While there have been plenty of downsides to being cooped up at home, there’s one advantage many of us can agree on: you don’t have to wear a bra.
With workplaces, pubs and restaurants closed, we ditched jeans in favour of joggers, swapped blouses for sweatshirts, and decided that bras are surplus to requirement.
Because what’s the point in strapping on a tight, uncomfortable undergarment, when the only people you’re going to see are the Deliveroo driver and whoever you’re having a Zoom call with that day?
Now that restrictions are being eased, you may be dreading the thought of going back to enduring hours of underwired hell, before whipping off your bra with a sigh of relief at the end of the day.
So the question is: do you really need to wear a bra? Are there legitimate health reasons for supporting our breasts, or are we actually covering and/or hoisting them up for the benefit of other people?
“Your bra is there to support the weight of the breast, helping your muscles and your spine sit in the best possible position to prevent pain and posture problems,” says Dr Simran Deo, GP at UK-based online doctor Zava UK.
“Many women won’t experience any problems with not wearing a bra in the short term, but in the long term, not wearing a bra or wearing an unsupportive bra could potentially cause poor posture, which can result in problems such as back, neck or shoulder pain.”
So, a bra might help prevent muscle problems, but contrary to popular belief, it won’t necessarily stop your boobs from drooping.
“As we age, our breasts do tend to sag. This is because the ligaments (called Cooper’s ligaments) stretch as we get older, and the tissue in the breast – which is made up of elastin and collagen – breaks down,” Dr Deo says.
“This is a natural part of the ageing process and it’s more influenced by your genes, than whether or not you wear a bra.”
On a day-to-day basis, if you aren’t experiencing any problems, a bra isn’t necessarily essential, but for exercise, you should always wear a well-fitting sports bra, Dr Deo says: “Wearing a sports bra during exercise is essential in preventing damage to your internal breast structure, as well as pain in your back and neck.
“This is especially important for high-impact exercises such as running, boxing or HIIT classes.”
Does breast size make a difference when it comes to choosing whether or not to don a bra each morning?
“For some people, larger, heavier breasts may contribute to changes in posture, which in turn, could lead to pain in the neck, shoulders or back, though there are likely to be a few different factors involved,” Dr Deo says. “A well-fitting, supportive bra should help take some of the strain in that case. ”
Ultimately, though, Dr Deo says it’s completely up to you, so if you’ve loved that bra-free feeling during lockdown, there’s no reason you shouldn’t carry on.
“If you’re not experiencing any discomfort from your breasts and prefer to go bra-less, that’s a personal choice, whatever your size.”