The world of undergarments can be a polarizing space, with “experts” all over the place taking sides. One of the most hotly debated topics is: are bralettes bad for you, and should you wear a bralette vs bra? Other topics in the same vein, such as underwire vs no underwire and going braless ( i.e. the pros and cons of not wearing a bra), are just as divisive.
It can be hard to separate the noise from the truth, especially on the good ole interwebs. So that’s where I come in, to answer once and for all—are bralettes good for you? Are there side effects of not wearing a bra, and wearing a bralette instead? Read on for the truth, once and for all: are bralettes bad for you?
BRALETTE VS BRA: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
So what is a bralette, anyway? A bralette has less padding, no underwire, less structure, and tends to accentuate your natural shape. A bra will be more structured, can have underwire, and tends to give your breasts more uniform shaping.
Bralettes are becoming more and more popular as people search for comfort (I mean, after 2020, who could blame us?) without sacrificing style. Bralettes give you that casual, breezy vibe, add an extra dash of sass to your outfit, while still supporting you where it matters most.
But, let’s get back to the OG question—are bralettes harmful to your breasts?
THE GREAT DEBATE: ARE BRALETTES BAD FOR YOU?
I’ll just jump right in: bralettes are not bad for you, although an ill-fitting bralette that doesn’t give you adequate support is no good (and the same can be said for bras!). Depending on your breast shape, size, and coverage needs—as well as lifestyle!—you may want a bra.
However! There are no side effects of not wearing a bra, and wearing a bralette instead. In fact, bralettes these days are becoming more versatile, more size inclusive, and more suited for all walks of life.
PROS AND CONS OF NOT WEARING A BRA (AND WEARING A BRALETTE)
When it comes to the bralette vs bra wars, people tend to take sides. And these same people tend to have very established rules on who can wear a bralette, and who can’t. Of course, it’s not black and white, and the answer varies wildly depending on you and your needs. Here are some pros and cons for ya!
PROS OF WEARING A BRALETTE:
Price. Bralettes tend to be cheaper than bras, due to less material and structure.
Fashion. You know you want to be that cool girl with the lacy bra peeking out. Or maybe the girl who wears a bralette as a top? You could pull it off, I promise ya.
Material. Bralettes are more likely to be made from a variety of materials, giving ya more options.
Shape. A bralette lets you lean into your own natural shape.
More flexibility. Your girls gotta move, and a bralette lets ‘em!
Breathability. Less material = more breathability.
Sleeping. Bralettes are comfy enough to sleep in—and safe, too, as experts don’t recommend you sleep in a bra.
CONS OF WEARING A BRALETTE
Sizing. Bralettes don’t have cup and band sizes like regular bras, which means the fit can be tricky.
Coverage. If you have a nipping out situation, a bralette might not help you much—especially on chillier days.
Shape. A bralette doesn’t do much to shape your breasts, but just shows off your natural shape (which, of course, could be a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for!)
Support. Bralettes don’t have underwires, and may not always be as supportive as traditional bras, due to less structure.
Adjustability. Most bras are very adjustable, but with bralettes, this isn’t a given. They do exist, like this convertible triangle bralette.
BRA OR BRALETTE? HERE’S HOW TO CHOOSE
Before we get to the actual decision part, you need to make sure to pay attention to these aspects of your bralette (or bra), to get the best fit, the most comfortable one you can find, and one that fits your own lifestyle.
Band. This is key in a bralette especially, because this is where the support comes in. Thicker bands that fit correctly will hold you up just like your bestie.
Straps. Straps, contrary to popular belief, are not where the support should come in, but rather they should hold everything in place. Adjustability is great if you can find it, but sometimes different types of strap structure, like in a racerback bralette, trump adjustability.
Material. I always recommend sustainable fabrics for your underwear, and that includes bras. For example, a hemp bra is naturally antibacterial, so you avoid bacteria, which means it’s also odor-fighting. That plus the breathability and eco-friendly-ness, well, you just can’t find that in synthetic materials.
Activity. Depending on your breast shape, type and size, differing levels of activity could require a bra or a bralette. Read on for an activity guide to decide if you want to wear a bralette or a bra.
IF YOU’RE PLANNING TO MOVE A LOT
This comes down to your level of activity and your preference! Here are my recs:
Running. A sports bra, with more structure, is best for high intensity workouts like running. Even if your runs look more like walks with a few jogs scattered in (just me?).
Hiking. A hiking bra is best, but those could be a bralette or a bra!
Cycling. If you’re biking through the neighborhood, a bralette should do. If you’re taking a spin class and crying in the corner, a sports bra might be a better bet.
Yoga. A bralette will give you the movement necessary for your namaste.
IF YOU HAVE SOME SERIOUS COMPUTER TIME
- Working from home. If you’re living that WFH life, I give you full permission to wear a bralette! I promise no one on Zoom will be able to tell you’re sans underwire.
- In the office. Bras are more likely to keep everything covered and contained, which is a good thing in professional settings.
IF YOU'RE EXPLORING
Remember that? Traveling to a new place? Ah, those were the days. They’ll come around again someday (I’m manifesting this), and when they do, here’s when to go bra or bralette.
- Journeying. For those planes, trains, and automobiles, comfort is key! You never know when you’ll need to nap, and a bralette will give you the comfort and flexibility you need to survive those long trips.
- Sightseeing. For days with a lot of walking, go bra. For days with more coffee shop visits and light wandering? Go bralette.
- Adventure sports. Although this is activity-dependent, a sports bra or more structured bralette would be best for this.
IF YOUR BODY IS CHANGING
Sometimes it feels as if my body is always changing, because well, I’m a person. But here are some instances where your body is really changing, like, for real.
- Maternity. When you’re already more uncomfortable than you’ve ever been in your life…opt for a bralette.
- Breastfeeding. Underwires and breastfeeding do not mix, so put on a (nursing) bralette!
- Surgery. After surgery on your breasts, it’s highly recommended to wear a bralette. Maybe after any surgery because who doesn’t want to be cozy during recovery??
- Hormones/PMS. Although PMS isn’t as dramatic as say, breastfeeding, it can still change your boobs, or at least make them more sensitive—so do yourself a favor and wear a bralette.
IF YOU'RE RELAXING
What do you wear when you need to be your coziest, comfiest self? I mean… probably a bralette, am I right?
- Lounging. Bralette. Because obviously.
- Sleeping. Same same! As I stated above, it’s actually not so great for you to sleep in a bra, so, bralette all the way.
IF YOU WANT TO TURN UP THE HEAT
If things are heating up, figuratively and literally, here’s what to wear:
- Sexy time. This is all you, but if you want some serious push-up, go for a bra, but if you want a more relaxed silhouette, a bralette is it.
- Style. If you want to feel sexy just because, add a bralette with a peek of it showing.
Summer. Here’s the literal heat: summertime! A bralette, with its fewer layers of material, will be a lifesaver in that summer heat. Nobody wants to deal with excessive boob sweat, after all.
CONCLUSION: ARE BRALETTES BAD FOR YOU?
I hope I’ve sufficiently answered the question, once and for all: are bralettes bad for you? They definitely aren’t, and may even be good for you, and better than bras, in some cases!
The most important thing, of course, is to be comfortable, confident, and supported, however that looks for you. You do you, my friend, you do you.
Now, it’s your turn: where do you stand in the great bra vs bralette debate?