Bralettes have always been celebrated for comfort, says Jené Luciani Sena, a bra expert and style consultant who authored “The Bra Book.” Their seamlessness and flexible, loose feel are a stark contrast to bras made with rigid underwire and taut cups. And throughout the past few years, bralettes have increased in popularity, in part due to the pandemic, Sena says. While people spent more time at home, they lived in casual, relaxed clothing like loungewear and athleisure — undergarments were no exception. Now years later, some have made bralettes a staple in their everyday wardrobe, permanently trading restrictive bras for ones that make them feel freer.
Bralettes are a type of wireless bra, but they’re less structured and less supportive than wire-free options designed to be a direct replacement for underwire bras, says Laura Tempesta, a bra expert and founder of Bravolution. So as long as you don’t expect to get a lot of lift and shape from them, bralettes are a comfortable undergarment you may want in your closet.
Below, we talked to experts about what to consider while shopping for bralettes, like fabric type and adjustability. We also rounded up a handful of Select staff favorite bralettes across sizes and styles.
SKIP AHEAD Best scoop bralettes | Best triangle bralettes | Best racerback and halter bralettes | What is a bralette? | Pros and cons | Bralette sizing tips | Can you wear bralettes every day? | How to clean bralettes?
Our top picks
- Best scoop neck bralette: Skims Fits Everybody Scoop Bralette
- Best triangle bralette: Harper Wilde Luxe Mesh Triangle Bralette
- Best halter bralette: Girlfriend Collective Topanga Halter Bra
- Best racerback bralette: By Anthropologie Jenny Seamless T-Back Bralette
How we picked the best bralettes
When shopping for a bralette, experts recommend keeping the following factors in mind:
- Style: Choosing the style of your bralette depends on personal preference. They’re available in every color imaginable, and different necklines give some more coverage than others. Think about what style you’ll feel most comfortable in and what aligns best with the clothing you’ll wear the bralette with.
- Band: 90% of a bralette’s support comes from its band, Sena says. The more firm it is — if it’s made from fabric with a high spandex content, for example — the more support it provides. She recommends looking for a thick, elastic band that measures at least 2 inches or more.
- Fabric type: Bralettes also get some of their support from the fabric they’re made from. Stretchy fabrics like lycra and spandex offer less support than fabrics that tend to stretch less like nylon, Tempesta says. If you have a smaller chest, how stretchy a bralette’s fabric is may not make much of a difference to you. But if you have a larger chest, it’s best to prioritize non-stretch fabrics since they tend to be more compressive and stabilizing (meaning there’s less bounce or shifting of the bust while you’re moving around).
- Straps: Wider straps offer more lift and thus more overall support compared to thinner straps, Tempesta says. Also keep in mind that stretchier straps allow more sag, whereas stiffer straps lift breasts up, she says.
- Adjustability: Adjustable straps and an adjustable band allow you to customize a bralette’s fit to your body, making it look and feel like it’s made for you, Tempesta says. Bralettes that don’t have any adjustable elements usually have the most relaxed, unstructured fit.
- Closure: Some bralettes go over your head pullover style while others have a hook-and-eye closure. Those with a hook-and-eye closure tend to be adjustable, but some people give up adjustability for the convenience of pullover bralettes that don’t require you to reach behind your back to clasp it together.
- Cups (or lack thereof): Instead of the molded foam cups you commonly see underwire bras and wireless bras built with, bralettes are usually unlined, meaning they’re made from cloth panels that don’t have any backing or padding. Some brands offer lined bralettes, meaning those with a bit of foam or padding that’s often removable. These bralettes shape the breasts more than unlined options, which embrace breasts’ natural shape.
- Size: Bralettes are commonly sold in alpha sizes — meaning small, medium, large, etc. — rather than bra sizes, which factor in your band size and cup size. Brands offer charts on their websites to help you convert your bra size into an alpha size for their specific bralettes.
The best bralettes for every size
To recommend the best bralettes, we rounded up options that Select staffers love and align with expert shopping guidance. We also added a few bralettes experts recommend. For each bralette, we highlighted some of the most important features to pay attention to, like size range, adjustability and overall style.
