I would no more leave the house braless “than without brushing my teeth”, says Sarah Vine in You Magazine. Aside from feeling rather exposed, I would find it extremely uncomfortable – my “large, unruly appendages” simply cannot be relied upon to behave themselves without adequate support. So my initial reaction on seeing Gen Zs trotting down the street braless – undaunted by the prospect of “their nipples catching the attention of unsuspecting passers-by” – was to roll my eyes. “To old prudes like myself, it smacks of attention-seeking youth.” But since then I’ve realised there’s something more to it: it’s “an act of rebellion” against the conventions that have always been imposed on us women.
Girls today are simply “not into apologising for their bodies” in the same way older generations were taught to. When 26-year-old actress Florence Pugh was blasted for the hot pink “nipple-bearing gown” she wore in Rome recently, she hit back on Instagram, asking what makes a crowd of strangers think they can tell a woman “what’s wrong with her body”. Pugh’s generation don’t fear disapproval – not society’s, not the media’s, not yours or mine. They are what they are, “and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem”. When I was growing up, I felt “embarrassed and confused” about my body, but today’s braless young women are unashamed in flaunting their femininity. It’s “the ultimate expression of equality”.
👙💃 The bra was invented in 1913, says Maddy Fletcher, also in You Magazine, by 19-year-old ball-goer Caresse Crosby. Her corset kept uncomfortably poking through her gown, so she ordered her maid to stitch together some handkerchiefs to make an undergarment. Later that evening, other women “marvelled” at how freely Crosby danced and begged her to sew them some supportive shapewear. She patented her design, but after a few years of lacklustre sales sold the rights for £1,200. Thirty years later, the brassiere had earned the new patent-holder £12m.