You may have heard that going braless is the most comfortable thing a person with boobs could do. But that statement doesn’t really hold up on its own.
Not everyone can just take off their bra and feel “natural” in one step. This is often the case if you’ve been wearing a bra for years. And it’s especially true if you have body reservations or a body type that’s not idolized in the media.
For a long time, I thought being able to fill out a G cup meant I had no choice but to wear a bra every waking moment. I didn’t always like it, but I thought that was the “rule” for my body type.
One day I realized that these were rules were made up by other people. I am the only one that gets to makes rules for my body.
You may feel your boobs are too small, large, or saggy. It may take some time for you to feel comfortable without a bra, but repeat this truth in your head: If you want to go braless, you can do it.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, it’s not as simple as dropping your bra. But we’ve got ways to help you get more comfortable about the process. Slowly or right away, the pace is up to you.
Plus, we’ll even debunk common myths you may have heard, like if going bra-free actually helps your boobs grow.
First hot tip: Do what you want with your boobs in the daytime, but don’t keep your bra on at night! Bras put pressure on your skin that disrupt your sleep, and potentially your circulation, if it’s too tight.
When you first venture into the world without a bra, it’s going to feel noticeably different for you. There’s nothing holding your boobs up or down. You may be more conscious of their movements.
You might keep your sweater on, even if you’re hot, or cross your arms over your chest. Some people say they feel as though people are looking at them differently, because they “know” they’re not wearing a bra.
But a lot of this is mind over body. Once you become accustomed to not wearing a bra, you’ll feel how much your boobs are wholly part of you, like your fingers or legs. You don’t think about those body parts every day just because they’re not covered, right?
Remember this: Nobody cares — and those who do are holding you to social rules you don’t need to follow.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious, focus on yourself instead. What are the immediate benefits you feel from going braless? For me, it was not having an indent from the wires or straps on my skin when I took it off at night, or fixing sliding straps.
Technically, just taking off your bra is the only step you need to take to go braless. But we know confidence and comfort isn’t a switch. There are plenty of ways to ease into it. Here are six tips anyone can try.
1. Go braless at home first
Start by going braless in your room, then your living room, and even greeting friends at the door to get a small idea of how you may feel in public.
Sounds easy? Practice by not wearing a bra on your morning coffee run or when you take your dog out on a morning walk. Then, skip your bra for nights out with your friends.
Eventually, you can be braless at work. However, we do recommend avoiding sheer outfits in professional settings, unless that’s your work culture.
Don’t go braless when exercising Bras can suck, but sports bras do have their benefits. It’s a matter of securing your boobs so they don’t interrupt your workout or add extra weight by being free. And if you’re an endurance athlete, a sports bra can help avoid nipple chafing. (If you can really go without a bra and want to, put bandages over your nips before a marathon or basketball game.)
2. Go out with a bralette first
Bralettes are less constricting than typical bras and can help you feel more comfortable with no wires and less padding. They can also be a great psychological tool to help make the journey of going braless much smoother.
You can start out with high-quality bralettes that have some elasticity. Or opt for inexpensive, prettily designed ones that are, frankly, flimsy. Eventually you’ll notice it’s no different than going braless. Your bra security may have been just years of bra conditioning.
3. Practice posture
If you rely on a bra to support the weight of your boobs, practicing good posture can help you get support without a bra. When you’re standing up, make sure you’re standing straight with your shoulders pulled back and down.
When you’re sitting down, choose a chair with a back rest that supports your back. Keep your forearms parallel to the ground, your shoulders relaxed, and your feet flat on the ground.
4. Don’t discount nipple covers
Many people put up with uncomfortable bras in order to keep the color or shape of their nipple from being visible. One solution for this is pasties.
Pasties have evolved past the neon, ostentatious colors seen at raves (but don’t worry, those are still available). Look for skin-colored shades at your local drugstore.
Or you can just let your nipples show.
Nipple censorship happens, but there’s no reasoning behind why boobs get banned on Instagram and shamed in public while people with flat chests don’t — except for the fact that feminine bodies are constantly sexualized and masculine bodies are less so. Nobody fusses when masculine people have their nipples out, so why anyone else?
5. Use fashion tape
Tape is the secret to most celebrities’ plunging necklines. In fact, Kim Kardashian once shared that she keeps herself in place thanks to a boob sling made of gaffer tape (which I imagine is a nightmare on your skin when you take it off — but I’ll give her points for creativity!).
To keep your clothes — and your skin — in place, pick up some fashion tape at a drug or lingerie store. This is double-sided tape that’s safe to stick to your skin and help keep your clothing in place.
If you’re going braless and wearing a low-cut top, tape the edges to your skin to keep them from moving. You can also use it between buttons to prevent the fabric from gapping and giving anyone an eyeful.
6. Remember to keep calming your anxieties
When we only see representation of perfectly perky boobs, it can be hard to feel OK with having anything else.
If you feel like you’re too saggy, big, or “not perfect” enough to leave your bra at home, listen to the words of Chidera Eggerue. She’s the creator of the viral #saggyboobsmatter movement.
