Confession: My first thought when PM Boris Johnson announced the country was going into lockdown was “great no bra!”
And I bet I wasn’t the only one.
With many of us now WFH, practicing social distancing or self-isolating due to the coronavirus, loungewear (READ: our PJs) has become our new work wardrobe, and the need for the humble bra has taken a bit of a tumble.
Who doesn’t love the feeling of taking your bra off at the end of the day? Well, two weeks into lockdown, and many of us have enjoyed the feeling of taking off our bras and flinging them back into the drawer, safe in the knowledge that we might not need to put them back on until it we’re out of isolation.
And it is, well, freeing!
But while we’re very much enjoying the comfort of not having to don our brassieres on a daily basis, we can’t help but wonder what all this freedom is doing to our boobs.
Is not wearing a bra bad for our health?
“Current circumstances mean that most of us are sporting loungewear and anything that keeps us feeling comfortable,” explains Jo Bingley, head of technical at Panache Lingerie. “This has resulted in some women ditching their bras, but it's still important to ensure we're giving ourselves the support we need.”
Some experts believe going a long time without any support runs the risk of potentially stretching the Cooper's ligaments in the breasts.
“Wearing a bra can help to stop premature sagging, as it means that the connective tissue within the breast isn't stretched as much throughout the day,” explains cosmetic surgeon, Dr Dirk Kremer of Harley St. Aesthetics.
It seems ditching the bra could have a long-term impact on our postures too.
“Breasts are heavy and over a long period of time going braless will affect your posture and may lead to hunching in some people,” Dr Kremer continues.
“A bra does help to prevent the skeletal and posture problems that can come about as a result of not wearing one for a prolonged period.”
But before you run to dust of your bra and stick it back on for fear of coming out of isolation with hunched shoulders and boobs two inches saggier, it is worth noting that there are some other factors at play.
“It’s important to remember that a major reason for the breasts sagging is age as opposed to our underwear choices,” Dr Kremer continues.
“As we get older, our skin loses elasticity and thins which means that gravity has an easier time pulling us down. This stretching process tends to accelerate as we get older.”
When weighing up whether to let your boobs enjoy a little lockdown liberty, it’s worth considering that if your bra is ill-fitting it will bring a whole other set of problems.
“If a bra is ill fitting one may suffer from chronic back pain and increased pressure on the diaphragm/chest which could effect breathing and upper digestive problems,” explains Gary Ross consultant cosmetic surgeon at BMI The Alexandra Hospital.
“An ill fitting bra can also cause rashes and lead to pressure or rubbing especially around the bra straps, under the breast fold and the back.”
Wire-free is the way forward
But there is a way to compromise by switching to something a little more comfortable during these corona-based times.
“When well-designed and expertly fitted, wire-free bras can feel like a second skin - you can be comfortable while still wearing a bra,” explains Francesca Fleming of Royce Lingerie.
“Whether you're looking to relax the dress code a little when working from home, or are self-isolating for 12 weeks, wire-free is an excellent choice whatever your size.”
Bingley echoes the advice that wire-free could be the lockdown bra we all need right now.
“A non-wired bra will give you the support you need, and there are lots of soft and comfortable options out there.
“The structure of many non-wired bras are designed to give support to the breast without the aid of wires. Seam-lines are positioned to ensure the breast is kept in it a supported position and the internal fabrics offer uplift whilst also being soft to the touch.”
And for those doing Joe Wicks or other lockdown workouts, there are comfortable bra options too.
“For those keeping fit in their living rooms, a wire-free sports bra can still give you the right level of support for low to medium impact activity such as yoga and pilates,” Fleming adds.