Reader Request: Loungewear and Comfy Bras

bali comfort revolution

Jenni e-mailed me with this great question:

I’m working on dressing both for comfort and figure flattery in the home context, as I (and my hubby) work at home some days. I also have “new-to-me” breasts – they’ve grown a couple of cup sizes in the last few years and now I’m 40+, so support is key. I do buy good quality bras – but I don’t really want to wear all that hardware when I’m in all day or hanging out with hubby and kid at night. Still, being nicely contained is more comfortable (and makes me feel a little better when I catch my profile in a mirror). What do you and others do for support and flattery when not out and about in the world? I’m too big up top to get much mileage out of a yoga top, and I would love some ideas or to know what others are doing.

I guess the bonus question here is: what are we all wearing when we are at home? If it’s a day when we aren’t going to be “seen” much, what style and dressing choices are we making, and what motivates those choices?

So, as you can see, two questions to be addressed here: First, are there comfy, lounge-appropriate bra options out there? Second, how are we dressing for nights in and/or lounge and/or working from home? Let’s start with the bras.

Comfy bras for lounge and sleep

I’ve already had some fascinating and impassioned discussions with you lovely readers about bras for lounge and sleep, and discovered that, although there is a bit of crossover, most women fall into one of three camps:

  1. Wearing a bra doesn’t really impact my comfort. Neither does going braless.
  2. I hate wearing a bra WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS, and rip mine off as soon as I possibly can.
  3. I feel better in some sort of bra at all times, including lounging and even sleeping.

Being small of boob and having heard from friends and readers that larger busts often feel better in a bra than bra-free, I was surprised to find that the women in group two possessed busts of all shapes and sizes. I’m in group three myself, and have a small but cherished collection of sleep and lounge bras. At age 37, I’ve already had two mammograms because – as a woman in her late thirties who has never been pregnant – I have fibrous breasts. In addition to being somewhat lumpy, they can get unspeakably sore due to hormonal changes. So I just bra up. Always. Except for showers and sex.

Because of this, I happily pointed Jenni to my favorite lounge bra: The Bali Comfort Revolution. I wear the wire-free version and it is so very, very happy-making. It has super thin foam cups for nipple modesty, provides a bit of support without feeling constricting, and – at least on me – does NOT create the dreaded uniboob look. I wash mine in the machine and hang to dry, and they’ve lasted for three years with a bit of color fade and hardly another sign of wear. Will this style work for everyone? Nope. Only goes through a 42DD and is not a style that will work for all body shapes and sizes or all bust shapes and sizes. But it’s my go-to. And there are similar options – wirefree, soft cup, designed for light support instead of all-day wear – that come in sizes through 54G. (This one gets great marks.) Traditional sports bras work just fine for many women and they definitely come in a variety of support levels from light to no-bounce-ever. Athleta and Title Nine rank theirs by support level as well as size. But I feel like my Bali and similar styles are more of a middle ground between underwire day bras and workout-specific sports bras. So I totally love them for lounge and sleep.

Loungewear preferences and options

Although I’ve been doing a mix of working from home and out of the house for two and a half years now, I don’t do loungewear when I’m working at home. I feel more alert and focused when I shower, primp, and dress as if I’m going out … even if no one sees me all day besides Simon Kitty. This also means that if something arises at the last moment, I can hop in my car and go. So although I still do work from home some, I don’t dress terribly casually when I’m doing it.

BUT. After work is done, after the gym, after I’ve been to a LOTT meeting and am in for the rest of the evening, I do have lounge clothes that I change into. And they’re different from my PJs. Why? Cats. Well, cat right now. Despite our carefully tested system of Filth Sheets, my entire house is just coated in cat hair. The stuff is everywhere, I tell ya. Much of it sticks to the sofa cover in our basement, which is where the TV is and much of the actual lounging takes place. And since nothing makes me more irritated than a big mouthful of cat hair when I’m trying to fall asleep, I don’t pull on my PJs until I’m done with my nightly ablutions and ready to actually sleep.

