Underneath every sweatshirt, viewed only from the chest up on pandemic Zoom calls, is a dilemma for boob-havers: What bra to wear when you’re not really going anywhere?
Now, this is not a question of whether or not you should wear a bra at home (the Cut covered that already.). This is for those of us for whom the question of whether or not to wear a bra is rhetorical — my well-endowed brethren who, perhaps like me, first got fitted for a C-cup bra at age 11. The choice is personal, and the choice I make is to gently strap up.
I have identified a sweet spot between letting these F-cups hang loose and wearing anything with underwire, one that leaves me feeling prepared for anything, be it running into neighbors on trips to the laundry room, getting some face time with the delivery drivers who drop impulse-purchases at my doorstep, and heading out for my daily allowance of outdoor exercise during Melbourne’s strict lockdown.
The bras that sit in the middle of that Venn diagram are both comfortable enough to wear all day and offer enough support for gentle walks and stretchy exercise. They’re not restrictive and, in most cases, can be pulled on, rather than buckled up — and therefore can be extricated from under a baggy T-shirt when the clock strikes 6 p.m. (I am many things, but I’m not a person who wears a bra after-hours.)
As a longtime freelancer, I started investigating (and investing in) WFH bras long before the pandemic hit, but an uptick in time spent indoors has inspired me to double down on my couch-friendly undergarments. Here are the five I live in.
I was admittedly late to Girlfriend Collective. How good could activewear that is almost perpetually sold out and has a global cult following actually be? I wondered. I regret to inform you that, in the case of the racer-back Paloma bra, the answer is very good. The longline design makes it full-coverage enough to wear as a crop top for workouts, and adding a pair of bike shorts or leggings in matching colors to your cart turns it into a real look. Of all the bras on this list, this one’s the closest to a compression-style, meaning even if you size up (like I do, to accommodate my boobs), there’s little to no movement on walks and during workouts. (I’m not a runner but can’t imagine it’s the best choice for something bouncy like that.) The Paloma stays put, is structural, and feels like it’s really supporting my chest without compromising comfort. If anything, it encourages me to sit up straighter, for which my osteopath is grateful.
Skims, Kim Kardashian’s occasionally controversial clothing line, has become a really impressive go-to for comfy underwear and loungewear, which sit alongside its core collection of more structural shapewear. After wearing one of their bras, you understand why the brand’s drops sell out so quickly. Each collection of bralettes offers different fabrics and cuts — but they all come in plenty of colors and are available in an inclusive range of sizes. I also like the Sculpting Bra, which is supersoft and stretchy, but this one, with its thick, soft bands and wide back strap that doesn’t dig in or move around, comes out on top.
I have a theory that the less you want someone else to see you in a bra, the more comfortable it is. The full-coverage, long-enough-to-be-a-crop-top ones that are the color and texture of surgical bandages are exactly what you need when the most travel you’re doing is from the couch to the toilet. The wireless bras from True & Co., a lingerie start-up that you’ve almost certainly come across on Instagram, are made from a fabric that’s softer than any other bra material I’ve encountered and also manage to hold my boobs in and up. They straddle that middle ground between classic T-shirt bra — with subtly molded cups — and sports bra, but without any of the heft. True & Co. sings the praises of this design for its added lift, but the criteria I look for in an at-home bra is about how close it comes to resembling a second skin — and this creamy fabric just about nails it. While they wouldn’t be my first choice for “bras I want to be wearing the first time someone sees me in my underwear,” the colors are cute enough that I wouldn’t be too bummed about it.
I have a stash of these ASOS bralettes in my underwear drawer, and they’re the thing I miss most on laundry day. Supersoft and stretchy, the brand’s seam-free design sits so close to the body it almost dissolves under clothes. I should note that the exact bras I own are sold out (ASOS’s selection seems to be ever-revolving), but there are a bunch of very similar options currently in stock — there’s one with stretchy lace around the band, one with glittery stripes, one with a punchy leopard print, and this one pictured here, which happens to made of plastic bottles and textile waste.
I like my exercise the way my life has been since March: low-impact. The cut-out fabric on this extremely stretchy sports bra may do nothing, but I like to think each little notch is helping with airflow and cooling me down if I get a bit sweaty when I’m keeping up with my Pilates instructor on Zoom or chasing the last gasp of sun on an afternoon walk. It keeps me feeling alive and aerodynamic, like gills — but for boobs. Unlike the others on this list, I relegate this bra specifically for exercise, but when that exercise is squeezed in between calls and meals and laying inert on the couch at 11 a.m. staring at the ceiling, that turns it into an all-day bra. Despite its somewhat garish color options, I love this bra for the straps: The under-boob strap is really wide and doesn’t budge no matter how much I move; and the criss-cross shoulder straps are adjustable in the front. Meaning if you’re twisting around on the yoga mat or just happen to feel a bit ill-fitted, you can fix it without needing to squeeze out of the bra first. Because once I’m out for the day, there’s no getting me back in.
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