe for spillage."
A Corset Top, a la Bridgerton
Something that has a built-in bra style, such as a corset-top can be a great option for anyone looking to ease into the braless category, Sena tells InStyle, and thanks to runways and shows like Bridgerton, they're also a huge trend this season.
"As a bonus, they are basically a bra," Sena notes. "They cinch the waist and give boobs a boost!"