What’s Behind the Triumphant Return of the Bralette?

Originally published on April 18th, 2019.

by Sarah Morrison

It’s a love affair for the ages. Body positivity and the very clothes we wear on our own back.

In today’s indignant times, what with rousing movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up, this enduring love affair, particularly among women, couldn’t be more apparent.

Emboldened by the courage, confidence, and declaration of a new collective voice led by their own ilk, women all over the world are charting a new course, this time, to challenge long-held notions surrounding their bodies and the motivations behind their clothing of choice.

Evidently, women are witnessing said notions being uprooted before their very eyes: entrenched, traditional motivations of dressing that have long defined the concept of modern femininity are shifting and setting a new movement in motion. Case in point? Dressing for the male gaze. Now, women are paving the way for a new way of thinking to enter the fray. Dressing for themselves.

Call it the antidote to the often harsh realities that are intrinsic to being female in this day and age. Women are breaking out of the mold, quite literally, that seeks to flaunt, and instead, are making a softer statement, embracing fashions that embody less of the va-va-voom appeal, and more of the au naturale allure—safe in the knowledge that their confidence is rooted in their own body positivity, and not in their outfits, nor—the approval of men.

Adding to this wave, is both the entertainment and fashion industry’s commitment to shining new light on female-led movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up.

Think back a couple years ago, when we saw celebrities showering themselves in all black attire at the 2018 Golden Globes to honor Time’s Up, and designers, like Prabal Gurung, peddling poignant slogans (“Our Minds, Our Bodies, Our Powers, “Nevertheless, She Persisted”) etched in his capsule pieces shown at New York Fashion Week. Each one of these actions, as small as they may seem, are unequivocally raising the female voice higher by underscoring the very depths of said voice’s incredible power. It’s clear influential people worldwide are using fashion as a platform to advocate against critical issues such as sexual harassment and discrimination (among others) in spades. And, it’s working.

As we pivot from a place that sits tight in the traditional, to one that embraces the new wave of female empowerment, we can’t help but be drawn to fashions that not only portray body positivity, but also, invite a sense of inclusivity and authenticity. Enter: the bralette.

What was once a style of choice of personal triumph for women in the 1960’s and 70’s is now, coming full circle, triumphing as the catalyst for moving the needle forward for women in the political fashion climate of today.

“It was #MeToo that catapulted the bralette movement into what it is today,” says Araks Yeramyan, an independent lingerie and resortwear designer in New York (as quoted by Linda Dyett in the The New York Times article, “The Bralette Is Back. This Time Blouses Are Optional”).

Adding to that sentiment is the idea that the bralette, in more ways than one, represents the manifestation of the female voice—serving as the vehicle to voice grievances and declarations, or express aspirations and affirmations. Dyett also quotes Carlie Quezada, a Detroit-based lingerie boutique owner, who considers the bralette to be “a statement of modern femininity”.

And anyone who’s anyone is wearing one. From Bella Hadid, to Beyonce, to Priyanka Chopra, celebrities spanning the globe are getting on board, losing the restriction of traditional bras in favor of slipping into an insouciant looser number.

Lacking the underwire found in the alternative, the bralette is decidedly no-fuss, opening its arms to women of any shape, size, lifestyle, what have you. Gaping cups and slipping straps? Hardly. Soft and malleable fabrication reigns supreme. Like a second skin, its innate low-flung shape is a refreshing break away from the often artificially high, rounded and swelled shape that a wired bra can create. And in the way of variety, nothing else comes close. Shoppers have seen an influx of variations that swing from the lacey, barely-there look, to more modest styles that are even cami-like.

What’s more, it can be worn a million and one ways. Toss over a white tee, discreetly layer under a silk blouse or slip dress, or style under a bomber jacket—any which way, it’s hard to get it wrong, it seems.

Alas, it’s certainly clear this is one style that’s here to stay, and make a resounding cultural impact while at it. So go ahead, resolve to relinquish a little of the va-va-voom, if only for modern femininity’s sake, and find liberation in a nonchalant little nothing of your own.

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Word Stylist. Fashion Aficionado. Human, above-all.

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