Thursday, August 18, 2016


A few weeks ago when I was working on a freelance project over at, my team got to talking about the whole braless trend that seemed to be taking over this summer. I pitched an article around the trend which eventually became this rather humorous #FashionChat. Below, I've hashed out an edited version of my original draft of the story since I still find the trend and its origins to be so interesting. Enjoy, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Earlier this summer, as my roommate and I were getting dressed to go out and meet some friends at a bar, she came out of her room in a new dress, a striped slip with thin spaghetti straps and a slightly plunging V-neckline. I complimented her on it, and as she did a little turn in front of the mirror she said something along the lines of, “Thanks, I like it because I can wear it without a bra.”

A few days later over g-chat, I asked her why she’s adopted the braless look lately, and her reasoning was twofold. “It’s really freeing, of course, but I think if you're smaller chested it can sometimes be hard to feel super sexy in a top,” she explained. “Once you're braless, it’s an instant difference.”

In the wake of this conversation, the braless look was suddenly everywhere I looked; it was staring me in the face as bright and visible as a set of headlights. (Honk honk! Boob humor!) It felt like I couldn’t even do a casual mid-day Instagram scroll without coming across a blogger, celebrity or brand model in a photo where it’s incredibly obvious she’s not wearing a bra. She knows it, I know it, and most importantly, she wants me to know it. This is bralessness with intention.


Fashion and style bloggers especially have mastered a rather judicious approach to going sans bra, rocking looks that feel at least as fashion-focused as they are straight-up sexy. A quick browse through the Instagram accounts of girls like Aimee Song (@songofstyle) and Julie Sarinana (@sincerelyjules, at right) will give you an idea of what I mean by “bralessness with intention.” It’s a little bit “Look what I can wear!” and a lot, “These are my actual breasts!”

Think: Button down shirts undone nearly to the navel. Plunging v-necks that are particularly... plunging. Wrap dresses and loose, tunic-style frocks that have necklines so low that to even wear a bralette would look out of place. 

Of course, we can’t dive into this trend without acknowledging one crucial caveat: Women with larger chests will have a hard time making it work. Stephanie Auteri wrote an excellent essay for Refinery 29 about her experiment in going braless as a 34DD, noting that while backless dresses, off-the-shoulder tops, plunging necklines and all manner of #sideboob are the trendiest silhouettes of the season—they just don’t work for everyone, and that sucks.

To me, this whole look feels like a bit of bounce back from the in-your-face curve appeal of Kim Kardashian West and her equally bodied peers—spearheaded by her own kin, a long-and-lean supermodel you might have heard of named Kendall Jenner (who is in fact braless on the September cover of Vogue, above).

Depending on where your opinion falls on this trend, she is either your greatest inspiration or public enemy number one. Jenner has oft been quoted as a vibrant supporter of the #FreeTheNipple movement and dresses as such. Of going braless she’s said, “It’s sexy, it’s comfortable and I’m cool with my breasts. That’s it.”

You may recall when, back in June, she made some waves when she wore a sheer black bodysuit that brazenly displayed her nipple piercing on a highly-photographed outing in New York with Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin. On her app she quipped, “There's something understated, yet sexy about it.”

While I think Kendall is using the term “understated” rather liberally in regards to such a blatant display of nipple—in the grander sense she’s got a point. There’s something quietly daring about stepping out without this underpinning we’ve all become so accustomed to wearing.

For better or worse, Kendall’s cavalier attitude definitely reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City where Samantha uses fake nipples worn under her top to successfully attract a man, and then lends them to Miranda who experiences the same results. The intentions might be different and decades apart, one fiction and one reality, but still—if you take them out on the town, people are going to look.

Okay so, aside from Kendall Jenner (and Selena Gomez, heyo!), some bloggers, vintage Samantha Jones and my roommate—are there any real women without huge Instagram followings out there going braless on a regular basis?

My immediate answer is: Uhm, yeah. A lot. A Saturday afternoon walk through Williamsburg or the West Village is all it takes to observe this trend in the wild. I see girls in fitted, laced-up bodysuits, high-waisted denim shorts and sneakers around every corner, not to mention the occasional T-shirt sans bra look, too.

That said, I'm so curious to know if this is happening outside cities like Los Angeles and New York. On the coasts we seem to embrace even the most fleeting fashion trends with a particular zeal—are we the only ones leaving our undergarments at home this summer? (Tell me in the comments, please!)

I’ve dared to go braless a couple of times recently, and loved every second of it. For a black tie wedding in Washingoton, D.C. back in April, I wore a floor-length gown with a plunging neckline that nixed the possibility of even my favorite stick-on bra. I loved the freedom, comfort and yes, that subtle sex appeal that can be harder to achieve when you have a small-ish chest (and felt secure thanks to some fashion tape). On the more casual, everyday side, I love wearing my favorite poplin MLM Label off-the-shoulder top—that has a ruffle so dramatic I doubt you could see Madonna’s iconic cones underneath—without a bra. (See it in action here.)

In my studied and incredibly journalistic observations, there are two ways you can go with this braless trend: The first is all about the lowest of low-cut tops, bodysuits and dresses that reveal such an extreme degree of cleavage, clavicle, back and torso that you couldn’t possibly wear a bra inconspicuously—meaning you have to rely on the structure, drape or stretch of the fabric to hold everything in.

For inspiration, check out some of the style bloggers I mentioned above and if you have a bigger chest, take note of how Khloe Kardashian rocks this denim button down. Below, shop a few of my favorite no-bras-allowed styles from Reformation:

The second way is a bit more subversive—and potentially a little more tricky to get away with in social settings: By wearing thin and/or nearly-sheer fabrics without undergarments, you make what’s underneath completely visible whether by silhouette or just, you know, the fact that you can see everything. Smaller-chested women can pull inspo from Kendall and Selena (body jewelry optional), while once again Khloe K. and 43-year-old Heidi Klum (I know, I feel kind of weird about it, too) make a pretty great case for letting fuller chests go commando, too.

While that particular look isn't for everyone, below are a few tops I'd dare to go braless in (including that whole just-a-little-more-unbuttoned button-down look) that are a bit more practical:

So, there you have it! My thoughts on this trend can basically be summed up as followed: If you've got the confidence, go for it. (And don't forget the fashion tape!) The key to making any body-centric trend work—whether it's crop tops or off-the-shoulder dresses or high-waisted jeans—is just to make sure you feel good in it. If not? Who cares—skip this one and wait for the next one to come around (they always do).

Okay now tell me truly: What are your thoughts on the braless trend of #summer16?

Image credits: Vogue@SincerelyJules, Celebuzz

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