This season high street brand Zara has lost its bra (if it ever wore one that is)!
The Spanish mega-brand seems to have thrown caution to the winds this season and gone for style, comfort and freedom in a big way. Seriously though, we have no links to Zara, no affiliations, and when we wrote to them to ask for some samples to borrow because we were gobsmacked by how much their Spring/Summer collection matches our criteria, they politely declined saying they "only lend samples out to fashion publications for main fashion shoots".
Whatever! We remain entranced and in awe. They've gone for volume with pleats, layers and frills. They've explored eye-catching asymmetry and detail with cut-out shoulders, unusual hem lines and shirts (that aren't really shirts as we know them). They've explored bustles and ruffles and put little crocheted tops over normal shirts adding detail, texture and a bit of welcome eccentricity to our bodies... resulting in our slight obsession!
There are loads of tops we could show you, but we are going to narrow it down to a lucky 12, and tell you why they work for bra-free style this season.
The first top we tried ourselves was the Printed Crop Top for £22.99
Below you can see that Zara style it with matching trousers. We thought we'd get more wear with plain bottoms, and have styled the shoulders slightly differently. The inner shelf in this top feels very secure in terms of gaping and it definitely works without the need for a bra, with in-built volume, comfort and style.
Starting a frilly theme is the Frilled Poplin Shirt for £22.99
This is a design gift for the bra-free wearer. The frill goes straight across the bust line, the shoulders demand attention, and you're still wearing a shirt. Chic, comfy and slightly eccentric.
We liked this one so much, that we bought a similar one for our model Emma to wear. The Frilled Cut Out Shoulder Shirt for £22.99 is a bra free fashion dream (as in, no-one would know if you were wearing a bra or not and it gives good coverage across the chest whilst exposing the shoulders, if scars are an issue). But, and it's a biggish but, go up a size, because when you put your shoulders back and move your arms outwards the button hole gapes and a bit of chest is exposed. We think a bigger size would sort this out. Here's how the white version looks...(second picture is when we realised Emma couldn't bend her elbows without the top gaping!).
This one is slightly more expensive than the others, double layered and good for evening too we reckon. The wide straps are stylish and it works well bra-free. We realised that in order to expose less stomach you'd need to be wearing high-waisted trousers, high-waisted jeans or a high-waisted skirt (like Zara's model). But our model Emma is blessed with an excellent stomach, which gives her lots of belly laughs, so normal jeans were just fine :-)
We love the Studio Top for £29.99.
We especially adore the crossover design feature which covers and adds interest to the chest area, and gives a voluminous side view.
Next we choose the Ruffle Top for £19.99
This is classic Loose Debra-wear (see our Pinterest board for more like this). The ruffles add volume, and the exposed shoulders draw attention to flesh other than cleavage. And two colour choices - brilliant! If you like this one, take a look at the Frilled Bustier top. Even extra volume for £22.99!
This casual work of genius has a strategic wide stripe and pockets across the chest area, with other colour blocked wide stripes adding interest with detail to the cut at the back. We love the neutral but warm colour tones and the relaxed but smart vibe.
If you're after anther kind of bra-free shirt, try this Patchwork Organic Cotton one for £22.99. We love the patterns and pocket placement.
And introducing the Striped Crochet Top for £15.99
With a nod to the recent underwear as outerwear trend, this top is placed over a smart white shirt, adding interest, coverage and texture to your front all at once. Obsessed.
And then there is the Asymmetric Pleated Top for £19.99
This comes in four interesting colourways of dark green, navy, yellow and ecru. The pleating all the way from the neck band down adds volume and detail, whilst the asymmetric hem is interesting and on trend. We tried this top on in-store and found that, even in the two darker colours, nipples showed through. You may not mind this, and you may not even have to worry about nipples...in either case, we recommend the pleated drape as flattering.
Next up is the Halter Neck Top for £29.99
This smart looking halter exposes the shoulders whilst thoroughly covering the chest. The pulled-in waist gives a blouson effect, which is emphasised by the mid-front opening revealing a contrasting colour panel. Chic bra-free styling at its best.
Then comes the Blouse with the Frilled Hem for £25.99
We love this long sleeved, horizontally striped comfortable top, with its fun frilly hem. Perfect for bra-free Summer festivals and evenings.
And finally we think this Striped Top with Low Cut Back for £22.99 is a winner for a braless fashionista. It's made for the bra-free woman. Your back becomes a beautiful feature (no-one could wear a bra strap across that!), whilst the front has a mind of its own, jutting out slightly in profile so that chest shape is irrelevant.
We look forward to seeing which other retailers will follow suite with bra-free style. We're predicting it's one trend that won't fall flat any time soon...
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter