10 Top Bras and Underwear Every Woman 50+ Should Own
Forget bulky bras or super-snug shapewear: Comfort is king now
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, January 28, 2021
En español | Do you miss industrial-strength girdle-shorts or a slip? Do you long to wear a push-up bra and thong again? Me neither. After a year when just about everything has changed, even our usual undergarments are absent these days. Comfort is top priority now for everything we wear — including our underwear. This doesn't mean, though, you should give up totally on a little smoothing, shaping and body flattery. Who couldn't use a little help? Here are the 10 best basics to own now, all with a body-positive attitude.
- 1 of
PHOTO BY: Macy's; Everlane (2)
1. A feel-good bra
Every woman knows that blissful moment when the bra comes off — so much that during isolation some of us started skipping the darn thing altogether. Going braless may be fine at 15, but not at 50 when gravity and age-related skin and muscle changes encourage sag. Try wearing so-called “bralettes” at home. You'll stand and sit up straighter and look better lounging around in tees and sweatshirts, too. The most soothing choice is a full-coverage, pull-over-the-head style like the Bali Comfort Revolution EasyLite Shaping Wireless Bra DF3491, which comes with removable cups ($44, macys.com); or cup-free styles like the Everlane The Invisible Bra ($25, everlane.com) and the Chantelle Soft Stretch Bralette ($58, barenecessities.com). Look for wide, stretchy straps and a shape that actually covers your entire breast while adding subtle lift.
- 2 of
PHOTO BY: Macy's (2); Soma
2. A wire-free support bra
Remember the big trend for molded-cup underwire bras? The preshaped contours gave us a well-rounded look (even when our breasts were uneven or shallow on top) plus modest nipple coverage. It worked, no doubt about that, but somehow it felt like a lot of bra. Look for the update — wire-free seamless styles like the Warner's Elements of Bliss Wire-free Bra RM3741A in rosewater ($40, macys.com), Soma Enbliss Wireless Bra style 570222679 in peaceful blue ($48, soma.com) or Jockey Women's Forever Fit V-Neck Unlined Bra 2997 ($36, macys.com). All feature lighter, more realistic-looking molded cups and gentle straps. Black or any nude shade is always a smart basic choice, but try a trendy blue, soft gray, mauve or rose for a change. They look just as great under dark and light tops.
- 3 of
PHOTO BY: Macy's (2); Old Navy
3. A sports bra in the correct level of support
You do gentle at-home workouts, yoga, barre or Pilates? You need a low- to medium-level sports bra. Jog, bike, cycle, weight train, play a racquet sport or run on a treadmill? Opt for a medium- to high-level one. Now that we all do some kind of workout (or at least wear the clothes for it!), sports bras have become a must-have. In fact, some women wear sports bras as all-purpose bras. The newest styles — like the Under Armour Women's HeatGear U-Back Mid-Impact Sports Bra ($40, macys.com), the Old Navy High Support Cross-Back Sports Bra for Women ($23–$30, oldnavy.gap.com) and the Champion The Curvy Moderate Support Wireless Sports Bra B9373 ($30, macys.com) — combine support and comfort. Look for a stable broad band that sits on your midriff or lower for a cropped top effect, and sturdy racerback or crossed straps, moisture-wicking fabrics, mesh panels or keyhole details and molded cups or removable cups for a shapely profile.
- 4 of
PHOTO BY: Everlane; Walmart; Bare Necessities
4. High-rise briefs
Most likely you like bikini or hipster panties that lie way beneath your belly button. That's fine if you also wear low- to medium-rise jeans (see number 5). But the trend for high-waist everything — from leggings to joggers — calls for high-waist underwear that's compatible with a high-waist pant. For perfect light coverage, stock up on smooth, stretchy briefs that sit at the waist — such as the Everlane The Invisible High-Rise Hipster ($15, or 3 for $33, everlane.com), Blissful Benefits by Warner's Women's No Muffin Top Seamless Brief 3-Pack ($11, walmart.com) or Wacoal B-Smooth Hi-Cut Brief Style #834175 ($15, barenecessities.com).
- 5 of
PHOTO BY: Bare Necessities (3)
5. Medium-rise hipster panties
We're not into low-rise thongs or teeny bikini panties that ride up, cause wedgies and need constant adjustments anymore. But for those who do wear a medium-rise jean or pant (and not everyone wears a high rise — or at least not all the time), hip-level panties that match your pant rise are important here, too. You can't wear a high-rise brief that extends two or three inches beyond your jean's waistband. A hipster panty in soft, stretchy microfiber with a soft waistband — like Warner's No Pinching. No Problems. Hipster ($12 or 3 for $30, barenecessities.com), Calvin Klein Invisibles Hipster ($15 or 3 for $35, bareneccessities.com) or Maidenform Comfort Devotion Ultra-Light Hipster ($12 or 3 for $32, barenecessities.com) — is the basic you want. Stock up!
