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Fashion Challenge: Let Your Bra Peek Through


Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City rocking the visible bra trend
Carrie Bradshaw rocking a visible bra in Sex and the City

This week’s Fashion Challenge is bound to be a bit controversial…

Many girls firmly believe that showing your bra in any way, shape, or form is a MAJOR fashion no-no. And they have a point: After all, nothing looks tackier than thick white bra straps blatantly exposed under a racerback tank top, or loose straps slipping down your arm. In most cases, the undergarments-shown-on-purpose look is just not a good idea–remember that horrible, trashy trend when girls pulled their thongs up over their pants? YUCK!

For the reasons above, I know many of you will be wary of trying this challenge–but please continue reading; I promise it’s possible to make this trend look fierce, not frisky. Are you ready to take on the challenge?

Tips and Tricks

  • Wear with confidence. Let others know your look is intentional by really owning it, and not fidgeting with anything you’re wearing–it’ll make others feel uncomfortable. Try matching the bra with your purse or shoes to further emphasize that this was no fashion mistake.
  • Keep (semi) covered! This look is better when the rest of your outfit is on the conservative side. We’re going for subtle sexy, not stripper sexy!
  • Try it out with sheer clothing. Do you have a sheer or lacy top that you’re dying to wear but don’t know how to pull off? Pair it with a bandeau bra, or one with plenty of coverage.
  • Consider the color and material. A lacy red bra under a slouchy white tank top sends out a much different vibe than a black bandeau, for example.
  • Use your best judgment. After all, you’re a classy and stylish CF reader–you know what works and what doesn’t. So you be the judge of whether an outfit is appropriate or not.

Outfits for Inspiration

With a Strapless Dress

Dress, Bra, Shoes, Bracelet, Earrings, Clutch

Let’s face it–strapless bras are NOT the most comfortable item in your closet. I’ve tried high end and low end ones, and let’s just say I’ve yet to encounter one that I would wear unless it was absolutely necessary.

If you find a bra that matches perfectly, I personally think wearing a regular bra with a strapless dress is fine. Notice on the above outfit how the material of the black bra is very similar to the material on the black dress. This is subtle, more comfortable, and most people won’t even realize the straps aren’t connected to your dress! Again, use your best judgment, and ask a few friends for their opinions if you’re unsure: Though this look is perfect for a night on the town, it’s not the best choice for a wedding or church.

Under a Loose Tank Top

Tank, Shoes, Bandeau, Necklace, Bracelet, Jeans

Most of you probably own a large selection of slouchy tank tops: These tanks are huge on most college campuses, usually worn to parties but also during the day. When I first started wearing these, I layered them over fitted tank tops. Although it looked nice, to me it sort of took away the look and feel of the tank’s intended breeziness, you know?

So if racerback bras aren’t your thing, try wearing a bandeau bra underneath these low-cut, loose tanks. These bras come in many price ranges, and are stretchy, often with cups built right in! I bought my favorite bandeau at Wet Seal for $5 a few months ago, and it has survived several long days and trips through the washing machine. Try a bandeau in a neon color if you’re feeling really adventurous.

Under a Sheer or Lacy Top

Top, Jeans, Bra, Ring, Shoes

Own a sheer or lacy top, but unsure how to wear it? A full-coverage bra can create a more fashion-forward look than a simple tank top. Notice how the bra pictured is lined on the outside with lace similar to the lace on the shirt–this makes the look seem deliberate, and would be very chic for a night out.

Once again, use your head with this look! I know girls who read CF have the brains and taste to know what fabrics and cuts will make this look foxy and not freaky. In general, I recommend sticking to loose-cut sheer shirts (anything too skin-tight can look trashy), matching the bra to the top, and, when in doubt, always asking your bff for her opinion.

Ready to take the challenge? Be our model for the week!

Now that you’ve seen my tips for rocking this look, we want to see how YOU wear it! So send in a picture of you wearing an outfit that lets your bra peek out and we’ll update the post and feature you here!

To get featured on CF, just send your picture, your name, school, and a description of the outfit to fashionchallenge AT collegefashion DOT net. We’ll post your outfit pictures here to give other readers some inspiration. :)

Can’t wait to see your looks!

What do you think?

How do you feel about visible bras? Do you think it’s a fashion faux pas? Do you ever wear a regular bra with strapless dresses? Do you rock bandeau bras? Let me know your thoughts on this look by leaving a comment!

