The pros and cons of wearing a bralette, Hurray Kimmay Blog

There are pros and cons to anything in life – including undergarments! I like to call them “hurrays” and “what the heys!” And when it comes down to it, a hurray for you may be a what the hey for someone else, and vice versa. So with that in mind, I want to continue a pro and con exploration of types of undergarments. With my years of bra fitting and lingerie expertise and the input of Hurray Kimmay readers, we’ve already explored the pros and cons of wearing boyshorts, and thongs. Now we’re moving upward on the body to discuss the pros and cons of wearing: bralettes.

Kimmay wearing smooth bralettes on the Hurray Kimmay BlogStyle notes: The bralettes above are courtesy of Peach. Photos by Becky Yee during the #HurrayVacay in Puerto Rico.

What is a bralette?

A bralette is a kind of bra with the following (typical) attributes. The “lette” at the end of the word bra (note: some brands actually use “let” instead.), implies that it’s smaller, or less bra, or a petite version, or the younger sister version of a “real” bra. I hear that term a lot – “real”. The truth is that a bralette is a very real option for many people to wear as an everyday bra. And for others, these are saved for specific occasions or outfits.

Traditionally, bralettes are wire-free. What sets them apart from a basic wire-free bra is that there’s also a sense of fashion over function. A basic wire free bra may be full coverage, a neutral color, and smooth. It’s meant to be just like other basic, everyday bras (which, in the USA is traditionally smooth and a neutral for you skin tone color), just without the wire. A bralette, on the other hand, is fashion. It may be made of a fashionable material like lace, mesh, or microfiber. It may have decorative details like pretty straps, a high neck, or embroidered details. It may be a seasonal color to go with that season’s trends. It can also be smooth and basic, but it’s generally agreed upon that the bralette is less structured and more fashion forward than a basic bra.

There are several different cuts and designs when it comes to bralettes. The most traditional cut is a triangle cup. This can be as simple as a piece of elastic or fabric wrapping around your underbust, with two little triangle shaped fabric pieces for the bust, and thin straps. Because of its shape, this kind of bralette does not offer much side coverage and is usually suited for a more petite bust. For example, I typically wear a 30F or 32DD, and my breasts are their fullest on the outside, so I do not prefer the triangle shape. I like something with more coverage on the sides to keep my bust from falling out. As always, the kind of coverage you are looking for is up to you! From a fit perspective, I suggest wearing a cup (with or without underwire, basic bra or bralette) that can fit your bust inside without spillage – both for comfort and support.

Bralettes have a reputation of being more casual than basic bras. This is mostly due to their less structured design. They can be super high fashion or dressy, though. So don’t let their casual attitude fool you.

Kimmay wearing lace bralette two ways on the Hurray Kimmay BlogStyle notes: The above bralette was purchased from Express in size small. Photos by Becky Yee during the #HurrayVacay in Puerto Rico. 

The Purpose of a Bralette

The major purpose of a bralette is for fashion reasons. They’re pretty, and fun, and light, and easy! Or so the story goes. I love to wear bralettes for style purposes. If a basic bra shows, for some reason it feels impolite. I estimate that it’s because a basic bra is considered an undergarment, and “should” remain under the clothing. But bras and lingerie with a more fashion forward design get the go-ahead for showing in public more often. It’s especially acceptable if there’s a clear intention of coordinating your bralette with your outfit. Forgiveness for intentional fashion choices is always a thing. It’s why “fashionable” people can get away with sometimes loco looks. We believe they can “pull it off” because we get the impression that they meant to look that way, and chose to create that look. Their style was not because something was showing accidentally. Same thing goes with undergarments and you.

I get compliments all the time when I wear a cool bralette that shows through or peeks out of a top or back of a dress. Sometimes I’ll buy clothing specifically to show off the bralette. Other times I bought the bralette to help me with coverage in an otherwise plunging, low cut, or revealing top.

More reading about some stylish reasons to wear a bralette:

Additional reasons for wearing a bralette are built on comfort and health reasons. Some people simply find them more comfortable, and others find them to be the only comfortable option after surgery, because of pregnancy or nursing, or during high heat months. More info below!

