I like to experiment with new things, and that’s been the theme of the week on Mode & Methodology. I did a small experiment with three looks, incorporating sleepwear into outfits that could, conceivably, be worn during the day time. It’s fair to say that so far we have learned a bit about where my outfit boundaries are – a jumpsuit conceived of a set of vintage silk pyjamas was fine, but a robe during the day felt strange. Great stuff, since knowing what you like to wear is the number one way to avoid buying things you never wear.
That felt like a natural circle back to one of the themes from the start of 2018: Try Something New. We’ve just come out of winter here in the southern hemisphere, typically a dark and dreary time, so as the sun starts to shine (intermittently here in Wellington), it’s worth thinking about opportunities to change things up and try something new…again.
So, for this final look in the series I tried a new (to me) New Zealand designer, La Fille Fantome. Now, while I’m sure there would be an audience for a look incorporating their blindfolds or silk cuffs, I decided to keep it significantly more PG and opted for this pretty peachy cami. Intended as bedroom attire, I could see no conceivable reason that it couldn’t also work as a cami for the day time/out in the world. When it arrived, it became evident I would also be trying something else new (and increasingly popular in a modern world): going sans bra in the daylight hours.
I got my first bra when I was in form one (or year 7 for those who are not as ancient as me), when I definitely didn’t need a bra but my sensible mother realised that a “training bra” (weird terminology, do we still do this?) would be a simple thing to give me to help my pre-teen self feel like I fit in at a new school. That was 25ish years ago, and I’ve subsequently gone bra-free in the following public situations: swimming, and the occasional schlep to the foyer of my apartment building to collect pizza after work. I’ve never thought about this, but as I reflect on it now it’s kind of astounding. It’s not like I’m over here with a desperate reliance on the support provided by a good underwire. Clearly, my bra-wearing is some kind of social conditioning/aesthetic move.
Here’s my feedback on a few hours without the comfort blanket that apparently bras have become. First up, make sure you wear something quite fitted, because I was paranoid I was going to do a full flash should there be an errant breeze or too abrupt a move on my part. Obviously, this top is intended for wearing in relative privacy, so it’s not entirely focussed on coverage. I solved this issue (sort of) with some trusty double-sided tape but seriously, who can be faffed with that every day. Secondly, shape and proportions and fabric are key: if this had been super slinky (instead of cotton) or cut to be super super figure hugging, it would have been far more uncomfortable for me to wear. As it was, it was just relaxed enough.
Sometimes, trying something new helps you to see your own perceptions of the world in a new way. Isn’t it weird that I’ve worn a bra pretty much every day for 25 years? Isn’t it weird that I have zero issue with seeing some dude’s chest on the beach, but I’m deeply uncomfortable with the possibility that this top might not give sufficient coverage? Much like I understand the tension that exists from a feminist perspective in some elements of fashion, I understand that this likely all arises from a strange sexualisation of women that I don’t want to buy into but apparently have internalised along the line. Is that also what informs the view of some people that women should wear bras? I ask because I recently watched a Youtube video from a fashion blogger in the UK where she didn’t wear a bra (and where it was significantly more obvious than it is for yours truly), but the truly striking thing was the huge number of comments from other women telling her that it was “distracting” or “not seemly” for her to go without a bra. I found it deeply strange at the time but now realise, I’m not that far away from that point of view.
I definitely believe that in fashion, the more you try something or see something, the more normal it becomes. That’s how trends evolve and how personal style evolves (on the latter, see: my love of statement earrings after a lifetime of feeling self-conscious about how much my ears stuck out). If I extend that theory, that means that the more that women go bra-free the more likely it is that this will become just as normal as wearing a bra is now. Equality in bra-wearing! Bras for those who want and need them but also self-awareness as to the choice you are making! That’s not going to fit neatly on a placard, so I’ll work on it, but tell me: where do you stand on this important issue of bras in the day time?