Skip to main content
The M Dash

Live with purpose.


To Bra or Not to Bra? 10 Dresses That Look Great Either Way

5 beautiful dresses for the bra-wearing among us, and 5 beautiful dresses for our bra-free friends, too.

By Caitlin Abber

Over the last few years, it’s been impossible not to notice the growing trend of bralessness. I first saw it on the streets of Brooklyn around the summer of 2018—women of all ages, demographics, and most importantly, breast size, were forgoing anything resembling a bra. There was side boob, underboob, and nipple-slips for days, and it was very hard to spot a legitimate bra strap in the wild. I remember remarking to a similarly well-endowed friend, “Have you noticed that no one is wearing a bra?” and her responding, “Yeah, it’s No-Bra Summer, baby!” 

Then the pandemic hit, and was no longer No-Bra Summer, but No-Bra Forever. One Harper’s Bazaar headline from April 2020 even asked, “Will We Ever Wear Bras Again?

Over a year later, and the short answer is yes (at least for me). I come from a long line of big-chested Irish and Jewish women for whom bras—especially of the underwired, restrictive, and wide-strapped variety—are just an unpleasant, somewhat genetic part of life. And as cool, easy, and natural-feeling as it might be to go braless, neither the trendiness of bralessness, the pandemic, or even breastfeeding has made me consider leaving the house without one. Thankfully, bra technology has advanced a lot since the 1980s and my mother’s structured shapewear of yore; I can honestly say that for me, wearing a bra just feels more comfortable. And that’s okay! Post-pandemic dressing is all about breaking old rules, embracing what you like about yourself, and finding your personal style, and I’m perfectly fine with being one of those women who always wears a bra. 

Except for one thing…

Bralessness is so popular now that finding clothes—especially dresses—I can actually wear with a bra can be a little challenging. There are so many beautiful dresses that have full open backs, itty-bitty spaghetti straps, or cutouts right above the ribs—and they’re totally unwearable for me. What I’m looking for these days is a dress I feel beautiful in that can also handle whichever bra I want to wear that day. 

Below, I’ve rounded up 5 beautiful dresses for the bra-wearing among us, and 5 beautiful dresses for my bra-free friends, too (spoiler alert: I own dresses from both of these camps, and I’ll explain why in a sec). 

5 Dresses for Team Bra

There are many components that make up a truly bra-friendly dress (you’d think it’d be simple, but it’s not). The most important—in my opinion—is that the dress shouldn’t make wearing a bra more complicated than it already is. For example, strapless bras have their time and place, but they aren’t an everyday thing. To that end, a bra-friendly dress must have wider shoulder coverage than traditional bra straps and be made of a bra-friendly (read: not sheer) fabric. These 5 dresses definitely check those boxes (and more).

1.

The Marie Dress

The Marie dress has a playful square neckline, but it’s not so wide that you’ll constantly be checking to see if your bra straps are showing. The basketweave fabric is fully-lined, and the knee-skimming length of the dress (specifically designed for those 5’5 and under) allows for a bit of skin, should that be something you’re going for.

2.

The Lou Dress

I’m not going to lie, I am a little jealous of the ease in which my bra-free friends can just throw on a T-shirt dress and go. That said, I feel pretty great in a simple bralette and the Pima cotton Lou dress—which offers just the right amount of coverage up top, but has a slit up the sides for a little intrigue (and breeze on hot summer days).

3.

The Gigi Dress

The Gigi dress does that thing beautiful caftans do in the summer: It looks ethereal but polished—like the perfect dress to wear to a casual BBQ where you might end up drinking cocktails on a yacht. The last thing you want to be thinking about on a day like that is whether or not your bra is showing. The Gigi fully covers the shoulders but can be unbuttoned to unleash a bit of neckline if the occasion calls for it.

4.

The Maaza Dress

Not only is the Maaza dress totally bra-friendly, it also has pockets and is machine-washable. It’s a great go-to dress for all your summer adventures, because you’ll never have to wonder if you packed the right bra for it (any bra works just fine!).

5.

The Rachel Dress

A couple of years ago, we proved just how versatile the Rachel dress is by dressing it up for ten different holiday parties. But what I also love about this very special LBD is that it boasts one of my all-time favorite M.M. design details: bra strap holders! Just snap your bra straps into the little loops, and you will never, ever have to worry about your straps falling down your shoulders or peeking out to say hi.

5 Dresses for Team No-Bra

Since bras are a way of life for me, I had to ask the brave bra-eschewing members of the M.M. team what factors they look for in bra-free dresses. Of course fabric plays a huge role in whether or not you can truly go bra-free (especially if you’re going somewhere more formal, like the office or your in-laws’). “Structured fabrics are great,” says M.M.’s Brand Stylist, Nyjerah. “Both the fit and fabric can feel like a built-in bra.”

1.

The Aditi Dress

A soon-to-be-retired M.M. classic, the structure and fabric of the Aditi dress makes it almost feel like you’re wearing a bra, but not quite. The powerful neckline draws the eyes up, and the cut of the dress was designed to embrace your natural curves.

2.

The Constance Dress

The Constance dress looks like a standard shift, but the fully-lined dress and sleek shape of the dress offer a generous amount of coverage for days when a bra is just too much work.

3.

The James Dress

Another dress that goes both ways, the James also has built-in bra strap holders, but the fitted top is snug enough that even I might consider going bra-free for the day.

4.

The Medina Dress

You could wear a bra with the Medina dress, but that might take away from the whole Laurel Canyon goddess vibe it gives off. This flouncy, dreamy, voile number is made for prancing around in a field of lavender and bunnies—the kind of place where bras don’t even exist (truly magical).

5.

The Hayden Dress

M.M.’s Brand Manager, Maddie, recently ditched constricting underwire bras and has embraced a more liberated, bra-free lifestyle. Her #1 dress right now is the micro-knit Hayden, which doesn’t offer much by way of support, but that’s not really the point. According to Maddie, “It’s just nice to wear something soft.”

Caitlin Abber

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and OprahMag.com.

See more of Caitlin's articles

Shop This Story

Read on.

Back to Top

Questions about styling or sizing? Chat with one of our stylists.