You might have noticed that there is a rising star in the lingerie world: the bralette (or bralet, as some brands call them). Wardrobe staples for the likes of Kendall Jenner and co, these are a structured bra's more laid-back, cooler little sister. They’re characterised by lack of wiring, eschewing traditional sizing – most come in small, medium and large – and minimal padding and hardware.
Many pull on rather than having clasps, so by their nature they tend to score highly in the comfort stakes. While it’s true that most are suited to those who need less support, they are not just for the under 25s. There is now a huge range out there and you can style them however you want, depending on how much flesh you want to flash.
Some on this list are sheer, while others give more coverage and can be worn on their own. We’ve tried this lot and worn them with our usual summer wardrobe to give an idea of style, fit, comfort and sizing.
1. Marie Meili Dawn Lace Soft Bralet: £16, House of Fraser
Marie Meili makes pretty, easy-to-wear lingerie for great prices. We were very impressed with this coral bralette in soft, comfortable lace. The wide, lacy straps and scalloped edges make it one that you’ll want to have peeking out from under a tee, and the lack of hardware means there are no itchy clasps to contend with.
2. Calvin Klein Modern Cotton Bralette: £30, Calvin Klein
You might have noticed that ‘90s styles are having a major resurgence and that includes Calvin Klein’s classic sporty, racerback bralette. Made from a soft cotton with an elasticated band featuring the label’s branding, these are super comfy. The cool kids style theirs with high-wasted jeans or shorts – Kendall’s been snapped wearing the grey and white – but it works just as well as actual underwear. They come up a little small so you might want to opt for a size up from what you usually go for (sizing runs from small to large). The cotton is thin so despite looking like a sports bra, you don’t get that compression effect – we’d say it’s more for lounging on the sofa than sweating it out in the gym. It comes in a range of colours, we like this pink that’s new for autumn.
3. Gap Ombre Lace Pullover Bralette: £18.95, Gap
Gap’s bralet is really pretty and, unlike lots of lace underwear, you can machine wash it. The narrow band makes it look like a regular clasp-fastened one, but there’s no irritation that can come with hook and eyes. The large is designed to fit up to a DD, with a band size of 38cm. Choose from four ombre-effect shades, including this burgundy.
4. Heidi Klum Intimates Before Sunrise: £36, Asos
This from the German-American model’s lingerie range was one of the most comfortable we tried. The stretch coral marl cotton is really soft and makes it easy to wear, then the flattering ruching on the bust, lace trim on the sides and keyhole detail at the base of the straps elevate it into a really pretty piece. This is one for chilling in on the weekend, even if it does have a regular bra-style clasp. Also comes in a grey marl.
5. Free People Galloon Racerback Stretch-lace Bralette: £32, Selfridges
This pull-on bra with pretty scalloped trims and a racerback is one you could wear on its own. It’s sexy, thanks to the floral lace pattern, but also provides good coverage as the cups are lightly lined. The wide straps give it an almost Fifties, vintage-vibe, and the unusual racerback looks great shown off with a backless top. It comes in sizes extra-small to large, and we found the small ideal for a B-cup. The straps aren’t adjustable though, so it may not suit narrow-shouldered girls.
6. Daydream Nation Mad Love Soft Bra: £50, Selfridges
By new LA-based brand Daydream Nation, this is the kind of thing we imagine Dita Von Teese might wear on the weekend – sexy, striking but also seriously pretty. The semi-sheer tuille cups are embellished with bold black floral embroidery that mean the nipple area is covered. It’s the little details here: the fact the embroidery winds from the band and into the straps, the rose gold-plated label and the chic trim. The clasp only has one setting, but we found the band on the small worked for 32B.
7. Victoria’s Secret Seamless Cutout Bralette: £18.18, Victoria’s Secret
Victoria’s Secret has gone big on bralettes this season, a departure from the va-va-voom styles the brand is known for. There are loads in the collection, including this high-neck one with cut-outs at the front and criss-cross straps at the back. The cups are lightly padded so there’s good coverage and a bit of support. The size range is greater than some on the list – extra-small to extra-large and designed to fit 30A-40D – and despite all the straps, we found it really comfortable.
8. M&S Collection Four Colour Lace Crop Top: £12.50, Marks and Spencer
M&S is slowly catching on to the bralette trend and has a couple in its lingerie range, including this new floral style in an easy-to-wear, soft lace. It’s pull-on so there are no fastenings to contend with and with double-mesh on the cups, it’s not as sheer as some lace offerings. Comes in sizes 8-18, so could fit up to a 42-inch bust.
9. Ultimo Lace Crop Top: £22, Ultimo
You might think of Ultimo and picture more in-your-face lingerie, but the brand has some elegant non-padded and unlined options in its collections, including this lace crop top. It’s designed so it can be worn with a bra if you need more support but we’ve been wearing ours au naturel under sheer shirts and low-cut summer dresses and it has become a wardrobe staple. It only comes in two sizes – S/M and M/L, so we found the band slightly too big for our 32-inch back, but everything stays in place and it is surprisingly comfortable for an all-lace piece. Also look out for the brand’s Pixie bralette, which was worn by models showcasing Brit designer Henry Holland’s autumn-winter 2016 collection.
10. Hanky Panky Signature Stretch-Lace Soft Cup Bra: £45, Net a Porter
We love this lacy bralette with chic scalloped edges from the US brand. It gives more shape than some options thanks to the Hanky Panky’s signature stretchy but supportive lace (we’re also fans of its very comfy thongs) and with no hardware, it is really comfortable. Choose from four colours including this striking magenta and look out for a new blue and red-floral version and a snowflake design coming out in October. We found the small to be spot-on for a 32B chest.
11. Bodas Mesh With Lace Bralet: £49, Bodas
Bodas specialises in grown-up, everyday lingerie and this mesh bralet is no exception. Styled like more of a structured bra than some on the list, it comes in regular cup sizes from 32B-36C and has three settings on the clasp. The mesh is sheer but you get a close fit that’s more supportive than you would think. It’s also seriously comfortable and there is a black option.
12. Beija Flor For Keeps X Bra: £50, Beija Flor Lingerie
Newbie London-based lingerie label Beija Flor offers three types of bra, including the “X girl”, aimed at girls taking sizes 8,10 and 12 who don’t need too much support. It’s made using 3mm foam, which gives more coverage on the bust than many and coupled with the mesh gives it an athleisure vibe. Stand-out features include the brand’s triangle branding in pretty rose gold and the J hook at the back that means you can convert it into a racerback. This one comes in four colours.
13. Urban Outfitters Lace Halter Neck Bra: £20, Urban Outfitters
Most of the tops in UO’s lingerie range are bralettes, so you could say the brand knows what it is doing. This halterneck one is our pick of the collection, it comes in five colours and is lined enough so that nipples aren’t on show so could be worn on its own if you want to flash flesh. The lace is soft, stretchy and non-itchy and the clasp means you don’t have to stretch it too much to get it on.
14. Cos Lined Lace bra: £25, Cos
Cos is the master of minimalism on the high street, so you could say this lace triangle bra is actually quite fussy compared to most pieces in its collection. We love the frayed edges that are a super-pretty detail when paired with a low-cut top. It has a hook fastening but the straps and band are all narrower than average. Also comes in navy.
For a well-priced lace bralette that’s also super pretty, we like Marie Meili and Gap’s options. If you want something that makes a bit of a statement, Daydream Nation is one lingerie brand now firmly on our radars. For one to show off, Victoria’s Secret’s bralette range should be your go-to, and if it is a sporty aesthetic you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Calvin Klein.
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