A bralette is a type of unstructured bra that ditches traditional features like underwires and molded cups, offering a minimalist approach to breast support. Made from soft, breathable materials, it prioritizes comfort and a natural silhouette over the shaping and lifting found in more conventional bras.
Curious to learn more about what is a bralette? In this article, we’ll discuss key features that distinguish the undergarment, including their typical materials, cut, and lack of fastenings. For the full rundown on who is best suited for this style, taking into account body types and specific occasions for wear, keep scrolling.
Meet the experts:
Emily Lau Kim is a 23-year-old content creator based in Los Angeles. She shares inspiration for women sizes 12 and 14, including bra hacks and style tips that you can utilize in your day-to-day.
Priya Downes, founder and CEO of Nudea. Founded in 2019, the brand is a thoughtful curation of underwear and sleepwear created from natural and recycled materials.
In terms of key features, bralettes are commonly crafted from soft, breathable fabrics such as cotton, lace, or microfiber. The cut of a garment usually offers less coverage compared to traditional bras and may vary from plunging V-necks to scoop necks. Unlike more structured bras, most bralettes do not have clasps and offer pull-on styles, although some come with adjustable straps for a better fit.
“A good bralette has its own advantages. It enhances your natural shape. A longer one helps to cinch in the waist,” Kim states. “When you’re building an outfit where you don’t want the straps to show, but you still want that support, a bralette should be the way to go.”
Downes shares, “Bralettes are non-wired, less restrictive alternatives to a ‘traditional’ wired bra. Some designs are dressed in an over the head or pull on style, whereas other bralettes feature more ‘traditional’ bra componentry like hook and eye closure.”
Who Should Wear A Bralette
As for who should wear a bralette, it’s most suited for individuals with smaller to medium-sized busts that do not require substantial support. It particularly benefits those with shallower breast shapes and those with more even fullness. They’re best paired with casual wear or outfits where comfort is the key focus, and they can serve as excellent layering pieces under loose-fitting tops or open-back dresses.
However, if you have larger breasts, that shouldn’t stop you from trying this style! Some specialized bralettes on the market now offer more structured support and wider straps, specifically catering to fuller figures. They can provide a comfortable yet supportive alternative to traditional bras for women with larger busts. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that it may not offer the same level of support as a traditional bra, so your individual comfort and support needs should guide your choice.
Downes states, “The best support in a bralette will always be to the smaller styles — due to the decreased support needed. However, specialist, fuller bust bralettes do exist, that have been tailored to the specific requirements of a heavier and fuller breast.”
How to Choose the Right Bralette
When selecting the right bralette, material stands as a crucial element. Soft fabrics like lace or microfiber prioritize comfort but may offer limited support. For those seeking a more snug fit, options with spandex blends can be a better choice. The cut and coverage should also align with your specific needs, as styles can range from modest to more revealing.
“All garments fit the way they do because of a combination of the pattern and fabric. Cotton is a strong, natural staple (long) fiber. The handle and fabric characteristics are due to weave or knit structure, compositional % blend, and finishing,” Downes explains. “Synthetic fabrics like lace and mesh can have infinite characteristics dependent on the specific design, knit and composition. Typically synthetic fabrics are hard wearing and have the ability when blended with elastane to have the required stretch for underwear.”
She adds, “Natural fabrics are breathable, temperature regulating and better for the planet. Depending on the design and construction of the bralette, the fabrics play a role in the support, shaping, comfort, longevity and flexibility of it.”
Additional features like strap width and under-bust bands come into play if you require more substantial support. These elements can make a significant difference in comfort and wearability. Also, consider the outfits you plan to wear with it; for instance, a simpler design is generally better for layering under sheer or tight-fitting tops.
How to Style Bralettes
The styling possibilities for bralettes are numerous and adaptable to various occasions. For a laid-back appearance, this undergarment pairs well with loose shirts or open-back dresses. Taking a casual approach allows comfort without sacrificing style.
For a more daring look, consider designs that are embroidered or lacy. These styles can make a stylish statement when peeking out from under a blazer or low-cut top. In athleisure settings, the garment also pairs effortlessly with high-waisted leggings and a cropped hoodie. During colder months, it serves as a versatile layering piece under heavier tops.
How to Care For a Bralette
Preserving the quality of your bralette starts with proper cleaning. Hand-washing in cold water using a gentle detergent remains the safest method, especially for delicate materials. If your garment is made of more robust fabric, machine washing it in a lingerie bag on a delicate cycle is an alternative.
Drying methods are equally important for maintaining shape and elasticity. Air-drying is generally the best option. If your bralette features delicate fabrics like lace, laying it flat to dry can help prevent any stretching or distortion, ensuring the piece remains in good condition for longer periods.
Is it suitable for larger busts?
While bralettes have traditionally been marketed toward individuals with smaller to medium-sized busts, the industry is changing. Many brands now offer designs tailored for larger busts that feature wider straps and more supportive under-bust bands. Some even include internal slings or side-boning for extra support.
However, it’s essential to note that even these specialized bralettes may not offer the same level of lift and support as traditional bras with underwires. If you have a larger bust, it’s advisable to try various styles and brands to find the one that best meets your support and comfort needs.
Can I wear it for sports or workouts?
Bralettes are generally not recommended for high-impact sports like running or activities that involve a lot of jumping. This is because they lack the engineering that sports bras have, which is designed to minimize movement and provide optimal support. However, bralettes are well-suited for low-impact activities like yoga, pilates, or leisurely walking.
Some brands offer “athletic bralettes” made of moisture-wicking materials specifically for such activities. If you choose to wear one for exercise, make sure it is made of breathable fabric and offers a snug but comfortable fit.
How do I transition from a traditional bra to a bralette?
Making the switch can initially feel daunting if you’re accustomed to the rigid structure of traditional bras. A good first step is to identify your primary needs. Are you looking for comfort, minimal support, or perhaps a fashionable piece for layering? Once you’ve identified your needs, you can choose a bralette that aligns with them.
For instance, if you still desire some shaping, look for padded options. Those with adjustable straps can offer a degree of lift. The transition might require some trial and error, but the key is to prioritize comfort and personal preference.
What types of clothing or occasions are bralettes particularly well-suited for?
Bralettes shine in casual and comfort-driven settings. They’re a solid choice for lounging around, tackling low-impact workouts, or for anyone who needs a simple, comfy option for everyday wear. They give a natural shape without underwires and are also a good pick for sleep, offering just enough support for new moms or those with a fuller bust.
According to Downes, “Bralettes are best suited for consumers who prioritize comfort, particularly if they are averse to underwires. Due to the reduced support, these styles provide a natural, improved shape. They’re great for loungewear, some low impact exercise (depending on the style) and great to wear if a consumer wishes for a relaxed, easy to wear garment for daily workwear or even sleep (for those post-partum or fuller bust customers who need a little extra support at night).”