For many years, my loungewear consisted of two college-style long-sleeved tees and a pair of Husband Mike’s old pajama pants that I accidentally shrunk in the wash. Hoodies annoy me because they just bunch up around my ears and shoulders, so the tees were utilitarian and comfy. But over time, Angie’s upgraded loungewear posts got to me. As did the fact that my ankles and feet were always cold, forcing me to tuck my PJ pants into my socks. NOT A SEXY LOOK. Kinda clown-meets-Dickens, but in green and blue plaid cotton. So I now have some cowl-necked tunics from Target, fleece-lined leggings, a lightweight sweatshirt or two, and these funky jodphur pants from local designer Foat. And, most importantly, slipper boots. (Mine are sold out, but those are similar.) Cold ankles no more! And I feel less schlubby when I lounge, an activity that also takes place many weeknights and some binge-watching-House-of-Cards weekend nights, too.

Enough about me. Let’s hear from YOU: When you’re at home, do you keep on your regular bra, switch to something softer, or go bra-free? Got any suggestions for comfy, lounge-worthy bras? If you work at home, what are you most likely to wear during the day? What’s your loungewear style? Comfy jeans and a tee? Sweats? Something specific to around-the-house? Do tell!

Top image via Macy’s.

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Originally posted 2014-03-03 06:55:47.

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28 Responses to “Reader Request: Loungewear and Comfy Bras”

  1. beate

    i have some soft microfiber bra-tops for wearing at home, optical not the best look on me but comfy. and because they don´t look typical underwear i can wear them under my garden overall like a bikini-top, in summer.
    working at home i wear leggings, dirndl skirt and sweater in winter, in summer when it´s hot shorts – surf or boxer short style. in between cotton house dress. and this is my “lounge wear” too.

  2. Jennifer

    I recently moved to a different state than where I spent most of my adult life and as a result I’m now teleworking from home 100% because my old job was kind enough to want to retain me on such terms. I never had to dress up to go to work previously, but I find I still dress the same way while working from home. In fact, maybe I even dress up a little more than I used to. Maybe not being so harried in the mornings as I used to be is letting me think more while getting dressed, but I definitely feel like my outfits are more complete than they used to be when I had to be out the door much earlier than I do now. I feel more productive being fully dressed while working from home. I change into workout clothes if I’m taking a break for a run, but then it’s back into regular clothes after the shower. I only get into my PJs after dinner and dishes are done, while the kids are getting ready for bed themselves. Sans bra, of course 🙂 I do recommend that Bali bra Sally linked to in her post; I have several and they are so comfy. They are my go-to bra with PJs or loungewear, especially if I know there’s a chance I might be seen by someone besides my husband.

  3. PolarSamovar

    I have been telecommuting for 6 years, and I found early on that I could not work effectively in my PJs or loungewear. Even if I have no plans to leave the house, I get dressed for work every day. It may be jeans and a sweater, but it has to be something I’d feel comfortable leaving the house in. It’s an interesting psychological effect.
    I also brush my teeth for conference calls.

  4. PolarSamovar

    I have been telecommuting for 6 years, and I found early on that I could not work effectively in my PJs or loungewear. Even if I have no plans to leave the house, I get dressed for work every day. It may be jeans and a sweater, but it has to be something I’d feel comfortable leaving the house in. It’s an interesting psychological effect.
    I also brush my teeth for conference calls.

  5. Lisa

    Hate bras, but need some sort of constraint for lounging. Enter the shelf-bra cami brigade:). With plaid flannel PJs in matching colors. Style, baby, style!

  6. Anamarie

    I switch out of my day bras and wear something less constricting. I feel more comfortable wearing a bra most of the time. When I get home from work, I change out of my work clothes into either yoga pants/t-shirt or velour tracksuits and Uggs. I wear camisole nighties to bed during the summer. In the winter I usually sleep in the velour pants and bra, because my legs get cold. I wouldn’t go out in public wearing my house clothes, but if someone stopped by, I look presentable enough for my own house.

