You don’t have to be non-binary to loathe bra shopping, but it certainly helps. Body and gender dysmorphia tend to be intertwined, making it hard to know what undergarments feel bad for gender reasons and what feels bad due to impossible societal beauty standards. These standards are only exacerbated for those who are trans or non-binary (and can be even more damaging to trans disabled individuals and trans people of color). Because of this, I tend to avoid shopping for bras the way people avoid going to the dentist. I never want to browse the lingerie section. I never want to stand on the little platform in the dressing room with mirrors all around me. And I especially never want to have to ask the sales associate for a different size.
I’ve found a good workaround for this is getting my bras at big-box stores that sell everything. When I buy undergarments alongside shampoo and seasonal Mrs. Meyers products, it doesn’t feel like I’m “bra shopping,” it just feels like I’m picking up boring, unremarkable things that I use in my day-to-day.
Some days I wear a chest binder (a super compression chest garment intentionally meant to make your chest look flatter), but because I have such a large chest, binders often make it a little hard to breathe and give me back and shoulder pain. And yes, obviously, I think about top surgery a lot, but I came out as non-binary in 2012, when top surgery wasn’t really a thing for non-binary people yet, so it’s been overwhelming to redefine my understanding of my body knowing a boob chop is ostensibly an option now.
For good and bad, I’ve learned to live with the chest I have in this moment. A large, flappy chest, that gives me really painful underboob heat rashes and sweaty chafing. Though I still do go braless most of the time, in really hot weather or just days where I don’t want my nipples out, I’ve learned the ideal thing for me is what I’ve deemed the anti-bra. It’s a super basic, boxy, stretchy thing, with no clasps, wires, decorations, or doodads. It’s boring and comfortable and you forget you’re wearing it — which is exactly the point.
The anti-bra is not as supportive as a sports bra and I don’t wear it to work out, but I do wear them under tank tops or T-shirts, or when I just want a little coverage without having a whole gender nightmare moment.
As someone who’s continually trying to distance myself from femininity, I tend to react to boob-related content like a child rejecting broccoli at dinner. I don’t want it. I don’t like it. And I don’t want it near me.
Yet, it is for this reason — the discomfort and loneliness that arises regarding boob talk — that it feels important to share my experiences regarding my chest. Surely, I am not the only person out there — regardless of gender — who detests shopping for bras or hearing about breasts. And if you’re reading this, neither are you.
By sharing my experiences with bra shopping, and my favorite anti-bras, I hope to help widen our understanding of boob content and bra shopping in general. These garments aren’t always flirty, sexy pieces that make us feel good. Sometimes they’re a purely functional item, like a drain catcher or a pencil sharpener, that we don’t have to feel anything about.
Whether you’re also a non-binary/transmasculine person or if you just hate buying undergarments, here are my recs for easy, comfortable, non-girly bras, with a little story about each.
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JoyLab ribbed seamless sports bra
I like to get bras at Target because even online, it never feels like you’re “bra shopping” — it just feels like you’re life shopping and you picked up a bra along the way.
At the beginning of this summer, I was stocking up on white ribbed tank tops (which I always buy online at Target) and saw this ribbed sports bra from the JoyLab brand. I liked it because it looked like a chest binder and had a really square, basic shape, but was ribbed, so it looked a little more structured and tailored. It’s branded as a “sports bra,” though I would not recommend it for running or high-intensity cardio if you have a larger chest. I love it for wearing under T-shirts and tank tops, to stop underboob sweat and rashes and to give me a little compression and support. It’s a thicker fabric which feels nice and makes you feel more secure than some other bralettes.
Colors/sizes: This comes in five colors from S-XL. I have the XL.
