Style

A French Bra Trick

A French Bra Trick

This summer, I’m curious to try out this different way of wearing a bra…

First off, what color bras do you wear? I have two black and two nude. I haven’t had a white bra since my childhood training bra.

But the other day, we were chatting with Allison Beale of Journelle, and she pointed out something interesting:

There is definitely a difference between American and French approaches to lingerie. We talk about this constantly around here. Most American women are not as bold in showing off their lingerie. There’s a basic understanding here — maybe it was a lesson we all learned from our mothers and grandmothers? — that bras are for support, coverage and not to be seen. A nude bra, the American staple, showcases your blouse. A white bra, which European women often wear, showcases your whole outfit, bra included.

Have you heard this before? European readers, do you wear white bras? I’m inspired to pair one with white tees and jeans this summer.

P.S. My underwear solution.

(Photo by Whitney Hayes.)

  1. Béatrice says...

    I’m French – I would never ever buy a nude bra, unless maybe I’m in my 80s… I like white lace bras in the summer, when I’m tanned, I also where light colors in the summer. Otherwise, black lace all the way! Another ‘never’ for me is red, too tacky!

  2. European (Czech) 19-year-old girl here! Funny thing is that I wore white bras in early teenage days, because I thought of white t-shirt+white bra as the most sexy combo ever, I even had only white bras. But nowadays, I prefer wearing nude bra under the white t-shirt, although I have days when I want to show off my lace blue/rusty bra (and I have a lot of them, lately!). My mum hates white bras, own one good nude bra and tons of fun/sexy colors, so I think we have it in the family :D!

  3. I wear all kinds of colored bras; sometimes I intentionally pair opposites so that they ‘stand out’. You have only one life. May as well live it.

    • Tabitha says...

      You got it in wearing all colored bras. Don’t forget the colored panties, and thongs. Nowadays I don’t ever wear white bras or panties. My fav is bikini, hipster, and thongs. Bras well just about any style, but no white ones. My opinion color is more sexy then just white.

  4. Gabby says...

    Oh god, wise word from a Parisian girl : nude bras should be forbidden ! What’s wrong with you America ?
    Joke aside, all my bras are expensive (it’s my guilty pleasure), and I want to show them, just a tiny bit, but still. If I want something light, I’ll wear a pale pink bra, and if I don’t people to see my bra, then I don’t wear one ! If you ever need to check out a French lingerie brand : http://www.princessetamtam.com/ that’s were all my bras come from, and trust me, you want them to be seen !

  5. Emily S. says...

    Wow, i’m late to the party! I’ve actually recently discovered the white (lace) bra with a white shirt style, and it definitely makes me feel sexy. When going to work or class in a white shirt, though, I have to wear a nude bra. It would feel inappropriate for my bra to show in that context. yay for weekends and nights though, when I can wear whatever !

  6. Hanna says...

    Haha so much fun reading these comments.

    Here is my opinion, as a Dutch women in her early thirties:

    I recently purchased a couple of new bras since I stopped breastfeeding (for which I had two bras: a black lace one and a hot pink one, from Panache and Cache Coeur, and they were awesome!). So now I own : a white one (but with flowers on it), a cobalt blue one, a purple and black one and a black and red one. So, no neutrals here :)
    I really dislike it when people say you can’t show any part of your bra! For me, it’s fun showing a coloured strap on a shoulder or through a blouse, especially if it brings a contrast in either colour or material, so a lace strap under a very basis outfit for instance.

    Nude bras…meh. The colour is always off (most nudes are too much of a brown to me) and it is just too plain. I can think of no situation where I would have the need of a nude bra. Just image, wearing a nude bra and your sleeve drops, exposing a nude strap! The horror.

  7. Yolan says...

    In France and Germany nude bras are considered granny style. Most women own one, but try to avoid wearing it. They are seen as the death of sexy. :-)

  8. I think a hint of lace through a sheer top is the epitome of elegance, and the French are so good at not making it look crass. One of the reasons I love living in the South of France is the constant fashion inspiration and femininity many of the women exude here!

    https://lifestylelodestar.com/

  9. I disagree! I love wearing a shimmery (to catch the light) nude bra under a semi sheer top…especially a black top. It’s more subtly tantalizing–is she even wearing a bra? I think it’s more of a sexy tease than blatantly broadcasting your brassiere.

    …that being said: I also love a good bralette peeping out under a crop top or loose tank.

