The first time I wore anything close to a bralette, I was 13. (Before you freak out and ask “What was her mom thinking?!”, know that she reluctantly agreed to buy it only after I promised her I wouldn’t wear it out of the house.) The top—a white tube with spaghetti straps from Sears—reminded me of what a bartender in Coyote Ugly would wear, so naturally I had to have it.
But my obsession with my new bra top ended almost as quickly as it began, when one afternoon my brother came inside after hanging in the yard with his friends and asked if I knew that everyone could see me through my window. To be fair, he thought I was wearing a legit bra and would never, to this day, intentionally body-shame me. But that didn’t stop me from crying while I stuffed the top into the back of my dresser drawer.
My bro apologized and that was the end of it. But the incident lived on in my mind a lot longer. It made me feel like the world wasn’t ready to see my bare belly, and that I should leave the lingerie-for-day trend to the girls who looked more like the cast of my fave movie.
Well, guess what, young me? Bralettes and bustiers are not just for straight-sized celebs anymore. As the underwear-as-outerwear trend makes its rounds on the runways again and again, body positivity advocates like model Ashley Graham, blogger Jessica Torres and designer Gabi Gregg are proving that these looks are just as beautiful on bigger bodies as they are on the Jenner and Hadid sisters. And if Gigi and Bella can rock a bralette that exposes their entire midriff, you better believe I’m getting on board, too.
More from Lora: Why Is Plus-Size Shopping in Canada the Actual Worst?
Fast forward to the second time I ever wore a bralette as a top, which was just a few weeks ago for a photo shoot for this very column. As I admired my ’fit—composed of a bra top, jeans and an open white Oxford shirt—in the change room, I suddenly got super nervous about showing my belly button on set—let alone the internet. I’ve posed in bikinis and crop tops on Insta before, but always with high-waisted looks that concealed my stomach.
I was about to switch my pants to a style with more coverage, but then I had a thought: Maybe there’s something kind of radical about a fat woman baring her belly button for the world to see. Looking back at the images of Ashley, Jessica and Gabi in lingerie-inspired looks, I realized they’re usually styled in high-waisted bottoms and with fully-buttoned jackets or long kimonos tied at the waist. It’s a safer, arguably more comfortable look, and that’s cool if it’s your jam. But I figured if I’m already breaking out of my comfort zone here, why not break another unspoken plus-size fashion rule along the way?
In the end I kind of loved my photos, and when I repeated the outfit for a girls’ night last weekend, I felt amazing from the moment I set foot outside—sexy and sophisticated, a red lip adding just the right amount of sass. Big girls are constantly told how “brave” we are to wear revealing clothing, which can make us feel like it’s inherently wrong to do so—and I was expecting at least a handful of those backhanded compliments but, in reality, no one really cared that my stomach was showing. In fact, the only verbal feedback I received about my outfit was truly positive.
If you’re feeling like you want to try the trend yourself, here’s my tip for you: The key to rocking lingerie-for-day isn’t about modifying it for your body type (aka covering up); it’s about finding a fit you’re comfortable in. I found my new fave lacy black number at Addition Elle, but if you’re looking for sizes beyond DD and you have a little more room in your budget, check out a shop that’s dedicated to helping you find your proper bra size and look.
Samantha Conover is the owner of Toronto’s Broad Lingerie, a shop that specializes in D+ bras and swimwear. When it comes to choosing a bralette or bustier, she says to make sure it’s comfortably snug, “like a hug.” She recommends doing the Elle Woods–approved “bend and snap” in the fitting room. “Make sure you can bend over without everything spilling out in the front and do a little dance to make sure things won’t fall out of place.” Kind of like my photo shoot trial run, this change room shimmy will also help you feel more comfortable when you wear the look in public, since you would have already tested it to know there won’t be any wardrobe malfunctions.
After you’ve tried the trend once you’ll be addicted, trust. I can’t wait to rock a bustier with satiny jeans and a leather jacket for my next girls’ night, and I already have an outfit planned for summer festivals: colourful bralette + silky kimono + denim shorts. Best part is you never know who else your fierce fashion choices might inspire. “I’ve had customers tell me that seeing me wear fashions they’d normally be nervous about gives them the confidence to do it themselves,” Conover tells me. “When you’re going out, there could be a woman out there who says, “Oh my God, I could wear that, too.’”
My next challenge? Mastering the bar-top dance like Tyra Banks.
Gigi Hadid Slams Her Body Shamers—and Other Models Are Joining In
Plus Size Swimwear You’ll Actually Be Excited to Show Off
Just When You Thought They Were Over, Crop Tops Are Having a Major Mome at MFW