Bralette vs. Bra: Unpacking The Bralette Boom
Women, let’s be honest. The conventional bra, as we know it, has always been constricting. Yes, it holds the girls in place and, depending on style and brand, it can make them look fabulous. But with days filled with back-to-back meetings, calls, appointments, and/or kids’ activities, sometimes the last thing we care about is feeling sexy. What we really crave is comfort. Plain and simple. We certainly proved that during Covid when the majority of us ditched the bra altogether!
But searching for a comfortable bra can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. No matter how “soft,” “stretchy,” or “lightly-lined,” the manufacturer claims it is, it can still be binding, constricting, and often times, painful on our shoulders and backs.
So, what’s a woman to do if she seeks the support of a bra but not the restraints it places on her? Welcome to the freedom of the bralette, my friends. While the bralette has been around for over 100 years, it has always taken a backseat to the traditional wire bra due to social norms and fashion trends. That is, until the early 2020s when Covid changed everything from the way we worked and lived, to the way we dressed. In fact, with more women working from home and homeschooling children, sales of bralettes jumped 14% in 2020 and enjoyed double-digit growth in 2021, according to The NPD Group. Today, sales continue to skyrocket and the bralette has even become its own fashion item – sometimes worn alone under a blazer or with high-waisted pants.
So, what exactly is the difference between a bra and bralette? And, more importantly, which one would work best for you? Let’s find out.
Bralette Vs. Bra
By definition, a bralette is a super-comfortable wire-free bra. Often, they’re made from soft fabrics that create a more natural breast shape because they’re not as structured. They typically feature no underwire or lining, and have minimal padding. Therefore, as you could probably guess, the main differentiator is structure — or lack thereof. While bras typically leverage a mixture of underwire, multiple seams, and padding to provide shape and support, the most crucial feature of a bralette is its minimalist, “unstructured,” design approach. Put more simply, with bralettes the design focus tends to lean more towards comfort, whereas support is the design focus for traditional bras.
How both are styled also offers a key difference. While the bra serves almost exclusively as an undergarment designed to be hidden (in most settings, at least), the bralette appeals to both fashion and function in equal measure. The bralette can either be the focal point of an outfit, serving as a funky substitution for a more traditional shirt or blouse, or worn as a subtle outfit addition by offering a flourish of design.
Are Bralettes Supportive?
Bralettes are less supportive, for the most part, compared to a traditional wire bra or a true sports bra. They still provide a foundation, but how much you get depends on the type of bralette. Another factor to keep in mind is breast size. If you’re over a C cup, then some bralettes might not be as supportive as they would be for women with smaller breasts. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear one, though. You just need to choose the right style. If you’re larger chested and like the bralette feel but need more support, then choose a multi-part cup and wider band, and/or opt for a material that offers more structure.
What are the Advantages of a Bralette?
As I’ve mentioned, comfort is the number one advantage. However, there are several other reasons to choose a bralette. These include:
Style: Bralettes often feature attractive and stylish designs. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and patterns, making them a fashionable choice for those who want to showcase their undergarments or use them as part of their outfit.
Versatility: Bralettes are versatile and can be worn as both underwear and outerwear. Many people choose to wear them as crop tops or layer them under sheer or low-cut tops, adding a stylish element to their outfits.
No Visible Lines: Bralettes often lack the seams and clasps that can create visible lines under clothing or irritate your skin. This makes them a seamless and smooth option, especially under fitted or thin fabrics.
Body Positivity: Many women appreciate the body-positive movement associated with bralettes. They offer gentle support while keeping your natural shape visible. Bralette designs often cater to a wider range of body shapes and are perfect for women of all ages.
What are the Different Types of Bralettes?
Bralettes come in a range of different styles and shapes to fit any woman’s needs. Some of the most popular types include:
The Bandage Bralette
The most basic, bandage bralette is a style using broad bands of elasticated fabric to create a body-band and wide straps. This type of bandage bralette doesn’t have actual cups, so there’s coverage but no shaping.
Bandeau bralettes can be narrow, bra-shaped bands without straps that you pull on over your head to cover small breasts. Or, they can be a contemporary version of the 80s and 90s boob tube, which is a wider, stretchy band that fits closely to the body.
The Longline Bralette
The longline bralette extends below your bust with the under bust band resting on your skin. Extending below your bust provides additional support. Longline bralettes can be padded or unpadded, can have multiple parts and seams, and can be styled in different ways.
Triangle Lace Bralette
We were so excited about the bralette boom that we just had to create one of our own! Introducing our new Tiara Lace Bralette – because after all, doesn’t every woman deserve to wear a crown on top?! Designed with our signature four-way stretch romantic Queen’s Lace or fierce Cougar Lace, our triangle bralette features soft, modal lining and band with front J-hook closures on the straps so there’s no more struggling to get it on or off. It also offers a bit more coverage to hide underarm pads. But, the best part is its adjustable straps, which can be worn straight or racerback, allowing for versatility and a chic style that compliments just about any ensemble.
Whether you want a break from your traditional bra or are just looking to mix it up with something more comfortable and flexible, then bralettes may just be your “breast” solution! With a variety to choose from and stylish and supportive options, they can add flair to any fashion piece or simply make you feel put together while lounging at home. So, maybe it’s time to break up with the bra and set ourselves free with the easy-breezy bralette!