On her blog she wrote: “If you are having trouble accepting your body, please look at mine and look at how socially unacceptable my boobs are. But also look how bossy, snatched and GLOWY I look!”
If you’re missing the support of a bra but want to experiment with going braless, try these tips. They’re especially great for those with bigger boobs who find going braless easier said than done.
1. A tight bodysuit
Bodysuits are stretchy and tight enough to act as support. They rarely require wearing a bra. Look for bodysuits that have a higher neckline. That way, you’ll have a little shape, and you won’t have to worry about spillage.
2. Dresses or tops with corset-style backs
I can’t emphasize enough how glad I am that corsets are no longer de rigueur. But clothing with corset-styling lacing can be perfect for those who want to go braless but still need some back support.
The laces can be cinched really tight, so that your breasts don't move at all (if that's what you want). Or, they can be left a little looser.
3. Wear structured dresses or tops with zippers
You probably already get where I’m going with this by now. Garments that are structured and have thick fabric as well as zipper closures allow you to go braless but still give you a more rounded-shape that you're used to from bras.
I really love this video by Kay Elle for her fashion tips for going braless. While her boobs are smaller than mine, I found a lot of her tricks really helpful. For example, she suggests playing with patterns and textures. Doing this can help draw less attention to your boobs.
Note: Please disregard her comment about bras causing breast cancer — and keep reading for our explanation of why that’s not true.
There are currently no studies that show any health benefits either for wearing a bra or going braless.
Some of the common myths you’ve heard may be a result of one person’s experience that became an urban legend. Some might just seem logical but actually have never been backed up.
But it’s still worth clearing up some pervasive myths about bras, or lack of them.
Myth 1: Underwire causes breast cancer
I first heard the myth that wearing a bra with underwire can cause breast cancer when I was still too young to wear a bra.
The reasoning behind this myth is that the underwire blocks your lymphatic fluid and causes you to develop a tumor. There are no academic studies that show a connection between developing breast cancer and wearing a bra with wires.
Let’s put this myth to rest, as fear and falsity aren’t really an empowering way to start going braless.
Is it true that going braless helps natural breast tissue movement, especially in the lymphatic system?
In general, a properly fitted bra shouldn’t interfere with the lymphatic system, nor would going braless improve lymph drainage.Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, MSN, RN, CRNA, COIAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Myth 2: Bras cause breasts to sag
A few years ago, a viral internet story proclaimed that the French scientist Jean-Denis Rouillon had concluded a 15-year study that found that women who wore bras were more likely to develop saggy breasts.
However, there are many important things to consider about this study.
Rouillon hadn’t published these findings at the time the story went viral. The media picked it up from an interview he did about his preliminary findings with a local radio station in France.
Studies that haven’t been published in peer-reviewed medical journals are considered less credible. They haven’t been reviewed by other experts in the field to make sure the results are accurate.
It’s also important to note that of the women who were interviewed (the number of which fluctuated from 100 to over 300, depending on the media outlet reporting the story), were all under 35 years old.
Meaning that most of them probably hadn’t even started experiencing the natural loss of collagen and skin elasticity that comes with age.
The study also didn’t seem to be following up with these women over time to see if their breast tissue had changed since their first interview.
Myth 3: Going braless means you’re promiscuous
Some people say that when they first leave the house without a bra, they’re worried they’ll be sending a message to passerby that they’re “loose” or “slutty.” This is just a holdover of beliefs that a woman’s existence is for the male gaze.
How you dress is an expression of your personality, not an interpretation of someone who hasn’t taken the time to get to know you.
Just like blond hair isn’t representative of intelligence, clothing doesn’t send a secondary message (except, maybe, if there’s actually words on them).
Myth 4: Going braless will help your breasts grow bigger
There’s no scientific research about bras making breasts bigger, despite all of the wild theories. Your boobs can grow and shrink due to diet and exercise. If you’re hoping dropping your bra will help you increase in cup size, there are faster ways to make your breasts appear perkier.
It’s worth noting that if wearing a bra has become a personal torture, check if you’re wearing the right size. A good bra should never be uncomfortable.
Get fitted at your local lingerie shop if you:
- get painful indents on your shoulders
- spill out of your cups when you bend over
- constantly need to adjust the band or straps of your bra
- feel as though the underwire is digging into your chest most of the time you’re wearing your bra
Whether you wear a bra every day or not is up to you. But I can attest that my opinions of bras changed drastically when I realized the bras I was wearing were two cup sizes too small for me and made the right, oh-my-god, life-changing adjustments.
If you’re not ready to give up your bra, you don’t have to. There’s no research to support that you need to wear a bra, so your ultimate comfort should be the deciding factor.
We imagine if Dr. Seuss decided to take the moral route and write about bras, he’d do a little book that ended with a line like this: No matter what your friends are doing or what the media is telling you to do, how often you wear a bra is decided entirely by you.
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Emily Gadd is a writer and editor who lives in San Francisco. She spends her spare time listening to music, watching movies, wasting her life on the internet, and going to concerts.