- 6 of
PHOTO BY: Soma; HerRoom; Bare Necessities
6. A light shaping brief
We all have days when bloat and tummy bulge get in the way of looking good. Resist taking the usual sledgehammer route of a firm control panty when a low-dose compression brief instantly saves your looks. Choose a super lightweight style — like the Yummie Ultralight Seamless Shaping Brief in frappe or black ($20, soma.com), Bali EasyLite Shaping Brief Panty 2-Pack DFS059 in black or nude ($25 for 2-pack, herroom.com) or Maidenform Tame Your Tummy Boyshort in nude or black ($21, barenecessities.com) — that disappears under clothes (even knits and flowy dresses).
- 7 of
PHOTO BY: Nordstrom; Spanx; Bare Necessities
7. A smoothing tank or camisole
We're so into comfort but not so into muffin tops and torso ripples, so a layering piece like this might be your new best friend. Don't worry about your bra — if the straps of both show you get extra style points now! Choose a supple tank like the Spanx Thinstincts Tank in very black or soft nude ($58, spanx.com) or the Yummie Shaping Tank in black ($34, nordstrom.com), or a silky microfiber camisole with adjustable straps such as the Jockey TrueFit Promise Camisole in black ($28, barenecessities.com). They'll gently smooth out your middle without squeezing or smashing your breasts.
- 8 of
PHOTO BY: Bloomingdale's; Bare Necessities (2); Everlane
8. A black bodysuit
Bet you never thought of this as underwear, but a black bodysuit is a key base layer to have. It will smooth and elongate your torso and serve as a base layer under casual sweaters or blazers, and also work as a sleek, dressy top with any skirt — day or night. The trick is finding one in a substantial opaque stretchy fabric with a full-coverage bottom (skip thong styles!), as well as, of course, a snap gusset down below. Choose a neckline and sleeve length that suits your needs — a V like the Everlane The Long-Sleeve V-Neck Bodysuit in Bikini Fit in black ($35, everlane.com), a long-sleeve scoop like the DKNY Opaque Long Sleeve Bodysuit in black ($48, bloomingdales.com), an elbow sleeve like the Yummie Ballet-Back Medium Control Bodysuit ($78, bareneccesities.com), or a sleeveless tank like the Spanx The Base Tank Bodysuit in black or soft nude ($58, bareneccessities.com). You'll wear it all year round.
- 9 of
PHOTO BY: Bloomingdale's (2); HerRoom
9. A serious underwire bra and matching undies
Back to work away from home? In-person meeting or job interview? Party or festive occasion? Never say never. You may need to slip on a tailored dress or a silk blouse top and real pants ... and then what? A more structured bra makes you feel more confident, polished and pulled together fast. An underwire bra — like the Natori Bliss Perfection All Day Underwire Contour Bra in black ($68, bloomingdales.com); the Wacoal Soft Embrace Front Close Underwire Bra 851311 in black or sand ($52, herroom.com); or Calvin Klein Perfectly Fit Full Coverage T-Shirt Bra in bare ($46, bloomingdales.com) — has smooth, light contour cups and adjustable straps that slide under anything. Have one in nude, one in black and a matching color panty on reserve to go with it so you're not scrambling at the last minute.
- 10 of
PHOTO BY: HerRoom (3); Bare Necessities
10. “Pretty” black lace bra and panty
Sometimes we just want to feel romantic, sexy or like the divas we are at 50-plus. There are plenty of provocative bras, bodysuits, thongs and panties frilled with lace and mesh that lack the balance of comfort and sauciness we're aiming for now. On the other hand, black lace never fails. Try a stretch lace bra like the Cosabella Plus Never Say Never Curvy Sweetie Soft Bra NEV1310 in black ($65, herroom.com) or a wire-free plunge style like the Wacoal Halo Lace Wireless Bra 811205 in black ($30, herroom.com), as well as stretch lace boy shorts like the Maidenform Sexy Must Haves Lace Cheeky Boyshort Panty DMCLBS in black ($12, or 3 for $30, herroom.com) or a cheeky lace hipster like the B.Tempt'D by Wacol B. Bare Hipster in night ($13, barenecessities.com). Who says we can't have it all?