The main purpose of a bralette is not, in fact, to support, lift, and shape. So if you are looking for structured support and a smooth, round, lifted shape… a bralette may not be what you’re looking for today.

Want more? There’s plenty to learn when it comes to bralettes. Here are a few articles I’ve written or participated in about bralettes and wire-free bras:

Kimmay wearing AnaOno racerback bralette Style notes: The bralette above is courtesy of AnaOno, size small. Photos by Becky Yee during the #HurrayVacay to Mexico at the Sanara Hotel.

Pros & Hurrays

  • Price. Depending on the brand, some bralettes are made with less fabric, material, and hardware which means they can be made for less and sold for less.
  • Can be made in the USA. Because bralettes can be made by hand or using USA factory machines, they can easily be made domestically. The machines and systems needed to make underwire bras are more readily available overseas.
  • Comfort. One of the biggest reasons people wear a bralette is for the comfort factor. Bralettes tend to be wire-free, which can be very comfortable. And they tend to be very unstructured, without an inner cup sling or super firm material. Beware, though, that a poorly fitting bralette can be more uncomfortable than a well fitting underwire bra. Fit is always a favorite way to say hurray.
  • Style. See notes above in the “The Purpose of a Bralette” section! This is one of my favorite reasons to wear a bralette.
  • Coverage. Also as noted above, I sometimes wear a bralette to help when wearing a very low cut or revealing top. I would much rather you see my pretty lace bralette than my breast.
  • Heat. Because bralettes tend to be “less bra”, they can be a Godsend during high heat months. Wearing a thick, constructed, firm bra may feel like too much on a 97-degree day. An airy, light bralette may be the answer!
  • Travel. I wear a wire-free bra or bralette while traveling all the time. On my #HurrayVacay trips around the world, going wire free has been a great way to stay comfortable on long plane or car trips.
  • PMS. For at least a week before my menstrual cycle starts, my breasts get swollen and big. I often wear a bralette to sleep to help my swollen and heavy breasts stay supported. It’s also great for women who may not have bras to fit during that time of the month. I actually have plenty of bras on hand in several sizes to accommodate shifts in my bust size (including PMS), but may opt for a bralette for ease and comfort’s sake.
  • Pregnancy and nursing. Hormones do a wonder on your bust size during pregnancy. Because they are wire-free and often made with stretchy, unstructured material, a bralette can accommodate fluctuating breasts during pregnancy. There are also pull down style nursing bralettes that make accessing your breast super easy when breast feeding or pumping. {Try this one from La Leche League. And, even if you are not pregnant or nursing, you can wear this bralette!) Keep in mind, though, that breasts during these two times of life tend to be fuller and heavier than usual, and a barely there bralette may not provide adequate support.
  • Surgery. Bralettes can be a very awesome option for post surgical lingerie. Because they are wire free, they’re gentle on scar tissue. Plus, a stretchy cup can suit firm reconstructed or augmented breasts with ease. Check out a few surgery friendly lingerie brands here.

Kimmay wearing blush bralettesStyle notes: All the bralettes above are courtesy of Blush Lingerie size Medium. Photos by Laura Boyd of Own Your Sexy during the #HurrayVacay in California at the Mayacamas Ranch.