Promising review: “Bought in black on a whim & absolutely fell in love. I love the ribbed material, & it actually holds my girls in place (I bought a large- 34ddd so not easy). I want one in every color. Wish there was some kind of bundle to save money.” — Amanda
Jockey seamfree cami strap bralette
While we’re on the Target train, my next anti-bra is this perfectly minimal, thin-strapped, lightweight bralette. I wear it so much that I forget it’s an item I own and had to go into my Target “past orders” to find the exact link. It’s just a super simple, fuss-free bralette, that has tiny little straps, so it’s easy to layer under tank tops or shirts where you don’t want your bra straps out and about. You’ll forget you’re wearing it, or more, forget you even own it, because it’s so easy to throw on, can go in the washing machine and doesn’t cost a million dollars.
This also has removable cups, which I took out, and it has adjustable straps, though I usually don’t fuss with those. I like that it’s a full-coverage bralette; it really covers the top of your chest without being too constricting. I wear this a lot without a shirt, when I’m running around the house doing dishes or lounging and I don’t want to be completely topless but also don’t want to be wearing a whole shirt.
Colors/sizes: This comes in four colors from XS-XL.
Promising review: “Perfect bra if you hate wearing bras. The most comfortable bra I’ve ever owned. No frills, no bells, no whistles. It’s not super sexy and if you plan on running in it, it won’t offer much support but it’s fine to do moderate paced activities in. It’s seamless, nothing digs in, scratches, or rubs on your skin. I’m approx a 34 C and bought a medium and it fits like a dream. A very straight forward bra that’s great to wear under tank tops, kinda feels like a vacation when you have it on.” — brittanyyyy
Jockey seamfree tank strap bralette
: OK, so this I would consider the granny panty equivalent of the anti-bra. It looks a little … frumpy when it’s just in your drawer, and it will not be sexy on a drying rack. However, it’s a super duper wearable, comfortable, easy stretchy anti-bra that I wear all the time, especially under white shirts when I don’t want a whole nips-out affair.
It gives you full coverage through your back and doesn’t dig or cling, and has nice straight straps, so it hides nicely under a tank top. It comes with removable cups, which I removed, but it’s really just a basic, comfortable piece at a nice price.
Colors/sizes: This comes in three colors in sizes XS-XXL. I have the XL.
Promising review: “Super comfortable sleeping bra. I got in an xl since I did not want it to be tight. I’m 34C for reference.” — Erivershill
Calvin Klein invisibles comfort seamless V-neck bralette
Like most sweet, beautiful suburban moms, my mom loves her some Amazon. She found this for me for Christmas or my birthday or something one year, saying that it just “looked comfortable.” I think she got herself one too. It truly is the thinnest, lightest thing you will ever put on your body. Super stretchy and silky feeling, not thick and cotton — though it still gives you some structure, compression and support, so you won’t feel like you’re just braless. It comes with removable cups, which I removed upon receiving. I usually don’t like “V-necks,” but this isn’t a deep V. Its also a V in the back, so it feels more like a tank top or something than like, a bra
— which is the feeling we are going for.
Colors/sizes: This comes in 23 colors in XS-2XL. I have the XL and it fits great.
Promising review: “Disclosure: most bras do not fit me properly due to double mastectomy with tramflap reconstruction (they don’t even do that type of surgery anymore). Thankfully cancer free 18 years later but it’s been a nightmare trying to find comfortable bras, especially with weight gain over the years. This CK bralette is the ideal solution for me. It is the most comfortable bra I’ve had on EVER. It has enough ‘structure’ to hold in the back/side flabbiness (blush) and does not roll up… well, it may roll up just a little bit but it’s not uncomfortable at all whenever it does. The material is so lightweight which helps keep things cool. The straps are not adjustable but they’re supremely comfortable and do not slip off my shoulders. The neckline plunges enough to wear lower cut garments. There are no hooks in front or back so it’s completely smooth. Feels a bit like spanx but way more comfortable & breathable. Feels kind of like a sports bra but doesn’t squish. I just love this bra. I now have 3 of them!” — YankeeFan
Thirdlove form seamless scoop bralette
I’ll be honest, I was a little reluctant to check out Thirdlove because they are a super cute “women’s bra store” (though they have undies and pajamas too). As I said, deliberately shopping for bras at “bra stores” gives me weird gender feelings, even online. However, I recently found myself on the site and was immediately taken by this seamless scoop bralette because it looks almost like a cropped chest binder. It has thicker straps and a nice, basic boxy shape, no criss-cross or racerback or clasps or textures. It’s a completely seamless bra with four-way stretch, that really feels just like a compression tank top or something, but gives you support (and keeps me from having gnarly underboob rashes in the heat). It comes with removable cups, which I always take out the minute I buy bras, so I can’t speak to how supportive/nipple covering those are. I love this because it doesn’t look like a child’s training bra nor a super sporty workout bra. It just looks kind of minimal and classic and it’s comfortable enough to wear for hours.