  10. Amy says...

    It has to be a cultural difference. I live in So California and if you aren’t a teenager, it would really be frowned upon if you wore a white or colored bra with a white shirt. But a black one for a night out would be ok for a club. We wear so many sheer clothes because of the months of heat, we have to wear nude undergarments. What are you supposed to wear with thin white shorts and pants?! I would get stares all around if anyone could see a pantyline or a color. It all depends what part of the world you are from. I would never ever buy a white bra, those seem matronly and not functional in our part of the world!

    • Laura says...

      Lol I also live in SoCal (LA) and typically love the look of bras being a part of the outfit rather than being covered by it. I agree with the colored pantyline, white bottoms thing, but I think that’s another topic.

      PS – For context, I am not a teenager. Also, I have multiple white bras.

  11. Becci says...

    Well, I am a 23 year old german girl loving her one nude bra. I don’t want people to see my bra especially under white shirts, so the nude one is perfect. But I agree that the bra itself is not cute, maybe I need to be a bit braver. I also have black lace ones, a white and a blue one.

    Really love your Blog by the way…

  12. Ingrid says...

    I never had a nude bra, mine are white, black, one is just the softest rosé. All have at least a bit of lace. It is quite in fashion to wear a black bra under a white loose blouse and it is meant to be seen. Your post is very interesting as I´d never thought there are such differences over the pond, quite like the story on the bed blankets / duvets I couldn’t imagine sharing one with my husband, we definitely need one each ;-) Love your blog. Best from Berlin, Germany.

    • Katie says...

      Loving the idea of 2 duvets! We are always fighting over ours!!

  13. Lana says...

    I have a few black/nude/white bras, but I love the bras with color/lace/sequins etc. I love in particular my aqua/purple/red bras.

    I enjoy the matching bra and panty look as well. I say go for it. It’s a nice surprise for my hubby, but more than that I feel good with pretty under things.

  14. Lana says...

    As a European reader, I have to say that I have never ever had a nude bra in my life! The staples are always black and white + all the lovely colours for a perfect match or a particular effect :)

  15. Sharon in Scotland says...

    I am not an employee of Bravissimo!!!! it’s just when you have spent all of your time from 16 to 32 wearing ill-fitting, uncomfortable bras which have left permanent marks on your shoulders, finding a company that does pretty bras that fit is joyous, (reduction did reduce, but I’m still quite curvy) x

  16. Sharon in Scotland says...

    Bit late for this particular party. I’m English, black and blessed with boobs. I had a reduction and uplift when I was 32, (on the NHS………..glory be!) my cup size was off the scale. From the time I was 16 to 32 I hated my boobs. My mum had to drag me to a lingerie shop about twice a year. It was alway the same, I would get measured, the lady would shake her head, say that she didn’t have anything in my size, suggest I have something made and we’d leave with a Doreen triumph bra in white, the largest size, but not big enough. When I had the reduction I was suddenly able to wear pretty bras, with colour and patterns…………..all from an amazing UK based company called Bravissimo. They stock bras starting from DD cup size going up to I in some styles. They do black, white and nude as well, but I always promised myself that I would never wear a white bra, black is always useful and nude is not nude for me….!

    • karinny says...

      I love your story!

  17. Rachael says...

    I’ve never worn a nude bra. It looks ugly on it’s own, no? So don’t wear it! A pale pink or white bra is far prettier.

  18. Sofie says...

    I know this comment is a bit late in the game and i haven’t read all of the above, but here’s my two cents:
    I’m European (Dutch) and I own and wear bra’s in all colours of the rainbow. I have black ones, black with coloured accents, red, blue, mint, orange, pink, purple, yellow. No whites or nudes in sight!
    My favourite brand is Marlies Dekkers. As a heavy-chested small girl I grew up having no choice untill she started designing the most beautifull bra’s that were not boring or ugly. I have a huge collection now and some of the old ones are still sturdy enough to wear.

    • Eliza says...

      Marlies Dekkers bras are fantastic! I bought several on a recent trip to Amsterdam and plan to add a few more. They’re sexy, fun, and fit well. I just wish they were easier to find here in the US.

  19. I’m from Germany, Berlin, and I can honestly say that I only own 1 nude bra that I bought in the US and never wear. But I also don’t wear white bras, they seem to granny for me. So it’s black bras for everything – except on very hot summer days when I wear no bra (if the shirt/dress allows it). :)

  20. Caitlin says...

    I’m a 25 year-old American with big boobs for my small/average frame. I find it very hard to find bras that fit me correctly and the ones that do are expensive and boring. So I only own one nude bra that I wear daily. Because of the necessity of bra wearing with large boobs, I find it to be more of a functional wardrobe piece and would prefer for it not to show (also I would find it distracting and inappropriate for it to show at work). I could see decorative lace bras being a cute wardrobe staple if I was more flat chested!