Best scoop bralettes
This scoop neck bralette is many Select staff members’ go-to option, including SEO editor Nikki Brown, who says it’s stayed soft even after multiple washes. The bralette offers just enough support to keep Brown comfortable thanks to the easy-to-adjust straps and elastic band. She also appreciates that the bralette’s pullover style prevents her from having to twist her arms around her back to get it on. The bralette’s seamless design gives it a smooth look under clothing — Brown wears it under tank tops and T-shirts, as well as around her apartment. And the best part? “It’s the one bra I can sleep in without feeling constricted, or like I want to rip it off,” she says.
Sizes: XXS to XXXXL | Materials: Polyamide and elastane | Adjustability: Straps | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 13 options
I’ve been a fan of Harper Wilde’s Bliss Bralette for years — the fabric feels butter soft and smooth against my skin, and the thick band offers a light lift. But I’ve always had trouble finding the right tops to wear the bralette with since its straps are quite wide and it has a v-neckline. The scoop neck version of Harper Wilde’s Bliss Bralette — which the brand sent me to try — solved all of my problems. It’s made with the same butter soft material and thick band, but its u-shaped neckline and thinner straps are easier to hide under clothing, in my experience. The straps are also adjustable, giving this bralette even more lift compared to the original model.
Sizes: XS to 4XL | Materials: Microfiber | Adjustability: Straps | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 4 options
I relied on this bralette during a brutal summer in New York City when the mere thought of an underwire bra became unbearable in the heat and humidity. I never felt sweaty while wearing it because it’s smooth, seamless fabric dried so quickly and kept me cool. The bralette’s wide straps offer a light yet effective lift, and the rounded edges of its supportive band mold to the shape of my body, making it flexible so it moves with me. After one wear, I bought this bralette in more colors so I could throw it on with every outfit I own.
Sizes: XS to XXXL (A-D) and 1+ to 3+ (DD-F) | Materials: Recycled materials with a cotton lining | Adjustability: None | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 6 options
Wacoal’s B-Smooth Wire Free Bralette resembles a sports bra but it’s designed for everyday wear. Tempesta says women with larger chests specifically like this bralette because it has wide straps to hold them up and its knit construction adds support across all parts of the undergarment. The bralette comes with removable foam pads in the cups to help shape breasts.
Sizes: Sold by band size, 32 to 44 | Materials: Nylon and spandex | Adjustability: None | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 14 options
Best triangle bralettes
Despite its plunging neckline, NBC Select associate editor Nishka Dhawan says the Skims Cotton Plunge Bralette offers plenty of coverage, so much so that she feels comfortable wearing it by itself with jeans or sweatpants, as well as under clothes. “It’s surprisingly flattering, especially for those with larger chests,” Diwan says. “The girls stay in place.” The bralette’s triangle cups are lined with mesh for added support, according to the brand, and it has a wide underband with a hook-and-eye closure.
Sizes: XXS to XXXXL | Materials: Cotton and spandex | Adjustability: Straps and band | Closure: Hook-and-eye | Colors: 11 options
The rib fabric Tommy John’s bralette is made from has a cozy, almost pajama-like feel, so I like to wear it at home or to bed. The cups are lined with mesh and designed with a hidden interior sling to lift, support and separate the breasts, according to the brand. I was surprised by how well this bralette lifted my chest up, which is mostly due to its wide band and adjustable, convertible straps that you can wear straight or crossed in the back. The bralette, which Tommy John sent me to try, also comes with removable pads that help shape the breasts. I usually find removable pads distracting since they tend to shift, but these don’t bother me and don’t move at all while I wear the bralette.
Sizes: XS (A-C) to XL (D-DD) | Materials: Viscose, mico modal and spandex | Adjustability: Straps | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 3 options
Air flows through this Harper Wilde bralette thanks to the sheer, mesh fabric it’s constructed from, making it incredibly breathable, in my experience. The fabric is also thin and lightweight — I almost forget I’m wearing the bralette — which the brand sent me to try — when I have it on. Its wide band offers a gentle lift, and while it’s on the stiffer side, the band is flexible and not restrictive whatsoever. I love that the straps’ adjusters are on the front of the bralette, preventing me from having to reach behind my back to customize the fit. The bralette also provides a lot of coverage between the cups, making me feel confident that I’m not going to spill out of it, especially while moving around a lot.