  7. Amy

    I have a fairly ample bosom (32E) and fall into category 1, so I don’t have lounge bras. I do change to lounge wear in the evening – sans bra – and that entails leggings, some kind of soft knit top and slippers. Not too chic, but an upgrade from sweatpants!

  8. Shawna

    I suppose I’m fairly busty, though I don’t mind being braless in pyjamas or even lounging though I only feel comfortable if I have at least two layers on. Like Lisa, I like the shelf bra cami top. They don’t hoik me up enough to be really flattering but they make me feel presentable. I might possibly be wearing a bra size that is too small but as I just bought them they will have to do for now. They are comfortable enough.

  9. K-Line

    Oooh, interesting post Sal! I am in the larger-breasts camp and I am always aware when wearing a bra. Part of the reason for this is that I wear very snug bands (my preference) in order to provide more support for relatively breasts. I do not wear bras to sleep in or to lounge around the house. I just don’t find bra-wearing as comfortable as bra-free-ness. Note: I’d never go without a great bra outside the house because it’s warranted for me (IMO) and my clothing fit depends on properly supportive and fitted foundation garments. I have tried to get with lounge bras but I haven’t found the right one yet. I don’t want wires but, when breasts are deep and not small, a wire-free option will NOT work from the vantage point of separating breasts. I LOATHE the feeling of my boobs smushing together in one mass. You can see my dilemma. On the plus side, my not wearing bras for 1/2 my days does not seem to have ruined the integrity of my breasts (not more than age has!). I have no stretch-marks and my Cooper’s ligaments are holding their own. Note: I co look much better in a bra.

  10. Sandy B

    I am large of boob and yes, I always wear a bra in public which includes lounging around the house in front of teens. (Don’t want to scare them, after all!) I have a lounging bra, but it’s simply a soft cotton cupped bra instead of my heavy-duty bomb proof bras. Wish I was small! Sigh!

  11. Sue

    I don’t choose to sleep in a bra, but when I’m awake I prefer to wear one. This is true even when I’m home and have no plans to leave the house or see other human beings.

    I don’t wear uncomfortable bras, period. I’m small (34B), and find that I can wear the Gillian & O’Malley lightly padded (not push-up) bras from Target are perfect for me. I hardly notice the bra at all, the padding prevents “headlights”, and they are inexpensive and durable.

    However, I often choose to wear sport bras if I’m going to be home all day or maybe just run some quick errands. I also get mine from Target (C9) brand.

    I detest shirts with “shelf bras” with the passion of a thousand suns. Even though I’m small, these don’t give me decent shape, and they give me serious headlights. Ick.

    As for loungewear, I sleep in long shirts because I can’t stand sleeping in shorts or pants. When I’m just hanging around the house, I have an awesome pair of pants from lululemon (Studio Pant) that are fitted enough to be flattering but loose enough to be super comfy. I have some issues with the brand, but I adore these pants. For warmer months, I have a cropped pair of knickers from Athleta with a similar fit and feel. I usually pair them with sweatshirts or t shirts for comfort.

  12. Ruth

    Loungewear and lounge bras? I’m afraid they never occurred to me. I have quite a big bust (40D) but didn’t start wearing bras until I was about 40 and then went in gently through crop tops etc. Now I wear an underwired bra every day but don’t find it uncomfortable (except when the wire snaps – ouch!!) so wouldn’t dream of having a different bra for lounging. And I am in team ‘sleep naked’ so definitely no night bras.
    I don’t really have lounge clothes either. The nearest I get to that is coming home from Pilates in the evening and not changing out of my Pilates clothes. I have been working at home for 5 and a half years, and though I will typically have meetings on two or three days I realised recently that I really miss opportunities to get dressed up. But the best thing I did recently (well a year or two ago) was buy some jeans that I love – I thought the old ones would do because they were ‘only’ seven years old even though I hated them. So I feel fairly respectable at home. I do have some work at home slippers for when the weather gets really cold, but this winter in London has been so mild I haven’t needed them. As time has gone on, work me and home me are melding together a little – but definitely no lounge wear. Don’t see what i would want it for. An evening at home and I have to change my clothes? No thank you.