Posted on on August 5, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , ,

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52 Responses to “Fashion Challenge: Let Your Bra Peek Through”

  1. 1
    August 5th, 2010 at 8:33 am

    When I first started reading the post I thought that I might be too conservatice for this challenge. But I think that I could do the “under the loose tank top” look. Thanks for including different options for different modesty levels!

  2. 2
    August 5th, 2010 at 8:34 am

    ooh i love this post!!
    i think showing you bra (intentionally!!) can be really tricky, but I love the last look with a lace top- I love doing this with a black bra.
    I also recently found a lovely sheet white shirt from a charity shop that looks great with a black bra underneath. A white one would be visible anyway so why not go all the way?
    I think this can look really cute and sexy, but it’s really hard not to look like you’ve forgotten what bra you have on or really trashy. I love the outfits you’ve posted though!!
    I love what Carrie is wearing too!!
    great post :]]]

    Charlotte xxx

  3. 3
    August 5th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Cool post. I like Carrie’s blog, but definitely hate any bra shown related to wearing a tank.

    I’ve though about attempting it, but I just know sometimes my low shirt would accidentally cover some bra and it would look like it’s showing by accident. I’d be fidgety. I might need an even LOWER (or wider like Bradshaw’s) shirt. Hehe.

  4. 4
    August 5th, 2010 at 9:13 am

    As long as you’re classy and not trashy about it, I like the look if you make it look good. Personally, this summer, I’ve been wearing a bandeau bra a lot under my slightly see-through tissue tees. I’ll definitely send you a picture!

  5. 5
    August 5th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I like the first two outfits better than the last one, but the first two are super cute!

  6. 6
    August 5th, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I think that it looks more trashy to have your bra showing like that unless you’re going clubbing. I mean its one thing to show a cami but, your bra? who wants to look at it?
    When most girls see a bra when someone is wearing a dress, they thing that she didnt do it on purpose because more than likely it looks bad

  7. 7
    August 5th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I love the 3rd look, but I always feel like with bigger breasts, I can’t pull it off because it will look trashy regardless. Tiny boobies have it better for this look.

  8. 8
    August 5th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    The example outfits in this post are A++ and have softened my heart (just a little) to exposed bras, but if I saw someone in public dressed like SJP up there I’d feel embarrassed for them because that looks trashy and awful.

  9. 9
    August 5th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Nice Post! I totally agree w/ Stephanie about the bigger breasts being harder to pull off but over the summer, to parties and music festivals, I wore a slightly sheer black racerback tank (similar to look 2) with a bright purple bra underneath. With just a peek of the bright bra (no straps showing) I felt it suited my larger breasts w/out looking trashy.

  10. 10
    August 5th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I have always really liked this look to a certain extent. I agree with Stephanie, it is harder for women with bigger breasts. However, if done right, like with your great suggestions, the bra look can be amazing and fashionable.

  11. 11
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    i love the second look, and i wear it a lot–but due to having really big boobs, i can only wear a bandeau over another bra…it works, kind of, but is not super comfortable. i’m wondering if any girls out there have found solutions? like, is there a bandeau or bralet out there for girls with big boobs?
    i also love the last outfit, and i do the thing in the first look all the time–it’s waaaay more comfortable than a strapless and makes it so you don’t have to yank at it all night, which can look sort of trashy in and of itself

  12. 12
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I do the second look all the time (even to class). It gets really hot in NC and I like the breezy tank top I have (which is identical to the one you posted) but can’t wear it without showing my bra.

    For all the girls worried about looking trashy, you won’t. No one said anything (even my friends) when I wore it that way. I was working for a church ministry on campus last year. If I can get away with it, and look classy, so can you.

    So go for it :)

  13. 13
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I have worn something similar to outfit two: a bandeau bra under a loose tank. It was really comfortable. I also planned an outfit of wearing a bandeau under a sheer tank I have. I think that’s a much different look than flaunting something like a lacy leopard bra though.

  14. 14
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Oh, I do love outfit number 3 though.

  15. 15
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Personally, I think only the bandeau works. It doesn’t look like lingerie, nor would you wear it as such, which makes it acceptable to wear in public. However, anything else looks like you’re trying too hard be a Victoria’s Secret angel.

  16. 16
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    For a long time I was against showing your bra. When I would wear a racerback top I would wear another tank top under the racerback so just the tank top was showing. But lately I’ve realized that it can be pulled off in a classy way.

    For a great example look at this outfit posted by Stephanie at Le Cheap C’est Chic. This is a great example of how to show your bra in a classy way!