Sizes: XS to XXXL | Materials: Nylon and spandex | Adjustability: Straps and band | Closure: Hook-and-eye | Colors: 8 options
Compared to Harper Wilde’s Luxe Mesh Triangle Bralette, Parade’s Silky Mesh Plunge Bralette is more opaque and offers less coverage between the cups due to its lower neckline. “I don’t love wearing a bra, and this one feels like I’m not wearing one at all, plus it’s flattering,” says Rebecca Rodriguez, NBC Select editorial projects manager. The bralette’s band is firm to gently lift breasts up, but it’s soft against skin — Rodriguez says it’s not light and never leaves an impression on her skin. The band on larger sizes of this bralette is wider than the band on smaller sizes to give those with bigger busts extra support.
Sizes: XS to XXXL (A-D) and 1+ to 3+ (DD-F) | Materials: Mesh composed of recycled fibers | Adjustability: Straps and band | Closure: Hook-and-eye | Colors: 19 options
Fruit of the Loom’s bralette is a fan favorite due to its seamless construction and low price point, Tempesta says. Its unlined triangle cups are stitched together just above the band, providing more modesty than a full plunge neckline. The bralette’s band is made from elastic to offer light support, and there’s a hook on the straps that convert them from a straight style to a racerback style. You also buy this bralette individually or as a pack of two.
Sizes: 34A to 42DD | Materials: Cotton and spandex | Adjustability: Straps and band | Closure: Hook-and-eye | Colors: 4 options
Best racerback and halter bralettes
I wear the Topanga Halter Bra with any shirt, dress or jumpsuit that has a high neckline. And since it’s a longline bralette, meaning it extends down my ribs, I also use it as a crop top. The bralette’s adjustable criss-cross straps complement the undergarment’s open-back and its wide, stiff underband holds me up very well. The fabric is also lightly compressive, which helps keep my chest in place as I’m moving around. I’ve owned this bralette for over two years and it’s still in perfect condition. It’s gotten softer after multiple washes without losing its shape.
Sizes: XXS to XXXXXXL | Materials: Fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and spandex | Adjustability: Straps | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 6 options
NBC Select reporter Bianca Alvarez recommends this racerback bralette for its soft, barely there feel and adjustable straps, which help her customize its fit to her body. She says the bralette is comfortable to wear while relaxing at home, and is especially convenient to layer under racerback tank tops or dresses. The bralette doesn’t offer a ton of support, Alvarez says, so she doesn’t suggest wearing it if you’re going to be moving around a lot.
Sizes: XXS/XS to L/XL | Materials: Modal, polyamide and elastane blend | Adjustability: Straps | Closure: Pullover | Colors: 8 options
What’s the difference between a bra, wireless bra and bralette?
Bra is an umbrella term used to describe undergarments that support the breasts, experts told us. There are many bra subcategories, including wireless bras, which are made without underwire, a flexible metal that’s stitched under each cup to support and shape the breasts, Sena says.
When people talk about wireless bras, they’re usually referring to options designed to be a direct replacement for underwire bras. These wireless bras are highly structured to offer a supportive fit. They tend to be made with hook-and-eye closures, adjustable straps and some sort of lining to shape the breasts, experts say.
Bralettes are a type of wireless bra, but they prioritize comfort over support. In fact, the bralette’s core characteristics are loose fit and light support, says Kimmay Caldwell, an undergarment educator and owner of HurrayKimmay.com. Bralettes also create a more natural, casual breast shape due to a lack of padding or molded cups.
Additionally, bralettes tend to be more fashion-forward compared to underwire and wireless bras. Some are covered in lace or designed with a strappy back, for example, which once caused people to think of them as a piece of lingerie, says Danny Koch, owner and president of Town Shop, a lingerie and swimwear store in New York City. Now, however, bralettes are viewed as functional undergarments that some people incorporate into their overall outfit, allowing them to be seen through a sheer top or a backless dress.