  13. Grace H

    Here’s the rundown: I’m fairly busty, and prefer no bra at night, but definitely one during the day. Even if I just stay in my pajamas, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten dressed until the girls are supported.

    Also, I recently invested in a few ‘cute’ pajamas/loungewear sets, after going through a not-so-fun, body negative ‘funk’ all through the winter. There was something about picking out clothes that were really truly just for me (since the only other people that would see them would be immediate family), that just made me feel better.

  14. Gisele

    I love the Coobie bras. Probably not so good for someone who needs a lot of support, but if you only need a little, they are super comfy, cheap (do a search for coupons before you buy) and come in a million fun colors.

    For loungewear, I love JJill wearever stuff–stretchy but not sloppy. Too expensive when full price, but there are sales.

    • Kyla

      I second the Coobies! They have been a life changer for me. I’m a C cup and while it doesn’t yank them up to the heavens, it’s enough support for most days and most importantly, I don’t run inside the house and take off my bra first thing any more. I can wear it all day, no problem. Affordable, comfortable and cute enough – love them

  15. Kristen

    I wear a long drapy ankle-length dress and a cardigan around the house. It’s very comfortable and unconstricting, but I feel feminine in it and I could in theory run outside to do an errand. (Plus, the other occupant of the house thinks it’s pretty.)

    I have a tiny bust that gets absolutely freezing cold at no provocation, so bras are more of a warmth and modesty thing than a support thing for me. Since they aren’t very tight, they can stay on except for sleep.

  16. becky

    Grandma housecoats for me. Frumpy? Oh yes. Comfortable? Oh yeah. And go in and out of the yard. Not much further tho. I would actually like a step up from that.

  17. BamaCarol

    Great post Sally! I admit that I do not feel dressed or comfortable without a bra even though I am only a D cup. I do not wear them to sleep in though; I do wear cotton knit pajamas with pants in the winter and shorts in the summer. I have been working from home a lot due to health issues and wear mostly sweatpants, tshirts and some kind of hoody sweater in the winter. In the summer it is shorts and tshirts. I have to dress much more formally (think blazers and skirts and hose) when going into the office so really want my home time to be comfy. My bra is underwire but Wacoal brand is so comfortable to me that I cannot tell they are underwire and have never had one break or come out of the fabric. They are not cheap bras but to me are worth it.

  18. lydiag

    I am of larger bust and I wear a bra with underwires all day, so when I arrive home, I change into one that is wireless (one that is from Royce bought at bravissimo.com). I do however, have bras that fit larger — and when the wirefree one is in the wash, I wear my ‘comfy’ larger wire bras at home. I am on the hunt for a new ‘house’ bra — preferably without wires, though I certainly need the support during the day. I do have a tank top from bravissimo with an integral bra built in that I bought to sleep in — more of a padded bra sized to my cup, built into a tank top. This does squish me while I sleep, so I just wear it in the summer around the house!

  19. Erika A

    I’m a 36G and I don’t wear a bra unless I’m leaving the house. I was a devoted underwire wearer until this year, when I found that it was causing me to retain lymph in my armpits. I now go bra-free in sweatpants and sweatshirt, or yoga pants and fleece turtleneck around the house (it’s currently winter here in the northeast US) and when I leave the house or when I go to work each day (in an office) I now favor this bra: http://ladygrace.com/7125/p/7125/.

    I used to wear a bra even around the house, but have found that my breasts are actually happier and more perky (as perky as a 36G can ever be) now that I wear a bra less. Plus – I get more squeezes from my husband. 😉

  20. naomi

    Decent Exposures makes wonderful bras that some women find useful for lounging, and some wear for non-lounging purposes, or even just as tops. See http://decentexposures.com/Bras/Detail/Un_Bra. They are pricy, but go up to very large sizes and can be customized. The colors and fabrics are wonderful, and they last for years. It’s the only thing I can wear (44G here) that makes me unaware that I’m wearing a bra.

