We’ve been conditioned to hide our bras. If the straps peek out from under a top or dress our instant reaction is to push them out of sight. When the front of our bra peeks out we wear a camisole for coverage. If sections of our bras peek out from under our arms we either cover up with a camisole or discard the clothing item in favour of something with more coverage.

Personally, I don’t mind a little bit of bra exposure in casual and smart casual settings. Obviously, in professional and formal settings bra coverage is a must. And if you feel best covering every square inch of your bra at all times, than I fully support that too. But here are three scenarios where a little exposure can be acceptable:

  1. Exposing straps with the right style of top or dress and the right colour bra:  For example, black bra straps peeking out from under the tops or spaghetti strap dress below are fine in my book. Red bra straps under the dress’s spaghetti straps would look great too. If the bra straps match the top, then the subtle effect of strap exposure looks like deliberate layering. But having beige bra straps peeking through wouldn’t look fab. In this case the bra would look like a bra and not a layering item.
  2. Exposing small sections of bra under the arm with the right colour bra: I don’t like the look of an exposed beige bra under the arm holes of a sleeveless top or dress. But as soon you wear a bra colour that matches the colour of the top or dress you’re in business. For example wear a black bra with a black patterned top or black dress. Or, wear a black bra with a dark brown, navy or eggplant top. Sometimes a white bra works with a white top, but black bra’s generally are more effective “layering pieces”.
  3. Showing off a lacy bra: This option is more risqué, but the effect can be beautiful and perfectly stylish. In France women take their lacy lingerie very seriously and showcasing part of it in an outfit is totally acceptable. So un-buttoning a blouse in the front to show parts of a lacy bra becomes part of the overall look of an outfit.

In warm weather I expose my bra straps the way I describe in the first two points above. It’s always with a black bra and with a dress or top that looks like I’m visually layering lots of pieces. I’m also fine with exposing small portions of bra under my arm as long as I’m wearing a bra colour that works with my ensemble. Again, it has to look like I’m layering and not like I’m showing my bra. Option three is not for me because I don’t have the goods to flaunt. An exposed bony chest doesn’t look great, no matter how pretty the bra.

Please don’t think that I’m encouraging bra exposure! If you don’t like the idea, then by all means do what you need to do to keep the bra completely covered. But if your bra does sometimes peek out, then these guidelines will help you to ensure that the result looks acceptable.

Mock HalterRuffle DressSleeveless Tunic