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).