Whether you like your lingerie to feel sexy, supportive or just plain comfortable, be sure not to overlook the bralette.
If you aren’t already familiar, bralettes are often characterised by a lightweight feel and lack of restrictive underwiring, most commonly seen in lacy or sporty iterations; a softer, more laid back counterpart to the everyday bra.
That’s not to say their use is limited to those of us who require less support. As the demand for comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces has risen, especially since working from home has become the new norm, bralettes have grown increasingly popular, and with that a whole host of designs have emerged to suit every shape and size.
The surprisingly versatile style is now an essential in any modern underwear drawer, and the stats are in to prove it. Fashion search engine Lyst recently reported that searches for bralettes are up 44 per cent with interest in brands like SKIMS, Kim Kardashian-West’s comfortable lingerie and shapewear brand up 54 per cent month-on-month.
Natasja Giezen-Smith, CEO of hosiery start-up Heist, confirmed that ‘‘demand for wireless bralettes has soared during lockdown”, so much so that the brand launched their own version in May last year that swiftly garnered a 2,000 person waiting list.
The numbers speak for themselves, but obviously not one size fits all. There are certain things to consider before purchasing a bralette that works for you, from levels of support to preferred fabrics. Is flexible cotton a priority or would you rather a pretty lace number? There’s those dedicated to fuller busts with more practical wider straps, or perhaps you’re an underwire loyalist and want a meet-in-the-middle compromise?
To help narrow down your search, we tried 10 of the best on offer right now…
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M&S Louisa lace longline bralette
If someone said to us to imagine the perfect lace bralette, this style would probably come to mind first. It has notes of the traditional triangular shape that makes bralettes so attractive, but with enough structure and thoughtful panelling to make it a lot more supportive than these original designs. This is a bralette that people with boobs can actually wear, and still do things in as well.
Those whose skin can easily irritate may prefer a sportier seamless version, but this lace still manages to feel soft and comfortable when worn even over long periods of time. Sizing is on the smaller side so, as the back isn’t adjustable, we’d size up if you find yourself in between. What we like about this is that it struck a nice balance between being pretty and practical.
Calvin Klein modern cotton bralette
If comfort is top of your list when it comes to priorities, Calvin Klein’s super-soft cotton range is for you. You may have already tried the popular original design which is completely unlined and a little less supportive, but this updated version with light padding and a crossover back provides both comfort and added security – and even a little lift.
We found the sizing to be a little on the small side but after a week of trialling this style, it did start to loosen up. If you like the band to feel less restrictive though, and don’t need the support of a tighter style, we’d still size up for bonus cosiness. The instantly recognisable design may seem like a sporty number at first but has a relaxed sexyness to it, as often showcased by loyal celeb fans like Hailey Bieber and the Kardashians.
M&S garden floral lace non wired bralette
M&S is hands down the best at doing quality lingerie on the high street. The huge selection, inclusive size offering and focus on fit, make their styles consistently stand out from the rest. This pretty floral bralette is a case in point, and welcome proof that you can still wear a delicate lace bralette with a fuller chest. Designed especially for DD+ cup sizes, it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into the design. Although it’s a pull on design with no adjustable back strap, the material is stretchy enough to give leeway, and the size offering ranges from 6-22 anyway. The shoulder straps are adjustable, and the high cut V neck creates support without deterring from its sexyness.
Fantasie impression bralette
Figleaves knows how to make lingerie for those of us with bigger boobs, so it’s nice to see it incorporating supportive bralettes into its collection. Not only is this bralette pretty but it’s practical too. The lace outer is lined with a super soft silky material for coverage and comfort and the back strap has six optional hook and eye settings to cater to more sizes than your average bra would. There’s no padding here but a wide stretchy underband and significant shoulder straps keep this bralette from feeling flimsy at all. If you’ve got a bigger bust and have always been nervous to try a non-wired bralette, we think this one is a great place to start.