Pros and cons of bralettes
Experts agree that comfort is the main benefit of bralettes since they’re more flexible compared to underwire bras. Wearing a bralette can also give your other bras a break, Caldwell says. She often sees people overwearing their go-to bras, which causes them to stretch out quickly. Caldwell recommends rotating bras in your wardrobe to extend how long they’ll last, and one way to do so is by investing in a few bralettes to wear while you’re lounging around at home, running errands or doing other casual, low impact activities.
What you gain in comfort while wearing a bralette, you lose in support, experts say. And while there are factors that may make some bralettes more supportive than others — like a wider band and adjustable straps — they don’t offer the same shape and lift that structured underwire or wireless bras do.
Another drawback of bralettes is that they easily stretch out. “The majority of bralette styles require you to pull them over your head, which lessens the life of the elastic and fit,” says Elisabeth Dale, founder of The Breast Life and author of “The Bra Zone: How to Find Your Ideal Size, Style, and Support.” If you’re concerned about this, she recommends looking for bralettes with a hook-and-eye closure on the band.
How to find the right size bralette for you
Think you’re wearing the right bra size? Think again — in Tempesta’s experience, about 90% of people she’s fit for bras are wearing the wrong size. And while you can figure out your size at home with the help of a measuring tape and step-by-step directions, it’s best to get professionally fit in-person by experts who won’t make calculator errors, she says. You can get professionally fit at bra and lingerie retailers, as well as at many department stores.
Once you know your correct bra size, it’s time to start shopping. But keep in mind that sizing between brands is not identical, Dale says, which is why it’s so important to consult a brand’s sizing chart before adding a bralette to your cart.
While looking at bralettes, you’ll see two types of sizing: alpha sizing and bra sizing. Here’s what to know about each.
- Alpha sizing, meaning extra small to extra large, for example. Alpha-sized bralettes accommodate a range of band and cup sizes since they’re stretchy, Caldwell says. Brands usually have a bra size to alpha size conversion chart on their websites to help guide you.
- Bra sizing, which is based on band size and cup size. Bra-sized bralettes tend to fit more accurately since they’re made to accommodate very specific measurements rather than a range, Caldwell says.
Can you wear a bralette everyday?
Yes, you can wear a bralette everyday, Tempesta says. In fact, there’s no scientific evidence to support wearing a bra at all in your day-to-day life. She says wearing a bra every day is a western cultural construct centered around what’s considered “aesthetically pleasing,” specifically that it’s more “appropriate” for breasts to look lifted and projected. But recently, more people are choosing to ditch their stiff, restrictive bras and instead opt for loose-fitting, comfortable options like bralettes, or not wearing a bra at all, Tempesta says. “There’s now more acceptance of the natural shape of breasts,” she says. “People are more focused on comfort, so choosing to wear or not wear a bra is a decision based on what’s most comfortable for them.”
How to clean a bralette
Because bras — regardless of what type — are made from delicate materials, Koch recommends hand-washing them to preserve their overall fit in the long run. You can use a gentle detergent like Forever New or Soak, he says.
Once it’s time to dry your bralette, opt for air drying only. “The dryer is literally like kryptonite for bras,” Sena says. Subjecting bras to high heat for an extended period of time lessens their elasticity and stretches them out, thus causing them to lose their fit.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Jené Luciani Sena is a bra expert and style consultant who authored “The Bra Book.”
- Laura Tempesta is a bra expert and founder of Bravolution.
- Kimmay Caldwell is an undergarment educator and owner of HurrayKimmay.com
- Elisabeth Dale is the founder of The Breast Life and author of “The Bra Zone: How to Find Your Ideal Size, Style, and Support.”
- Danny Koch is the owner and president of Town Shop, a lingerie and swimwear store in New York City.
Why trust Select?
Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at Select who writes about apparel and footwear like sports bras, slippers, running sneakers and more. For this article, she interviewed five experts about bralettes and how to shop for them.