Bra as a Top: When It’s Too Hot to Wear an Entire Shirt

Here’s how to wear a bra as a top:

1. As a Famous Person

If you’re famous, you can wear any bra as a top in literally any circumstance. You could probably get Adult Bat Mitzvahed wearing a bra as a top.

2. With high-waisted pants / skirt / shorts.

This is an area in which the impact of this look is totally different on a curvy bod vs. a skinny bod but it flatters both of those body types (and everything in between!) SO MUCH. It should probably be illegal. This look makes me so happy to be a lesbian.

3. With a mesh or otherwise see-through shirt.

I don’t know how this became cool again, it just did, and people are pulling it off!!

4. With a button-up shirt, jacket, blazer or vest that is either open or partially buttoned up

This is a classic look for semi-to-legit famous Instagram tomboy femmes like Hayley Kiyoko, Halsey, Ari Fitz and my friend Kayla. But why stop there? This idea is a great one for people of all gender identities, sexual orientations and body types.

You too can wear a bra as a top.

Why? Because it’s so fucking hot out in every damn city in this hemisphere that I’m considering opening a pop-up brunch spot on my block called Street Food where I fry eggs on the actual street. There will be a long wait.

In general, you can’t really wear a bra as a top to work or to hang out with your grandparents. But you can likely pull it off for a variety of other summertime occasions.

Things to look for when trying to help your bra pass as a top:

  • Thick, opaque (not see-through) fabrics
  • Fabrics that are not nylon (nylon tends to scream “this is a bra!!!”)
  • High ornamentation, like to a degree that makes you think “wow there is a lot going on on this bralette, how will I fit this under my shirt? Is it fair to hide all of this beauty from the world???!!”
  • If your boobs are small enough to feel supported in them — bralettes or otherwise underwire-free situations
  • Longline bras (with a little more coverage below the breasts)
  • High-collar bras (with a little more coverage above the breasts)

Sporty Bras

With exceptional levels of coverage and necklines that remind you of tank tops, sports bras have been worn as tops since the invention of sports bras. I remember in 1998 when first started *exercising at the gym like a grown-up* I wore a sports bra as a shirt for the first time and my friend was like “oh, are you one of those people now?” and I was like “I am sorry to report that I am.” This year, queers have been spotted in all manner of Calvin Klein throwback sports bras which I could do an entire post about because I love them so much.

You can also try sports bra crop tops which are sports bras that pass as crop tops, like the Outdoor Voices Athena Crop ($45).

Cage / Strappy Bras

At some point everybody I know had a meeting and decided to start wearing these under their low-cut tank tops or heartily-unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts. It had at least one girl wondering if she’d be let into a Pride Event without one. The party in this case happens up top, making it a prime candidate for an unbuttoned-at-the-top shirt. The idea here is that you look very dressed in your shirt, and then if you start to feel the heat death of the universe trickling down your cleavage, just take your shirt off! G-d understands.

Lacy Bralettes

Wearing a longline lacy bralette with high-waisted jean cutoffs is an officially-approved outfit for most casual summertime events.

Bras That Pass As Shirts

Literally just put these on, look in the mirror and say to yourself “this is a shirt!” It’s called positive visualization and it works.

Black Triangle Bras

Basic wardrobe staple.

Wow, Bras are Fun and So Are YOU!!!!!!!

And we’re having fun, we’re all having fun!

Okay it’s time to take the world by storm wearing only your bra as a top!

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3201 articles for us.


  1. Yes! Jeans and bra (somewhere between a sports bra and a bralette, I have it in 5 different colours) has been my go-to doing work around the house outfit in this incredibly hot summer

  2. when i went out the bars at night during pride, I wore a black underarmour sports bra and a grey mesh 3/4 length top with green jungle printed shorts. it’s a staple

  3. I don’t know how Halsey is rocking these absurdly ugly bras to such an outstanding degree.
    Probably magic.
    My mother and grandmother (may she Rest In Peace) would probably have made me throw those items out if they had ever ended up in their wash, in fear that I would never develop a sex life, but here, look at Halsey, who manages to wear a flesh colored (!) brassiere like nobody‘s business.
    I am truly in awe and will just cut up t shirts until I have the courage to wear a sports bra sans top myself.

  4. Bra shopping is the worst. I cannot imagine trying to find one that both fit and was acceptable for human visual consumption. That seems worse than dying of heat stroke.

    • Yeah. I like the concept until I remember there’s a reason all my bras are falling apart and not fit to be seen in public – I hate bra shopping.

  5. this is the kind of content that makes me proud to work for you, Riese!!!!

    also as someone with huge boobs may i humbly suggest the BIKINI TOP as a top also, A++ would recommend!!


    • Shout out to Your Open Closet in Vancouver, BC, where this one’s from. Awesomely friendly whether you’re packing, binding, flaunting or concealing. L?VE them (…and no I don’t work for them, though maybe I should apply :-P ).

  6. Trick I found for passing a bra off as a top is to find a stylish one without any hooks and underwires.

    I have a bra that doubles as a swim top, a workout top and a wear with a open button up top top.

    It’s also perfect with it’s a hot as hell walking out of air conditioned heath care into the heat of the evening. Off with the scrub top top.

  7. It’s amazing to me that a article this inclusive with pictures of all kinds of bodies, can still trigger all the feelings of hating my body and bring up my gender dysphoria.

    Not a complaint about the article, more of just wow, I’m really fucked up.

    • You’re not fucked up, society is.

      You’re just trying to see past a million messages of fear that you hear from all around every day. The fact that you’re seeing past them clearly enough to be here, to talk about it is incredible!

      And you know what? Despite society’s fears and desire to make you smaller, you are far greater, far more beautiful than they may ever understand. Take a moment to listen…every part of you is beautiful. You are beautiful. You are. You are.

  8. I love that you have all sorts of body types and so much diversity
    Excellent work as usua

  9. I love that you have all sorts of body types and so much diversity
    Excellent work, as usual

  10. As I read this I am wearing a black triangle bralette under overall shorts because it is Satan’s double oven industrial kitchen out there

  11. Y’all! I *just* got a black lace longline bralette (b/c Mary Lambert wore one at A-Camp #goals) and have been pretending it’s a shirt around the house. I have some excellent high waisted floral casual/formal shorts it would look so good with if I ever had the courage/event to wear it outside. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. This post 100% inspired my look today – navy floral shirts, black bra, white sleeveless button up.

    Thanks Autostraddle- five years ago I wouldn’t have had the body confidence to wear something like this, and it’s mostly due to the body positivity I see and read here.

  13. I hope one day I can find a bralette that my boobs will actually listen to and stay put in, and hopefully it is pretty. So far it hasn’t happened yet ?

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