  21. Julia says...

    European here (from Germany), I usually only wear black underwear, but I have one white and one neon-pink bra to wear under white shirts.
    I don’t own any nude underwear, and I don’t know anyone who does (except maybe my grandma?).

  22. Molly says...

    I’ve always been a firm subscriber to owning black/nude bras – except, after reading this post and noticing my favorite bra go on sale online, I decided to spring for a white one. feels somehow summery even under all-black outfits…thanks for the gentle nudge to branch out :)

  23. I wish someone would share some photos of this white bras under white shirts thing. I’ve always found that to be tacky, but the ladies commenting on here can’t all be wrong!

    I own a few colored bras, but I almost exclusively wear nude or black, depending on my shirt. I don’t own any white.

  24. emma says...

    God ! I am a french girl and I would consider wearing a nude bra only if it was the last clean item in my lingerie drawer. oh… not even in that case : I do not even own one. Here, it is something you wear when you are an old lady. Not sexy at all.
    I always chose my underwear to make it match with my outfit. I hate wearing mismatched underwear and own matching bras and panties in almost every colors.
    My grandma used to say this (terrifying ) thing : ” In case you have an accident on the street, make sure in the morning you have a nice and clean underwear. So you won’t be ashamed if someone sees it “. I’m almost 40, but I can’t stand wearing underwear I would be ashamed to show, even inadvertantly.

    • I’m an American and it’s so funny your grandma’s expression! My mom says that, too. I totally believe it! I need to follow your matching lead and get some pretty undies that make me feel good. You’ve inspired me. x

    • Same here Emma, I even think of this advice often when I choose what underwear, tights to wear, and, I also always go for at least matching colors of bra and panties, I do not own a nude bra either.

  25. Tristen says...

    I think what would interest me most here is bra size. I am 125 lbs, 5’3 and wear a 32D. my torso is short… so for me that makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable in anything less than a full coverage bra and t shirts don’t flatter me. also, i live in KY and while i think southern women are incredibly gorgeous, it’s kind of trashy looking to wear a black bra with a white shirt. When I go to NYC i don’t feel that way and maybe do feel a little sexy if I’m wearing a pretty lacy bra and a basic white razor back tee. Perhaps, Joanna you could talk about your thoughts on changing your body after children. I haven’t had any babes yet, but i am incredibly active and eat well and worry about how my body will change after babies. and i do want babies. i’ve considered getting a breast lift- maybe implants!– just to make myself feel ok again after breastfeeding. i would love to feel comfortable not wearing a bra! I like my breasts and maybe i will be happy with them pre-baby, but there are never any absolutes. Wondering what your thoughts are? Thank you!

  26. Barbara says...

    I’m from Austria and i mostly wear white lace bras with my white blouses or t-shirts.

  27. I’m french and I definitely wear white bra. I don’t have any in nude. Actually I just moved in the Bay Area near San Francisco, and I’m learning the differences between USA and France. This one is a funny one. I think I will stick with my white bras for a while ;-)
    Tiphaine

  28. Mrs D says...

    Aussie gal here (French mum and dad disclaimer). I wear white bras with white tees and shirts all the time! So funny…I never thought about it before. I like the contrast. On nights out I also wear a black lacy (sheer, quelle horreur!) bra under a sheer white silk shirt. I love the look. I also from time to time wear a black bra under a black and white stripe breton tee, too. Except for busting out the lace bits and pieces for nights out, I always wear smooth padded numbers (like Le Mystere). I don’t do colour though, too gauche for me.

    • Like your style! Although I wear so much color I bet I look like a Mardi Gras float to you- I’m gonna have to disagree on gauche that one-or what the hell, I like that too sometimes. However, this post and these comments have me planning for some prettier, sheer numbers like you! xo

  29. Julie says...

    I’m from Brussels, and I find that the big difference is the super-padding in american bras. It’s like a fake boob on your boobs, hiding it’s real shape.
    In french lingerie you have bras that we call “sans armatures” and without padding, offering just a thin layer of soft tissue on your breast (Princesse Tam Tam’s are beautiful). Most of the men like it because it’s so sensual.
    For colors, here a “nude” color is considered the worst color ever, like the one you wear if you really have to but never show because it makes your skin tone look dull (especially when you’re pale).
    We mostly wear black and white underwear.

  30. R says...

    I find this hilarious, here I am American 35 years old and two years ago I went all nude and black lingerie. It wasn’t modesty but rather an attempt towards minimalism, and still I don’t much regret it or miss the technicolor bras and panties of my younger years. What’s sexier than black lingerie anyhow? Nude.