Bras Are Dead to Me Now


I haven’t worn an actual bra since the pandemic started about seven months ago. Sports bras, yes, they are an essential, but regular bras? I just haven’t had time for ‘em.

I work from home anyway, so let’s just say this braless-ness hasn’t been an enormous change for me. But still, a major shift in my activities happened: no more in-person meetings, no more networking events, zero sales calls, lunches with friends, nope; dinner dates, definitely not. All of the occasions when I would “dress up” would generally mean wearing a bra as part of the outfit. I really never liked them though. 

From Bras to Bralette

For the last year I’ve been making an unconscious switch, moving away from my ginormous collection of underwire, padded humongous “investment” bras to one well-worn bralette. It got used so much, this poor little workhorse started becoming irreparably stretched out. My boyfriend not-so lovingly refers to it as “the old standby.” That’s because it’s probably the least glamorous bra you could find. A neutral beige color with a tiny bit of equally neutral lace, no real support, the only purpose it serves frankly is as nipple guard — shielding the public from (in my paranoid mind anyway) the ghastly sight of even a hint of protruding nipple. 

I’d choose this “bra” without thought as I rummaged through my bra drawer. “Not today push-up bras, don’t need to feel all squished together. Where’s my old friend I barely notice I’m wearing? No wires, nothing protruding from the edges, no bands that needed adjusting or that feel like they’re cutting into my flesh. So, I guess you can say the transition was a short one from bralette to braless. COVID was definitely the catalyst.

Loungewear & Bras Don’t Mix

I’m not alone. Just Google “COVID bra” and many articles will come up from mainstream media beyond just the fashion pubs, with headlines such as “Pajamas are In, Bras are Out” and “Bras Off: Lockdown Triggers Rise in Going Braless.” France24 reported on a recent Ifop survey which showed a general rise in French women who were choosing to go completely braless, up from 3% pre-pandemic to 7% post. The rate is even higher among young women, with nearly 20% of those under 25 saying they don’t wear a bra regularly while out in public now. 

Here’s some more data from this study that’s troubling, but also gets to the heart of my issue with committing to going fully braless as well. I assumed the rate wasn’t higher because there are many women, unlike me, that genuinely like bras and find them functional. Well, I might be wrong. The main reason given for keeping bras on in this survey was a fear of physical or verbal harassment by men and of being stared at by men. Wow, so it turns out that a lot of other women are using bras as shields like me. 

What Support Do I Actually Need from My Bras?

There are some great articles on the subject matter worth checking out, including one by Harper’s that interviews Sabina Socol and Emily Ratajkowski about their braless-ness. An epiphany occurred to me while reading through the pieces. Have I been wearing bras for my own modesty or out of fear of giving off any sexual vibe? 

Has sexuality become so frightening of a thought to put out there because of the implications of opening ourselves up for harassment, stares, or worse, that I’ve placed the blame and responsibility on myself rather than on others to behave appropriately?

Staying home, staying in pajamas and being as comfortable as possible has become the norm.  Even zoom meetings went from dressing up to just being in whatever. So now, as things tip-toe back into opening, the question becomes, do we go back to bras? 

My Public Braless Challenge

My answer, for now at least, is no. But then again, the thought of going to an outdoor meeting without a bra, if I’m honest with myself, strikes fear into me —  it could seem so unprofessional! Like those babies need to be tied up and cinched up with a coating of elastic, wire, and significant padding overtop. Having them flopping around just seems too womanly and not corporate structured enough. And that’s exactly why I’m going to challenge myself to do just that. Frankly, I do worry about what the other person’s reaction might be. What if that safe outdoor meeting becomes chilly!  

I don’t know where I picked up being conditioned to think that any sign of the braless breast was in poor taste. My mother never ever wore a bra, but she also didn’t work. We’d watch hours of runway shows together on TV where I learned haute couture did not involve bras and often involved some breast exposure. “How liberating” teenage me thought, while living in the real world, far removed from Parisian runways.

Are Bras Required Business Attire?

As a nursing mom, I found myself topless in the strangest of places for several years. Unabashedly breastfeeding in the isles of Home Depot and other public places, I hoped it would normalize the practice further. But going braless is very different from having a baby there to buffer things. When it comes to the work environment in particular, there’s a sort of shielding of my femininity that I feel pressured to give into. 

Let’s also get one thing straight. Everyone should be comfortable with what makes them comfortable. There are some people that love bras and haven’t changed a thing since the pandemic started. So who am I to say they need to free themselves up if that’s what makes them comfortable? But I’d venture I guess that the vast majority of women can empathize with the feeling of freedom of, after a long day, ripping that bra off to finally relax both body and mind. Sometimes I didn’t even make it through my train ride home before it stealthily came off. 

Braless at Work? The Horror!

So, would it really be so bad if someone at work saw you bounce a little or have your breast do what they naturally do? Are bras just a subtle form of forcing our bodies into a package that they weren’t designed for and making them more palatable and digestible to corporate America? This isn’t a new question of course. Feminist trailblazers were asking these questions over a half century ago. 

If you’ve had the feeling of freedom from being braless at home all these months and now work beckons again, are you dreading putting back on those bulky bras again? Maybe it’s time to give braless a try one day and see what happens. The world may not crumble. But you know your workplace better than anyone, so act accordingly. Perhaps this step away from the office is giving us a new perspective to have a conversation about women’s bodies and how they fit into the corporate landscape — and vice versa. How much progress have we actually made in employment status if the mere impression of a part of us which makes us female could endanger our job or our standing in a company? 

One of my main motivations for continuing to go braless is bound in my continuous pursuit of just becoming happier and more comfortable with the body I am in. I’m down for putting less effort into contorting and reshaping it into what I think is acceptable to society. I say this as I just spent an hour cutting and retying the straps on a bikini to give it more tension for better cleavage. Hey, this, like many things, is a process!


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