Cons & What the Heys

And what to do about it 😉 

  • Support. The biggest complaint when it comes to bralettes. And I get it. Typically, a bra’s main job is to support the bust, right? Most bralettes are designed to offer only light support. And, if the design is not full enough, it can offer little to no support at all for a fuller bust! It can feel tempting to boo hoo a style because it doesn’t meet your needs. I know. The thing is, there are several style options out there for fuller busts including bralettes, PLUS wire-free or underwire bras that are similar to bralettes. Keep in mind: if super support is your main request from your bra today, then a bralette may not be the answer. And that’s ok.
  • Limited cup sizes. This one I feeeeeeeel. As the industry sits now, a true “bralette” is generally designed to support and fit the A-C cup range across most band sizes. I, however, wear a 32DD in most bras and can make it work in some bralettes (including those you’re seeing here). And more and more companies are creating bralettes or bralette-like styles for full busts. Hurray!
  • Shape. The next biggest complaint. Let’s take a stroll down lingerie memory lane together, shall we? What’s popular in breast shape changes all the time. In the 1950’s it was pointed. In the 1970’s it was very relaxed and natural. In the 1990’s it was super cleavage and pushed up. And in 2017, the popular look is smooth, round, and separated, with no nipples showing. Keep in mind, this is what’s popular, but that doesn’t mean EVERYONE needs to follow suit. You get to decide how you shape your bust. If you want a more round, full, shape, that’s best achieved with an underwire bra, most likely with a molded cup, and possibly with push up or padding. You can save bralettes for underneath sweaters, or for certain outfits, or you can embrace that shape in all of your clothing. If you want the feel of a bralette and the look of an underwire bra, try a wire-free molded or push up bra.
  • Coverage. Small triangle cups or low cut lace bralettes may not offer the kind of coverage you need to feel supported in your bra. I find something with more lace across the front and more coverage on the sides suits my bust better. In fact, there are bralettes made for full busts that provide more coverage! Additionally, since most (though not all) bralettes are non-molded, that can mean nipples show through. Keep in mind, you can always cover ’em up with nipple covers if you’re not one to show ’em off.
  • Sizing. Small, Medium, Large etc sizing can be problematic in bralette sizing. Bra sizing works best, especially for those whose band to bust ratio is not mirrored exactly as a bralette may suggest with each size up. I often need a medium for my cup and a small for my band. This kind of in betweenness causes people to (including myself) to compromise on the size. Bummer. If you can find a bralette that uses bra sizing, that usually leads to the best fit.
  • Adjustability. One of my biggest concerns about bralettes is their lack of adjustability in the straps and band. Those over-the-head, stretchy band, stretch strap style bralettes work great for some people, and are tough to wear and get a great fit for other people. I need a smaller band, a fuller cup, and shorter straps than what most non-adjustable bralettes have to offer. If you’re looking for a bralette, I suggest finding some with a hook and eye adjustment on the band and slider adjustment on the straps.
  • Discomfort. While many people reach for a bralette to feel comfortable, several people are uncomfortable in them. This can stem from any or all of the aforementioned cons. Poor fit is the biggest reason for discomfort. Sometimes loosey goosey or casual actually feels worse than something firm that fits well.

Kimmay talked pros and cons of bralettes on the Hurray Kimmay blogStyle notes: Bralettes above from (left to right) Miel size S/M, AnaOno size Small, Bluebella size Small, and AnaOno size Medium (on the tightest hook). Photos by Becky Yee during the #HurrayVacay in Mexico at the Sanara Hotel and Guatemala during the Entrepreneur’s Escape.

From Hurray Kimmay Readers & Friends

When I asked for some questions and suggestions online, I got a lot of responses! A large portion of the group had an “I wish I could, but I feel like I can’t” complaint. I completely understand this. It can feel like bralettes are only meant for a small (literally, petite busted) and perky portion of the population. The most common complaints were lack of support, coverage, and shape. If you are fuller busted or your bust is not as firm, I highly suggest trying a bralette that has more coverage and is adjustable. This is how I, as a 32 year old 32DDish, wear bralettes on the regular.

Another interesting complaint was the feeling that bralettes were “too young” for some to wear. The idea of the bralette does, indeed, feel very young (style and trends are usually easier to access by the youth in our society). And its casual, minimal coverage level of support also seems to be something that the more mature crowd chooses to shy away from. Part of that is because, with age, pregnancy, nursing, and hormone shifts like menopause, breasts tend to become softer, heavier, and even larger. I’m making a super grand generalization here, but this is why some of the women who chimed in felt like bralettes were “not for them”. It’s not that they’re not for them, it’s that the things they are looking for and the way they desire to feel may not be met with a traditional, skimpy bralette. In the end, the only thing that makes something not “for you” is if you decide it’s not for you. And that is OK. I promise! Not everyone has to or needs to partake in every style, trend, or fashion. Always wear what makes YOU say hurray.

