By now, we’ve all heard that most women wear the wrong size bra - 10% wear bras that are too big and a whopping 80% too small - but what does that do to our bodies? According to The Institute of Osteopathy, this can contribute to changes in your posture, which, over time, can cause musculoskeletal pain. Further, assuming a bra is fitted correctly, it distributes the weight of the bust taking strain off of the back, neck and shoulders as well as lifting the bust up off the ribs to help breathing. Lastly, finding the right fit and style can support one's confidence and promote positive self image.
Pros of Wearing a Bra
Bras not only help breast shape and size but they can help those with larger breasts manage potential back pain. Women of any size can feel pain due to an ill fitting bra, which is why knowing how a bra should fit is essential.
Controlling Breast Shape and Size
Whether you want to maximize or minimize the appearance of your chest, a properly fitted bra can help achieve the desired shape and size of your breasts.
To make breasts look more pushed up and rounded, choose a style with contour padding or a push up feature. You still want to ensure a proper fit however, as a bigger bra won’t make your breasts look bigger. Same goes for wearing too small of a size when trying to minimize. If you’re aiming in the other direction, ensure you are wearing the correct cup and band size but in a minimizer style, one that spreads out your breasts to make them appear one to two cup sizes smaller.
Wearing a Bra Helps With Back Pain for Larger Breasts
Speaking of larger breasts, wearing a bra can certainly help with back pain as well as spine issues and bouncing of breasts. Ill fitting bras affect this group even further as a loose band may cause increased stress on the upper back muscles.
Bras Can Be Comfortable, Promise
In general, an ill fitting bra can cause a woman of any shape or size pain. And while we know it’s shocking, True&Co believes bras can truly be comfortable. The key is finding the right combination of style, shape and size - which can vary by not only brand but style. We’ve even tried to take the guesswork out of it by helping you find your Top 3 through our quick quiz.
Pros of Not Wearing a Bra
On the other hand, not wearing a bra can be truly liberating, both figuratively and literally. Societal norms dictate that women not only wear bras but set standards for “ideal” shapes and sizes, which are often misleading. And that wives tale about sagging breasts? Likely also in the, well meaning but misleading, category. Plus we all know that when temperatures heat up, along comes the potentially embarrassing risk of “boob sweat,” avoidable if you’re just not wearing one, right?
Remove Social Perceptions of Breast Shape & Size Standards
It’s true (pun intended) that no set of breasts are created equal, and for many of us, even our own set aren’t quite equal in size or shape. Unwanted commentary whether towards a more diminutive or voluptuous chest are equally as annoying. Some women find going braless allows them to ignore these antiquated “ideals” though you may find yourself opting for layered clothing or items with attached support such as a camisole with built in shelf.
No Proof Not Wearing a Bra Causes Sagging
The good news: there is no medical evidence that breast sagging can be caused by not wearing a bra, but rather is predominately genetic. The one exception? Exercise. Not wearing a sports bra during exercise can increase the risk of damaging an area of the breast known as the Cooper’s Ligaments.
No Sweating Under Breasts
You may think that not wearing a bra will help avoid sweat pooling from under your breasts but it’s more about choosing the right one. For example, sports bras can actually lead to excess sweating due to the fabric thickness. Bras made from lightweight cotton, mesh, or even a thin, lacy style can help reduce sweat, and also are likely a better match for thinner summer clothing.
Bralettes, seamless bras, bandeaus, camisoles with a built in bra and even pasties offer bra alternatives better suited to certain occasions or styling decisions. Let’s explore the alternatives:
The “underwire bra’s kid sister,” the bralette is unstructured option, typically unlined, unpadded and wire-free. Comfort is key here, and since its recent rise in popularity, styles are now available in lace, racerback, scoop neck and even plus size.
Designed to be invisible under clothes, the name is just as it sounds, featuring cups covered with a single piece of fabric that has no seams or stitching, often with a molded cup.
Similar to a strapless bra but without any closure, a bandeau bra is an easy to wear slip on bra, often made with pockets to insert pads which help avoid nipple show.
A camisole made with an attached shelf bra, can be a layering piece or worn on its own without the need for a bra underneath. Adjustable straps help secure and support.
Typically a stick on option that provides slight, mainly nipple, coverage and avoids visibility of straps. Ideal for backless, strapless clothing such as tops and dresses.
As we said above, certainly an option if you’re comfortable with your social situation, and not a risk factor for long term sagging, though may not help the summer sweat as much as some think.
At the end of the day, a bra should lift you up, not bring you down, both mentally and physically. With so many options to support any and all shapes and sizes, shopping for undergarments can and should be fun and enjoyable. At True&Co, we consistently strive to offer products that are inspired by our community and their favorite styles. We truly hope we can help you find yours.