Why bralettes and bikini tops are perfect for less-endowed women, who hate bras, but love dressing up.
For small-breasted women like me, utilitarian brassieres can be superfluous and fluffy, as opposed to needful, unless they come in the form of pretty/sexy/cute lingerie called bralettes.
I need my bras to accessorize and add a dash of sartorial whimsy and élan, much more than to support my breasts, because frankly, a lightweight like me doesn’t need it.
Bra-wearing is a force of habit for me. I also wear one strictly for modesty’s sake. For my pubescent-sized pair, bras as we know it are actually quite redundant.
I’ve worn a bra since puberty because it had been drummed into me to do so by figures of authority in my life at the time – namely my mother and the nuns in school.
As I got older, in my early 20s, I would defy household and school conventions and not wear one when at home, or in school under my blouse and pinafore convent uniform. It displeased and irked my mother to no end, though the sisters in school were none the wiser because the blue pinafore I wore was more than enough coverage, and I never forgot to wear a bra on P.E. days.
Why don’t you wear a bra, my mother would harangue me. Your breasts will sag before their time, she would go on. I’ll wear one when I go out of the house. It’s more comfortable this way. And, anyway, I don’t need to wear one. They were not so much excuses on my part as honest, plaintive statements.
My mother alas never read about the concept of invisible support, which comes from not wearing a bra. Wearing one can in fact hamper blood circulation and reduce breast tone over time. Basically, “breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra,” said Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon in an interview with radio station France Info. He is a professor of sports science at Besancon University, and has been studying the anatomy of 330 women over 15 years.
Professor Rouillon also drew conclusions from his findings that “wearing a bra from an early age does nothing to help support the chest, reduce back pain or prevent breast sagging” and that “medically, physiologically, anatomically, breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”
His findings found too that the young women he studied developed perkier nipples from not wearing a bra over time, perkier by 7mm no less.
Maybe my mum would not have been quite so harsh on me if she’d known that for younger women, going bra-less increases the production of collagen, which in turn gives better tone to developing breasts. Or she could still have been, as she was always big on modesty. Support or not, above all else, Mum believed bras helped us maintain a level of decency.
I found perfect solutions to maintaining a sense of modesty while having fun with upper-body undergarments in the form of bandeau and string bikini tops, and these days more than ever, bralettes – delicate slips of nothing sans padding and underwire, the skimpier and lacier, the better.
I believe these sorts of bosom swaddling under-garments were made with small-breasted women in mind.
As a ‘smallie’ myself, I don’t wear them for support (or modesty for that matter), but to show them off with tuxedo jackets, lumberjack shirts, over-sized wife beaters with equally oversized arm holes, backless dresses and strapless tops. That they peek out of bodices and make a cheeky showing on well- scrubbed shoulders is utterly sexy.
They make my favourite pieces of clothing more interesting, are accessories in their own right if you will, like arm, neck and ear candy, only they’re made of fabric too, and are worn close to the body. Yes, I like outing my innerwear.
For bikini tops as apparel accessories, I go for loud colours like neon orange, turquoise, lime green and bright pink, and I’m partial to the racks in Topshop.
I prefer bralettes in more somber hues like royal blue, burgundy, old gold, moss green and, of course, ubiquitous black.
Bralettes cover nearly nothing and offer scant support, and quite unlike their traditional cousins the push-up and the seamless T-shirt bra, they are too pretty to be hidden and should be worn to be seen.
I like shopping at Naked And Unbound for strappy vamp and goth numbers, slinky camisole tops and nautical bikini-inspired pieces. They’re affordable, the workmanship is fine and new collections are trotted out on their e-shop ever so often, so there’s always something new to buy. Sometimes I’ll even wait for a sale to cart more of the designs I already have. I’m partial to their Aimee, Alana and Abby bralettes. I suspect they are so named, all starting with the letter A, because they suit small busted women to a T.
The merchandise aside, it’s also my way of supporting what I like to call glocal brands – local brands with a global perspective. Naked And Unbound’s creator, Heng Sihui, is trained in graphic design and it shows in her non-too-girlie collections, which are almost architectural.
I know more buxomly women who like the look and feel of bralettes from Perk By Kate, which are padded and more feminine – seductive in a way my mother would approve. Its Dylan, Cassie and Yumi collections are exquisite enough for a formal do, when paired with a ball skirt and a kimono-style coat. Best supporting apparel through and through.
Perk By Kate’s wares may not be SG-designed, but its founder Kate Low has cleverly aggregated labels suitable for the Asian form on her lovely lingerie and sleepwear e-shop.
I think bust wear has indeed come full circle. The ancient Chinese women whom my grandmother used to talk about covered their bosoms with what looked like bralettes or tiny cropped tops – modern even by today’s trendy lingerie standards.
True story: Grandmother herself only ever wore white cotton button down bralettes that showed up under her diaphanous kebaya tops – she was way ahead of her time even without knowing it.