On the other hand, I have many responses of bralette fans! The most hurrays were for comfort, pretty colors and style options, and being able to show the bralette as part of their outfit. I think bralettes have totally opened the idea of using underwear as outerwear – something that I LOVE to do.

Below are just a handful of some of the responses I received. I hope that by seeing and reading some of the hurrays and what the heys of other people, you’ll know that you’re not alone. And, I hope you know that I’ve got some pretty amazing suggestions to help with those what they heys! In the end, what you wear on your body and around your heart is up to you. It’s my goal to make sure you have all the tools and beauty available to help you say hurray on the inside, outside, and underneath™.

Have your own input? Leave a comment below with a question or suggestion!

Leigh D

These are pretty much the only bras I wear. I wear them because they are really cute and they are cheaper and come in pretty colors and styles. You can let them show underneath shirts. I think to get the equivalent cuteness in a regular bra you would need to spend like $50, whereas bralettes can be less than $10. Only time I don’t wear a bralette is if I’m wearing a strapless shirt or dress.

-Leigh D.

Kristen G

I love my bralettes, especially in the summer when it’s soooo hot and a bra sounds like the last thing I want to wear all day! I wore them day in and day out for a couple months, and when I put a well-fitting bra on after that season, it was actually a confidence booster and made me feel more “put together.” So my perspective is that bralettes are like junk food – they can make certain outfits come alive and they are great for lazy days, but I won’t be wearing them every day anymore. Also, I’m a 32DD and fare fine with bralettes, for what it’s worth!

-Kristin G.

Typically wears 32DD

I love the look but don’t wear them because they offer no support. I’ve actually found some cute sports bras I’ve worn in place of a bralette.

-Tiffany L.

Age 36, typically wears a 36B

Roneet

Love them! Continually trying to add more to my drawer and now trying to find clothes that show off the cuteness because I love wearing them. So comfortable! Found some great (read: supportive, comfortable, cute) ones at Victoria’s Secret and just bought a few more from Arie (read: good padding – but I might return that one). I usually wear a 32D and have almost completely given up on real bras unless it’s a special occasion. Down side: less “shapely” boobs.

-Roneet A.

Typically wears a 32D

Angie H.

I love wearing them for long travel days. Super comfy for overnight flights when I’m not moving too much.
They’re also great for summer tanks, since they typically come in cute colors and styles.
I’ve seen a lot of women wear them as crop tops, but that’s not something I’m comfortable with, though I think it’s super cute.

-Angie H.

Age 33, typically a 36B, Social Strategist at Heighten Social

Wendy P
Love them but never really make my boobs look very good in anything on top so I wear them a limited amount of time. I don’t need a lot of support because I usually wear a 36B. So it’s more the shape than anything. If I do wear a bralette, it’s for causal wear, errands, or playing with the kids. I do have some tops that I need them for since they’re low cut or have big armpits, and I deal with the shape. But having a better shape would let me wear them a ton more and I’d purchase cute clothes that I see more often.
-Wendy P.
Oh, bralette. It’s like wanting to date the cutest boy in school, knowing you have nothing in common and it would be a shallow, short-lived relationship. I think bralette’s are soooo cute and pretty, I see them all over the place and every once in a while, I’ll breakdown and try one on, thinking “maybe this one will be different.” But it’s always disappointing and embarrassing. Like what did I expect, that suddenly I had different boobs, which can stand on their own and don’t need any support?
-Katarina K.
Brittney B
I think they are fun to wear as an outfit enhancer but not for everyday. I need more padding and shape day to day.
-Brittney B.
Age 32, typically wears a 36B, Property Manager

crystal cave

I just purchased a few myself to give this whole bralette thing a try. I always thought due to my DDs that I could it pull it off and it was always for skinny young girls with no boobs.

I think I need to actually get a bra fitting soon because I’ve been a bit more uncomfortable in my bras (though this often happens in summer to me) and really annoyed by my underwire. I just wore my new bralette while traveling yesterday and was super comfy on a cross country flight.

