Gone are the days when a peekaboo bra strap was considered a wardrobe malfunction. Truth is, artists and icons have been chipping away at the stigma for quite some time. The visible underwear trend dates as far back as the late 70s and early 80s when icons like Debbie Harry, Madonna, Annie Lennox and Donna Summer took the stage in lacy lingerie. In 1992, Gianni Versace debuted his Miss S&M collection and essentially cosigned the bared bra trend. Over the past 20-odd years, hordes more designers have hopped on board, offering new, chic takes on shirtlessness. In our post post-modern feminist world, however, bralettes — bras’ cozier cousins — have overtaken our hearts, chests and underwear drawers. Now, the question on everyone’s minds is not “how to wear a bra in public?” but how to wear a bralette.
Kendall Jenner has offered her two cents. Oftentimes she’ll take a page out of 90s icon Cher Horowitz’s book and rock a strappy black bustier over a plain white tee. Speaking of the 90s, old-school Gwen Stefani fans may go for a black bralette/sheer black turtleneck combo. In 2017, however, the most daring fashion gals rock their bralettes solo, preferably with a coordinating high-waist pant or skirt. (See: Paris Jackson’s first-ever Vogue Australia cover, which hit the interweb today.)
For the most titillating bralette styling inspo, look no further than the Spring 2017 runways. Designers from Alberta Ferretti to Kanye West made delicate, simple brassieres the focal point of outfits that needn’t be relegated to the Coachella Valley. Ferretti proposed layering a lacy bralette underneath a tailored (but off-kilter) blouse, tucking said blouse into a teal chiffon miniskirt and cinching the look with multiple cowboy belts. Another Ferretti model wore the same bralette as a stand-alone top, her lingerie complemented by a floral print purple kimono and tailored black shorts. Bella Hadid walked the Italian designer’s runway in a sheer, drapey peasant blouse cinched at the waist and paired with wide-leg black trousers. The same silky bralette peered out from beneath her boho topper.
West, meanwhile, favored a sporty, tonal look (natch). West’s beige, demi-cut ribbed bralette came layered over a tan, sleeveless mock neck worn with a matching, equally form-hugging midi. Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi’s styling stood somewhere in the middle. One Fendi gal strutted the runway in sporty maroon sock booties, front-pleat mint trousers that gathered at her ankles and a utilitarian khaki jacket with naught but a silky bralette underneath. The result was curiously chic.
Alexander Wang paired a striking purple and yellow bra with a fuzzy white robe, plaid Bermuda shorts and a whistle, as if a lifeguard had gone to the beach on a lark and forgotten her swimsuit, but remembered her favorite wind instrument. (Wang also showed lingerie coordinates and more wearable bralettes-cum-crop-tops worn with tailored shorts.) Maria Grazia Chiuri teamed sporty, logoed underwear with sheer chiffon dresses (a look quickly picked up by the Instagirl set). Joseph Altuzarra suggested capping off your (fruit-embellished) suit with a boudoir-ready topper.
And in case you’re still struggling with how to wear a bralette IRL, here’s how the street style set did it. One model-off-duty strategically ripped her rock ‘n’ roll band tee to reveal her delicate underpinnings. She paired the outsize top with skinny jeans, motorcycle boots and an equally voluminous bomber jacket, which she perched on her shoulder because fashun. Another street style queen wore a simple black bralette with a burnt orange blazer and hunter green wide-leg pants. Her plain black pumps scream professionalism; her bright red pout echoes her bra’s defiant, feministy vibe. Another fashion gal gave her intimates the X-ray treatment via an embroidered tulle top, which she paired with a leather skirt and strappy heels. Her overall vibe? Shockingly chic.
In general, for a more modest, everyday look, choose a bralette in a bold color and let it peek out from beneath your top — or the blazer of your power suit. Otherwise, layer a bralette over a formfitting tee or button-down. This way, you add dimension to your look without exposing your cleavage or midriff.
Ready to follow in Madge’s footsteps? Click through the gallery below to shop 22 classy bralettes that positively demand attention. (And because we *get it*, we’ve broken the options down by bust size.)