SKIMS cotton collection plunge ribbed cotton-blend jersey bralette
We were initially skeptical about Kim Kardashian-West’s lingerie line, wondering if it might be more style than substance, but after so many rave reviews and sell out collections we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We found this particular style super soft and comfortable with a flexible fit that you could confidently wear all day without any itchy seams digging in.
The inclusive size range, from XXS-XXXXL, is impressive, although we’re not sure how supportive this plunge shape would be for fuller busts. The wide shoulder straps do provide a certain amount of lift, but this is definitely more a loungewear bralette than one to be doing much activity in.
Aerie romantic plunge bralette with removable padding in satin
This was the softest lace style we tried and we found ourselves impressed with the comfort levels, not something that often comes with potentially scratchy lace fabric. The sizing was nicely true to size, and unlike a lot of bralettes, this style has a triple hook fastening on the back for adjustable flexibility. The cups have a thin layer of padding which is removable to suit your preferences, and wide shoulder straps and panelling across the bust help provide support despite it’s generally lightweight nature. The pretty eyelet lace makes this a great middle ground bralette that not only provides comfort, but confidence when showing it off as well.
Heist the sheer bralette
Heist joined the market in 2015 promising to bring a change from disappointing underwear. The hosiery is impressively good so when it launched its first bralette in May last year, we had high expectations. Luckily the sheer bralette lives up to the brand’s reputation. We found the panelled design with zero padding and wiring to be magically supportive and we felt comfortable being active in this despite the lack of traditional support.
It’s not quite sporty and not quite pretty, but the smoothing and streamlining effect it provides, and the breathable mesh fabric are sure to make you feel confidently sexy whatever your body shape or size. The sizing is on the smaller side to ensure you feel secure, but if you’re prioritising a more comfortable fit we’d size up.
Asos Design fuller bust fliss satin and lace longline bralet in purple
At £16, Asos’ satin bralette is not going to blow anyone away when it comes to quality. But the deep purple colour, triangular cups and contrasting lace details make this one of the prettiest styles we tried. Plus, it’s specifically designed for fuller busts, starting at DD-G, proving you don’t always have to sacrifice style to find a bralette that fits nicely if you have a bigger cup size. There’s no padding here but the satin material provides some light support and coverage, and the chest strap is wide with a secure triple hook fastening to offer more support than most lacey bralettes.
H&M super push-up bralette
If you’re an underwire loyalist and enjoy the support a padded bra can give, you may have been quick to rule out bralettes all together. That’s why, though, we wanted to include this style from H&M in our best round up. Although not a traditional bralette in the definitive “lightweight” sense, it’s nice to see the prettier details that usually come with one (especially a wide lacy underband) combined with the support of a traditional bra here. Ultimate comfort is not really the aim and there is a lot of padding involved which does what it says on the tin and gives a successful push-up effect. There is, however, a lot more support than your average bralette. We felt like we’d suddenly gone up a few sizes, it’s just a personal choice whether you consider that a positive or negative when it comes to your bralette choice.
Iris & Lilly women's lace bralette
Amazon’s in-house lingerie brand Iris & Lilly is one to look out for when searching for great value underwear that does the job. As you’d expect from the online giant, there’s a wide range of styles in multiple colourways both geared towards smaller and bigger busts. This lace design in particular hasn’t got the biggest size range (it comes in XS-L and pulls over the head without back clasp options) but we found it fits the bill if you’re after a classic pretty lace bralette with light support.
The lace is lined with soft cotton that makes it comfortable to wear all day and the light padding feels more supportive than your average triangle bralette while not feeling restrictive. It also gives a slight lift creating a little cleavage which you don’t always expect from a bralette, making it feel sexy too.
The verdict: Bralettes
Purely for the quality and value for money we know comes with Marks & Spencer’s lingerie, and the fact that the Luisa lace bralette ticked boxes for being pretty, comfortable and practical in its level of support, we’re choosing this one as our favourite. If you’re looking for more support for fuller busts though, the Figleaves fantasie bralette manages to feel both sexy and secure. For sportier preferences, there’s a reason that Calvin Klein’s cotton styles are so ubiquitous; we’d opt for this one if comfort was the priority.
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