I definitely do notice a difference between wearing a bralette and my regular bra. It isn’t as supportive and I personally wouldn’t wear one all the time especially in any professional situation because it doesn’t give me support and almost feels like a sports bra. I don’t believe bras should be uncomfortable, I just desire both comfort and lots of support, which bralettes don’t completely offer.

Are they better than opting for athleisure under regular clothes? Definitely! Should you wear this in lieu of a regular bra? I’m not sold on that!

Like any trend or new item like this, I like trying it out in a way I don’t have to make a big investment and I found them on sale at Charlotte Russe so I have 3 (2 are lace) and I’ve brought them all on vacation with me! I’m excited and think these will be great for wearing with my loungewear by the beach, especially since I seem to get more irritated by underwire in the summertime.

-Crystal Cave

Age 30, typically wears a 40DD. Wardrobe Stylist + Fashion Designer at  xocrystalcave.com

25 Bralette Brands to Try

Beyond the styles seen or suggested above, here is a short list of a few other brands that make great bralettes and a little information about each. (PS: I’m trying something new! I used Amazon links below for several styles when it was available. Partly to try a new affiliate program, and also so you can shop for several styles and checkout all at once. You can always go directly to the brand’s site or to a well known online or in person shop, too! Let me know what you think!) 

  1. MielSeen above during my #hurrayvacay to Mexico, this brand makes sporty, simple, and sleek bralettes. I love the anti microbial fiber they use! There is a racerback and a convertible style, the latter of which has an adjustable band, and both feature thin, adjustable straps. I prefer their Small/Medium size because the material is very stretchy. 
  2. Knickerluxe – This Australian brand makes bralettes in sizes XS to 4XL! They are made from super soft Pima Cotton with minimal frills. They were also a sponsor for the #MoreThanMyNumbers project because their founder’s values are right in line with loving yourself and your body. Check them out at the bottom of the I am More Than My Size On the Tag post.
  3. Wacoal – This go-to brand is known for great basics and underwire bras, but they also carry a very large range of wire-free bras and pretty bralettes. This brand is especially amazing for those with a fuller shape or larger bust, though they fit a vast size range. Check out their whole range, including their slightly sweeter line, B.Tempt’d. And don’t miss my personal favorite, the slightly retro Lace Affair Soft Cup Bra. I like it for its support and style, and I wear it in a 32C/D size.
  4. Calvin KleinThis basics brand makes sporty, fashionable styles, including their very well known and uber popular logo racerback style. I wear that one in a Medium for sleeping or traveling a lot! I also have a lace style that I wear underneath a sheer blouse. Gorgeous!
  5. Warner’s If you want less bralette and more bra, this brand makes a great wire-free, smooth, molded cup in several styles. Some even have a little lift inside! They’re also a great price point and available at lots of local department stores. (PS: You may recognize me from two Warner’s TV commercials!)
  6. Fleur’tThis Canadian brand legitimately makes one of my favorite bralettes of all time. They carry several cute, colorful bralette styles, and I am so in love with the Belle Epoque style that I am ordering it in several colors. I love the extra coverage from the opaque cup lining to the side lace. Plus, the back is to die for.
  7. harMonica – Another proud #MoreThanMyNumbers sponsor, this brand is handmade in NYC and features creative combinations of lace and stretch material. We were all ga-ga for the designs at the #MoreThanMyNumbers fitting and I’m even more ga-ga for the owner and her intention for the company.  Check out Brooke wearing a harMonica set in size 32D/DD!
  8. Free PeopleBralette heaven for chill girls and boho fashion vibes. Not always known for their super duper support, these styles are mostly for the looking for less lift and more fashion.
  9. HanroThis brand is WELL known for using the most sophisticated and yummy materials. Ever. These items are a bit more of an investment but your bust will thank you. Try their Touch Feeling Crop Top style for something smooth and seamless, or venture into an all lace style with adjustable straps and back. Some are even bra sized! I own several from this brand.
  10. Angela FriedmanThis designer is most well known for her stunning corsets. If you’d like something less structured, try her bralettes! And don’t miss her sugary sweet Fairytales collection with sheer, cotton candy colored tulle and mesh.
