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Bra Etiquette 101

Jennifer Anniston made a splash on the red carpet when she appeared at her Five premier with a sexy black bra peeking above her sporty vest. Some critics scorned her choice of attire, while others applauded it; but that leads to the question – which is right? Is it ok to show bra straps or the top of your bra in public? What’s the rule about seeing nipples through your shirt? Jennifer Anniston’s fashion choice has inspired a run down of the rules of bra etiquette.

In Fashion, Anything Goes
For the past several years, fashion designers have said “anything goes” when it’s time to talk about their newest runway shows. It seems that this general attitude has permeated the public consciousness in some regions, while others are still more conservative. But top designers can’t be wrong, so we say – let your comfort level be your guide.

Everyone has personal taste that determines how they dress. Some women would never show a visible bra strap, and if you’re one of those women – that’s fine! But other women enjoy the opportunity to show a bit of sexy bra strap, or even some let the top of a bra peak above a shirt or dress (or show through a sheer top) and that’s fine, too. It’s all about your comfort levels.

Dress Appropriately for the Venue
The most restrictive factor about bra etiquette is the need to dress appropriately for the venue. If you’re going to church, for example, you probably don’t want to show any part of your bra. Likewise, if you’re dining in a fancy restaurant, it’s probably a good idea to keep the bra under wraps. This isn’t a restriction on your personal sense of style so much as it’s a way to show your respect for the venue and the people around you. Visible bras are more appropriate in settings like clubs, or even casual settings; tank tops with visible bra straps are common when running errands, hanging out at the park, going to the movies or eating a casual dinner with friends.

Bra Etiquette at Work
Generally speaking, if you work in an office that requires business attire, or even business casual attire, any visible signs of your bra are inappropriate. Don’t show bra straps, the lacy top of a bra or any other part of your bra in a business environment. At the very least, it’s distracting and can reduce productivity in the workplace; at the most, it may be an offense that can get you written up in some workplaces.

Etiquette for Nipple Outlines Through the Shirt
Nipple outlines are a gray area for many women. Even if you’re wearing a bra, thin bras can show nipple outlines through a form-fitting shirt. Generally speaking, nipple outlines aren’t a big deal in most settings. If you’re interacting with men, a nipple outline may be distracting and it may attract undesirable attention, but it’s not a breach of etiquette.

In the workplace, however, a nipple outline is a strict no-no. Wear padded bras at work if this is a common problem for you, or bras that have enough lining or tensile strength to prevent nipple pop-out. Alternately, wear thicker clothes or layers of clothes to hide nipples in the workplace.

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