  17. 17
    August 5th, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I completely hear the concerns of the everyone with larger chests…face it, if the girls ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!! I’d suggest trying out the first look. It’ll be SO much more comfortable and supportive than wearing a strapless bra if you know you’re going to be out for a long night.

    And I’m so glad you all agree about the horrors of looking trashy…back when i was a sophomore in high school, I thought it was really cool to wear a red bra under a white wife beater…ugh I cringe at the memory haha!!

  18. 18
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    this trend is not for me. i have small chests and it wouldnt look nice for such a person like me to show off my bras. people would be like “what do u want me to look at?” lol

    although I won’t wear any of them, love all of your outfits!

  19. 19
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Love this post! Some girls can manage to look really chic and sexy with the visible bra thing. Your outfits are too cute–and I love that you provided so many different options!

  20. 20
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Sorry, I still think it looks cheap and tacky. Wear a cami underneath something loose or sheer.

  21. 21
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    i think that bra straps showing underneath a strapless dress is a horrible thing. It just looks like you were unaware that you should have considered a strapless bra and now you’re stuck with straps that have fixings on them. I think that particular look just looks unintentional and unkept rather than fashionable. The rest of the looks, however, are cute! :)

  22. 22
    August 5th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    The post had potential, but I don’t consider a bandeau bra a bra. Its basically a glorified crop top, or bathingsuit top. Not considered lingerie, sorry. Also, “a white bras gonna show under a white shirt anyway, so why not go all out with black?” *shudders* Sorry, but thats the beauty of a NUDE bra. Something every girl should own. I’ve always liked the idea of a bit of lace peeking out from a crisp shirt, but it loses its sexiness when you can see the whole bra through the shirt. What about a solid color (non white) shirt, and a bright bra just peeking past a collar? :)

  23. 23
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    It’s perfect that you put “Carrie’s” picture up for this. I would be willing to try this trend out. I’ve seen a lot of other people pulling it off where I’m from actually…

  24. 24
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Ugh, I can’t get over thinking this trend is just trashy (along with cropped tops and sheer fabrics). :/ Cute outfits, I just can’t move past it.

  25. 25
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    i agree with the last several posts. while the outfits might look good on paper (and granted, the first one does), this look is just so tacky. one of my professors put it well the other day…”trailor park chic”. i personally don’t care for any of the outfits…why would you wear a bra with a strapless dress? why not just go for a strapless bra? if the occasion is a fancy as that outfit makes it appear, you shouldn’t be caught dead with your bra straps out. i’ve seen people do the second look, but it just hasn’t been pulled off well. i think the ballet slippers make it look a little too amy winehouse. the third look would look a lot better if there was a blank tank top under there instead of the lacy bra. i saw a girl at a lady gaga concert that wore pretty much this same outfit, with a basic black tank top, and it looked fantastic.

  26. 26
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Ooo I love this post/concept/challenge! What if your a bigger girl and (like most bra companies) my bras are mostly basic colors (nude, black, white) … is that still statement enough like Carrie and her leopard bra?

    I still love this idea though – think I might try the slouchy tank idea ohh… and I LOVE the shoes you guys find for your posts. Perfect!

  27. 27
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Shaina – I know how you feel about the bigger bust size. I know for a fact Faith 21 (Forever 21’s plus size line) carries a padded/cupped bandeau bra in hot pink or nude. Not much for colors but thought i’d share.

  28. 28
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    The first outfit is definitely something I do in more casual-ish situations, since strapless bras are pretty terrible if you actually have a chest that needs decent support. For some people, going bra-less is NOT an option!

    Otherwise, since I’m fairly top-heavy I tend to proceed with caution for trends like these. I like the idea of bandeau tops, but I have yet to find one that doesn’t look completely terrible on me. In my experience they tend to work best if you’re a small-ish b-cup or lower in size. Also, slouchy tanks tends to just hang off my boobs in a way that makes me look like I’m wearing a tent or that I’m much bigger than I am.

  29. 29
    August 5th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    So great hearing all of your opinions!! Its great to know what girls our age like and dislike so we can better create a fashion forward outfit.

    Remember to be respectful to fellow CF readers when posting comments–we’re here to bounce ideas off one another through comments, not make our peers insecure :)

  30. 30
    August 5th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I have the same bandeau in the second outfit and I wear it under loose tank-tops. It doesn’t feel trashy because I’m small-chested and petite but I imagine it probably would for those who are little more well-endowed.

    I really would like a lacy bandeau in a bright color paired with a loose/sheer white tank-top. Gotta keep looking.