  11. On GossamerSweet and simple, this brand does a great job of mixing pretty and practical at a typically lower price point.
  12. For Love and Lemons Drool worthy and fashion over function. This brand is not well known for support or full bust inclusion, but they are one of the most decorative and stunning options on this list.
  13. Cantiq LANewer on the scene, this bralette brand has super cool strappy details and an edgy vibe. Each item is handmade and the designer takes custom orders, too!
  14. Cake – This Australian company is best known for their full bust nursing bras. But they’ve recently debuted a wire-free bra for full busts (from F to L cup!), called Sugar Candy. I have yet to fit this number on someone myself, but I know this brand is up to something goooood. Not exactly fashion forward, this bralette is best suited for those looking for something smooth and comfortable with inner support built-in to the cups.
  15. Freya – Also for full busts, this brand makes some of my favorite D cup and up underwire bras. Now they have the Fancies bralette for full busts! This bralette has gotten mixed reviews on support, but a thumbs up for style.
  16. CosabellaOne of those bralette go-to brands, this Italian company makes bralettes in every color of the rainbow and style under the sun. They have a LOT of bralettes to choose from, including simple triangle styles, barely there smooth styles, all lace styles, and meant to be seen fashion styles. A go-to for my clients is the Never Say Never Sweetie Bralette which has more coverage than a typical bralette. It’s also available in several silhouettes, including Curvy for fuller busts, Extended Sizes for plus size, and more.
  17. Only HeartsMade in NYC by a mother-daughter duo, this cool girl brand makes super sweet bralettes with minimal coverage.
  18. Mary YoungThis Canadian brand makes cool, no frills bralettes. What’s more though, is that I am swooning over its designer’s Self Love Club and her commitment to encouraging self love for everyone. Though I haven’t had a chance to try the products yet, I recently met Mary at an event in Toronto and she’s on my must try list!
  19. CommandoThis made in the USA company is best known for seamless thongs and girl shorts, but they are making an impact in the bralette world, too. Best for smooth cup and simple, chic detail fans.
  20.  AnaOno – One of my favorite bralette brands to recommend for those who have had breast surgery or not. I’ve worn this brand on the #HurrayVacay in Mexico and beyond, and love what their designer (a breast cancer survivor herself) stands for.
  21. Torrid – This curvy brand makes super fashionable and fun bralettes for full busts and full figures. I haven’t gotten a ton of feedback on their level of support or quality yet, but everything I hear so far is very positive. Plus, their price points are low so they’re worth trying out for fun!
  22. Hanky Panky – An absolute go-to for comfortable thongs and a rainbow of colorful lace, this brand has cool lace basics and fashionable trendy pieces each season. Plus, they make really cute styles for straight and plus sizes! (And don’t miss their peek-a-boo style with a tie at the nipple. I may or may not own one of these and may or may not love it.) Word to the wise, size down in this brand as their lace tends to be super stretchy.
  23. Blush Lingerie – Fashionable, inexpensive, and soooo cute. I love wearing this brand’s bralettes – especially during my #HurrayVacay to California. Their lace styles put the flirty kind of hurray in my day. And I’ve been wearing their Pretty Little Bralette non-stop during travels, and on hot days.
  24. Peach – this Boston based company carries a few bralette styles to match their easy, carefree style. I like the Simply Soft Bralette I’m wearing during a #HurrayVacay to Puerto Rico because of it’s slightly long band, smooth cups, and convertible straps.
  25. Knixwear – This Canadian brand has a killer Kickstarter, raising lots of funds and interest in their convertible, reversible, seamless bra. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but this wire-free design has gotten a lot of rave reviews from people of many sizes. Check their size chart to see what size (from 1-8) will fit you best, and report back to me! I want to hear all about it.

***

Your Turn: What’s your take on the bralette? Do you wear them? If so, for what occasions or outfits? Would you like to try one? Leave your loving suggestions or questions in a comment below!

xoxo kimmay

PS: As always, zero photoshop or airbrushing to my body and face. Ever. I’m showing the real deal. Some of the items I’m wearing were provided by or on loan from the company, but this is not a sponsored post. Some links are affiliate links and my opinion is always my own.

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