A Study In Bralettes
Updated: Jul 1
By Dr. Liz Wride
If you thought that the world of lingerie was underpinned by the same old over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders, then the bralette is here to shake up your underwear drawer. For something that’s a little bit crop-top, a little bit wireless bra and a little bit bikini-top….it’s getting a lot of attention.
Often long-line, brightly coloured, made of soft lace (or polyester) and bought in dress, (rather than bra) sizes these garments do away with more fiddly bra fastenings. You could just argue that it’s popularity comes from the convenience and comfort of it all. But maybe it’s more than that.
The founding-mothers of feminism may have famously burnt their bras; but some of today’s feminists hold up the bralette as the flag of their cause.
e Some brands offer padding, but this is about support (in every sense of the word) rather than trying to structure the silhouette. Against a backdrop of an increasingly-anxious world, the bralette seems to say: you are enough.
Clothing that celebrates the wearer, celebrates women, and allows them to be who they are, is rare. Just think about that other, once-underwear staple, the corset; and the bralette seems downright revolutionary.
But does the garment offer as much freedom as we think?
Look at any bralette-centered ad-campaign, and they don’t take place against washed-out studio backdrops – they go outside. Models are often seen on beaches, at festivals, or walking through sun-drenched streets, with this underwear-as-outerwear, paired with kaftans or denim shorts.
Is this a paradigm shift?
Does this mean women are finally free to dress how they please?
Or are companies once again, failing to sell us the product, but dangling a dream above our heads?
Maybe we aren’t being sold a bralette, but the Shangri-la of the safe space? In the #MeToo era, can women really walk down the street in little more than an unpadded bra? More than this, can women walk down the street blame-free (because let’s not pretend that blame isn’t a constant factor).
Some have described the garment as the little-sister of the bra – but isn’t this, in itself, problematic? These connotations infantilise the wearer and seem badly lit, in a post-MeToo world.
Feminist Flag or Something-Shangri-la? Only the wearer can decide that. But maybe all us wearers can agree on one thing: life’s difficult enough; so wear comfortable lingerie.