  31. 31
    August 5th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I love this! I have a fairly huge chest (ugh!) and a small frame, so it’s taken me a lot of playing around with the exposed bra look for it to work, but I promise it can. :)

  32. 32
    August 5th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I tried doing that a la Carrie, partially covered but exposed under a very low cut top. Later that day my guy friend told me he felt very uncomfortable eating across the table from me and my best friend tried to pull my shirt up as soon as she saw what I was wearing. Hahaha, I’ll probably not be trying it again.

  33. 33
    August 5th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I love the top from the 3rd outfit!
    I only feel comfortable showing my bra straps… In fact I do it all the time (particularly because I don’t really like strapeless bras! :P).
    I don’t feel comfortable showing more because I have a really small chest so I think that would make people wonder “why is she even wearing a bra?”!

  34. 34
    August 5th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Lizzy–thank you sooooo much, i tried a bandeau at regular forever 21, and even though i’m not plus sized, it crushed my boobs, made them sag, and gave me underboob. it was awful. unlike a friend of mine, who has magic d-cups that stay up no matter what, my girls need support :) i’ll definitely be ordering that in.

    also, to whoever made the comment about oversized tanks looking tent like–i used to feel that way until i found a tank on a nordstrom’s sale rack that was so thin and perfect that it draped incredibly instead of making me look huge. so don’t lose hope :)

  35. 35
    August 5th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I do like the look of the “peekaboo” bra, however, I’d much rather see it on screen or in print rather than wear it myself.

  36. 36
    August 6th, 2010 at 12:42 am

    The second look is my favorite! I don’t know if I’m adventurous enough to wear it, but it is summer, so it’s a perfect time to give it a try!

  37. 37
    August 6th, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Love this trend :)
    In fact I’m glad that you use Carrie Bradshaw as an example, cuz she rocks this trend several times, in the series and in the movies.
    It’s a lovely and femenine trend, but you must be careful

    I love the post as always, kiss!!

  38. 38
    August 6th, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Love this post!!

    While I haven’t been brave enough to try this out in public, I’ve done this look for Movie Night in the apartment with the girls, and they were all fans-thanks CF!

  39. 39
    August 6th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    No, no, no. To me, showing your bra is NEVER acceptable. It’s called an undergarment for a reason – it should be under. This is classic bodily commodification.

  40. 40
    August 6th, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Um, am i the only one who doesnt care if my bra straps shpe? :/ I’ve never been bothered if my straps show, ther cups yeah, obviouslt, but whenever i wear a tank top/razorback top my straps show and i dont mind…If i’m dressing up, I’ll be more likely to cover them up, but it’s not the end of the world if they show, and i’ve never thought bra straps made you look trashy. Love the post, especially looks 2 and 3, 2 is a good way to ease in to it, i think

  41. 41
    August 6th, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    ha show not shpe

  42. 42
    August 7th, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I envy girls who can get away with a bandeau instead of a bra. I do, however, use them as sort of a bra cover under loose tank tops. If my straps show it doesn’t bother me, I just don’t like any other parts of my bra to show.. and the bandeau covers it all =]

  43. 43
    August 7th, 2010 at 6:33 am

    Would love to do this, but with 10E’s…. not so possible without looking stripper :)

  44. 44
    August 8th, 2010 at 12:54 am

    i always loved this look
    great post
    uv given some really good ideas
    love the 3rd the most

  45. 45
    August 10th, 2010 at 12:02 am

    That youtube video was horrible. :)

    I have an abnormally large chest for my body type, so i think this trend would make me look like a wanna-be porn star. I think i’ll skip on this, although on a lazy day I will wear a sports bra w/ one of those breezy racerback tanks! I also agree that cami’s or w/e underneath those loose tanks kind of defeat the purpose of them.

  46. 46
    August 17th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Would look great provided you wear a bra which looks great.. like Carrie’s!
    I buy my bra’s etc from “La senza” , and i dont mind showing em off cause they look super cute n sexy too!! i got a beige one with 3 tiny diamond stones on the strap.. and another grey bra which has staps with a pastel pink and blue leopard design.. n i dont mind showing em off ;)

  47. 47
    November 2nd, 2011 at 9:03 am

    where i can get good bras in newdelhi,India??

  48. 48
    July 17th, 2012 at 4:44 am

    i absolutely love the outfit ideas put together here! wearing a bandeau bra when it’s hot out is always easy and comfortable… i also love to wear a sheer top with a lacy bra underneath for going out. it’s so great that it’s not so taboo for women to show what they got under their shirt in a stylish, tasteful way :)

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