    I have yet to find a bra that both looks good and doesn’t torture me, due to a combination of being large-breasted, narrow-ribbed, short-waisted, and with a considerable belly. It’s a hard combo to provide good breast support for if you don’t want to be poked somewhere when in any given position. Alas.

    I don’t, however, sleep with a bra – ever. There is some evidence that tight bras impair the functioning of the lymph glands which may or may not have implications for breast cancer. My information may well be dated, but I recall reading that risks were higher for women who slept in their bras. Of course, we all weigh the risks and benefits for us and make individual choices, but it seems worth mentioning.

  21. No fear of fashion

    This was a fun post to read. Especially the bit about the cat, the hairs and the NOT SEXY LOOK hahaha.
    I can wear my bras all day, no problem. Never even think about it. I try not to lounge too often in aweful looking gear, but I can better invest in some good looking lounge gear as I end up sitting in my trousers with the zipper open all evening because my belly just grws at least a size after dinner. Presumably because I have no hops and no bum. The food has got to stay somewhere so my belly grows.
    Greetje

  22. 33

    I had been self-conscious about my small chest (A-) for years until I started paying attention to fashion. The runway models are all pretty small. Even VS models are not that big. It seems that all the problems associated with having big girls I don’t have when it comes to fashion and sports. Now I thank God for giving me small girls.
    Above being said, I want to advocate wearing satin slips and camisoles/teddies under your top/sweater/dress. I wear them with and without bras.
    Having a satiny layer between your body and your garment is creating wonders. All of a sudden my clothes fit and look better on, cling and wrinkle less. Not to memtion I feel more comfortable moving and sitting. Garments don’t irritate my skin anymore. And there’s no embarassing skirt see-thru.
    If you never try this, give it a shot. Chiffon is not a good material because it creates friction. Satin is the best.

  23. Splashing In Puddles

    Sally, I loved reading about your cat hair strategy. My dog sheds white hair like crazy and it gets all over my clothes, especially since she loves to sit on my lap. I work outside the house & dress up for work. The best way I’ve found to deal with it is to make sure getting dressed is the last thing I do before I leave the house in the morning & then change as soon as I walk in the door at night. If I don’t do that, everything has to be washed every time I wear it. The only problem is that the outside world sees me looking spiffy while my poor husband sees me in my grubbies most of the time.

  24. Rachel

    I’ve learned that if I don’t wear a bra at home, I will do nothing. NOTHING. Something about bralessness equates with sloth to me. So I always wear a bra, except for sleeping or when I’m sick. It’s fine – when my bras fit fine I don’t really notice them. But if I ever tried to work from home without wearing a bra I’d be fired within a week, heh.

    Because of cats, I draw a very clear line between house clothes and outside clothes, and never the twain shall meet. Putting on my outside clothes is the very last thing I do before leaving the house. Around the house I live in various styles of yoga pants or shorty pjs, plus t-shirts with funny sayings that I’ve had to retire from outside wear. Not particularly nice looking, but it’s all going to get covered in cat hair anyway.

  25. Cassie

    You can pry my underwires from my cold, dead, um, boobs. Seriously. I find them to be perfectly comfortable and hate going without them for any real activities that may require walking &etc. The only exception is sleep; I sleep on my stomach and find the mattress provides perfectly good support.

  26. Jessica Russell

    I am a 36DD and wear serious underwire jobs during the day. At home I will sometimes wear a soft sports bra,the sort that pull over the head and have skinny straps, for lounging. The sports bras I wear to work out bear no resemblance to these! I only sleep in a bra when the hormones hit hard and the thought of being braless is untenable due to swelling and tenderness. I’ve been eyeing some of the pretty lacy soft bralettes I’ve seen around–they look like they would corral while being pretty.