Exposed Bras Are Coming Back And, Tbh, We Can't Take It

Much like our politics, fashion tends to swing one direction and back to the other. Sometimes these creative self-expressions are in tandem with new generations discovering the past, or old ones, appreciating a new revamp. And like many of our celebrities and influencers — any human, really — we tend to watch ourselves pattern back and forth from one extreme to the next. 


So it's really no surprise we've got yet another Y2K resurgence on our hands. Last year's fashion houses hinted at the return of the popular "alternative" attitude that blends 80s pop and 70s bohemia. Reboots happen when hindsight sees a need to do over by taking what's worked and, hopefully, leaving the rest. However, there's one not-so-favorite Y2K, ah, habit, that's come straight from last year's runway and back on to the red carpet: the exposed bra.

In 1999, Linda Velez, a textile manufacturer and an associate professor at New York's Parsons School of Design implied to The Los Angeles Times that the exposed bra is a reflection of our unhinging society. They mentioned, "no one has any reserve anymore" and "nothing is kept private." Velez, along with other critics of the exposed bra look, complained that it was a reflection of a lost sense of decorum among younger generations. All of this, of course, happened during a summer of globally epic stress: Y2K. Would life as we know it survive a world dependent upon software written chiefly for the twentieth century? Not sure. Let's stay in our undies.


The evolution of the exposed bra

Many fashion followers trace the recent history of exposed lingerie to Madonna's unforgettable debut on the 80s world stage. The singer's epic 1984 MTV Video Music Awards live performance of her hit "Like A Virgin" highlighted her affinity for wearing exposed underwear, and spurred a international fashion sensation.Within weeks, lingerie became a staple on the runways.


After the '80s, the '90s took the exposed trend in another direction. Rather than the bold lingerie-as-daywear, Y2K kept the bra as a part of the outfit, but just for a peek of straps. (See Carrie Bradshaw's many looks throughout "Sex and the City.")

It makes sense after this past global catastrophe that we'd embrace another go-round of a new non-conformity, and that it would be especially visible in our fashion trends. So, if you're itching to pull off a repeat of this tricky look, let the Y2K reset button land on redefining a classic. Manage it like Madge, reinvent on purpose, but accidentally. 

Modernize the look by making it a centerpiece

Nonetheless, like satire, doing something "accidentally on purpose" is a fine line to walk. Subtlety works on a red carpet, especially with designers and artists responsible for every part of a deliberate look. But without the entourage in tow, the accidents tend to look like, well, accidents. 


When it comes to this new Y2K bra peek-a-boo, make sure your look is intentional. Highlight your bra as a centerpiece for the entire outfit. Remember, it's intimate apparel that's being exposed, so all eyes will be on that prize. Give it due attention and frame the skin you're exposing with something classic, tailored, or a quality fabric. Don't be afraid to go for a piece with lots of lace detail or other embellishments. To really make it stand out, pair with a long jacket or a sheer dress. The key is contrast and balance.