As Gillian Anderson says she’s done with bras, here are some comfortable options if you’re not quite ready to ditch the support altogether
Too tight, too restrictive, and possibly a size too small, bras aren’t much fun. In fact, they’re probably one of the greatest sartorial injustices faced by people with breasts, which is why it came as no surprise when, in July, the actor Gillian Anderson revealed that she had given up wearing them completely.
“I can’t wear a bra,” she announced during an Instagram Live Q&A with her followers. “I’m sorry, I don’t care if I reach my belly button, my breasts reach my belly button, I’m not wearing a bra anymore; it’s just too f***ing uncomfortable.”
The news was well-received, with women praising Anderson, 53, across social media for prioritising comfort over societal norms and challenging the status quo. “Gillian Anderson singlehandedly taking down the patriarchy by never wearing a bra,” one person tweeted.
Another added: “Gillian Anderson said that bras are uncomfortable and she stopped wearing them. I agree. Try to limit wearing them as much as I can. Every woman should have a choice on that rather than living imposed expectations of the society.”
Of course, the shift away from bras is part of a wider fashion rebellion that has been brewing for the past 18 months. When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Britons were told to stay at home for the foreseeable future, rendering their formal wardrobes obsolete. Loungewear was in; bras, along with other uncomfortable items, were out.
But ditching bras altogether is easier said than done. In response to Anderson’s revelation, many women expressed their frustration at not being able to do the same due to the size of their breasts.
“I am so happy for her….me?? I need to…they are too large,” tweeted one person. “I would love breast reduction surgery. My back and shoulders would feel amazing!”
Another added: “No but how does Gillian Anderson go braless… we have around the same boob size I think but I always get back pain when I don’t wear a bra.”
And so as tempting as it may be to quite literally burn our bras, it’s not a feasible solution for many women. Thank goodness, then, that bras have undergone a revamp in recent months.
In response to shifting consumer habits triggered by the pandemic and that structured bras have been slowly falling out of fashion for some time, a new breed of bras have arrived.
Soft, mesh, and sometimes sport-inspired, these bras are a much-needed antidote to the stiff underwired ones of yore. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like you’re wearing one.
They’re climbing fashion’s trend ladder, too, with online global shopping platform Lyst often ranking bralettes in many of its quarterly roundups of the “hottest products” throughout 2020, including this one from Jacquemus and this one from Calvin Klein.
But where to begin in this brave new bra world? For the uninitiated, it’s best to begin with something simple, something like Skims. Thanks to its flattering fits and super soft fabrics, the Kim Kardashian-founded label has become one of the most sought-after brands throughout the pandemic.
When it comes to its best bras, the “Fits Everybody Triangle Bralette” (£35) is an all-round winner. Not only does it offer sufficient support, with adjustable shoulder straps and an elastic underbust seam, but it’s also made from a stretchy “second skin” fabric that is incredibly comfortable.
It also comes in a wide range of sizes, from XXS right up to 4X, which is the equivalent of a DDD cup. The only drawback for fashion fans is that Skims items come exclusively in neutral hues, with every item a variation on brown, black, cream, or beige.
If neutrals are your thing, however, but you want something a little more dynamic style-wise, head to Heist. The label might be best known for its hoisery, but Heist has quickly become a go-to for comfortable trend-driven underwear. Plus, it’s all sustainably made.
Its new Eco Lace bralette (£54), which comes in black and white, features mesh inserts and patterned lace on the cups, resulting in a fashionable but subtle look.
All of the fabrics used for the bra are composed of recycled and recyclable materials and it’s completely wire-free, meaning it ranks highly in terms of bras that make you feel like you’re not wearing one at all.
For other, more fashion-driven, bras that don’t compromise on style or comfort, look no further than Fruity Booty. The lingerie label is a cult favourite among A-listers like Kendall Jenner and has recently partnered with model Kiko Mizuhara to produce a line of bras made from soft recycled mesh designed to be as comfortable as possible.
Zany prints and vibrant hues are the port of call here, with highlights including this orange Taiyō bra (£70 for a set) that comes in a one-of-a-kind print. With adjustable thick straps, it’s a great options for those with larger breasts, offering support and style – but without digging into your ribs.
Elsewhere in the statement comfort bras realm, there’s Les Girls Les Boys, which offers a wide-range of innovative designs made from soft, stretchy fabrics. We love this static mesh soft bra (£30) that is covered in zebra stripes and comes in a bright red and orange version, or a black and white one.
Finally, for those favouring lace and larger bralette styles, head to Cosabella. The brand’s bestselling Never Say Never bralette features a deep plunging neckline with a full lace panel underneath. With wide straps and a semi-sheer, scalloped lace, it’s a bra that wouldn’t look amiss were it to be worn as a top for, say, a summer festival or a holiday excursion. Non-padded cups offer maximum comfort, while sizing is fairly wide-ranging, going up to 38F and 40DD.
Now you know, feel free to go braless like Anderson without really having to go braless at all.