Comes in 11 colors from XS-3XL. I got the XL and it fits great.
Promising review: “Very comfortable bra. With a bigger bust, I find that many sports bras hurt my neck and shoulders but this provides enough support while being comfortable enough to sleep in.” — Liz B.
Gap breathe bralette
In the strip mall in my hometown, we have a Gap, which I thought was the chicest, most elevated center of fashion until I was, like, 19. It was here, at 19, I found one of my holy grail anti-bras, a really soft and stretchy bralette with no clasps or fastens or doodads. I remember the person checking me out told me she used these bras when she was breastfeeding, which at the time really freaked me out, but now is actually good intel for the many expecting and new parents in my life.
The exact bralette I have I couldn’t find, but this one looks just like it. I usually don’t go for a “plunge” neckline, but this one really doesn’t push your chest together and doesn’t give you the “cleavage line” thing. Both triangles really cover your boobs. It’s a low-support bra, so this would not be the choice for working out/when you want full chest coverage, but really comfy if you need something when running errands or working from home and just want some coverage.
Colors/sizes: This comes in six colors from XXS-XXL. I have the L, which really does not fit anymore, so I will be rebuying a bigger one.
Promising review: “Super soft and smooth. Comfortable all day long. Perfect true to size fit.” — AmyM
Free People Ali low-back seamless bra
: My ex-turned-best-friend is a transfemme person who swears by Free People bralettes. She got me into them because they fit her shoulders/upper body well and keep up over time/lots of washes. She likes the more frilly/lacy ones
, of which they have plenty
, but as you can imagine I prefer the really basic, pull-on, tank-top-looking bralettes with no claps or adjustments.
I have the Ali low-back seamless bra, which I got in some subscription box last fall. It’s super stretchy and soft and works really nice as a base layer/something to wear under tank tops and T-shirts. I will say, the size range is abysmal, which makes me reluctant to recommend it, but I do wear it a lot, so it feels worth sharing.
Colors/sizes: This comes in 17 colors in XS/S and M/L. I have the M/L.
Promising review: “This bra is so insanely comfortable I even slept in it. It feels softer than a tee, no pulling or bunching. My new favorite thing.” — Sashy2
No Boundaries juniors’ racerback bra
So this is a bit of a wild card, but I live to wear cheetah print and to tell people unexpected places to find good anti-bras. This is from the teen section of Walmart, though it has better sizing than some adult stores. I got this cheetah one in-store when getting camping gear, but now I want every other color online.
It’s a super smooth and stretchy fabric that is totally invisible under a shirt. You’ll forget you’re wearing it, but it does give some compression and support, so you won’t feel exposed. It is a racer back and has removable cups. I’m really never trying to wear “lingerie,” but sometimes you do want something a little more lively than just a beige boxy bra. It’s a fun piece that’s cute to keep in the underwear drawer and it’s less than $12, so it’s kind of a low-stakes piece that you won’t beat yourself up over if you only wear it out a few times.
Colors/sizes: This comes in nine colors and patterns in sizes XS-3XL. I have the 2XL.