If the 2010s are going to be remembered for one intimate-wear trend, it’s definitely the bralette. This low-support bra style has made waves in the lingerie industry already, and its popularity is showing no signs of slowing down.

But as a full-busted person, you may be feeling rather left out. Surely those flimsy little things won’t work for you, right? Well, they actually might – it all depends on what you’re hoping to get out of your lingerie. But first, let’s make sure we understand exactly what a bralette or wire-free bra is.

Are ‘bralettes’ and ‘wire-free bras’ the same thing?

A wire-free bra is simply that, any bra that doesn’t contain an underwire. And since most garments labelled as bralettes are wireless, you could also call them wire-free bras. But are all wire-free bras also classed as bralettes?

It’s tricky to say for sure because as of yet, there’s no official, in-the-dictionary definition of the word bralette. But I tend to think of them as the less-structured, more dainty-looking pieces. Darted, triangle cups? That’s a bralette. Unwired cups with horizontal and vertical seams, or heavy padding? To me that’s a wire-free bra but not a bralette, though others may disagree.  

The fit & support differences of wired vs. wire-free

An underwire plays two important roles in a bra. Firstly, it provides support, by creating a strong base for the cup fabric to anchor to and lever from. And secondly, it helps to shape the breast, by channelling the base of the breast tissue into a particular shape.

So it makes sense that when you take the underwire away, you get less of both those things. A wire-free bra overall offers a more natural bust shape than a wired one. It doesn’t necessarily mean it offers no support, though. More on that later.

If what you are after is heavy-duty lift and projection, you need to choose an underwired bra. If you wear a bra mainly for nipple coverage, and aren’t that bothered about hoisting your boobs up high on your chest or creating a perfectly-round silhouette, you may find that your needs are met just fine in a wire-free style.

Benefits of wire-free bras

Most people wear wire-free bras for one of two reasons. Either they prefer the more natural shape they get in one, or they find them more comfortable. Although a well-fitting underwired bra shouldn’t hurt, one way to eliminate poking or rubbing from a wire for sure is to simply go without!

You may find that you prefer to chop and change between underwired and wire-free depending on the situation. For example, the shape difference may be less noticeable under certain outfits (like a baggy sweater), in which case why not opt for the comfier option?

Perhaps you’ll wear your wireless bras only around the home or for sleeping in. Or maybe you’ll switch to them temporarily during pregnancy, nursing, or your period, when your breasts can feel more tender than usual.

Features of a supportive, wire-free bra

The majority of full-busted people want at least some support from their bras, even if just to prevent ‘bounce’. To find the most supportive wire-free bra that you can, you’ll want to look out for certain features.

Firstly, remember that the majority of a bra’s support comes from the band. So you’ll want one that’s firm-fitting and wide – not a thin strip of elastic as some bralettes have! The shoulder straps still do some support work, so the wider the better to avoid them cutting in.

Seamed cups will make a huge difference to the fit of the bra also. Vertical seams add lift, and a vertical panel at the outer edge of the bra cup helps to draw breast tissue inwards and forwards. Horizontal seams meanwhile help to create a rounded shape. A combination of both that divides the cup into 3 or more sections is a popular full-bust style.
 
And last but not least, look for firmer fabrics which can better defy gravity. Ultra-stretchy lace won’t do you any favours in the support department!