Forget the skimpy, ill-fitting bras languishing in your underwear drawer and meet the new generation of lingerie brands that will lift you up in the best way possible.
A good bra is like a good friend, so the saying goes: supportive, close to your heart and damn hard to find. The lingerie world can be a frustratingly restrictive place for woman – as you’ll know if you’ve ever browsed your favourite high street shop, only to discover that the underwear you’ve set your heart on is only available in a handful of sizes.
Historically, women who wear a bra size bigger than a DD cup have been particularly poorly served by lingerie brands in the UK. Only a handful of labels have faithfully catered to a wide range of body sizes and shapes (shout out Bravissimo!), while reliably sturdy bras have often lacked aesthetic appeal.
And even if you’ve never struggled to find a bra that fits, you may have felt alienated by mainstream lingerie brands. Until recently, the marketing of women’s underwear seemed to have evolved little since Wonderbra’s notorious ‘Hello, Boys’ ad in the early 90s – prioritising sexiness over support, and encouraging us to manipulate the shape of our breasts rather than embracing their natural form.
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But in 2019, the days of an underwear drawer stuffed with skimpy, ill-fitting lace are over. Thanks to a growing movement towards comfortable, inclusive, confidence-boosting lingerie, and the emergence of independent brands that believe one size does not fit all, today’s bras prove that practical lingerie needn’t compromise on style.
From pretty triangular bralettes to vintage-inspired silhouettes, there’s a beautiful bra to suit you in 2019 – whatever you fancy wearing. Read on for our edit of the UK’s prettiest lingerie brands and stockists to suit all sizes.
Womanhood is a newly-launched online shop with an ethos we love: it only stocks beautiful, inclusive lingerie by independent female designers.
Two of our favourite pieces are this gorgeous, grass green bralette (£65) from cult brand Lonely, which manages to be both fancy and supportive, and this lace balconette bra (£45) by sustainable Australian label Silent Arrow. Lovely.
D+ lingerie specialist Panache is one of those hard-to-find retailers that create beautiful, supportive bras for bigger boobs.
Its dedicated Sculptresse line is designed specifically for size 14 women and above, and the designs are carefully considered (not just upsized).
This balconette bra (£37) with soft stretch lace is a great throw-on-and-go piece to have in your arsenal – plus the cappuccino shade is truly delicious.
We love all three versions of the lacy, lifting ‘Forecast’ bra (£65) – pretty, yes, but also cleverly supportive and great for under a jumper. Plus, thanks to the nifty J hook, you can adapt it into a racer back too.
Everyday lingerie needn’t mean a drawer full of jersey T-shirt bras – Else create handmade separates that are perfect for daily wear. Take the jade Chloe (£65), which is delicate while giving enough coverage under more streamlined tops (no Air Con Nipples here).
Hand-crafted from eco-friendly materials in an ethical atelier in Istanbul, Else is also staffed by 90% women.
Gooseberry Intimates is all about delicate lines, details and heaps of pretty lace, which makes perfect sense given the brand is French.
Our Gallic neighbours firmly believe that lingerie is the foundation of feeling gorgeous, and this soft, feminine triangle bra with scalloped lace (£51.25) epitomises that sensibility.
Buy it in both white and black for an instant underwear-drawer boost.
Inspired by traditional 19th century broderie anglaise, Agent Provocateur’s powder blue, delicately monogrammed Casper bra (£85) has a touch of the Marie Antoinette about it. the brand’s slinky, supportive bras go up to a size F.
London-based brand Bluebella create gorgeous, wearable lingerie with a provocative edge, and their DD+ collection is a case in point. Take this beautiful, berry-coloured Aviana bra (£38), which makes everyday lace seem like an extremely good idea.
A version of this content was originally published in Stylist’s weekly email newsletter Stylist Loves Fashion. Subscribe for more insider style tips straight to your inbox
Main image: Beija. All images courtesy of brands
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.