Okay, so everyone knows what a bra is. Chances are you’ve been wearing one since you were a teenager. But what about a bralette? It sounds like it could be a name for a very tiny bra, like something that would fit on a Barbie doll. But that’s not it. It’s actually way better.
If you’ve ever wondered what distinguishes a bralette from a bra, or want to know exactly what the hype with bralettes is about, this article is for you. It will cover everything from construction, to support, shape, and the many styles that are out there. By the end of it, you’ll be an expert on the subject and be able to tell everyone you know why bralettes are a game-changer.
The technical construction of these garments is largely what distinguishes them from one another. The benefits offered by the bra and the bralette are attributed to the materials and makeup of their design, and so to begin to understand the difference between the two it is helpful to take a look at how each of them is constructed.
Sometimes the term bra is used as an umbrella term, including all types of undergarments that you wear over your breasts. This overarching category includes iterations such as the sports bra, bandeau, maternity bra, and yes, even the bralette.
However, for the purpose of this article, the term bra is used to signify a classic brassiere design that includes cups and an underwire. These familiar features will provide a starting point to look at what makes the bralette different.
That being said, regardless of other factors such as fabric, frame, or straps, the standard bra has an underwire and cups that help provide support for your breasts.
If the bra is defined by the use of cups and an underwire in its design, the first thing you might notice about the bralette is that it does away with these features. Instead of using cups and a metal underwire to provide structure and support, bralettes invite a more natural fit and feel.
Like bras, bralettes come in several iterations and styles. There will be more on that later, but the main thing to note is that a bralette is no longer a bralette if cups or metal wires get involved.
Considering that the presence or lack of cups and metal wire is largely what defines the difference between bras and bralettes, it might not be surprising that comfort is another big factor in what sets them apart from one another.
Most people are going to agree that bralettes are the way to go if you put comfort at a premium. Hardly notice it’s there, or words to that effect, are often used to describe the experience of wearing a comfortable bralette. They can be worn to bed without a fuss, and give you freedom of movement and a natural feel as you go about your day.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that all bras are uncomfortable. Surely there are some bras out there that execute the traditional cup and wire design so that it’s super comfortable. Generally speaking, however, bras are usually looked to for shape and support rather than next-level comfort.
If you’ve ever thought that your bra was uncomfortable, had to rearrange and adjust it throughout the day, or felt a sigh of relief when you get home and can finally undo it and fling it into the corner, then you get it. You want some support for your boobs, but you never want them to feel suffocated or locked down. Sometimes bras are great, and sometimes you’re so over it.
Regardless of the size of your boobs, the undergarment you wear can play a factor in their shape and appearance. The evolution of the bra shows that society has held different preferences and views when it comes to how an undergarment can alter the appearance of the person wearing it. The corset was the standard look for the upper class between the 16th and 19th centuries. That’s 400 years of cinched-up waistlines with a plank of wood or whalebone in the back — talk about disregarding comfort in order to fit some superficial standard imposed by society. This was followed up by corsets, the flat-chested flapper look of Roaring Twenties, and then the introduction of the pushup bra in 1964.
If history teaches us anything it’s that society is constantly switching up its unofficial preferences and standards for what it perceives as beautiful, including the figure and form of women and their breasts. Because society has, at one point or another, placed every type of woman's figure up on a pedestal, you can rest assured that whatever body type you have, whatever the size of your boobs, you are an absolute classic.
The Bra Shape
Bras tend to be more imposing when it comes to how they affect the shape of your breasts. This is neither bad nor good, but a matter of preference. Some people prefer to wear a bra that lifts and pushes their breasts together for a rounder shape. There are bras with extra padding to further increase the shapely appearance. Usually, the tradeoff for these types of bras is sacrificing some comfort.
The Bralette Shape
The bralette tends to cater to a more natural shape. It doesn’t lift or squish your boobs, rather lets them sit the way they want to. Although there’s been a trend of bras that lift and shape your boobs for several years, many women are turning to bras that lend to a more natural feel and shape, and are less restrictive. This is especially true in light of the pandemic, in which many of us got used to the braless quarantine vibe.
Support is an important topic in the discussion of underwear of any kind. Some would argue that support is the main reason for wearing undergarments to begin with. However, many women prefer not to wear a bra at all or have reasons for wearing them aside from gaining support.
There are contrasting viewpoints regarding how wearing a bra affects breasts over time. Some studies claim that wearing a bra actually makes your breasts sag more when you’re older, as it weakens the muscles that hold them up naturally. Other experts find the exact opposite, that bras help prevent breasts from sagging over time and have the added benefit of supporting your back, neck, and shoulders.
Clearly, there seems to be some discrepancy when it comes to the necessity of undergarment support. With this in mind, along with everyone’s own preference, it’s good to know how bras and bralettes support you so you can decide what’s best for you.
The Support You Need
The support you need could be based on a number of different factors. The occasion you're dressing for, what you’re wearing, and the size of your breasts all play a factor.
Bras with cups and underwires typically have a higher level of support than bralettes. However, bralettes still offer a light to medium bust support while offering supreme comfort and a natural feel and shape.
You’re probably familiar with the vast array of bras styles that are out there — some of them at least. There are different cuts, materials, straps, no straps, push up, see-through; you name it, it’s out there.
Bralettes come in different styles as well. Many bralettes come in lacy patterns, and others in a smooth finish that’s invisible under your t-shirt. Andie makes bralettes in two distinct styles.
The Tank Bralette
The Tank Bralette is a completely seamless design with a scoop neck. The look is equally sexy as it is sporty and works just as well as a top as it does underneath. An undergarment that doubles as a tank top? Add versatility to the list of what makes this bralette amazing.
The Plunge Bralette
The Plunge Bralette is a classic triangle bralette with fully adjustable, and crossable straps. The cut is flattering for any body type and perfect for wearing tank tops and dresses during the summer. With an elegant design, custom-tailored fit, and ultra-soft material, you can wear it to bed or out the door and you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing anything at all.
Bras and Bralettes: Clarity at Last
Now you know the difference between a bra and a bralette. Use this clarification and the details of how each undergarment performs in order to make a more informed decision about the kind of undergarment that’s right for you.
Evolution of the Bra - Historical Pictures of the Brassiere | Good Housekeeping
'Women Don't Want to Be Harnessed Anymore.' | The New York Times
Bras Make Breasts Sag, 15-Year Study Concludes | Medical News Today
Why Women Wear Bras Has Little To Do With Appearance | HuffPost Life