Our recently-published quarantined shopping survey results revealed a not-so-surprising revulsion towards bras, specifically underwire bras. One respondent angrily declared her distaste for the supportive undergarment, saying "FUCK A BRA FOREVER (and I LOVE bras)." This person is not alone.
Quarantine isn't solely responsible for the shift away from wired bras. Soozie Jenkinson, the head of lingerie design at the UK-based retailer Marks and Spencer, says she's been increasingly focused on developing wireless bras and bralettes for the last decade. The Covid-19 pandemic merely accelerated the want and the need for comfort.
"We're working in different ways," Jenkinson explains over the phone. "People are working from home. They're throwing themselves into volunteering. They might be packing in really long shifts; they might be health workers. The last thing that people want to be doing is thinking about their uncomfortable underwear. So, I think people really have reached out for wire-free options and softer options in bras, particularly in this time."
ThirdLove's Chief Creative Officer Ra'el Cohen has noticed a similar trend in bra shopping: She notes that the underwear company's Pima Cotton Collection — wireless bras made with memory foam cups and breathable Pima Cotton — has been more popular than ever these past few months, for example.
The problem with softer, wire-free options, however, is that while they feel like you're wearing (almost) nothing, they typically aren't as supportive. Jenkinson says consumers have an overwhelmingly positive response to the bralettes she designs, but she often gets feedback that people are still scared they won't get the support and will lose confidence by wearing something so soft. Brands like Savage x Fenty and Skims, as well as big retailers like Mark and Spencer addressing this issue by creating lightweight bras that provide shapeliness and support without sacrificing comfort or adding bulk.
"Even when we were developing bralettes, it's really important that they support from an A all the way up to a G cup," Jenkinson adds.
On top of working to find softer materials that are equally as supportive as a wire, brands are also looking into virtual fittings and leveraging fit tools in order to help customers better tell if a bra will meet their support standards without having to physically try it on.
ThirdLove has been working on expanding its virtual Fit Finder with new, more robust tests, says Cohen. Similarly, Marks and Spencer has been improving the online shopping experience with tips and illustrations to help guide consumers to find their best-fitting bra, per Jenkinson; the retailer is also working on products that are slightly less fit-critical (think a garment with a 360-degree stretch, so it just moves with you).
Ahead, we've rounded up 19 wire-free bras — from supportive versions for bigger busts to silky styles for lazy Sundays — that are all available at a range of price points. Shop them all below.
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